Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box

Do you want to know what’s inside the most discussed box of the current metal scene?

As I mentioned in the review for Senjutsu, the superb new album by Heavy Metal institution Iron Maiden, it’s time for a detailed review of the most hyped, important and desired box in the heavy music scene at the moment, the Senjutsu FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box. And before I begin talking about the box and each one of its items, let me remind you that this is NOT the Senjutsu Super Deluxe Boxset available at retail. While they may look similar, the FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box is very different, being a handcrafted, lacquered wooden box that contains unique items that can’t be found anywhere else, and of course it was only available to members of The Iron Maiden Fan Club.

Just to give you an overview of what the box is and how it was going to be sold to the public, the first time all members of the IMFC heard about it was on July 20 when we received the Letters from the Rue Morgue #18 from the IMFC, informing us the box was going to be exclusive to us members regardless of what country we’re in, and that we would have plenty of notice for when the pre-sale of the box was going to happen. The IMFC also informed us that the box was going to be extremely limited and there would be only 2021 made, therefore limiting those to one per member (any attempt to order more than one box would be cancelled). The boxes then went on sale on Friday August 13, being released in two batches via the FC shop in order to give people in different time zones a fair chance to order, with the first batch going live at 10:00am BST and the second batch at 5:30pm BST. The total cost of the box already included shipping (it didn’t matter where in the world the buyer was located), and the IMFC also informed they would do their best to ensure that orders arrived on or before September 3, the day Senjutsu was officially released, but of course keeping in mind that Covid-19 and customs-related delays were beyond their control.

As I’m located in Toronto, Canada, I had to wake up at 4:30am ET (which is the same as 9:30am BST) to be able to buy the box in the first batch, and fortunately I succeeded despite the sales happening on a Friday the 13th. It wasn’t easy, though, as the payment process took forever to go through, but thanks to the information provided by other Maidenmaniacs from the IMFC forum who were able to buy the box all I had to do was to keep hitting the “process payment” button without refreshing the page, because as soon as the box was in my shopping cart it was mine unless I didn’t pay for it or cancelled the purchase, of course. It was indeed a fun ride, and after that it was the excitement for the album release on September 3 and the arrival of the famous box. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond what the IMFC could do, the box didn’t arrive on September 3, but only on September 7, which in the end wasn’t a big deal as I used Spotify to enjoy Senjutsu for hours (and hours and hours) until receiving the CD version of the album with the box.

Having said all that, how about reviewing each item on its own and providing some sort of rating from 0 to 10 to each one of them? There are also pictures of each item for you to know exactly what I’m talking about, and see why this is indeed a one-of-a-kind offer from Iron Maiden to us loyal fans.

1. The CD digipak version of Senjutsu

Comments: Everything that had to be said about the album itself can be found in our Senjutsu review HERE, but of course it’s always a pleasure to grab a physical album with your own hands, and Senjutsu is a thing of beauty, from its double cover artwork with two ass-kicking samurai Eddies to its very detailed booklet. I highly recommend you grab a physical copy of the album, that being the CD, the LP or any other available version of it.
Rating: 10/10

2. The Blu-Ray digipak of The Writing On The Wall, including a making-of video and sleeve notes

Comments: Not only the Blu-Ray comes with the two versions of the official video for the song (the original one and the fantastic SFX Version), but there’s also an over 40-minute making-of showing all details of how the video was done, the ideas and stories behind it, and so on. Put differently, it’s a true must-watch for any Iron Maiden fan or any fan of arts in general (and the booklet on its own is already awesome).
Rating: 10/10

