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

Beverage Review – Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black

The morals of life and the perils of death in the form of a delicious porter style beer full of “the red and the black.”

3.5rating

iron-maiden-beer-red-n-black-logo“The red and the black, people don’t want the truth, look in their eyes and you send them away
The red and the black, fate and hypocrisy, burden’s a heavy load there is no doubt
The red and the black, all out of luck again, how many chances can anyone have
The red and the black, treachery out to win, there in the wrong place and at the wrong time.”

As we’re getting closer and closer to the release of Senjutsu, the seventeenth studio album by the one and only Iron Maiden, let’s have a round of special reviews in celebration of their new album that will see the light of day exactly one month from today, on September 3, starting with our (belated) review of Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black porter, one of the best creations from the list of Iron Maiden beers so far by the indomitable Bruce Dickinson and Robinsons Brewery. After having tasted the original Trooper Beer, plus the excellent Hallowed and Sun and Steel, I was finally able to grab a few bottles of Red ‘N’ Black and, although I’m not a big fan of dark beers, I must admit this one provided me a very pleasant drinking exercise.

Having its name inspired by one of the best compositions by Iron Maiden after the return of Bruce on vocals over 20 years ago when Brave New World was released, that being The Red And The Black from the majestic The Book Of Souls, Iron Maiden’s Red ‘N’ Black is a modern take on a recipe that dates back to the 1850’s, a time when porter style beer was becoming increasingly popular in Britain. At 6.8% in bottle or 5.8% ABV in cask, Red ‘N’ Black is the first dark beer in the Trooper ranks and the strongest beer in the range to date, showcasing a blend of chocolate and crystal malt that gives this full-bodied beer a roasted malt and caramel backbone, while the Robinsons’ yeast provides hints of both liquorice and honey to create a delicious warming brew. “I like tasting outside the box. Stouts and porters were virgin territory for me so I just went by feel. Martyn and I hope we have created a new take on a classic beer and one which I hope will tickle the taste buds of ale fans in a pleasantly unexpected way,” explained Bruce when the beer was about to be launched.

As I already mentioned, I had a very good time savoring all the 500mL from the Red ‘N’ Black bottle (while of course listening to The Red And The Black) even not being a huge fan of dark beers, and the reason for that is mainly due to the lack of that (way too) strong bitterness that several porters out in the market have. Bruce and Robinsons Brewery managed to turn Red ‘N’ Black into a very easy-drinking beer, and you won’t even notice its 6.8% ABV. Furthermore, this is an amazing option to pair with an aged or fruity cheese, to taste it right after you devour some good old ribs, or to simply enjoy it by itself while watching a football match on TV. I still consider Sun and Steel as my top Iron Maiden beer so far, but as I said that’s due to my personal taste for lighter beers; however, I can also state that Red ‘N’ Black is by far my top dark beer, being very tasteful, smooth and, as mentioned in the official description of the beer, pleasantly warming.

iron-maiden-beer-red-n-blackGood luck trying to find it now, though, as the beer was advertised as a limited edition back when it was originally launched, which means it’s going to be tough finding a bottle for sale anywhere. For instance, you can’t find it using the UK Trooper Finder nor the US Trooper Finder, it’s not available from the Iron Maiden Beer webstore, from the Robinsons Brewery official website, nor from Iron Maiden Beer Canada (where The Headbanging Moose is located). But who knows? Maybe you live in a privileged country or area where there are still a few bottles of Red ‘N’ Black available, right? And if you find at least one bottle, save it for September 3 to celebrate the release of the highly anticipated Senjutsu. Unless you want to go full samurai and drink a pint of Sun and Steel on launch date instead, of course.

Beer details
Style: Porter – English
ABV: 6.8%
From: Robinsons Family Brewers
Country: England, United Kingdom

Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden Legacy of the Beast Figurines

Be part of the legacy with the new collection of first-class figurines inspired by Iron Maiden’s award-winning RPG mobile game.

If you’re an avid Iron Maiden follower, always eager to see what’s next in the career of our beloved Heavy Metal behemoths, I’m pretty sure you have already seen online or even downloaded and played their mobile game Legacy of the Beast, released in 2017, where you are able to battle as Eddie across several different worlds inspired by the band’s unique imagery and music. What you might not know is that Iron Maiden, in a partnership with a multi-faceted production company called Incendium, are also offering their fans a collection of high-quality action figures called Legacy of the Beast Figurines, based on several characters from their award-winning RPG game. There are two types of figurines available, the ones you can see what you’re buying and the ones that come in a blind box, something tons of other manufacturers do for different collections based on movies, cartoons and TV shows where they lower the cost of the blind box, but you always end up spending more money than you have available by buying several boxes (because you never know what you’re going to get).

