All of a sudden, The X Factor and Virtual XI become smelly, moss-covered shore rocks upon which Maiden have built an expensive and desireable island worthy of complex, aesthetic conversation, at least between commited metalheads who would do such things (note to earth: don't engage me in email or worse, phone conversation about this album: I've said my piece, I'll read or scan yours. I won't respond to invitations for debate.), coddling their Maiden-ness into a proud and steadfast expression of what these particular six icons are, icon being a word I push/pull to mean unique to the point of tragically necessary and on occasion insufferable, crusty, old, curmudgeoned maybe, but the world is better for it. After all, who else is going to make Iron Maiden records, and indeed, who else ever has?
Oh yeah, frig, forgot, Brave New World finishes strong, like the first pull on a cold pint after a deliberate and scheduled empty stomach. As one of their experimental wobbles off the Harris barn grounds, The Thin Line Between Love & Hate rides a foreign twisty pop-sweet melody on a grinding metal groove before it collapses heaven-like into a signature Maiden progression. Plus it's got no nomads in it, just real people we all might know.
Damn, add it all up and this is really a big dig, like some sort of embarrassment of riches dusted off and dull golden underneath Powerslave's album cover. Casual but metal-mad, heart and soul but happily no clue, sequenced with sly know-how (within tracks and between them), and so intrinsically woven with the DNA of the 23 tenets of what it means to be Maiden, Brave New World is not so much a return to the form I find most instantly enjoyable, but a record that sloshes and jostles the ingredients just right, so I'm won over to the type and turf of metal they've screwed up so badly (arguably so, I know: get yer knickers out of that knot) for three and a half albums spanning two semi-guilty parties at the mike that Steve wired.
Hard Reviews Page 4