3. A decorated board portfolio containing the following:

  • 4. A Japanese hanko-style Eddie stamp, made of teak and engraved, in an engraved teak case.
    Comments: The Eddie stamp is a beautiful piece of art, a nice add-on to the box that is very useful if you want to customize your letters and documents. My only complaint is that the ink that comes with it is not enough to last for a long time, and I also saw some fans complaining their ink was too dry when they got their boxes.
    Rating: 9.0/10
  • 5. An exclusive Mark Wilkinson print, signed and stamped by the man himself
    Comments: This one is just a different version of the samurai Eddie from the album art, or maybe I should say an expanded one, signed by the artist responsible for drawing it. And that’s it. Framing it and hanging it on your wall is highly recommended, otherwise there’s no much usage for it.
    Rating: 8.0/10
  • 6. A unique artwork print in Japan’s Ukiyo-e tradition illustrated by Masumi Ishikawa, who previously created 2 pieces of Iron Maiden ukiyo-e works.
    Comments: This is my favorite of the items from the decorated portfolio, as it’s not only gorgeous with all of its colors making it a unique piece of art, but it’s also perfect for framing and displaying on your wall. And if you search online for more of the work by Masumi Ishikawa you’ll see that guy is a beast when armed with his illustration kit.
    Rating: 10/10

Overall Comments: All items that came with the portfolio are outstanding and cannot be replicated or found anywhere else but inside the FC box, and that’s why the box is more than recommended for all Iron Maiden stuff collectors out there.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10

7. An Eddie lenticular

Comments: This is a tricky one, as although it’s quite cool to have an Eddie lenticular, let’s say it’s no something as exclusive as the other items from the box. You can find very high-end lenticulars pretty much anywhere. They just might not be as badass as Eddie, of course.
Rating: 8.5/10

8. A Japanese-style tsuba – a decorated metal sword hilt typically worn by the Samurai
Comments: This is one of my favorite items of the FC box, and the only reason I’m not giving it a 10 is because now I need a samurai sword to add it to. Apart from that (and you probably noticed I’m just joking), it’s a very well-crafted metal piece that lives up to the Japanese-inspired theme of the album.
Rating: 9.5/10

9. A Senjutsu Eddie pendant necklace

Comments: Another distinguished addition to the FC box. I bet whoever was able to buy the box will be proudly wearing the pendant during next year’s Iron Maiden concerts, with the only issue for me being the necklace that comes with it. A more durable, metal one would have been perfect.
Rating: 9.0/10

10. A printed canvas banner with wooden ends

Comments: If you have a wall to hang it, just do it, as the banner is awesome and will give an extra fiery touch to your decoration. It would have been flawless if it was made of some type of cloth instead of the regular banner material used, but it’s already great the way it is.
Rating: 9.0/10

11. And last but not least, a certificate of authenticity presented in an envelope inspired by Japanese celebratory Shugi Bukuro envelopes and featuring an intricate bow: a mizuhiki

Comments: At the same time some people might say this is just “paper”, it’s one of the most significant items of the box, as it’s not only extremely detailed and delicate, but each certificate is unique to its owner. It deserves a 10 out of 10 hands down.
Rating: 10/10

Overall, the Senjutsu FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box is a 10 out of 10 (or in the case of The Headbanging Moose, a 5 out of 5 skulls), representing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for lovers of everything Iron Maiden who are members of the IMFC to add something absolutely different from anything else they might have in their personal collections. There have been multiple reports of damaged boxes all around the world, unfortunately, plus the fact that even the ones that arrived to their buyers in pristine conditions (like mine) had the interior red cardboard divider slightly damaged, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it’s cost. Just like what happens in any project, there was obviously a considerable probability a few issues would happen along the way with the Senjutsu FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box, mostly with the delivery part of the whole process; however, the guys from the IMFC are making sure they fix the issues reported to them, replace the damaged boxes and so on, so that all of us box buyers get beyond happy with our recent acquisition. In other words, if you have the FC box, enjoy it as much as you can while listening to Senjutsu… and UP THE IRONS!

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On a side note, have you seen the new animated video for the song Stratego? It might have little to do with the FC box, but I thought it would be awesome to add it here for you guys.

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Senjutsu (2021)

Behold another masterpiece by the one and only Iron Maiden with its 82 minutes of tactics, strategy, war, resilience and determination in the form of majestic Heavy Metal.

