Big name – big album? When Iron Maiden stated that they will release Senjutsuon 3rd September 2021, this release had an easy entry to my list of potential. Here are my thoughts about the English legends‘ new songs.
Iron Maiden – About The Artists
Iron Maiden formed in 1975 in Leyton, East London. The key driver behind the band was Steve Harris, who is still member of the band and their bassist. Overall, the lineup of Iron Maiden is not changing too much, Wikipedia just lists four former members. The current band includes Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers (all guitar), Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Nicko McBrain (drums). The band was already successful with their very first, self-titled album, which ranked fourth in the UK charts. Senjutsu is already their 17th album and thus the first collection of new Iron Maiden songs since six years. The 2015 predecessor The Book of Souls illustrates best the global popularity of these heavy metal legends: the album topped the overall charts in 23 countries and even was second in the Finnish all-year charts.
Iron Maiden even had a couple of #1 singles, for example Holy Smoke, Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter (both 1990) or Man on the Edge (1995). Different World was the last song in the list of this kind of successful tracks, when it topped the Finnish charts and was #3 in the UK and Italy.
Iron Maiden – Senjutsu – Track by Track
The ten song album lasts 61 minutes. It is delivered on two discs.
You need time to listen to the songs of Senjutsu. This also applies to the title track, which is the opener of the first disc. For the first 8:20 minutes of the album, the track number on the CD player or the highlighter on your streaming platform will not move. Bruce Dickinson takes the key role in this epic track. The guitars and drums are present, but don’t have too many outstanding presence. Sometimes, you just play your chords and enjoy – the song is slowly marching forward. It almost feels like a shanty rock track here and there. Luckily, towards the end, the instrumental solo part adds some nice atmosphere. .
Iron Maiden chose Stratego as one of the singles. Despite it is the second-shortest song on the double album, it still barely touches a total duration of five minutes. Some parts of the song almost spread a touch of folk music. At the chorus latest, the band shows why they dominated their genre – they are still full of talent and create a great listen. Good second one.
3. The Writing On The Wall
The Writing On The Wall is the other Senjutsu single release. More than six minutes, more than eleven million YouTube views (alternatively: almost seven million Spotify streams) at the time of writing. The song is coming with good rhythmic guitars and nice melodic riffs, but I am looking for the special moments. A catchy sound, a different moment. The music just feels to move forward, the band demonstrates their instrumental and vocal high-level skills. It just feels they could do better.
4. Lost In A Lost World
After I had mixed thoughts about the first three songs, I was really looking forward how I will feel about the second really long track: Lost In A Lost World is a 9:31 minute musical trial. The track starts slow, the electric guitars sound close to acoustic ones, the backing choir is a bit too pop-ish and monotonous to me. A short break after some two minutes – and the metal mustangs are right on their race track (meaning: it sounds much more like heavy metal now…). Thereafter, the song works with melodic breaks, good guitar solo parts. Overall, a pretty sound and a rather entertaining track. Not sure if I could listen to this one on repeat, though.
5. Days Of Future Past
That’s almost mainstream song duration: Days Of Future Past just passes the four minute line and is thus the shortest song on the album. This compactness really feels to be a good choice for the album. There is sufficient space for good verses and a catching chorus, but overall, this is one straight song with a continuous theme. Afer a 9:31 minute story before, I highly appreciate it.
6. The Time Machine
The first part of the album concludes with The Time Machine. To me, this is (by far) the best song on the album. It is just very versatile, but still entertaining. A bit of folksy, a bit of heroic, but definitely a track, which will also be enjoyed by traditional Iron Maiden fans.
1. Darkest Hour
Second disc… The Darkest Hour spends some ten seconds with the sound of the ocean and some birds, before Iron Maiden is getting out their guitars again. The song feels like a new introduction, a restart, especially due to its slow beginning, which even reminds me of blues rock. I like the guitar solo on this track.
2. Death Of The Celts
The last three songs of the album have one thing in common: none of them is less than ten minutes. Just when I feel this could be a pretty boring sixth of an hour, the band decides to push for a some more rocking sounds. The song could be a bit quicker in my point of view – in two ways: the rhythm could be speedier, while the song could itself feels a bit long here and there to me.
3. The Parchment
Within one hour, you will not make it to listen to The Parchment five times (if you are listening to the full song and don’t cheat…). 12:38 minutes is quite a long one. If you go for the challenge and listen to the song in loop for one hour, I definitely recommend some nice drinks or other emotional distraction. Iron Maiden are a great band for epic songs. Finally, it is a matter of your own preference: at a certain point, a complex, multi-layered song going through different kinds of atmosphere simply becomes boring. Especially if these sections just feel too long. Please buy me a coffee for listening to the whole song. I definitely need a caffeine shot after this one. A German metal magazine called this song string instrument player bukkake. I am envy about their creative linguistic precision.
4. Hell On Earth
Hell On Earth is about a minute shorter than its predecessor. Again, the songs starts with a more-than-two-minutes intro, which could have easily been shortened to the half. Overall, this final track comes with a lot more power and energy than The Parchment, so that it is also a much better listen. If you want to start your listen with the vocal part, you may overall skip the first 3:30 minutes. You may skip the last minute as well. The song is just in a (too) slow run-off.
Iron Maiden – Senjutsu – Spotify
Here is Senjutsu on Spotify:
Iron Maiden – Senjutsu – My View
This review is a very difficult one. On the technical side, Iron Maiden do a good job, for sure. They master their instruments. Dickinson spots some vocal weaknesses here and there, but overall still shows a very good performance on the microphone. Senjutsu is just not special to me. The songs are too long, too unspecific. Some are good, but the bad ones somehow stay in my mind. Like The Parchment. The album is not bad – but it just does not reach the quality you expect when the cover names it an Iron Maiden one.
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