Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Prudential Center, Newark, NJ, 10/21/2022)

Another night of pure Iron Maiden madness hit the nice city of Newark as the band approaches the end of their fantastic 2022 tour.  

INTRO: Liberty and Prosperity… but no FTTB!

What wild, wild two weeks (or maybe I should say the entire month of October) of pure fuckin’ metal! After winning the renowned (and sometimes controversial) First to the Barrier in all three Canadian dates this year, I didn’t get it for the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 concert at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey last Friday, which motto is by the way “Liberty and Prosperity”, but to be fair I think the experience of meeting my fellow IMFC blood brothers and sisters before the gig was even more engaging and fun. The place chosen for our meetup was Bello’s Pub & Grill, located a short walking distance from the venue, and I loved meeting some new friends there while enjoying a beer, talking about Iron Maiden and metal in general, and so on. Furthermore, knowing that some people lined up for the FTTB at 6am and still got number 30 made me even happier for not winning it this time and being able to go to the meetup. And once again I made it to the flags picture! How cool is that?

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

After our nice IMFC meetup, the crew headed to the Prudential Center for a look at the merch, some beers and some relaxing moments before Iron Maiden hit the stage once again with their fulminating Heavy Metal. The opening act was as expected Dutch Symphonic Metal/Alternative Rock band WITHIN TEMPTATION, who not only made a couple of changes to their setlist compared to their Canadian dates, but the stunning Sharon den Adel finally ditched that “dark princess” attire with a very tight corset for a more rockin’ style, wearing leather pants and jacket, and I think she looked a lot more relaxed and dynamic on stage by wearing that. Their concert was again short and sweet, with the song Raise Your Banner being once again one of the top moments of their performance. I’m not sure how much the Iron Maiden fans from New Jersey enjoyed Within Temptation as their reaction wasn’t as rowdy as in Ottawa, but it was a decent show in the end.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
In the Middle of the Night
What Have You Done
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

My last concert of the current Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 couldn’t have been more special, as I was reunited with one of my best friends to see the almighty IRON MAIDEN for the first time together since 2013, and of course the band didn’t disappoint at all. Everyone at the venue had an amazing moment from the first seconds of the opener Senjutsu with its Samurai Eddie to the closing moments of Aces High, with classics such as Revelations and Hallowed Be Thy Name driving the fans absolutely crazy. Bruce was simply phenomenal on vocals throughout the entire show, as well as of course the rest of the band armed with their sonic weapons, making New Jersey lose its breath on another night of pure awesomeness.

Anything I say about the band’s guitar triumvirate won’t represent exactly how in sync, incendiary and precise they are, but in New Jersey our beloved Adrian kicked some serious ass with his axe, with his intro to The Writing on the Wall being a thing of beauty once again. And Steve and Nicko, holy shit, I thought the roof of the Prudential Center was going to fall due to the insane heaviness flowing from their respective bass and drums. I wish I could attend another concert before their last one in Tampa, Florida this Thursday October 27, but that’s not a problem at all. There’s a new tour coming up in 2023, so who knows? It’s just a matter of planning a decent trip to Europe or wait for the probable announcement of the North American leg soon.

And before I go, I wanted to mention one weird and dangerous incident that happened during the gig according to some members of the IMFC. As I was a little further back I didn’t see anything, but several people mentioned that there was a guy in the floor section carrying a handgun that became visible while he was crowdsurfing. I know it’s the United States and people love guns from the bottom of their hearts there, carrying guns anywhere they go, but having one during a concert with over 15,000 people was very immature and irresponsible of him. Maybe he wasn’t going to shoot anyone, but what if someone caught his gun and decided to do so? And how did he manage to go through security with a handgun while several fans, including myself, had to take even their belts off to be allowed into the venue? Is a belt more dangerous than a gun? Anyway, fortunately nothing bad happened and we all had a great time enjoying Iron Maiden in 2022, and now it’s time to get ready for The Future Past Tour in 2023!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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 (Canadian Tire Centre, Kanata, ON, 10/15/2022)

One of the wildest crowds ever turned the charming Ottawa into a cauldron of pure Iron Maiden madness on an unforgettable Saturday night.

INTRO: Third time (at the FTTB) is a charm… or maybe not!

There I was yesterday in Ottawa for another night of pure Iron Maiden madness, but let’s say my third and last experience with the First to the Barrier offered by the Iron Maiden Fan Club was a mix of joy and disappointment due to the total lack of organization and the freakin’ cold winds blowing the whole time we were waiting in line for the slowest security on earth to give us our wristbands, check our names and so on. We got in only at around 5:59pm, less than a minute before the doors opened for the fans who had regular floor tickets, and as most of those fans simply rushed to the barrier, several (if not most) of the FTTB winners were only able to get to the third, fourth, fifth row, or even further back. Well, it is what it is, and at least I was able to be in the flag picture at the end of the concert and have a really cool meetup with other IMFC members the night before. If only the IMFC management allowed us members to organize the FTTB like we organize our meetups, things would have been a lot different on Saturday.

