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by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Iron Maiden - Brave New World
(EMI '00)

What Maiden has done here is quite worthy, mischievous and obstinate. Writing in much the same floaty, darkly melodic, curiously un-flash and home-spun manner they've clawed and pecked as their own alone on the two Blazers and Fear Of The Dark, the band make just enough adjustments to establish themselves as highly enjoyable yet still opaque and ponderous. All of this can be perused metaphorically within Blood Brothers, a proggy, semi-ballad piece that reaches out and then pulls back in some sort of devil dance between the old and the timeless, underground Maiden, troll Maiden, hill and dale Maiden which may be glimpsed but never penetrated and exposed. Smokescreens are thrown up all over the place, filmy billows that make you think about music and the everlastingness thereof.

After all, the lead single, and more pertinently the lead track, is a modest punk song, The Wicker Man happily bashing along three-chord like, immediate, quite likeable but still thrashed with chains to look antique. But this brings up another good point. For nine seconds, one is horrified at the mix, mourning for the guitars, and then at second ten, the brilliance of Kevin Shirley's decisions rings true and through, a brilliance which is predicated on the lack thereof (save for select cymbal sounds and Nicko's tight snare), this boomy live low midrange splendour that once more, lines up with various other philosophical cues pointing to Maiden deliberately becoming the Jethro Tull of metal.

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