The ones you can see what you’re buying are a no-brainer, highly recommended for embellishing your “altar of Heavy Metal” together with all your other metal-inspired memorabilia, those being the SHAMAN EDDIE (inspired by their 2015 masterpiece The Book of Souls), the VAMPIRE HUNTER EDDIE (inspired by their 1980 instrumental classic Transylvania), and the TROOPER EDDIE, all costing around CAD$ 32.43 (or US$24.95). These highly detailed 1:24 scale PVC figures measure about 4-inches tall and come on a special theme base, packaged in a diorama-style window box. As I said, whenever you see one of those, simply buy them because they kick some serious ass. However, while searching for those Eddies you might actually find a blind box containing one of the 12 different individual characters featured in the Legacy of the Beast Wave 1 Limited Edition Figurines, and that’s when the “problem” beings because as already mentioned you have no idea what character you’re buying. Those 12 figurines and the chance of getting a particular one are:

Goddess Aset figurine – 1:12
Clairvoyant figurine – 2:12
Cyborg figurine – 1:60
Holy Smokes figurine – 2:12
Owl Cultist figurine – 1:12
Pharaoh figurine – 1:12
Rainmaker figurine – 1:12
Reaper figurine – 1:12
Samurai figurine – 1:94
Soulless Demon figurine – 1:12
Speed of Light figurine – 3:24
Wicker Boss figurine – 1:12

Heights of figurines vary, and are typically 9cm high including the stand, but of course the selection is absolutely random (based on the chances listed above) and you cannot ask the manufacturer for a specific item, nor can they accept returns on opened items. This means once you buy a blind box, it’s yours forever (unless you sell it on eBay or Kijiji), and that you may receive duplicates when ordering more than one item. For instance, I bought only one box and got the Clairvoyant, by far the most boring of all characters by the way, but it is what it is, and if I had bought two boxes I might have gotten two Clairvoyants. You can buy only ONE BLIND BOX for around CAD$ 19.43 (or US$ 14.95), or you can try your luck buying a special BLIND BOX MASTER CASE containing 12 individual blind boxes for around CAD$ 233.92 (or US$ 179.95). But again, keep in mind if you buy the carton with 12 blind boxes, you might end up getting 12 Clairvoyants instead of the Samurai and the Cyborg you wanted so much.

Apart from Iron Maiden’s official webstore, you can also find the Legacy of the Beast Figurines on sale from the Incendium webstore, as well as from Hot Topic (and they have the Shaman Eddie, the Vampire Hunter Eddie, the Trooper Eddie and the individual blind boxes in stock). Furthermore, you can always keep an eye on Iron Maiden’s official Facebook page and/or the Iron Maiden: Legacy of the Beast’s official Facebook page for news and other announcements about the game itself and giveaways. Yes, they’re giving away special packages of figurines to a few lucky fans every week or so, like this Legacy of the Beast Comic-Con Giveaway containing Trooper Eddie, Vampire Hunter Eddie, Shaman Eddie, six random blind box figures and three pin sets. And remember this is just wave 1, which means more awesome characters are coming whenever waves 2, 3, 4 and so on are released (and I truly hope that happens sooner than later).

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Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar

Get ready for the upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018 with the newest,  kick-ass edition of the already famous and always fun Iron Maiden official calendar.

It’s that wonderful time of the year we all start to get anxious for several days of happiness and fun that are about to begin, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season, but about the new fantastic tour Iron Maiden will start in May 2018 in the beautiful Tallin, the capital of Estonia (unless they add any new dates before that, of course), named Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018, inspired by their own game Legacy of the Beast. Well, there’s nothing better than a classy calendar for the countdown, right? And that’s exactly what Iron Maiden together with Danilo Promotions Limited are providing us once again this year with the brand new version of their already traditional official calendar.

Featuring some of the most memorable versions of Eddie that appeared in different event shirts during The Book Of Souls 2016 World Tour and The Book Of Souls 2017 World Tour, such as London, California, Chicago, Texas, Canada, Japan and South Africa, among others, the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar kicks some serious ass when compared to most of its previous editions. Simply check the 2017 edition of the calendar and you’ll see what I’m talking about. If someone by any chance forced me to make any negative comments about this new calendar, let’s say it would be the fact they didn’t use any of the Eddies from the Legacy of the Beast game in it, but the special event Eddies displayed in each month are so cool I’m sure on one will complain about that either, don’t you agree?