5.0rating

iron-maiden-senjutsu-2021“Have you seen the writing on the wall?”

The wait is finally over. After nearly six years, Senjutsu (or 戦術 in Japanese, loosely translated as “tactics and strategy”), the seventeenth studio album by British Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden, has finally seen the light of day, and let me tell you each second waiting for such masterpiece was absolutely worth it. Marking the longest gap between two Iron Maiden studio albums following The Book of Souls from 2015, Senjutsu is also the band’s second double album, again using their original logotype (with the extended letters R, M and N) like in The Book of Souls, their first studio album since their 1984 cult album Powerslave to have no songwriting contributions from Dave Murray in any way, and the first since their 1998 opus Virtual XI to feature multiple songs written by Steve Harris alone. Once again recorded at Studios Guillaume Tell in Paris, produced by Kevin Shirley, co-produced by Steve Harris, and displaying a formidable samurai version of our beloved Eddie on the artwork designed by Mark Wilkinson (with the name of the album rendered on the right side of the cover art by the actual vertical Japanese spelling of “senjutsu” and on the left side by a font reminiscent of Japanese characters), Senjutsu takes the band back to the darker and edgier sound from albums the likes of The X-Factor, A Matter of Life and Death, The Final Frontier and The Book of Souls, showcasing another brilliant work done by the unstoppable Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko McBrain.

Traditional Japanese drums ignite the obscure and introspective title-track Senjutsu, offering us Maidenmaniacs over eight minutes of epicness to properly kick things off with Bruce already mesmerizing us all with his unique voice. Moreover, I love how his vocals walk hand in hand with the guitars by Dave, Adrian and Janick, not to mention the song’s ritualistic vibe (similar to what they did in their previous album with “If Eternity Should Fail”), followed by the already known tune Stratego with its lyrics full of metaphors about how hard it is for anyone to face their own lives (“How do you read a madman’s mind / Teach me the art of war / For I shall bring more / Than you bargained for”), while Nicko and Steve take care of that amazing galloping sound that became the band’s trademark, not to mention the song’s stunning guitar solos. Then we have The Writing on the Wall, the first single of the album which you might have probably listened to countless times already, where a country and southern vibe together with its catchy-as-hell chorus declaimed by Bruce (“Have you seen the writing on the wall / Have you seen that writing / Can you see the riders on the storm / Can you see them riding / Can you see them riding… Riding next to you”) turn it into the perfect option for hitting the road with your loved ones.

Lost in a Lost World brings forward another sinister intro to the sound of acoustic guitars that feels like it was taken from one of Bruce’s solo albums, exploding into a fusion of The X-Factor, Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death with a lot of elements from Progressive Rock and Metal added to their core sonority, and with Steve’s bass lines being superb as usual, punching you right in your face, whereas back to a heavier sound we’re treated to the mid-tempo, rockin’ feast titled Days of Future Past, again blending classic Iron Maiden with Bruce’s solo material and displaying an amazing job done by the band’s guitar triumvirate accompanied by the pounding drums by an inspired Nicko. Needless to say, it will sound amazing if added to their live performances. Then beginning in a similar way as The Final Frontier’s “The Talisman”, The Time Machine presents a more cadenced pace with the background keys by Steve complementing the sharp work by the guitar boys, evolving into a sick galloping and diverse extravaganza halfway through it; and the sound of the ocean brings comfort to our hearts before Iron Maiden once again hypnotize us all in Darkest Hour, a somber ballad in the vein of A Matter of Life and Death’s “Out of the Shadows” but with a stronger vibe, all spiced up by their undisputed, soulful guitar solos.

