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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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