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Iron Maiden - Fear of the Dark (1992)


MacabreEternal

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Today we commemorate the final passing of Iron Maiden, some thirty years on from them being so cruelly taken from us by whatever it was they morphed into thereafter.  I know that quality was waning on the previous release, but the fact is that No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark where both important albums for me as a youth, being the first two new albums from a band I had discovered via someone else's vinyl collection to date back in 1989 that I could go out and buy and discover at the same time as everyone else.

1992's opus was patchy to say the least.  Opening track Be Quick or Be Dead set the bar low in all honesty and the anthemic From Here to Eternity lacked the same deftness to become a real Maiden banger as a Run to the Hills or Can I Play With Madness had achieved over the years.  Things sounded a bit boring and upon reflection it is clear to see that this was the death knell for Dickinson and his first tenure with the band.  He was critical of the studio (which Harris built in his own barn) and admitted that he felt the studio had limitations even though the overall sound was better than on the previous outing.

As the album draws on, the filler starts to become glaringly obvious and the end result was an album that sounded like a band just going through the motions.  Despite there being glimmers of the trademark sound and style lavished sparingly throughout the twelve tracks, I only find the title track and the opening two tracks to be of note.  Although memorable (probably because 16 year old me would play the album to death), the rest of the album falls far short of Maiden at their best.

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Maiden were cruelly taken from us thirty years ago? Hmmmm.... I'm gonna have to disagree with ya there as I'm one of those weirdos who liked the Blaze Bayley albums and their 2000's output (though I won't defend their most recent three albums).

As for FOTD, if it weren't for the epic title track and 'Afraid to Shoot Strangers', I'd put it in contention for Maiden's worst ever album. The Apparition and Weekend Warrior are quite possibly the two worst songs the band ever did. It's mind boggling to think that the same band who wrote 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' could produce such monstrous turds.

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Funny, the way Macca feels about Fear of the Dark is basically how I felt about Powerslave. I liked the first two tracks and then after that it just felt like a band going through the motions and churning out a bunch of boring filler. That's when I pronounced Maiden dead and gave up on them back in '84.

It's always strange for me to hear people referencing Maiden's songs and albums that came after their death in 1984, most of which I've never heard like Can I Play With Madness from Macca's review. Reminds me that there's this whole alternate universe of music out there that I'm completely and blissfully unaware of.

I see that Powerslave and Somewhere in Time are their two highest ranked albums on M-A, both receiving 93% scores. Seventh Son is right behind them with a 91%, while their first 4 "classic" albums have all earned respectable but lower scores ranging from 85% to 88%. Now I myself would consider Killers and Piece of Mind both to be far better albums than Powerslave, so I have to wonder if maybe I'm missing the point when it comes to what Maiden fans like about this band. I'm almost tempted to listen to Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son now just to see what the fuss is about. But I'm sure that urge will pass, it always does.

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