iron-maiden-senjutsu-super-deluxe-boxset

Iron Maiden Senjutsu Super Deluxe Boxset

The last batch of songs from Senjutsu was entirely written by Steve Harris, and let me tell you it’s a flawless lesson in rock and metal music, starting with his undisputed bass lines in Death of the Celts, being gradually joined by Nicko and the rest of the crew. What a bold, multi-layered metal voyage by the band, overflowing epicness, progressiveness and electricity nonstop, spearheaded by the rumbling kitchen by Steve and Nicko, of course. And you better get ready for over 12 minutes of majestic Heavy Metal in the form of The Parchment, once again beginning in a serene, cryptic manner and evolving into a very progressive mid-tempo sound. Bruce’s vocals are utterly imposing and epic from start to finish, with Dave, Janick and Adrian being on total fire with their stringed axes. And lastly, Hell on Earth is a song that gave me goosebumps from the very first second, as soon as I started listening to it, feeling like “The Aftermath” from The X-Factor but at the same time a lot more intricate and powerful, with Steve and Nicko taking the lead while Dave, Adrian and Janick deliver sheer melody through their incendiary riffs, providing Bruce all he needs to flawlessly tell the story proposed in the song until all fades into the unknown in a somber and climatic manner. In other words, thank you, Mr. Steve Harris, for being so awesome.

iron-maiden-2021To be fair, there are no actual words I can choose to describe all the darkness, the energy, the details and the intricacy found in Senjutsu. It’s simply incredible how Iron Maiden managed to deliver such masterpiece without sounding outdated, repetitive or bland after so many decades on the road, leaving us all eager for another studio album, for their next tour, for more Eddies and so on, even knowing all members are in their 60’s already (as a matter of fact, Nicko is almost 70). Not only that, the way they promoted the new album on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube from day one, including the fun ride that was “Belshazzar’s Feast” (a story from the Book of Daniel in the Bible, also known as ​“the story of the writing on the wall”, with the initials WOTW cropping up in a lot of Iron Maiden-related places), was beyond entertaining, proving the band trespassed the barriers of music with Senjutsu. Furthermore, this is also one of those situations where buying the physical album, despite the fact we live in a digital world, is almost mandatory, especially if you go for the Super Deluxe Boxset, or even better, for the FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box, which will deserve its own review as soon as I receive it next week. And now please excuse me, as I need to get back to Senjutsu and listen to it another billion times on a loop for the foreseeable future, just the way it’s supposed to be when the band in question is the almighty Iron Maiden.

Best moments of the album: Senjutsu, Days of Future Past, Death of the Celts, The Parchment and Hell on Earth.

Worst moments of the album: I’m still trying to find one.

Released in 2021 Parlophone/Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG

Track listing 
1. Senjutsu 8:20
2. Stratego 4:59
3. The Writing on the Wall 6:13
4. Lost in a Lost World 9:31
5. Days of Future Past 4:03
6. The Time Machine 7:09
7. Darkest Hour 7:20
8. Death of the Celts 10:20
9. The Parchment 12:39
10. Hell on Earth 11:19

FC Exclusive Limited Edition Collectors Box/Super Deluxe Boxset Bonus Disc (Blu-ray)
1.The Writing on the Wall documentary

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Album Review – Iron Maiden / The Book Of Souls (2015)

As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.

Rating1

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls“Here is the soul of a man…”

Unless you were one of the luckiest bastards in the world who joined Mr. Bruce Dickinson on a special 737 flight from Cardiff, UK to Paris, France on August 26 to hear in its entirety the brand new album by Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden, the 92-minute Mayan-inspired masterpiece The Book Of Souls, I’m pretty sure you have been suffering lately from several “withdrawal symptoms” such as anxiety, palpitations, restlessness and poor concentration, counting every second left until today to close that excruciating five-year gap since their 2010 album The Final Frontier. However, you can definitely relax now, because the band’s first ever double studio album is not only ass-kicking, but so dense and multi-layered we have enough Iron Maiden at their finest to soothe our souls for the next five decades or so.

