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Rank the Kevin Shirley MAIDEN STUDIO ALBUMS


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#1 Presto-digitation

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 01:44 PM

So my ranking of these things depends largely on my mood. I would rank the worst of them no less than a B-grade, so it’s all pretty relative. Don’t be too offended by “this” ranking higher than “that”. We’re truly talking minor grade differences so small they actually swap positions (wah, wah, wah!) regularly. There have definitely been no stinkers in the Kevin Shirley era and that includes the much-maligned Dance of Death. However, right here, right now, I rank them as follows:



The Final Frontier:

This album has really surged for me. While I think When The Wild Wind Blows is a tad overrated by fans, I quite like the song (and it’s grown on me more with subsequent listens) and with the exception of The Alchemist (it’s fine) borderline love everything else. The Man Who Would Be King is criminally underrated or misunderstood, one. Cuts like Coming Home, Isle of Avalon, Starblind, and The Talisman were lovely surprises and are as good as anything in this era. Period. Exceptional cuts. El Dorado was a good lead single with that classic Iron Maiden romp and triple solo, and even the opener – while a tad overlong – is effective. Cut-for-cut I think this is my favorite right now. Almost no one I know would agree.



A Matter Of Life and Death:

This album simply works for me. I think it’s their BEST example of prog leanings if you will, if that means anything to you (or is even accurate). There is definitely a smell and feel to this record, making it, in my estimation, the most cohesive and tightest Maiden album of the 21st century. Different World is my lone “meh” moment and it’s fine, but I’m not as high on it as some others. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg was a lovely kickoff to the album, with even better tracks awaiting, such as For The Greater Good of God, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, The Longest Day, and the wonderful The Legacy, which just perfectly closes out this record with its almost lullaby eeriness. Lord Of Light is the great overlooked gem here. Out Of The Shadows, very reminiscent of the Bruce solo cut Tears of The Dragon, is another keeper. The Pilgrim is “fine” and falls very much into that category of The Mercenary and The Alchemist as quite listenable and serviceable filler, not the best, not really the worst. Anyhow, a fine album with a great audio sound (was never mastered) that is maybe the band’s finest latter period “live-sounding” album.



The Book Of Souls:

I like this record. It’s a bit longish, but it’s not a struggle to listen to either. It’s fallen a bit for me, however, and it’s almost entirely buoyed by a few key factors, not the least of which are the bookend pieces, both lifted from a prospective then-forthcoming Dickinson solo album. If Eternity Should Fail and Empire of the Clouds are simply sublime and lift this album tremendously. The latter is super ambitious, but also excellently executed in true epic Maiden form. Honestly it sits right up there with Rime and Seventh Son title track to me, it’s that good. It has a mellower side than those do, but I love that the three sound remarkably different. (Sorry, but Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, while fine, is overrated). Speed of Light is a tremendous cut, very much harkening back to an older time for the band, as do When The River Runs Deep and Death or Glory. Those cuts very much tap into an older vein for me. The title track is a gem, but I feel affections for The Red and the Black are a bit overstated. The middle of disc two is filled with good cuts, especially Tears Of A Clown and the pretty underrated The Man Of Sorrows. There are some misses here, but mostly this album delivers and, on several fronts, has as well as on anything from this period.



Dance Of Death:

Alright, a shitty album cover discussed to death and a LOUD mastering aside, the songs here are quite good. Only Widest Dreams, which may be the most snore-inducing bit of averageness released as a single in the Kevin Shirley era, qualifies for unmitigated dud or at least fatally vanilla. Rainmaker, on the other hand, is probably their keenest melodic single-length romp this side of Wasted Years. Amazingly catchy tune. Album highlights include Journeyman, the criminally underrated pairing of Age of Innocence and Face In The Sand, and of course Paschendale, which has the distinction of probably being my favorite song the band has released since 1988 with its eerie riff segueing into a powerhouse track. No More Lies, while a bit repetitive, is also a top shelf track. New Frontier and Gates Of Tomorrow hug that filler role. The title track is decent and better than its similar counterpart, the overrated Fear Of The Dark (but much less so than Number Of The Beast, the lyric with which it most similarly resembles). Monstsegur, to me, is a bit underrated. I dig it. There are faults to be had here, for sure, but I found the writing to be a step up from Brave New World. Not tremendously, mind you, but it took a few risks that I think paid off.



Brave New World:

Going to get a lot of crap for putting this at the bottom, but again, this is hardly some serious ding. In fact, I praise this album for simply EXISTING and getting us through the dire and desperate Blaze Bayley plague. I still can remember rejoicing to my first listen to The Wicker Man, which still makes me feel triumphant. Other notable highlights include the amazing Ghost of the Navigator, Blood Brothers, and Out Of The Silent Planet, all exceptional tracks. The Mercenary and The Nomad fall into that serviceable type mentioned with The Alchemist and The Pilgrim (you can see the pattern in the names, no?)…perfectly fun and fine, but hardly exceptional. Dream Of Mirrors and The Thin Line Between Love and Hate are better, more of risk, but I have niggles with each one, especially the cadence of the latter’s chorus. Also I’m a bit less fond of Bruce’s vocals here. Not that they’re not good, he sings as well here as anywhere in this era, but that the doubling and effects on his voice aren’t as effective as you might think they would be. (This is also a bit odd for Kevin Shirley, who usually boasts the stripped down live approach and sound). I think it comes down to simply revisiting this album the least, and again, that’s not as bad as it sounds. It was a wonderful return to form, but I think BNW just scratched the surface of what they could and would bring as a band. You couldn’t have asked for a better re-launching album, but thankfully they would grow and, in my estimation, get better still from this point.


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#2 Fridge

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 02:04 PM

I kind of lost track of Maiden well before he even started producing their albums.

#3 Na na na

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 02:28 PM

A Matter Of Life And Death
Brave New World
Dance Of Death
The Final Frontier
The Book Of Souls

#4 Presto-digitation

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 03:15 PM

View PostFridge, on 21 December 2018 - 02:04 PM, said:

I kind of lost track of Maiden well before he even started producing their albums.

Well I do recommend them if you ever find yourself even remotely curious.

#5 Union 5-3992

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 04:56 PM

The Book of Souls
Brave New World
The Final Frontier
A Matter of Life and Death
Dance of Death

#6 Digital Dad

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Posted 21 December 2018 - 06:16 PM

Matter of Life
Book of Souls
Brave New World
Final Frontier
Dance of Death

All very solid the last three  can change places intermittently.

#7 Stormtron

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 10:04 AM

I'm with you on The Final Frontier, so hey, there's two of us.

The Final Frontier
Brave New World
The Book of Souls
A Matter of Life and Death
Dance of Death

#8 Presto-digitation

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 11:58 AM

Nice...!

If anyone wants to share any words about these albums, positively or otherwise, please feel free.

#9 movinghemispheres

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Posted 22 December 2018 - 12:43 PM

A Matter of Life and Death: With the exception of Different World, a top notch album, The Legacy is one of their best album closer and one of the best Janick has ever written
Brave New World: The Wicker Man, Ghost of the Navigator, Brave New World, Blood Brothers are imo pure Maiden classics. Fallen Angel is an hidden gem along with The Thin Line Between Love and Hate (love the chorus on this one)
Book of Souls: at first I was a little bit afraid of that 18 minutes thing but now I love it even if I think the title track is even better. Along with these two monsters, some great songs as well, If Eternity Should Fail, Tears of a Clown, The Great Unknown
Dance of Death: A strange album because it's got two of my very favorites songs of the 00's (the title track and Paschendale), one of their best short-rockers as well (Rainmaker) but also some evident filler (Gates of Tomorrow, New Frontier, Age of Innocence)
The Final Frontier: I can't say it's a bad album because Maiden have done far worse, specially in the 90's but still its just a good album without any song that really stands out. Not bad, not great, just good...but with Maiden, good isn't enough! Well, maybe Isle of Avalon being an exception

#10 greyfriar

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 03:12 AM

View Postmovinghemispheres, on 22 December 2018 - 12:43 PM, said:

A Matter of Life and Death: With the exception of Different World, a top notch album, The Legacy is one of their best album closer and one of the best Janick has ever written
Brave New World: The Wicker Man, Ghost of the Navigator, Brave New World, Blood Brothers are imo pure Maiden classics. Fallen Angel is an hidden gem along with The Thin Line Between Love and Hate (love the chorus on this one)
Book of Souls: at first I was a little bit afraid of that 18 minutes thing but now I love it even if I think the title track is even better. Along with these two monsters, some great songs as well, If Eternity Should Fail, Tears of a Clown, The Great Unknown
Dance of Death: A strange album because it's got two of my very favorites songs of the 00's (the title track and Paschendale), one of their best short-rockers as well (Rainmaker) but also some evident filler (Gates of Tomorrow, New Frontier, Age of Innocence)
The Final Frontier: I can't say it's a bad album because Maiden have done far worse, specially in the 90's but still its just a good album without any song that really stands out. Not bad, not great, just good...but with Maiden, good isn't enough! Well, maybe Isle of Avalon being an exception
The like is for your Comedy Of Errors signature. :16ton: They're great! :cheers:

Brave New World
The Final Frontier
Book Of Souls

...the rest of the fest...

#11 Todem

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 02:41 PM

A Matter Of Life And Death - 9/10

The Final Frontier - 8/10

Book Of Souls - 7.5 /10

Brave New World - 7/10

Dance Of Death - 7/10

I am a big fan of the Shirley albums. It shows a lot of prog tendencies, but sonic wise the albums are powerful and rich in sound. I don't think any of these albums top the run of Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, but they have a nice place in the Maiden catalog. A Matter of Life and Death for me was their best album since 7th Son....no question in my mind. I think I listened to that one for 5 straight months. I wish I had caught them on that tour where they played the entire album front to back. But they never made it near me if memory serves me correctly.

Edited by Todem, 02 January 2019 - 02:42 PM.


#12 Turbine Freight

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 03:12 PM

Brave New World
Dance of Death
The Final Frontier
Book of Souls
A Matter of Life & Death

#13 GeddyLeeRoth

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 04:30 PM

All great albums, but some just a little better than others...

1. Brave New World
2. The Final Frontier
3. The Book Of Souls
4. Dance Of Death (Maiden's most under-rated IMO, besides maybe NPFTD)
5. A Matter Of Life And Death

#14 J2112YYZ

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Posted 02 January 2019 - 08:24 PM

Brave New World
Book Of Souls
The Final Frontier
Dance Of Death
A Matter Of Life and Death

I pay so little attention to who album producers are these days that I didn't even know Kevin Shirley did all their albums since Bruce returned.




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