With its front cover being a fusion of the already iconic “Eddie Sapiens” inside a ring of fire and the aforementioned Eddies from several event shirts used during the band’s The Book Of Souls tours, and having very similar dimensions (42 x 29.2 x 0.5 cm) and weight (325 g) to all past editions, the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar is the perfect gift for that Maidenmaniac friend of yours who knows each and every date Iron Maiden are playing on their forthcoming tour, but that at the same time can only remember the birthday of his or her significant other if he or she writes it on the calendar and sets up an alarm as a reminder. There are as usual several places where you can grab your copy of the calendar, such as at  Danilo.com, on Amazon.com (where you can also find special bundles such as  calendar + keyring or calendar + fridge magnet), on Amazon.ca, or on any other local Amazon website, at Calendar Club, or at your nearest physical calendar store.

Iron Maiden 2018 Square Global (Multilingual Edition)

And just like I mentioned last year, there’s also a 12 x 12 inch square version of the calendar that can be found online under the name Iron Maiden 2018 Square Global (Multilingual Edition), bringing the same Eddies used in the A3 version of the calendar but obviously in a square format, if you fancy that variation of the regular version of it. Actually, as long as you purchase the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar, no matter if it’s A3 or square, you’ll be more than ready to initiate your personal countdown for the first gig of the upcoming tour in May, when you’ll finally know the setlist they’ll be playing until the last show of the tour (which is right now booked for August 11, 2018 in London, at the O2 Arena), how their new stage will look like, how the new stage Eddies will be, among other things only a band like Iron Maiden can provide us metalheads. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city where they’ll play in 2018, or if you’ve already booked your trip to one of those places, then the calendar will be of the utmost importance for your planning stages, using it to mark the dates when you’ll receive your tickets, book your accommodation, receive your brand new Iron Maiden shirt to get properly dressed for the concert, and so on. And that’s the fun of being a Maidenmaniac, as Steve, Bruce and Co. never get tired of amazing us all with their unparalleled Heavy Metal, while we of course never get tired of following those guys.

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

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

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2017 Calendar

Are you ready for the 2017 round of the kick-ass The Book Of Souls World Tour? You’ll need this neat and classy calendar to keep track of all those dates, not doubt about that.

Rating5

00_iron-maiden-calendar-2017As we’re reaching the end of a year full of highs and lows not only in heavy music, it’s about time we get ready for 2017, because if the new year brings us just half of the intensity of 2016 we’ll certainly have a ton of work to do to survive all the issues and hassles of our modern-day society. Well, nothing better than having a badass calendar to at least plan our year in a decent manner, right? Having said that, it’s time to review (and obviously purchase) the Iron Maiden 2017 Calendar, the brand new edition of the famous kick-ass calendar by Heavy Metal heroes Iron Maiden. And finally, after my complaints about the previous edition of it, we’re treated to a calendar featuring images from the highly acclaimed The Book Of Souls 2016 World Tour.

Once again the calendar was produced by Danilo Promotions Limited, displaying as expected very similar dimensions (42 x 29.7 x 0.4 cm) and weight (358 g) to all previous editions. Despite not having any new Eddies from The Book Of Souls’ Mayan theme, except for the one in its front cover, the selection of exclusive photos from this year’s tour is excellent, with the months of May, September and November making me want to travel back in time to March this year, when I had the indescribable pleasure of witnessing the most awesome band in the world mesmerizing the cities of Montreal and Toronto here in Canada with their unique and flammable Heavy Metal.

There are several physical stores and websites where you can grab your copy of this already traditional calendar, like at the Iron Maiden official webshop, at Danilo.com, at your country’s Amazon website such as the ones in Canada and in the United States, or at the Calendar Club’s UK webstore. The price is very reasonable considering the high quality of the material and of course its content, costing between 6 and 12 US Dollars depending on where you buy it, plus taxes and shipping costs.

iron-maiden-official-2017-calendar-square-global-multilingual

Iron Maiden 2017 Square Global (Multilingual Edition)