Furthermore, there are so many noteworthy details surrounding The Book Of Souls it’s hard to summarize everything in just a few lines. For instance, the album was recorded at Studios Guillaume Tell in Paris, the same studio used for their 2000 release Brave New World, with several songs being written and recorded immediately after to give them a live and fresh taste. Also, the album cover features the original version of the Iron Maiden logo, not used on a studio album since their 1995 release The X Factor. And finally, although The Book Of Souls is not a concept album, many songs have references to the human soul, mortality and death, depicted in the artwork as the idiosyncratic “Eddie Sapiens” by English illustrator Mark Wilkinson, who by the way has already worked with other music icons such as Marillion, Fish and Judas Priest, as well as with Iron Maiden themselves in previous works like Best of the ‘B’ Sides and the single The Wicker Man. In addition, the band hired Mayanist scholar Simon Martin, who also translated the song titles into hieroglyphs, to validate the accuracy of the artwork. If there’s a band that pays attention to every single detail in their albums, that’s undoubtedly Iron Maiden.

Nevertheless, it’s when the music starts that we’re all reminded why we love these British veterans so much, and in the case of The Book Of Souls there’s A LOT of music for us Maidenmaniacs to relish. Starting with the first disc, the intro in the excellent If Eternity Should Fail already gave me goosebumps, and besides, it’s really comforting to see that Mr. Bruce Dickinson’s voice continues to be stunning after his battle against cancer (even knowing the album was recorded before his treatment started). After that it’s pure Iron Maiden, which means powerful riffs, galloping bass and drums, and a gripping storyline, with the creepy narration at the end (“the harvester of souls”) reminding me of what Bruce did in some of the songs from his excellent solo album The Chemical Wedding. And if you think this is a lengthy song with its imposing eight minutes, let me remind you it’s only the fourth one in terms of duration. Moving on to the next track, it’s not Iron Maiden if you cannot enjoy some extra freebies such as a behind-the-scenes exclusive footage of an official video or playing a special game inspired by a song, which is the case in the high-octane Speed of Light, where Hard Rock is taken to the next level with the help of some dashing cowbell, Bruce’s vibrant screams and a fuckin’ awesome rhythm led by Iron Maiden’s guitar triumvirate formed by Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers, taking us fans back in time to a Piece of Mind-ish musicality with a touch of Brave New World. Moreover, this electric tune has that type of chorus you’ll be singing nonstop in the shower, in your car, at work, school and anywhere else in the world with your fists in the air and a huge smile on your face (“Shadows in the stars / We will not return / Humanity won’t save us / At the speed of light / Shadows in the stars / We will not return / Humanity won’t save us / We’re slippin’ through the night”).

Iron MaidenThe Great Unknown, which reminds me of some of the songs from The X-Factor but with the addition of the high-end progressiveness found in their latest albums (especially The Final Frontier), showcases the always superb Nicko McBrain firing his unique beats and fills, as well as another eerie story told by Bruce, keeping The Book Of Souls at an incredible level of quality. But it’s from The Red and the Black on that the album becomes a brilliant tribute to Heavy Metal. No words can describe the verve of its intro, and it doesn’t matter if you consider it old school or more contemporary Iron Maiden, as long as you acknowledge its awesomeness. It’s obviously another masterful and epic creation by the one and only Mr. Steve Harris, with highlights to the combination of Steve’s flawless bass lines and Dave’s, Janick’s and Adrian’s riffs and solos. I can’t wait to scream its electrifying “Ooh-Oooh! Ooh-Oooh!” together with the band when I see them live next year (if they play it, of course), and while some people might complain this song is too long, I prefer complaining it has “only” 13 minutes. Too short for its greatness, don’t you agree?

With hints of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and their Punk Rock attitude from Iron Maiden and Killers, the fast-paced tune When the River Runs Deep, written by Adrian and Steve, truly makes my blood run wild, and I’m certain that if this song was part of any of their old albums it would have become an all-time classic without a shadow of a doubt. Bruce and Nicko are absolutely on fire, making me wonder if they’re really over 50 years old as they sound like they’re in their 20’s, so fiery their performances are. Then closing the first album we have the title-track, The Book of Souls, exhaling beauty from its melancholic intro to the poetry in its lyrics. Everything was meticulously put together by the whole band in this song, which has actually two distinct parts if you pay good attention, the first composed by a grandiose and marching rhythm enhanced by the keyboards in the background, while the second is a lot faster and heavier, showcasing Maiden’s traditional guitar riffs and solos until the songs fades to a somber and calm ending.

