Track By Track: Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls

Iron Maiden’s long-awaited sixteenth studio album has finally been released and let’s be honest, it’s not going to leave the Hammer stereo all day. And if you STILL haven’t heard it, here’s a handy guide for you!

1. If Eternity Should Fail [8.28]
An eerie, psychedelic intro gives way to one of the heaviest, most joyously epic and anthemic album openers that Maiden have ever written. Bruce’s voice is massive, the riffs likewise.

2. Speed Of Light [5.01]
The first single and an instant classic Maiden singalong, redolent of 2 Minutes To Midnight but somehow sharper, more succinct and boasting as much energy as Maiden did back in 1984. Yep, it’s that good.

3. The Great Unknown [6.37]
A mid-paced slow-burner with a rumbling intro from the bass of Steve Harris and a wildly atmospheric end section. Like everything on this album, it has a huge chorus and oozes grandiose intent.

4. The Red And The Black [13.33]
On any other Maiden album, this would have been the centrepiece. Nearly 14 minutes of classic Maiden tropes, reshaped into something vital and adventurous. The ‘whoa-oh-oh’ bit will get you. Guaranteed.

5. When The River Runs Deep [5.52]
A bludgeoning intro and shades of Dio’s ‘80s work make this one of the most pointedly metallic songs Maiden have recorded in recent times. Another hook-laden gem from Steve and Adrian.

6. The Book Of Souls [10.27]
Spooky atmospheres abound as the towering title track thuds and snarls into view. Since ‘epic’ is now such an overused word, we clearly need a more evocative alternative to describe the sheer hugeness of this paean to the Mayans.


7. Death Or Glory [5.13]
Surely destined to be a big live favourite when Maiden hit the road, this ripping World War I yarn welds an infectious Running Free-like rhythm to a chorus the size of Jupiter.

8. Shadows Of The Valley [7.32]
Dark hues and a faint hint of otherworldly menace permeate this mid-paced maze of riffs and hooks. Like a snappier reading of Montségur (from 2003’s Dance Of Death), this is one for the devoted headbangers.

9. Tears Of A Clown [4.59]
Not a Smokey Robinson cover, but a subtly idiosyncratic tribute to the tortured soul of a comedian that revels in moments of rhythmic trickery while wielding yet another enormous chorus.

10. The Man Of Sorrows [6.28]
Written by Dave and Steve, this moody, blues-tinged number is all dark textures and woozy crescendos, with a triumphant but sorrowful refrain that confirms that, despite the health issues that would soon descend upon him, Bruce was on the vocal form of his life when Maiden recorded their new magnum opus.

11. Empire Of The Clouds [18.01]
Massive? Overblown? Theatrical? Tick all of those boxes. This is, perhaps, both Bruce’s magnum opus and the most daring thing Iron Maiden have ever recorded. The doomed final journey of the R101 airship brought vividly to life across 18 minutes of audacious, progressive and endlessly fascinating heaviness.

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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.