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

The FTTB fiasco wasn’t a huge problem in the end as we got really good spots for the last Canadian date of the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 at the Canadian Tire Centre, which despite being sold as Ottawa it’s in fact located in Kanata, around 25km from Ottawa’s city centre. It’s a nice venue, but in the middle of nowhere, and if you don’t want to pay the high prices for food and beverages inside it I would say the best “restaurant” in the area is a convenience store located at the only gas station nearby. Anyway, at exactly 7:30pm the Dutch metallers from WITHIN TEMPTATION hit the stage with their solid fusion of Symphonic Metal and Alternative Rock, this time replacing the song Faster with a much better one called Entertain You, and they did entertain the crowd a lot, giving everyone a very good taste of the hurricane that was about to happen with Iron Maiden. Sharon was so thrilled with the warm reception the band got from the rowdy Canadian audience she sometimes got lost in her words, which was cute to witness. Great job, Sharon and boys! See you in Newark!

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Entertain You
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Just like a Heavy Metal ritual, precisely at 8:50pm the lights went down, the speakers played the beyond classic intro Doctor Doctor, and there they were, the unparalleled, undisputed metal giants IRON MAIDEN for another insane concert for the delight of all fans at a sold out Canadian Tire Centre, and from the very first notes of Senjutsu it was clear that wasn’t going to be a slow and relaxed night. If you think about it, not only it was a Saturday night, the best day for anyone to see a concert, but Ottawa is geographically perfect for fans from Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, all surrounding towns and cities, other Canadian provinces, and several US cities, not to mention all fans travelling from other parts of the world such as Germany and England, and all fans were on absolute fire from start to finish, firing up the band with each scream, fist raised and mosh pit. And yes, there were several mosh pits. At an Iron Maiden concert. It was that chaotic.

I personally thought Bruce was a bit rushed in the first part of the gig, being disconnected from his bandmates in songs like Stratego and The Writing on the Wall, but nothing that could make the concert less enjoyable, of course. The concert was relatively calm until they played the classic Revelations, and that’s when the first mosh pits started if you could believe that, growing in intensity and reaching some insane levels of speed and violence in songs like Fear of the Dark and Iron Maiden. I was just waiting for a Scooby-Doo plot twist when Bruce would take off his mask and review himself as Tom Araya, saying Slayer was back in action and playing “Angel of Death” right after Aces High was over, but again, it was “just” Iron Maiden on stage, proving even a band that’s not as heavy like Iron Maiden can make our blood boil to the point we must slam into the pit so awesome they are. It was indeed a unique experience, and apart from Rock in Rio III in 2001 (for obvious reasons, as we’re talking about 150,000 people back then), Saturday night’s concert in Ottawa was the band’s most intense one I’ve ever been to.

The man of the night for me was undoubtedly Dave Murray. Although he doesn’t move as much around the stage as Bruce, Steve or Janick, he was absolutely fuckin’ flawless with his riffs and solos throughout the entire concert, as if all the energy emanating from such wild crowd was inspiring him to play better and better. That’s the beauty of seeing an iconic band like Iron Maiden different times during the same tour, as there are always those nuances that make each concert different from the others. Another example is that Bruce spoke a few sentences in French with the crowd. Some people might be wondering why he did that if we were in Ottawa, but as mentioned the city of Montreal and many other cities on the Quebec side are so close to Ottawa I would say maybe half of the venue was comprised of French-speaking fans, and Bruce acknowledging that shows how much they (still) care about their loyal fanbase. So it’s “goodbye” or “au revoir”, Canada! And we’ll meet again in Newark on Friday!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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 (Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON, 10/11/2022)

Finally, after over three long years, the city of Toronto was able to scream for the one and only Iron Maiden again in a perfect night of beautiful Heavy Metal.

INTRO: Scream for me, IMFC!

Before I start talking about the concert itself last night, I must say it’s awesome to be part of a family like the Iron Maiden Fan Club, also known as IMFC. As Bruce likes to say, we’re all blood brothers, and on Monday night at The Loose Moose it was really fun meeting some of the IMFC members that were going to the concert the next day in Toronto, enjoy a few pints together, talk about the current tour and the upcoming The Future Past Tour 2023, and so on. I know it’s not easy to invest some good money into the IMFC these days due to everything that’s going on with the world, but if you’re lucky enough to have some spare budget it’s definitely worth it. I can’t wait to meet some of my IMFC buddies tonight in Hamilton, because as I said, there’s nothing like the Iron Maiden family, right?

