Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu - What You Need To Know
The unstoppable metal juggernaut return with their 17th studio album this week and here is everything you need to know about it...
A little background…
It’s hard to believe that there was ever a time when Iron Maiden weren’t the all-conquering, crushing success story that they are today. A going concern since 1975, the metallers went through lean times in the late 90s and 2000s, with arenas traded in for academies and theatres.
Partly that was down to the departure of iconic frontman Bruce Dickinson, who’d gone his own way in 1993, and partly it was down to Maiden’s fantastical, driving metal simply being out of fashion against the brash populism of Limp Bizkit and Korn, who were crushing all before them.
Dickinson returned to 1999, bringing back with him guitarist Adrian Smith and the pair’s return coincided with a serious upturn in fortunes. Their first recorded reunion with the band, 2000’s Brave New World, set in place a lot of practises that the band still use today. It was their first with Kevin Shirley, their first in Guillaume Tell Studios in Paris, where they recorded this new effort and its predecessor Book Of Souls, and the band's first embrace a harder, more modern sound.
Since then, the line-up has been constant and the six-piece have been on an upward trajectory. Their tours have increased to somewhere beyond arenas, now festival headline sets and football stadiums.
They have to fit albums in around ever more extensive touring plans. For this album, they recorded at the start of 2019, taking time off for the globe-trotting Legacy Of The Beast tour, a tour celebrating their ever-popular 1985 LP The Number Of The Beast. It’s a run they still have yet to finish due to the onset of the pandemic.
That tour, which includes a headline slot at Download Festival, will now happen in 2022, and the band will have 10 new songs ready for the set...
Who’s producing it?
As we said, Kevin Shirley, who has overseen each of the band’s albums going right back to 2000’s Brave New World, is back to produce this new LP.
Any special guests?
None. Just the six band members. Maiden don’t really go in for guests, aside from occasional dramatic introductions from actors and appearances from their touring keyboardist Michael Kenney, you don’t see featured singers on the credits of an Iron Maiden LP.
What does it sound like?
The band’s taste for the epic is still going strong with this LP marking their second double album in succession. Clocking in at just 82 minutes with only 10 tracks, there are some long, winding roads here, especially the album’s final three songs, which are 10 minutes, almost 13 minutes and 11 minutes respectively.
Sonically, there’s a wider palette here than on Book of Souls, with folky influences and a steady increase of prog in the band’s prog-to-metal ratio. Still, it worked on Book of Souls and it works here...
Does it deliver?
Absolutely. Iron Maiden have carved out a great relationship with their substantial and devoted fanbase, in the sense that they’re very happy to dust off legions of their old material for tours and celebrate the records best-loved by fans new and old.
Their recorded output is quite different. Things are getting longer, more complex and decidedly epic, but it’s most definitely working.