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Thread: Trollheart's Iron Maiden Thread (Genre: Heavy Metal)

  1. #31
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Track title: “The Clansman”
    Album: Virtual XI
    Year: 1998
    Written by: Steve Harris
    Subject: Scottish warrior clans
    Type: Fastish rocker
    Length: 9:08
    Familiar? A little
    Rating: 4/10
    Oh lordy! Only speak the name of the album and it shall appear on the playlist! Well, I don't hate Virtual XI (pronounced “Virtual Eleven”, for the uninitiated) as much as I loathe The X Factor, but it's definitely second-last on my list of favourites, even Maiden albums I have only heard once, like The Final Frontier. One of the two from what I like to term “the wilderness years”, when Bruce Dickinson had left the band to pursue a solo career, and would not return till the new millennium, I mentioned there was only one song I really liked on this album, and this ain't it. Another Steve Harris epic, it opens on a by-now familiar guitar riff (I think I can remember it first being used on “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” off Fear of the Dark, but again I'd have to check). It's about a ninety-second intro before the voice of the man who would replace Dickinson comes in, and to be fair, I've nothing against Blaze Bayley and he does a competent job. No, my contempt for these two albums has not as much to do with the absence of Bruce as it does with the terrible songwriting and the just general lack of effort on both.

    It kicks up on the word “Freedom!” and we're off rocking, and yes, it does possess a hook, though whether you would feel inclined to sing it or not is another thing. Kind of a retread in some ways, lyrically if nothing else, of “The Trooper”, but not really a terrible effort. Absolutely way too long though for the type of song it is, and you can hear them trying to stretch it out, even more so than my actual favourite – or I should say, only song I don't dislike – on this, “Angel and the Gambler”. This album also suffered, I believe, as did The X Factor, from the loss of Adrian Smith, who was always such a perfect foil for Dave Murray. Janick Gers is a great guitarist, don't get me wrong, but I prefer the original team. And while he may be a decent vocalist, Bayley ain't got the presence or character of Bruce. Good refrain in the last three minutes or so, though it does go on for a little longer than necessary and then is filled out with the classic “Whoa-oh-oh-oh” chorus. Not the worst Maiden song by any means, but it can't hold a candle to any from the classic years.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  2. #32
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Track title: “Running Free”
    Album: Iron Maiden
    Year: 1980
    Written by: Steve Harris/Paul Di'Anno
    Subject: Man on the run from the law
    Type: Bouncy rocker
    Length: 3:16
    Familiar? Oh yes
    Rating: 5/10
    All the way back to the beginning we go, and the debut album, released almost forty years ago now, can you believe? Back then, Bruce Dickinson was singing with Samson and had no intention of, nor idea that he would be, joining Maiden, and the lead singer was a guy called Paul Di'Anno. You can hear the difference between him and Bruce here clearly; Di'Anno is much rougher, more raw and visceral in his singing. His style therefore suits the early Maiden music perfectly, when it was kind of a synthesis of punk and the emerging heavy metal with dashes of hard rock thrown in. Di'Anno tends usually to snarl the songs rather than sing them, and nowhere does he do this better than on the title track to the second album. But more of that when it comes up.

    “Running Free” was, I believe, the first single from the band, and unsurprisingly it made little of a dent in the charts, though did better when re-released years later, presumably on the then growing fame of the band. Di'Anno says it was mostly autobiographical, and looks back to his time as a skinhead. The first thing you hear when the song begins are the bouncing drums of Clive Burr, who sadly passed away in 2013. It's quite a sparse song really, with the chorus really weak, although that could be due to the production. Harris's bass begins its desire to always be upfront in every Maiden song, as it has more or less remained to this day, Harris being one of the most conspicuous bassists since maybe Phil Lynott. There's good punchy guitar too, but Dave Murray is here partnered with Dennis Stratton, who would leave after this album, and there's just not quite the same spark about it, I feel. A decent song, and if I remember correctly, actually the very first Maiden song I ever heard, though at the time I hated it. I do have to admit, when he takes this on live onstage, Bruce can't seem to do the same justice to it that Paul does here. It's just more his type of song. It was a different time, a different style, almost a different band. Di'Anno would eventually be dismissed from the band and go on to form his own eponymous outfit.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  3. #33
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Track title: “Infinite Dreams”
    Album: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    Year: 1988
    Written by: Steve Harris
    Subject: Dreams/Foretelling the future
    Type: Hard to say: starts slow, picks up, epic rocker but a good headbanger too.
    Length: 6:03
    Familiar? Not that much, no
    Rating: 7.8/10
    Back to Seventh Son we go, and the second track on the album, one of three written by Harris solo. I'll probably get stick for this but who cares: I feel two of the three he writes solo are some of the weakest on the album, though the title track is pretty sweet. Still, when he teams up with the likes of Bruce and Adrian I feel that's when the really good tracks come through, like “Moonchild”, “Only the Good Die Young” etc. Sometimes it seems Harris needs someone to keep a rein on his ideas, though having said that he is of course a wonderful songwriter, but in general I think he works better in collaboration with another writer.

    This song sounds to me like it has a real Powerslave feel to it, got a real punch and I like the way it goes through some changes over its – to be fair – not too long run of just over six minutes. I love the way it speeds up in the middle with a big roar from Bruce, and though it does sound to me like they're recycling some guitar riffs and melodies here, it's a great guitar attack and a good finish, shades of “Revelations” from Piece of Mind. Cool.