OPENING ACT: Within Temptation

One of the most fun perks of the IMFC is undoubtedly the First to the Barrier, or the FTTB, and this year I must say I was extremely lucky getting the FTTB for all three Ontario dates, those being Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, and of course I was more than excited for it in Toronto because if you’re familiar with the Legacy of the Beast World Tour 2022 setlist, you know you’re in for a treat, getting to a very decent spot on the right side of the barrier. And Maidenmaniacs from all over the world started packing the Scotiabank Arena up early, allowing Netherlands-based Symphonic Metal/Alternative Rock act WITHIN TEMPTATION to play to an already big crowd, and we could see on the faces of all band members how happy they were because of that.

Promoting their latest EP Don’t Pray for Me, the band spearheaded by the charming vocalist Sharon den Adel played a short and sweet setlist including one of my favorite songs from their career, the exciting Paradise (What About Us?), and after each and every song the reaction from the fans at the venue was really heartwarming to the band. Right before playing the song Raise Your Banner, Sharon dedicated the song to Ukraine, raising an Ukrainian flag and waving it during the entire song, another moment that generated several claps and screams from the fans acknowledging not only how good the band is, but also that they’re on the right side of this stupid war. And after all was said and done, the band said farewell to their Torontonian fans, promising to be back soon to the city with more of their classy music.

Setlist
The Reckoning
Paradise (What About Us?)
Faster
In the Middle of the Night
Stand My Ground
Supernova
Don’t Pray for Me
Raise Your Banner
Mother Earth

Band members
Sharon den Adel – vocals
Robert Westerholt – guitars
Ruud Jolie – guitars
Stefan Helleblad – guitars
Jeroen van Veen – bass
Martijn Spierenburg – keyboards
Mike Coolen – drums

IRON MAIDEN

Precisely at 8:50pm, the speakers began playing UFO’s classic Doctor Doctor as a “warning” to anyone who wasn’t on their seats or still outside buying beer or merch that the party was about to start. Actually, there was an even earlier warning when they played a video of the Legacy of the Beast game with Transylvania as the soundtrack on the big screens a few minutes before that, but you know, there’s always time to grab another beer before the show. And what a show! The unstoppable British Heavy Metal machine IRON MAIDEN was on absolute fire from the very first second, captivating their crazy fans with the three songs from Senjutsu they’re playing on this tour, those being the title-track Senjutsu, Stratego and my favorite of all three live, The Writing on the Wall, with Bruce inspiring everyone at the venue to sing it along with him, before kicking us hard in the head with an avalanche of classics, including of course Revelations, Flight of Icarus and Hallowed Be Thy Name, making up for the long wait of over three years for the band to return to Toronto.

It feels like every single time the band comes to Canada they love to point out how diverse the audience is, with people from all over the world like Brazil, Mexico and Peru, as mentioned by Bruce before playing the beautiful Blood Brothers, visiting the city for another night of Iron Maiden magic. The entire band was flawless and I heard several old school fans saying that was one of the best Iron Maiden concerts they’ve seen in the past few decades, and based on the crowd’s reaction to Sign of the Cross, The Trooper, The Clansman and Run to the Hills, I have to admit that was indeed a night to remember. Furthermore, what can I say about the performance by Mr. Janick Gers? The man was out of control (in a good way, of course), feeling like he was not just playing the guitar but also giving us an aerobics lesson, playing and throwing his axe around in all possible and imaginable ways.

I must confess that when I first saw they were closing the concert with Aces High I was a little worried if Bruce was going to be able to sing it after such intense performance, but of course to the surprise of zero people he nailed it as usual, ending the night in such an electrifying note it was hard to believe the concert was over when the speakers started playing Monty Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. One funny thing Bruce mentioned during the show was the fact that he was very, very happy to be playing indoors and not at the Budweiser Stage (as per their latest concerts in Toronto), which I don’t fully agree because the Budweiser Stage is a lot cooler than the Scotiabank Arena. Well, to be honest, I don’t really care where they play as long as they keep coming back to Toronto, and please excuse me for such short and not-very-detailed review as I’m heading now to the FTTB in Hamilton. Oh yeah, the show must go on. UP THE IRONS!

Setlist
Transylvania
Doctor Doctor
Senjutsu
Stratego
The Writing on the Wall
Revelations
Blood Brothers
Sign of the Cross
Flight of Icarus
Fear of the Dark
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Number of the Beast
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Trooper
The Clansman
Run to the Hills

Encore 2:
Churchill’s Speech
Aces High
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

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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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