In order to properly kick off the second disc and tear the house down, Adrian and Bruce got together to craft another fighting anthem the likes of The Duellists entitled Death or Glory, the perfect soundtrack to an epic battle movie where nothing sounds out of place, with highlights to its exciting backing vocals, blazin’ guitar solos and a potent battlefield sonority. Truth be told, I can’t stop banging my head and playing air bass guitar to this straightforward tune, which is also the case in Shadows of the Valley and its “Wasted Years 2.0” intro, another strong candidate for their live performances. Despite beginning in a very similar way as one of their biggest classics of all time, it ends up following a pattern closer to songs such as “The Fallen Angel” and “Montségur”, mainly due to its characteristic galloping bass guitar and Nicko’s solid drumming. One thing I love doing while listening to Iron Maiden is closing my eyes and absorbing the story Bruce is telling me while the other band members generate a thrilling ambience, and let me tell you this song is perfect for that.

Iron Maiden’s Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet, also known as Queen of the Skies

Iron Maiden’s Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet, also known as Queen of the Skies

Tears of a Clown, a reverent Heavy Rock tribute to one of the most important actors in the world, Mr. Robin Williams (R.I.P.), is a lot more inclined to Bruce’s solo career, and albeit its instrumental parts sound very cohesive what really stands out in this song is the story told through its lyrics. And The Man of Sorrows, which also sounds closer to something Bruce would do on his own rather than with Iron Maiden (it was written by Steve and Dave, by the way), is completely different from Accident of Birth’s “Man of Sorrows” regardless of their almost identical names. It starts as a heavy ballad, evolving to a darker, more progressive and more melodic musicality than usual, increasing its complexity and impact on the listener.

And last but not least, Empire of the Clouds, featuring Bruce on piano for the first time ever and based on the historic crash of the titanic airship R101 in 1930, replaces “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” as the band’s longest song ever at 18 minutes in duration. It is perhaps the most melancholic and sorrowful song ever composed by the band, and as we all know they have the guts to play something like this live I bet it will be part of their upcoming setlist next year for our purest delectation. Bruce gives a History lesson about the R101 during the whole song, taking its epicness to the second power, with the music perfectly representing the audacity, dreams and failure involved in that important historical fact. Additionally, after nine minutes it becomes a music voyage full of changes in rhythm, progressive passages and symphonic elements, culminating in a gentle and passionate climax that closes The Book Of Souls with a flourish.

In summary, Iron Maiden triumphed once again (as if anyone is really surprised with that), delivering a bold, venturous and elaborate album that will keep them atop the highest mountains of heavy music, consequently attracting more and more fans to their extensive family and keeping Heavy Metal strong and relevant for many years to come. Now all we have to do is wait patiently for their gigantic world tour next year on board of their Boeing 747-400 Jumbo Jet (aka Queen of the Skies), listening to The Book Of Souls over and over again until then. And as you read through the pages of the new epic album by Heavy Metal’s greatest band of all time, you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, and you, and you, and you, and all of you… no matter how far.

Best moments of the album: The Red and the Black, When the River Runs Deep, Death or Glory, Shadows of the Valley and Empire of the Clouds.

Worst moments of the album: WHAT!?

Released in 2015 Parlophone/Sanctuary Copyrights/BMG

Track listing
Disc one
1. If Eternity Should Fail 8:28
2. Speed of Light 5:01
3. The Great Unknown 6:37
4. The Red and the Black 13:33
5. When the River Runs Deep 5:52
6. The Book of Souls 10:27

Disc two
1. Death or Glory 5:13
2. Shadows of the Valley 7:32
3. Tears of a Clown 4:59
4. The Man of Sorrows 6:28
5. Empire of the Clouds 18:01

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals, piano on “Empire of the Clouds”
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums