Iron Maiden, ‘Senjutsu’ Review – Track-by-Track Review of New Album

2021-09-02

Metal band Iron Maiden standing amid a black and orange background.

Iron Maiden – Review by Anne Erickson, photo by John McMurtrie

Review: Iron Maiden are back with their new album, “Senjutsu,” which features an eclectic plate of heavy metal. Here’s Audio Ink’s track-by-track review of the album.

Heavy metal titans Iron Maiden release their much-anticipated new studio album, “Senjutsu,” Friday (Sept. 3). One would think 17 albums in that Iron Maiden’s creativity would wane, but with an 80-plus-minute double album filled with eclectic metal sounds, on “Senjutsu,” Bruce Dickinson and company show they’re never out of ideas.

“Senjutsu” marks Iron Maiden’s follow-up to 2015’s “The Book of Souls.” The band started recording the new tunes in 2019, but the album’s release was put on hold due to the worldwide pandemic. Read on for Audio Ink Radio’s track-by-track review of the album.

Iron Maiden, “Senjutsu,” Track-by-Track Review

“Senjutsu” kicks off with the album’s title track, offering huge, rippling drums that match the record’s dramatic artwork. The new album was inspired by Eastern mythology, and from the get-go, it’s obvious the music fits the primal theme of the record.

Following the eight-plus minute opening track, the more easily digestible “Stratego” takes the stage. With swirling, whirling riffs and, dare we say, an upbeat vibe, “Stratego” is one of the most commercial-sounding songs on the set. Dickinson’s vocals sound warm and rich, in Maiden tradition.

Next up is lead single “Writing on the Wall,” which offers a thick groove and slight twang. It’s a different sounding song for Maiden, with strong blues-rock guitar lines and a triumphant solo.

The album takes a mellow turn with the next track, “Lost in a Lost World,” a ballad that pulls on the heart strings. With delicate guitars, lush melodies and Dickinson’s emotive vocals, “Lost in a Lost World” is a tear-jerker that seems to fit perfectly with a world still dealing with a pandemic. “Days of Future Past” follows, offering a nice, straight-ahead mid-tempo rocker that joins Maiden’s heavy and soft sides in one song.

“The Time Machine” offers something different for Maiden, with a unique but strong song structure that hugs a simple, melodic guitar riff. The songs starts with some acoustic guitar before ramping up into a melodic metal anthem.

“Darkest Hour” is next, and if Maiden fans were hoping for a dark, majestic-sounding song on “Senjutsu,” this is it. Lush, dark, minor chords hug Dickinson’s soaring vocals as he sings with imagery about Winston Churchill and World War II. “Death of the Celts” follows a similar dark, mysterious path, but adding some folk elements and varied vocals.

As the album begins to near completion, “The Parchment” wakes listeners up from their mellow state with a mega heavy riff and chorus that’s super catchy, thanks to its repetitive nature. The heavy instruments and operatic vocals fight each other throughout the song, while still living in harmony.

“Hell on Earth” rounds out the 10-track collection, starting, as many of Maiden’s song do, soft and launching into a larger piece of heavy metal. In “Hell on Earth,” Dickinson dramatically begs for escape from this world, signing, “On the other side I’ll see you again in Heaven / Far away from this Hell on Earth.”

If there was any question that Iron Maiden still has drive left in them, that speculation is put to rest with “Senjutsu.” The album keeps the listener on their toes – or, perhaps, ears – from start to finish, with everything from lush, regal ballads to pummeling, fiery heavy metal. Seventeen albums in, Iron Maiden are able to succeed at experimenting and making each album different, while still sounding like classic Maiden, and that’s cause for celebration now and years to come.

Ink rating: 9/10. Essential songs: “Darkest Hour,” “The Writing on the Wall,” “The Time Machine,” “Death of the Celts.” For fans of: That classic Iron Maiden presentation, with strong, operatic vocals and a diverse range of instrumentals. Online: IronMaiden.com.

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