One thing I “forgot” to mention in the reviews for the previous editions of the calendar was the existence of the square version of it, but as this year both the regular and the square versions follow the same pattern and theme, I thought it would be a good idea to add it to the review. The Iron Maiden 2017 Square Global (Multilingual Edition) costs a little more than the regular version, being priced at around 15 US Dollars, and it’s just as classy and beautiful as its rectangular sibling. You can find this one for sale at Amazon, at Calendars.com, at the Calendar Club’s Canadian website, among other locations. As The Book Of Souls 2017 World Tour is just around the corner, I’m sure this awesome calendar will be very helpful in keeping all those dates in Germany, England and Scotland (and probably in more cities to be added to the tour) perfectly registered for you while you listen to The Book Of Souls for the millionth time, getting ready for another round of flawless performances provided by Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko Mcbrain. Just remember to hang your calendar really high on your wall so you’ll have to “climb like a monkey” every single time you need to change its month.

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, 04/03/2016)

Not even a bitterly cold and snowy night in Toronto could stop Iron Maiden from writing another beautiful and epic chapter in The Book Of Souls.

OPENING ACT: The Raven Age

iron maiden_the book of souls world tour 2016Here we go again, another blistering cold night in Toronto when it was supposed to be already warming up, with around 15cm of snow out of nowhere just to make the beginning of this spring even weirder than the warmest winter in history. However, when you have the best Heavy Metal band in the entire world playing live in the city, who truly cares about some harmless snowflakes? My only concern was if we were going to have the same sound issues from the concert Friday night in Montreal also here in Toronto, but fortunately the sound quality at the Air Canada Centre was a billion times better than at the Bell Centre, making the whole night even more memorable.

After facing over 30 minutes out in the cold in a never-ending line where there was even an Elvis with an Eddie mask from Powerslave (would that make him the “Presleyslave” or the “Elvis High”?), I got back to the place where I belong in concerts, the floor section (and not those uncomfortable seats from Bell Centre). I might be wrong, but the floor section was quite empty for a sold out concert, even during Iron Maiden. If that’s for safety reasons, no problem, but I think they could have added at least a thousand extra tickets for that area. Anyway, my comments about the opening act, British Melodic Metal THE RAVEN AGE, are exactly the same from Friday night, which means if you read my review for Montreal you can apply each and every word to Toronto as well.

Setlist
Uprising
Promised Land
The Death March
Eye Among the Blind
The Merciful One
Salem’s Fate
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Michael Burrough – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

IMG_1236While some bands look and sound the exact same every single night, there’s something about IRON MAIDEN that makes each of their live performances unique even if they do not change anything in their setlist during the entire tour, as it’s happening during the amazing The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016. We all know which songs they’re going to play, and some people even complain about the band’s predictability, but when the concert starts Bruce, Steve and Co. manage to be different, to sound different and to always offer something new to their fans. Maybe that’s the main reason why they’re who they’re today, right?

Thanks to the almighty Eddie, there were no problems with the sound! Quite the contrary, each instrument was loud and clear, especially the pounding drums by the one and only Mr. Nicko McBrain and the rumbling bass guitar by the band’s mastermind Mr. Steve Harris, who made the epic tune The Book of Souls sound more powerful than ever. By the way, what an amazing reaction the fans had to all new songs from The Book Of Souls, especially the opening song If Eternity Should Fail and what was once again the highlight of the show for me, The Red and the Back. Of course fans went crazy when they played classics such as The Trooper, Powerslave (with Bruce wearing the same “luchador” mask from the past couple of shows due to Wrestlemania weekend), Hallowed Be Thy Name (with everyone at the ACC beautifully singing it together with the band), The Number of the Beast and Wasted Years, but it’s nice to see Iron Maiden are not trapped in the past and are still releasing awesome music for our total delight.

iron maiden torontoNow let’s talk about those special details that made last night unique, and I’m not talking about the cold and the snow. We all know how intelligent and skillful Mr. Bruce Dickinson is, and that was once again proved after the band performed the heavy and fast Death or Glory. Any other musician would have ignored the fact the song has a special importance to Toronto and to Canada, but Bruce made sure he spent the necessary time to explain the song is about Baron Manfred von Richthofen, better known as the “Red Baron”, who was shot down by Canadian air ace Captain Roy Brown in 1918, and that the seat of Red Baron’s triplane was donated by the dauntless Canadian pilot to a museum in Toronto. Bruce only forgot to mention the name of the museum, so if you’re interested in visiting it and seeing the airplane seat from the renowned Red Baron you need to go to the Royal Canadian Military Institute Museum (RCMI). As a side note, “Turns like a devil, climbs like a monkey!” (or something like that) were the Red Baron’s words about the Fokker Dr I, the most successful triplane in history. Guess where you can also find these words? And before I forget, poor Janick Gers, his guitar stopped working in the middle of the song and he had to spend about two minutes backstage trying to fix it. I’m not going to mention that most people didn’t even notice that “small” detail mainly because Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were on fire with their flawless riffs and solos, ans also because I like Janick’s performance (I think he IS important to what Iron Maiden are today), but if you also saw that you know what I’m talking about.

