The 2011 Arsies: January 17, 2011

January 17, 2011

Welcome back to another week of metal mayhem!
"The Final Frontier" is Iron Maiden's fifteenth studio album, and the band's longest (it clocks in at almost 77 minutes). It's a grower of an album, to be sure. The production values of this album are threadbare, which is jarring at first (especially in a modern context where all drum tracks sound like they come from the same Mac app). And it's an extremely unhurried album (well, sure, 77 minutes). It's also a bit all over the map, unedited and a little warty. But all those issues add to the album's charm, and come together in a sound that's surprisingly honest. Unlike anything else in the Arsies Top 32, this is a recording that sounds like six guys in a room playing their instruments and then having a beer. In the final analysis, Iron Maiden have managed to make an album that fits with their older catalog, but also feels new enough to be more than just a simple retread. Astounding stuff.
James LaBrie's "Static Impulses," on the other hand, sounds anything but honest. Nevermind how much the album sounds like a collection of discarded Dream Theater riffs -- that's to be expected. While the album definitely rocks, it doesn't stay with you after the listening stops. Maybe that's because it is so derivative. Or maybe it's because the album's had its rough edges sanded down to dust. Either way, it was no match for "The Final Frontier." So, mighty Iron Maiden go on to the next round!
Tomorrow, Nachtmystium versus Nevermore.

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