Starting with their debut, Iron Maiden wrote heavy metal and hard rock songs. However, ‘Somewhere in Time’ lay the groundwork for the synth-pop-rock of ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.’ Through this commercial transition they enlarged their fan base as glam metal faded into grunge, and created a corporate brand.
Iron Maiden use the ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ template to create albums. The latest version is ‘Book of Souls,’ which is devoid of the memorable riffs, narrative lyrics, and choruses that made Iron Maiden legendary. Instead, Iron Maiden forces a balance between their signature sound and progressive rock through meandering riffs, left over ideas, modest new riffs, and pop notes updated from 1988 for the 2016 Top 40. Equally bad is Bruce Dickenson whose once powerful voice is now a desperate wail dating to ‘The Final Frontier.’
When I saw Iron Maiden a few months ago on the ‘Book of Souls’ tour in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Bruce said, “We made this album because we don’t want to be the world’s largest traveling karaoke band.” He is a liar. Iron Maiden is a corporation selling their brand via beer, video games, soccer jersey’s, Limited Edition apparel for each USA professional sport, and they tour in a jumbo jet. Even Eddie, the once frightening mascot, is mainstream as Sofia the First. Furthermore, Iron Maiden will tour again focusing on older albums in a cash grabbing karaoke tour properly branded to seem nostalgic.
An edited version of ‘Book of Souls’ to 45 – 50 minutes may be listenable, but not classic. Yet, in an era of gratuitous corporate greed sanctioned by the obsequious masses they remain the pinnacle of heavy metal success based on ‘Book of Souls’ sales. Unfortunately, corporate branding supersedes musical artistry otherwise fans would realize how far the irons have fallen.