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Iron Maiden - Senjutsu

  by Nick Dent-Robinson

published: 22 / 9 / 2021

Iron Maiden - Senjutsu
Label: PLG UK Frontline
Format: CD


Resilient and dynamic first album in six years from heavy metal giants Iron Maiden

From their 1970s emergence in London's East End as a band specialising in heavy metal rock at the peak of the punk era, Iron Maiden were always happy to fly in the face of fashion. And this refusal to follow trends and determination to be true to themselves has stood them in very good stead these past five decades or so. As heavy metal rockers they have continued to pack the world's biggest stadiums. Iron Maiden's latest album, 'Ninjutsu' - which was recorded pre-pandemic in 2019 and put on hold for two years because of lockdown – reiterates the band's resilience. It also reaffirms the sextet's ability to inject artistry and real personality into hard rock whilst throwing in unexpected twists. It is a double LP packed with galloping rhythms, high octane hooks and frenzied guitar solos. At times the musicianship is awesome - and the album is clearly the work of a group still prepared to take risks to generate excitement. There are clear prog-rock leanings here - on this, their first album in six years. The title is a Japanese phrase which translates loosely as “tactics and strategy” and the album's ten tracks are punctuated by changes of mood and tempo. At the core are four lengthy sagas written by bassist Steve Harris who co-produces with long-term collaborator Kevin Shirley. 'Lost In A Lost World' is one of these, opening as a soft, acoustic piece and unfolding into a blustery, powerful rock number. The effect of the album's dramatic gear changes is mesmerising - in some ways reminiscent of Mike Oldfield's episodic classic, 'Tubular Bells' but also perhaps owing something to Motorhead's very different 'Ace of Spades'. The new album can be ostentatious at times – with songs like 'Days Of Future Past' and 'The Time Machine' plus sound effects of seagulls' cries, crashing waves and a light aeroplane. But there is always a strong sense of purpose, too. 'Hell On Earth' is an anti-war song whilst 'The Writing On The Wall' uses apocalyptic images to warn about climate change. Throughout, singer Bruce Dickinson is a towering presence, his operatic range augmented by the three guitars of Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers. The album ends with its longest track, 'The Parchment' - a thirteen minute epic incorporating some Eastern influences, metronomic rhythm guitar, fine solos plus a delicate finale. Somehow, Iron Maiden manage to combine raw energy with sophisticated musical ambition and virtuosity in a way that does set them apart from many other rock acts. 'Senjutsu' should delight the band's many fans around the world and guarantee more sell-out stadium concerts when touring resumes.

Track Listing:-
1 Senjutsu
2 Stratego
3 The Writing On The Wall
4 Lost In A Lost World
5 Days Of Future Past
6 The Time Machine
7 Darkest Hour
8 Death Of The Celts
9 The Parchment
10 Hell On Earth

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