“What the holy metal is this? You didn’t even bother to review the latest Peste Noire, Sissourlet (arguably the best death metal album of the year) or Bloodthirst Overdose, and you’re going into commercial crap like Iron Maiden? What’s next, you’re going to review Dua Lipa, Booba and Dimmu Borgir?” – your typical reaction at the sight of this post.
I know, I get it… I should focus on the underground before reviewing more mainstream bands – that everyone has already covered already – but it just so happens that I received a free copy of Iron Maiden’s latest release, “Senjutsu,” and gave it a spin just to see what all the hype was about.
To get this out of the way, I’ve never really been a fan of Iron Maiden. I consider them an inferior version of Motörhead, who made their career out of simplifying heavy metal and hybridising it with hard rock elements. Basically a slightly less cringe version of Judas Priest. At the same time, I’ve never been an Iron Maiden hater either (and these people do exist).
I don’t particularly like, or hate, the band. Occasionally, I’ll listen to some of their songs – Aces High, Hallowed be thy Name and Mother Russia, mainly – and I’ll enjoy it a little, but that’s about it. Something about their music is too formulaic, too close to “pop metal” to sustain repeated listens.
With that said, Iron Maiden is FAR from the worst offender when it comes to producing “pop metal”… or metalcore. Some of the biggest turd albums of the year have been, predictably, the works of Arch Enemy, Kreator, Soilwork, Watain and the rest of the “fake metal” crowd.
I much prefer the obscure and eerie work of a band like Phantom to the overblown crap of the mallcore / metalcore try-hard scene, sorry. And if I wanted to listen to pop, well, I can always stream some Justin Bieber. Lol.
So back to Iron Maiden’s “Senjutsu.”
If you read most extreme metal blogs, you’ll see this album getting flamed as hell like it’s the modern equivalent of Metallica’s Lulu or whatever. Well, duh, it’s not supposed to be raw black metal, is it? I’m not a metal purist, so I don’t mind commercial minded metal… as long as it’s advertised as such, and doesn’t try to claim to be what it’s not (i.e. underground metal, for instance).
“Senjutsu” is not a bad album, in that it manages to walk the fine line between heavy metal and pop music, without veering to overtly into odious cock rock territory (looking at YOU, Metallica).
Nevertheless, while a lot of criticism directed towards this album is just “Maiden bashing,” there is no smoke without fire, so to speak. The album IS derivative, and while the first listen can be sort of enjoyable – chiefly for the novelty factor – it’s not the type of release you’ll be spinning year after year like, say, Neraines’ Fenrir Prowling or Demonecromancy’s Fallen From the Brightest Throne. Or the aforementioned Sissourlet, which I still haven’t reviewed (lol).
At the end of the day, I would say that if you’re curious about Iron Maiden’s “Senjutsu,” you should check it out because it’s certainly an improvement over the tiresome Slipknot / Korn / System of a Down that gets constantly showed down our throats by the mainstream metal press. But don’t expect to be blown away. It’s no Burzum. It’s still 100% candy metal, the Iron Maiden way. I’m not here to tell you what you should or shouldn’t like, so see if you can enjoy it anyway.