IMG_1225By the end of the show, while introducing the melodic Blood Brothers, Bruce spoke about the differences in terms of safety and quality of life found everywhere the band goes, comparing for example our always safe Canada to one of the most dangerous countries in the world, El Salvador, but also saying if there’s one thing that unites us all and helps us face any adversities in life is Heavy Metal, in special if you’re part of the MAIDEN FAMILY. On the train back to my small city, Oakville, an “old school” couple who also attended the concert sat in front of us and we instantly started chatting about Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica (the guy even fist pumped me full of joy when I said Metallica is the most overrated band on earth), sports, and several other topics. They even gave us a customized pair of hockey blade tapes from The Book Of Souls without even knowing us! That moment I realized how big, fun and unified the Maiden Family mentioned by Bruce is. And I’m happy to be part of it, so happy I didn’t even care I had to wipe a ton of snow from my car at the train station, at midnight, and under a frigid temperature of around -6oC. Actually, I was very relaxed while doing that, humming the “Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh Oh-oh-oh!” from The Red and the Black and already thinking about when I’ll be able to watch Iron Maiden kicking some serious ass once again.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

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

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Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Bell Centre, Montreal, QC, 04/01/2016)

Criez pour moi, Montréal! Criez pour moi, Canada!

OPENING ACT: The Raven Age

iron maiden_the book of souls world tour 2016Finally, after endless hours of rain, strong winds, sun, rain again, snow, sun again and snow again on the road, I’m back from Montreal where I had the pleasure to see for the 17th time in my life the almighty Iron Maiden at the Bell Centre. Before I talk about the concert itself, I would like to recommend the excellent Hôtel Bonaventure no matter what you’re planning to do in Montreal. Not only the hotel is extremely well located (for example, it’s only a 5 to 10-minute walk away from the Bell Centre), but the staff is very friendly, the rooms are comfortable and clean, and their heated outdoor pool is a relaxing option after a busy day in the city.

Getting back to the gig, I don’t have much to say about the opening act THE RAVEN AGE mainly because I didn’t have time to listen to their music before the concert. This London-based band plays a solid mix of Melodic Metal and Metalcore, but nothing new to the world of heavy music. If this is your cup of tea, you’ll probably have a good time listening to them, otherwise do not expect to be blown away by their music. One might ask why those guys are the opening act for Iron Maiden during their entire world tour. Well, one of the guitarists is called George Harris, son of the best and most important bass player in the history of Heavy Metal. Do I need to say more?

Setlist
Uprising
Promised Land
The Death March
Eye Among the Blind
The Merciful One
Salem’s Fate
Angel in Disgrace

Band members
Michael Burrough – vocals
Dan Wright – guitar
George Harris – guitar
Matt Cox – bass
Jai Patel – drums

IRON MAIDEN

DSC06715Unless you spent the last few months or so stranded in a space station in Mars like Matt Damon in the fun movie The Martian, you already know how grandiose and special The Book Of Souls World Tour 2016 has been so far for all Maidenmaniacs worldwide. Promoting their masterpiece The Book Of Souls, Heavy Metal titans IRON MAIDEN are better than ever on stage, led by obviously Mr. Steve Harris with his galloping bass guitar and an unstoppable Bruce Dickinson proving us all that cancer can be overcome if your will to live is stronger than your fear of dying.

iron maiden montrealA few marvelous details caught my attention before and during the concert, things that only Iron Maiden can provide you and no one else. First of all, there was a group of friends a few rows below mine proudly flying a flag from the distant territory of Nunavut, in northern Canada. I have no idea if they live in Montreal or if they were there just for the concert, but just for you to better understand this, its capital city Iqaluit is located over 2,000km from Montreal, and it can only be reached by plane in a 5-hour direct flight. Iron Maiden are capable of shortening any distance in such a powerful way it’s hard to describe the feeling, don’t you agree? Secondly, about three rows below me, there was a couple where the mom was carrying a beautiful 6-month (or even less) baby who had a mini Iron Maiden flag hanging from his back (and of course a “fancy” pair of earphones to protect his tiny ears), something so pure and gracious it gives a good amount of hope to our decaying world. Although there were many other kids with their parents at the venue (another thing only Iron Maiden can provide us fans), I’ll never forget the image of that baby and his badass flag. And lastly, that was not only the first time I saw Iron Maiden from a numbered seat, but also the first time I witnessed Bruce interacting with the crowd in French all the time. I have to point out how unique Bruce is. Who else can do all the stuff he does at the same time and thrive in every single one of them?

