The 10 best 21st-century Iron Maiden songs

Iron Maiden 2021
(Image credit: Press)

You may not have noticed, but Iron Maiden’s last 25 years have been fairly successful. The band’s live shows have been consistently spectacular, of course, but it’s the studio albums they have released since the dawn of the millennium that have ultimately ensured that they have remained firmly at the top of the metallic tree. Selecting highlights from such an embarrassment of riches is no easy task, but after some deliberation (and a few tears), here are the 10 greatest Maiden songs of the 21st century…

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Blood Brothers (Brave New World, 2000)

Maiden fans tend to prefer the balls-out galloping stuff, but Blood Brothers has remained a firm favourite among the faithful since Brave New World was released in 2000. Guaranteed to reduce grown men to blubbering wrecks, it’s a shrewd but sincere encapsulation of everything that Maiden stand for. Sing along, damn you.

Coming Home (The Final Frontier, 2010)

Maiden are rarely celebrated for their ballads, but Coming Home was an instant hit with just about everybody when The Final Frontier was released in 2010. Bombastic, poignant and stirring in equal measure, it’s a showcase for Bruce Dickinson’s extraordinary voice and proved a fast live favourite as well. Back in the set next time, lads, please.

Ghost Of The Navigator (Brave New World, 2000)

When Brave New World was released in 2000, we already knew that The Wicker Man was a monster. But it was the album’s second song that sealed Maiden’s comeback. Ghost Of The Navigator taps into the exploratory wonder of previous albums like Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son…, updating the Beast’s classic bluster for a new era and topping it all off with a chorus so big, Bruce could fly it across the Atlantic.

If Eternity Should Fail (The Book Of Souls, 2015)

Any doubts that The Book Of Souls would fail to equal the creative heights of Maiden’s previous four 21st-century albums flew out of the window as soon as this monstrous opening track erupted into life. Quite possibly the heaviest thing the band have ever recorded, it’s an exhilarating storm of riffs, melodies and existential musings that hints at a subtle musical evolution within Maiden’s trademark sound. Well epic.

Isle Of Avalon (The Final Frontier, 2010)

The Final Frontier’s epic closing track, When The Wild Wind Blows, may have grabbed most of the attention, but Isle Of Avalon is the album’s true high point. Maiden’s unerring ability to build atmosphere and deliver an almighty payoff has never been so dramatically expressed, and Bruce sings his bollocks off throughout. Heroic behaviour all round.

The Longest Day (A Matter Of Life And Death, 2006)

On 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death, an album full of powerful moments, The Longest Day stands out because of its spine-tingling building of tension during the verses and then the explosive euphoria of that towering chorus. Oh no, hang on… it’s not the chorus, it’s the bridge. And then the actual chorus arrives, and it’s ridiculously huge. One of Maiden’s most effective and moving war stories.

Paschendale (Dance Of Death, 2003)

Maiden have written a lot of songs about war, but seldom have the legends obliterated the narrative bullseye with quite such power and panache as here. They negotiate the transitions from unsettling restraint to all-out bombast with customary ease, but Paschendale’s chief selling point is the laudable humanity at its heart. No one else comes remotely close to Maiden when they’re on this form.

These Colours Don’t Run (A Matter Of Life And Death, 2006)

A Matter Of Life And Death is the moment when Maiden’s post-millennial endeavours reached a thrilling creative peak. Its finest moment by a whisker, These Colours Don’t Run, exerts a huge emotional pull: a tribute to the bravery of soldiers on active service, but also a subtle salute to the devotion and loyalty of the band’s colossal global fanbase.

The Wicker Man (Brave New World, 2000)

As much as the Blaze Bayley era remains unfairly underrated, no one could deny how insanely exciting it was when The Wicker Man emerged, instantly proclaiming the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith to be the best thing to happen to Maiden in a long time. It’s a modern metal classic, an irresistible singalong and one of the juggernaut’s greatest-ever singles.

The Writing On The Wall (Senjutsu, 2021)

The Writing On The Wall was long hyped-up, with Maiden’s Belshazzar’s Feast teasers beforehand even invading the site of the UK’s biggest metal festival, Download. When the single finally dropped, it wasn’t just a blast of classic bombast and majesty from the NWOBHM gunslingers; that new, Western-inspired riff declared that they still had new things to say 45 years in.

Dom Lawson

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s. 

With contributions from