From the punk fuelled speed and thrash varieties through MTV spawned glam hair excesses to death and black metal melodrama as the industrial skewered rap of contemporary nu-metal proves, defining the "heavy" in metal is a many splintered thing.
Which makes it even more incredible that pioneering BHM (that's British Heavy Metal for the recently initiated) legends Iron Maiden are still dishing out the same headbangers ball assortment of air guitar friendly solos, bombastic bass stabs and bludgeoned drum crescendos. Not forgetting lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson's signature tight leather trousers vocal falsetto and those trademark lyrical obsessions with the holy trinity of heavy metal: death, religion and...'erm, demonic possession.
Yet with the exception of the uber operatic stadium rock stomp of "Montsegur" and maybe the sprawling pedal to the metal intro of "Face in the Sand", nothing is convincingly "heavy" or even "metal" out about any of the material. "No More Lies" is a suitably moody power ballad that actually parades its Celtic rock debt to Jethro Tull - who after all did win a metal Grammy back in the 90s - in its pantomime of cascading chords. While the defiant string-embellished semi-acoustic jaunt of "Journeyman" adds an unexpected new age edge to proceedings.
But make no mistake, while it's difficult to imagine such high octane, auto erotic guitar excursions seducing anyone other than the most aspirant air guitar fiend, hardcore fans of the Maiden are going to adore the unabashed pop cartoon metal excess of searing dervishes such as "Wildest Dreams". Maybe it's simply that unlike the lethargically serious Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park, at least with Iron Maiden you know what you're getting. Just over an hour of unpretentious hard rocking entertainment.
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