A revealing release, which makes it clear that Maiden’s ‘lean’ years were anything but.
Greg Moffitt 2011-05-23
Although British heavy metal legends Iron Maiden have over 30 years of recording and touring under their belts, their 1980s output remains the most enduring. This double-CD set, showcasing the years 1990-2010, is designed to redress the balance. In keeping with its predecessors, the sixth official Iron Maiden best-of is strictly for the uninitiated. Long-time fans with find nothing new here.
Presenting 23 tracks drawn from the eight Maiden studio albums released since 1990, From Fear to Eternity is aimed primarily at the army of fresh recruits who have flocked to the band during their recent resurgence in popularity, which has made the last decade their most successful yet. Maiden’s most recent studio album, 2010’s The Final Frontier, hit the number one spot in no less than 28 countries, and their visceral stage shows are as compelling as ever. Against such a backdrop, this release is both timely and revealing.
Unlike 2008’s Somewhere Back in Time – The Best of 1980-1989, From Fear to Eternity doesn’t simply re-hash all the obvious hits. The general feeling always seemed to be that a post-80s retrospective was pointless, as the 90s were supposedly something of a creative write-off and the band’s recent albums were, well, recent. But events have moved on and this collection reminds us that not only did Maiden cut the classic album Fear of the Dark during these supposed lean years, the period from 2001 onwards has seen them pen some of the best songs of their entire career. Even the albums featuring frontman Bruce Dickinson’s temporary replacement Blaze Bayley – 95’s The X Factor and 98’s Virtual XI – aren’t ignored.
The influence of progressive rock on Maiden’s sound has been evident from the start, and as the years have gone by their material has become increasingly complex. As a result, the number of straightforward rockers here is surpassed by a wealth of densely-layered mini-epics which have now become the band’s signature style. The rather unlikely UK number one single Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter may have lost none of its charm, but in the likes of For the Greater Good of God and When the Wild Wind Blows we’re witnessing a great British band become even greater.