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Iron Maiden: Senjutsu

Finally, a brand spanking new Iron Maiden album! Well, that is kind of a lie because this one was recorded in France by Kevin Shirley back in 2019 months before the start Covid-19 Pandemic broke out, whilst the guys were taking a break from the well received Legacy of the Best Tour. It has been a whole six years since the launch of Book of Souls, the longest period without any new material from Eddie and the boys and wow its been difficult not to hear anything up to date over that time.

Firstly, there is one significant thing I would like to point out before listening to the seventeenth effort from the irons and that appears to be that Senjutsu will take some time to digest, therefore patience is the key here and time is the answer. Senjutsu is a Progressive album and if you are expecting lots of short Maiden tracks then you can this is just so far away from that, however that is not a bad thing at all, it is actually a very good thing and to me it suits the current times of the beast very well.

With the epic single releases of the bluesy desert stormer 'The Writing on the Wall' and the galloping highs of the neatly composed 'Stratego', fundamentally I knew this album was going to be a very special one and a gathering of some elite musicianship that I would very much enjoy right from the offset.

The two singles are just musically fantastic and the drums of Nicko combined with Harris' tremendous standout bass lines and the stupendous melodies from the trio of Murray, Smith and Gers, Senjutsu has all the in depth magic and the divine grasps of quality we all need or look for in a Maiden record that arrives from the high kingdoms of the Heavy Metal land.

A lot of the tracks on offer here are very bombastic and there is a lot to take in at first, however do not let this put you off or divert you as I said above. Maiden just keep on getting better with better with age like a fine wine as they say and the maturity on display is just so immaculate it's just unbelievable to hear and observe.

Moving forward with the gigantic episodes in the ranks of the superb fragments of the Steve Harris written 'The Parchment' and lengthy Celtic infused number 'Death of the Celts'; that cleverly pays homage to the classic song of 'The Clansman' from the 1998 Blaze fronted effort of Virtual XI with some excerpts of it hidden smartly in the layers.

This has to be highlighted, as per usual Bruce Dickinson is just on a purely different level for the entirety of this insanely immense journey and I even feel that his vocals are even better than those on The Book Of Souls and that is saying something. That man is just exceptional and for me he is the greatest Heavy Metal singer ever in my opinion; for influence, inspiration and just because he is of a different class.

From the thunderous opener of the title track 'Senjutsu' with Nicko Mcbrain on his best form in years with a tight production right into to the ending of the epic closer of the diversely arranged 'Hell on Earth' that has a 'X Factor' feel to it in certain areas.

Personally, I feel Maiden have outdone themselves this time around and this offering has a bit of something from all the eras from the richness of Iron Maiden history that incredibly ranges from the 'A Matter of a Life and Death' emotional sounding war song 'Darkest Hour' tight up to the sublimely constructed 'The Talisman' remeniscent anthem 'The Time Machine', and right onto the phenomenal gateway of the fantastically 'Brave New World' spirited shorter work of 'Days of Future Past'.

Everything is pure gold on Senjutsu and I would highly recommend this record, even if your a fan of the band already or you are a newbie to joining the outstanding legacy of the beast itself. When this goes out on tour next year, they will play a couple of tracks according to frontman Bruce Dickinson and I cannot wait to catch them in the United Kingdom and also in Lisbon, Portugal next year. In all honesty, I could not chose what song for the guys to play live from this record as there are way too many gems here to miss out of a set, maybe on the actual Senjutsu tour we will see most them come to rise as we step into Belhazzars Feast.

Track Listing
1. Senjutsu
2. Stratego
3. The Writing on the Wall
4. Lost in A Lost World
5. Days of Future Past
6. The Time Machine
7. Darkest Hour
8. Death of the Celts
9. The Parchment
10. Hell on Earth

Added: September 13th 2021
Reviewer: James Mannion
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1867
Language: english

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Iron Maiden: Senjutsu
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2021-09-14 22:15:36
My Score:

For their 17th studio album, and first since 2015's Book of Souls, Iron Maiden offer up another double album totaling up over 80 minutes of music, one CD containing the more immediate, catchier songs, and the second disc housing more epic compositions. As with all recent Maiden releases post Brave New World, Senjutsu will take a few listens for everything to sink it, as many of these tracks, such as "Lost in a Lost World", "The Time Machine", "Hell on Earth", "The Parchment" and a perhaps a few others, contain lengthy musical passages and less bombast & gallop than classic Maiden of the past. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as the album through and through definitely sounds like Iron Maiden; Bruce Dickinson is in fine form, the guitar trio of Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers all fire off a never ending supply of riffs and especially solos, while Nicko McBrain & Steve Harris cement everything with a tight barrage of bottom end that keeps what otherwise might come across as meandering to some exciting arrangements. The title track is one of the highlights here, brooding, heavy, and atmospheric, while "Stratego" is quite possibly the best song on the album, and recaptures that trademark Maiden 'gallop' of old. First single "The Writing on the Wall" has some catchy melodies despite its somewhat straight forward approach, and is another highlight, while "Death of the Celts" is a lengthy but potent epic metal anthem that features a wealth of guitar riffs & textures and another Dickinson vocal gem.

All in all, no real weak tracks, though impatient listeners pining for Powerslave days might have a tough go through a few of the arrangements. Honestly, this has been the bands songwriting style for two decades now, so the reality is Senjutsu is carrying along that recent tradition of lengthier, more atmospheric tracks, and you either along for the ride or not. Count this listener as someone who is happily paying for a ticket and taking the journey with them.

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