    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

  4. #34
    Offline: Depressed Trollheart's Avatar
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    Well I said someone gave me the idea, and indeed they did, so thanks to Mish for the inspiration, and let’s check out the first installment of

    Iron Maiden have influenced and inspired bands all over the globe and across nearly thirty years now, some of them famous, some of them very famous, some of them, well, not. This last type of band aren’t just influenced by Bruce and the boys, but actually strive to emulate them. Yep, we’re talking about tribute bands here. Not normally something I have a lot of time for, but I’m interested to see how various, shall we say, amateur bands in various countries take on, or try to take on, the mantle of the Beast.

    As well as writing a bio of each band, I will of course be checking out their music and grading it under several criteria, but I will also be rating each on other factors, as below. As each band is rated, I’ll then be placing them in a league table of sorts, so that we can see who, of the ones I’ve currently checked out, are the most faithful tribute band. This table is likely to change as I experience new bands, so I hope it will prove an interesting process.

    So, without further ado, let him who hath understanding reckon that we are kicking this off, and where else would we begin but in my home country?
    Blood Brothers from IRELAND
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    Ireland Maiden (got to love that name!) have been together now for just over ten years, having formed in 2007 but only gained any real exposure through their TV appearance in 2009 on Karl Spain Wants to Rock (don’t ask!). I saw them, but I can’t remember whether or not I was that impressed, so I’ll have to refamiliarise myself with their music. But who are they?

    Nearly did a double-take when I read this, thinking I was seeing the ghost of the legendary Led Zep drummer but…
    John Bonhan: Lead Vocal
    Raffaelle Puzzuoli: Lead Guitar
    Aiden Williams: Lead Guitar
    John O’Neill: Bass
    Christian Styne: Drums

    Unfortunately I can’t find an official website, other than bloody Facebook. Just so you know, I hate Facebook. Blood hate it. Just on general principles. But for research purposes, it is a reviewer’s nightmare. People never put proper information on it, only comments and updates, which is all very fine, but not if you’re trying to amass data on something. Anyway, here’s a poster from one of their gigs. Not sure who designed it but it sure rocks!

    Of course, looking like Maiden is probably not too hard, but do they sound like them? Well, after listening to anything I could find, and bearing in mind the caveat, which will I think apply to most if not all of these tribute bands that anything that is available is going to be not exactly pristine concert/gig footage, I can say that they’re not bad, but unsurprisingly not a patch on the original. This is my first experience of a Maiden tribute band, so whether Ireland Maiden are typical of what I can expect or not I don’t know, but without wishing to disparage my own countrymen, I would have to admit they leave a little to be desired.

    Visually, I’m a little disappointed to see that their Bruce Dickinson, John Bonhan, sports a moustache, which takes away from the illusion. Not that image is necessarily the most important thing, but if you’re going to be in a tribute band I personally believe that you should try, as best you can, to emulate the appearance of the band too. Bonhan has a good voice, and he displays this well in the scream at the end of “Flight of Icarus”, however on the other songs I found, “Fear of the Dark” and “The Evil That Men Do” I found him sounding a little hoarse. The guitarists are both very good at what they do, and their bass player looks sufficiently like Steve Harris not to quite fool me, but not to make me wish he looked more like him. Bass playing wise, I don’t know - how do you tell a good bassist from a bad one? But he doesn’t make me feel that he messes anything up, so that’s good I guess.



    Let’s get and rate them then, shall we? Here’s how it’s going to break down:

    Appearance: Like I said, it’s not the most important thing but I do believe it helps, and contributes towards the overall idea of the band being the band they’re paying tribute to, so this will be a factor.

    Longevity: How long have the band been together, how experienced are they?

    Range: Do they only play from a certain Maiden era, or do they cover all the albums from Iron Maiden to Book of Souls?

    Proficiency: Obviously, one of the most important factors. Can they play well, and more, can they play and sound like Maiden? Can I close my eyes and imagine I’m listening to the real thing?

    Fun Factor: Perhaps not too important, but still, at heart Maiden are a fun band, so do these guys make it look as if their audience is enjoying themselves?Are they enjoying themselves?

    Attention to Detail: Have they used the logos, mascots and other paraphernalia of the band, or are they just dressing in jeans and leathers and growing their hair long?

    For Ireland Maiden then, the scores are

    Appearance: 7 (sorry John but that moustache is your undoing)
    Longevity: 7 (11 years is decent, but I bet there are tribute bands going much longer)
    Range: 5 (Their blurb says they cover “every Maiden era” but only mentions songs up to and including Powerslave, and what I did hear confirmed that. Maybe they play later-era songs, but without proof I have to go on what I can hear.
    Proficiency: 8 (They all seem able to play, and Bonhan is a decent singer but I’ve heard, and probably will hear, better)
    Fun Factor: 9 (Their audience seemed to be having a good time - spotted some girl headbanging for a moment till she realised she was losing her handbag! - and they seem to be getting a kick out of it too)
    Attention to detail: 7 (Their logo is very good, but I saw no Eddie. I imagine he could be copyrighted, but hell, if they could copy the logo surely they could have some sort of Eddie-ish figure? They could also have worn proper Iron Maiden t-shirts, but I didn't see this, Mind you, those gigs are pretty dark. I do like that Bonhan used the “Scream for me [insert country or city here]” so that’s good, and the poster shown above is great, but did they just repurpose an old Iron Maiden one?)

    So, then, adding it all up, out of a possible total of 60, Ireland Maiden’s score is
    43.
    Not too bad really. I think I’d go to see them if I could.
    Come away, human child to the waters and the wild
    With a faery hand in hand.
    For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand. - WB Yeats "The Stolen Child"

    I drink to forget, but I never forget to drink.

    "If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
    He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA" - The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here (Again)" - Mind Bomb, 1989


    The most destructive force on the planet is not nukes or global warming...it is the human ego. - Ralph Rotten

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