Iron Maiden Brave New World

Iron Maiden did the inevitable in 1999 when its most successful line-up (plus additional guitarist Jannick Gers) reunited for the Ed Hunter tour. This version of the band was responsible for the albums that made Iron Maiden arguably the most influential metal band in the world. After recording two terrible albums with replacement vocalist Blaze Bayley, there was worry from long-time fans that even with the reunion, the recorded output would be sub-standard, but Brave New World is a pleasant surprise. Kicking off with the initial wallop of album starter "The Wicker Man," the band burns through a speedy introductory track not entirely unlike "Aces High," Powerslave's legendary leadoff. But instead of creating a record full of simple stock and barrel rockers, à la "The Wicker Man," throughout, something they could have easily done and actually did with 1990's No Prayer for The Dying, the band allow themselves the opportunity to stretch out musically and make one of their most adventurous albums yet. With tracks such as the nine-minute-plus "Dream of Mirrors" and "The Nomad," the band takes a progressive edge in songwriting that surpasses any conceptions the listener may have as to what Maiden2K should sound like. They take chances in almost every song and manage to do so without sounding embarrassingly silly or dinosaur-like. If anything, Brave New World is the most modern and intelligent album the band has made in over a dozen years. (EMI)