Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010/2015) [Onkyo 24-48]

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 76:37 minutes | 956 MB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  | Source: Onkyo | Artwork: Front cover | @ EMI

The Final Frontier is the fifteenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released in 2010. This is the band’s second-longest to date and their first since A Matter of Life and Death in 2006. The album received largely favourable reviews from critics and peaked at No. 1 in 28 countries.

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Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls (2015) [Onkyo 24-48]

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls (2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/48 kHz | Time – 92:15 minutes | 1,17 GB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source:e-onkyo | © Parlophone Records

The Book Of Souls is the band’s 16th studio album since their eponymous debut in 1980 charted at #4 in the UK, in a career achieving sales of over 90 million albums worldwide. The long awaited Hi-Res release in his proper length.

To say that Iron Maiden’s Book of Souls was ardently anticipated would be a vast understatement. Though it was (mostly) finished in 2014, vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s cancer diagnosis and treatment delayed its release until he was medically cleared. While 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death and 2010’s The Final Frontier showcased longer songs, Book of Souls is epic by comparison. Their first double album, it’s 92 minutes long, and three of its 11 tracks are over ten minutes. Steve Harris contributed one solo composition, and co-wrote six tracks with various bandmates. Dickinson — for the first time since Powerslave — wrote two solo tunes, the album’s bookends, and collaborated on two more. The music is cleanly divided between the two discs. The first is tight; it offers a bit of everything that makes Iron Maiden…well, Iron Maiden. It is seemingly self-contained. Dickinson’s “If Eternity Should Fail” is an impressive showcase for his voice. Its dark intro and atmospherics are eventually transformed into one of the heaviest tunes Maiden’s ever recorded, but he shines above the sonic mass. “Speed of Light” is a burner. Dickinson’s fury is accompanied by a rockarolla riff, soaring metal guitar fills, and Nicko McBrain’s grooving drums. Harris’ 13-minute “The Red and the Black” contains a strutting riff, a catchy chant, and a martial tempo. It’s followed by “When the River Runs Deep,” a chugging hard rocker with all three guitarists challenging one another. The title cut is theatrical, as acoustic guitar and a sparse synth are filled out with a knotty riff and solo breaks, emerging as a slower, heavier headbanger. By contrast, disc two is structured almost narratively; it slowly enlarges and expands to serve an unexpected conclusion. Opener “Death or Glory” is another crowd-catcher as Dickinson soars above thudding drums and guitar choruses redolent of Thin Lizzy. “Shadows of the Valley” is the only clunker. It’s dull and predictable, a minor distraction that doesn’t measure up to the set’s ambition. “Tears of a Clown,” written by Harris and Dave Murray, is for Robin Williams. It’s a clamorous rocker, yet the lyrics and melody are simultaneously empathic and disconsolate. “The Man of Sorrows” follows expertly, progressing from meandering ballad to theatrical hard rock. Dickinson’s 18-minute “Empire of the Clouds” is about the R101 airship disaster of 1930. It’s Maiden’s longest song, but a grand conclusion. He plays majestic classical piano throughout, as tasteful, biting guitars create a complementary melodic labyrinth amid swelling orchestral strings. They add texture while McBrain’s swinging drums add drama. It’s a heavy metal suite, unlike anything in their catalog. Producer Kevin Shirley does a stellar job capturing an “in studio” sound that allows for spacious dynamics and warmth without artifical mass. Who would have thought that after decades Iron Maiden would have an album as fine (let alone as long) as Book of Souls in them? With repeated listening it earns shelf space with their finest records.

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Iron Maiden-The Book Of Souls-DELUXE EDITION-2CD-FLAC-2015-DeVOiD

Iron Maiden-The Book Of Souls-DELUXE EDITION-2CD-FLAC-2015-DeVOiD Download

Iron Maiden-The Book Of Souls-DELUXE EDITION-2CD-FLAC-2015-DeVOiD

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Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying (1990/2015) [e-onkyo 24-44.1]

Iron Maiden – No Prayer For The Dying (1990/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz  | Time – 00:44:05 minutes | 554 MB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo.com | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: June – September 1990 at Barnyard Studios, Essex, England

With their first album of the ’90s, Iron Maiden wanted to return to basics. Comparable to their more straightforward early work, No Prayer for the Dying quickly shot up the charts all over the world, but it was clear that the songwriting wasn’t up to snuff when compared to such classics as Killers or Number of the Beast. The album also signaled the debut of new guitarist Janick Gers, best known for his stint in Ian Gillan’s solo band and on Bruce Dickinson’s solo album, Tattooed Millionaire. Featuring a pair of U.K. hit singles — the anti-televangelist diatribe “Holy Smoke” and Maiden’s lone number one, the controversial “Bring Your Daughter…to the Slaughter” (which was banned by the BBC) — plus another that should have been issued as a single (the opener, “Tailgunner”), No Prayer as a whole doesn’t measure up to the hits. The title track contains an opening too reminiscent of their 1988 single “Infinite Dreams,” while other tracks such as “Fates Warning,” “Run Silent Run Deep,” and “Hooks in You” never catch fire. And even though the epic closer “Mother Russia,” “Public Enema Number One,” and “Fates Warning” are standouts, they just don’t hold up well when compared to past classics. While Maiden retained their solid following elsewhere in the world, No Prayer for the Dying would prove to be their last gold-certified album in the U.S. –Greg Prato

