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22.04.2019

IRON MAIDEN

2019 Remasters

Anmeldt av Jens Nepper
(Parlophone Records, 2019)

Karakter: 5.5/6

ironmaiden2019remasters.jpgThe larger-than-life entity that is Iron Maiden released some of the most breathtaking and downright awe-inspiring records back in the 80s that still stand tall and proud as milestones within the heavy metal genre today. These guys are so much more than a simple heavy metal ensemble and their compositions encompass so many remarkable things and wonders that it borders on the surreal at times. I hardly need to tell you just how much depth, passion, and soul their albums possess as I am sure you are already familiar with most if not all of them. In 1984, the band unleashed one of their most spectacular records in the shape of this stellar 8-track slice of metal grandeur entitled "Powerslave". Steeped in historical subject matter and utterly inspired in every conceivable way, it immediately draws you in by means of the red-hot album opener "Aces High" and you will find yourself a changed man by the time the majestic  "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" rolls around the corner and ends the album on a sensationally high note. The soaring vocals courtesy of the incredible Bruce Dickinson are out of this world and the melodies are inventive and outrageously good. With its clever arrangements and superb songwriting all the way through,  "Powerslave" marks one of the high points of Maiden's storied career, which is saying something. Having said that, I think  "Piece of Mind" and  "Somewhere in Time" are even more phenomenal than this one, but only marginally so, mind you.  "Powerslave" is a true and proper classic in every sense of the word and the fact that it has lost none of its drive or ability to stir all the senses all these years later speaks volumes about its many qualities. Speaking of quality, this newly remastered version of it sounds fantastic in that it comes across as slightly brighter and a little more sparkling compared to some of the older remasters out there. The album has always been a refreshing and spirited listen, but this 2019 edition brings all its glorious features to the forefront and it sounds more bouncy and vigorous than ever before. 6 out of 6.

Pretty much everything that I have stated above also goes for  "Somewhere in Time", which came out in 1986. Featuring guitar synthesizers and boasting one of the greatest album covers of all time, this is in my humble opinion Maiden's crowning achievement and the very peak of their creativity. The record has always sounded remarkable and I cannot say that this newly remastered edition is a huge improvement on the original version, but there is a subtle hint of brightness to this one that suits it just perfectly, so yeah, the remastered version kicks ass too, and besides, you can never have too many different versions of this masterpiece in your collection. It is the epitome of musical greatness and it contains two of the most underrated compositions of all time, i.e.  "Sea of Madness" and  "Stranger in a Strange Land". If I could rate this 7 out of 6, I totally would, but alas, we will have to make do with 6 out of 6.

1988 saw the release of  "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and this one always makes me nostalgic and sentimental as it was one of my first albums by the band. It is arguably the most varied one in the discography, and it is a stunning album, but I must admit that  "Can I Play With Madness?" has never done much for me and as such, it is neither as flawless nor perfect as certain other Maiden records, but that does not mean that it does not rule beyond belief, because it most certainly does. Thanks to the remastering, the record sounds brighter and more dynamic than ever before and this one is arguably one of the best in the entire series so far terms of audio quality. You cannot argue with masterpieces such as  "Moonchild",  "Infinite Dreams",  "The Evil That Men Do", and the title track, so make sure you get a hold of this one. 5.5 out of 6.

1990 marked something of a departure for Iron Maiden in that guitar wizard Adrian Smith was replaced by former Gillan guitarist Janick Gers and the resulting album,  "No Prayer for the Dying", is a rather funny one. For one thing, it marks a departure from all the epic and boundary-pushing records that came before and is way simpler in a sense. There are no daring musical experiments here as such, just straight-up heavy metal with wicked hooks to it. No, wait a minute, scratch that. What I meant to say was that  "No Prayer for the Dying" harkens back to the first two albums by the band and has a simpler approach to the songwriting, so yeah, it was more of a no-frills rock 'n' roll record compared to  "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son",  "Somewhere in Time", and  "Powerslave", just to list a few examples. Admittedly, this is one of the albums that appeal to me the least and there are a number of daft songs on it, but I do think that it is unfairly maligned by fans and critics alike out there, and there are some really cool tunes to be found here. However, it kind of pales a bit in comparison to everything that came before and quite a few of the albums that succeeded it too. Not necessarily one for the history books then, but it has a peculiar charm and some endearing qualities to it, and the newly remastered version possesses clarity and bombast. 4 out of 6.
 


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