DSC06719Talking about the concert itself, nothing I say here will properly express all the passion and emotion of watching those six old school British metallers live once again. Blending old classics like Children of the Damned and The Trooper with new kick-ass tunes such as The Red and the Black (my favorite moment of the night) and Death or Glory, they offered all types of fans everything we could expect for. Not even the horrible sound quality at the Bell Centre, which almost ruined the magnificent intro in If Eternity Should Fail, could make the whole experience less superb. From the entire setlist, the aforementioned The Red and the Black, the incredible The Book of Souls, the all-time classic Hallowed Be Thy Name and the meaningful Blood Brothers (or “frères de sang”, as Bruce introduced it), where that mom was literally cradling her baby “metalhead” to the song’s lovely rhythm, were the moments where I felt in another dimension so perfect they were.

When the concert was over it was easy to see a huge smile on everyone’s faces, proving once again the positive power Iron Maiden always have on us all. And please forgive me for such a short review, but I have to get ready to see my favorite band of all time once again tonight at the Air Canada Centre, here in Toronto. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Children of the Damned
Tears of a Clown
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
Death or Glory
The Book of Souls
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

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

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
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.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2016 Calendar

Completely disconnected from The Book Of Souls, the new calendar has a huge feeling of “been there, done that” despite being very classy and well-crafted.

Rating7

00_Iron Maiden Calendar 2016Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden have been on a exciting roll in 2015, starting with Bruce Dickinson beautifully overcoming cancer, followed by the release of a brand new album that’s being considered by most of their fans as their best since Bruce’s return to the band back in 1999, the spectacular The Book Of Souls, which obviously led them to schedule several dates all around the world for their upcoming tour in 2016 (with most of those concerts being sold out already). Add to that the soaring number of merchandise items offered through their official webshop and also available in lots of physical stores everywhere, and you have a flawless 2015 and a promising 2016 for the band and consequently for each of their diehard fans worldwide.

However, in my opinion there was a huge opportunity missed by the band with one of their new items, which might not make any difference in the life of their occasional fans, but that surely has a significant impact for Maidenmaniacs like myself. I’m talking about the Iron Maiden 2016 Calendar, which despite being a solid compilation of some of Eddie’s most iconic facets, it has that tiresome feeling of “been there, seen that” when compared to all their previous calendars.

Published as usual by Danilo Promotions Limited and displaying very similar dimensions (42.1 x 29.6 x 1 cm) and weight (318 g) to all previous editions, don not expect to see ANY references to The Book Of Souls on the calendar, but just a collection of old school Eddies from Running Free to Different World. Actually, the artwork chosen for the front cover is a slight adaptation from their 1996 “best of” album Best Of The Beast, something beyond my comprehension.

I’m not saying it’s a boring calendar. Quite the opposite, who doesn’t love the Eddies from The Trooper, Aces High or Stranger in a Strange Land? The main issue for me is that, if you think about what they could have done to the calendar by using the unlimited potential from the Mayan theme featured in The Book Of Souls, you’ll realize how lazy and disappointing the 2016 calendar is. It’s still worth the £8 (or 15 Canadian Dollars) you’ll pay for it, but it’s obvious they could have done a lot better than that. Can you imagine how awesome the whole calendar would have been with the same look and feel of the new album, including the Mayan hieroglyphs, the “Eddie Sapiens” and everything else?

Anyway, with a magnificent album like The Book Of Souls in our hands, I guess in the end we cannot complain that much about a simple calendar. You can find it for sale at the Iron Maiden official  webshop, on Amazon.ca (or any other Amazon website), at Danilo.com and at tons of other webshops all over the world such as Calendar Club, from the UK. It might not be the Mayan calendar most of us were expecting, but it will be more than enough for you to count the days until Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, Nicko McBrain and Eddie storm your city with their unparalleled Heavy Metal in 2016.

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