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Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985/2015) [e-onkyo 24-96]

Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 01:42:52 minutes | 2,37 GB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo.com | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: 8, 9, 10 and 12 October 1984, and 14–17 March 1985; Long Beach Arena, California; Hammersmith Odeon, London

Iron Maiden’s World Slavery Tour was one of the longest and most extensive tours ever undertaken by a rock band. Lasting from August 9, 1984, to July 5, 1985, and visiting such countries as Poland, Austria, Hungry, Yugoslavia, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Scotland, England, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Japan, and the U.S., the show included a mammoth setup that replicated the intricate ancient Egyptian scenery of the Powerslave album cover. As a “thank you” to the hundreds of thousands of fans who packed arenas the world over, the double-disc live set Live After Death was issued in 1985. Disc one is comprised of selections from a four-night stand at L.A.’s Long Beach Arena, with disc two comprised of performances from London’s Hammersmith Odeon. The album is essentially a best-of of sorts, since most of their singles released up to this point are featured in all of their high-decibel glory: “Aces High,” “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “The Trooper,” “Flight of Icarus,” “The Number of the Beast,” “Run to the Hills,” and “Running Free.” Also included are such strong album tracks as “Wrathchild,” “22 Acacia Avenue,” “Children of the Damned,” “Phantom of the Opera,” “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Iron Maiden,” plus their two epics, “Powerslave” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” making it a near-complete overview. Live After Death is easily one of heavy metal’s best live albums. –Greg Prato

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Iron Maiden – Killers (1981/2015) [e-onkyo 24-96]

Iron Maiden – Killers (1981/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz  | Time – 00:38:47 minutes | 899 MB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo.com | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: Battery Studios, London, November 1980 – January 1981

Iron Maiden’s sophomore effort, Killers, is mostly composed of pre-existing material that had been left off the debut, with just a few new additions. It’s certainly a better-sounding release than the debut, with new producer Martin Birch beefing up the band’s studio presence and lending their instrumental attack a newfound clarity that throws their considerable skills into sharp relief. In fact, this helps mask the fact that the songwriting isn’t quite as strong overall as it was on the debut. But the teaming of new guitarist Adrian Smith with Dave Murray forms the most formidable twin-guitar attack in heavy metal, outside of Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing. Plus, bassist Steve Harris’ busy, driving lines are now consistently audible in the mix. The resulting instrumental fireworks are what truly make the album tick. That said, there’s a much smaller percentage of catalog standards here than on the previous album. “Wrathchild” is the standout, re-recorded here with Smith on guitar from an earlier version for the Metal for Muthas compilation. There’s a fair bit of unity in the lyrical themes, with a parade of murderers, fugitives, and characters otherwise torn from their roots. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” is a first-person retelling of the Poe short story, and the title track is another highlight, with Paul Di’Anno turning in an especially menacing performance. The single “Purgatory” has a catchy singalong chorus and a tempo worthy of Motörhead, while “Twilight Zone” (not included on the U.K. issue, but added to subsequent releases) scraped the bottom of the British charts. The biggest departure here is the almost Supertramp-like prog-pop of “Prodigal Son,” a melodic, uptempo offering with an arrangement based around acoustic guitars. Despite some inconsistency in the material, Killers is clearly the work of a top-notch ensemble, and in order to take the next step forward, their musical ambitions were clearly going to require a vocalist as technically accomplished as the band. It’s worth noting that some Maiden fans actually prefer the rawness of the Di’Anno years to the polish of the Bruce Dickinson era (though, it should also be noted, they’re in the minority). –Steve Huey

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Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988/2015) [e-onkyo 24-44.1]

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 00:44:05 minutes | 549 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany, February – March 1988

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is the last great Iron Maiden album, reconnecting with the band’s prog rock roots and reversing the signs of decline that had been evident on their previous record. By this point, Maiden had earned the respect of metalheads the world over with their steadfast adherence to unadulterated metal and their grandiose aesthetic. They’d made concessions neither to pop-metal nor to thrash, and their passionate fan base would never have tolerated a radical reinvention. But what do you do when your epic ambition itself has become a formula? You go even bigger and make a concept album, of course, and that’s what Maiden does here, breaking out of the creative rut they’d fallen into on Somewhere in Time. The concept is based on the European folklore which held that the seventh son of a seventh son would be born with special powers that could be used for good or evil (and probably also in part by fantasy author Orson Scott Card, who’d touched on this idea in his own work). As such, the lyrics are Maiden at their most gothic, obsessed with supernatural mysticism of all stripes; the story line concerns the title character, born with a gift for prophecy but mistrusted by his village, which ignores his warnings of apocalyptic doom and makes him a tormented Cassandra figure. Musically, this is Maiden at their proggiest, with abrupt, stop-on-a-dime transitions between riffs, tempos, time signatures, and song sections. Yet nearly every song has a memorable chorus, with only “The Prophecy” falling short in that department. They’ve also switched from the guitar synths of Somewhere in Time to full-fledged keyboards, which are used here more to add atmosphere rather than taking center stage; this restores the crunch that was sometimes lacking in the shinier production of the previous album. No less than four of this album’s eight songs reached the British Top Ten in some version (concert standard “Can I Play with Madness,” “The Evil That Men Do,” “The Clairvoyant,” and “Infinite Dreams”), while the album became the band’s first U.K. chart-topper since The Number of the Beast. The title track is this album’s extended epic (though the songs are longer in general), and it’s moved out of the closing spot in yet another subtle statement about shaking things up. If Seventh Son doesn’t epitomize their sound or define an era the way the first three Dickinson albums did, it nonetheless ranks among their best work. Adrian Smith left the band after this record, closing the book on Maiden’s classic period and heralding a dire — and distressingly immediate — creative decline. –Steve Huey

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Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1992/2015) [e-onkyo 24-44.1]

Iron Maiden – Fear Of The Dark (1992/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1kHz | Time – 00:58:37 minutes | 722 MB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: 1991 – April 1992 at Barnyard Studios, Essex, England

While 1992’s Fear of the Dark was definitely more of a return to form for Iron Maiden, it still wasn’t quite on par with their exceptional work from the ’80s. Easily an improvement over 1990’s lackluster No Prayer for the Dying (both musically and sonically), the album debuted on the U.K. charts at number one. The opening “Be Quick or Be Dead” proved Maiden could easily hold their own with younger thrash metal bands, “From Here to Eternity” contained lyrics that seem better fitted for Mötley Crüe, while the expected epic album-closing title track would become a concert staple (all three tracks were released as U.K. singles). While Maiden records of the past would contain an album’s worth of first-rate material, Fear of the Dark is again weighed down with too many drab compositions — “Childhood’s End,” “Chains of Misery,” “Judas Be My Guide,” and more. The serene “Wasting Love” proves to be one of Maiden’s better ballads of the ’90s, while the rockers “Fear Is the Key” and “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” are also standouts. Fear of the Dark would be singer Bruce Dickinson’s final studio album with the band (until their late-’90s reunion), as he publicly voiced that he felt the band had run its course. –Greg Prato

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Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006/2015) [e-onkyo 24-96]

Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96kHz | Time – 01:12:04 minutes | 1,52 GB | Genre: Rock
Official Digital Download – Source: e-onkyo | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: 1 March – 4 May 2006 at Sarm West Studios, London

2003’s Dance of Death marked the triumphant return of old-school Iron Maiden. Gone were the murky, over-produced set pieces that clogged 2000’s Brave New World and in their place fell blistering slabs of Piece of Mind-era metal. That trend continues with their 14th full-length album, Matter of Life and Death, a more elaborate and meandering experience than Dance of Death, but a rewarding one for fans willing to indulge the group’s occasional excess. At over 70 minutes, Matter of Life and Death is closer to 1988’s woefully underrated Seventh Son of a Seventh Son than it is to Piece of Mind, but with far less keyboard tickling. Recorded live in the studio, epics like “Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg,” “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns,” and the brutal “Longest Day” — the whole record is a loosely-knit song cycle with war at its core — exhume prog rock complexity and discipline yet manage to bristle with the kind of small-club intensity usually reserved for acts half their age. At just over four minutes, opener “Different World” — a near twin of Dance of Death’s “Wildest Dreams” — is the only cut that screams single, but it’s also the most misplaced. On a record that positions beloved avatar Eddy on top of a tank with a machine gun leading a weary troop of skeletal soldiers to their doom, any act of brevity, no matter how expertly crafted, sticks out like a saxophone solo. –James Christopher Monger

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Iron Maiden – X Factor (1995/2015) [OnkyoMusic 24-44.1]

Iron Maiden – X Factor (1995/2015)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44.1 kHz  | Time – 01:11:06 minutes | 822 MB | Genre: Rock, Heavy Metal
Official Digital Download – Source: www.onkyomusic.com | © Parlophone Records
Recorded: 1994 – August 1995 at Barnyard Studios in Essex, England

The X Factor is the tenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October 1995 through EMI. It is the band’s first album to include Blaze Bayley, formerly of Wolfsbane, as vocalist, replacing Bruce Dickinson who left the band following their previous tour to pursue a solo career. It is considered Iron Maiden’s darkest album due to the lyrics being based on personal issues surrounding Steve Harris at the time, who was in the midst of a divorce, and the album cover, which depicts the band’s mascot, Eddie, being graphically mutilated through surgery.

 

Suffering from a lack of powerful riffs and tightly written songs, The X Factor is a lackluster latter-day album from Iron Maiden. Although the band doesn’t sound particularly bad on the record, they don’t sound inspired and there’s a noticeable lack of energy to the performances which makes the lack of imagination all the more apparent. There’s a few cuts that almost deliver the goods, but it’s not enough to raise The X Factor above the merely adequate. –Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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