Now I have a bad conscience. First I complain that we do not get the new album (Senjutsu, released today), and now that the legal download has finally savely found its way to my laptop and my mobile I start to complain again. Don’t get me wrong. I am not among those who say that the album is a disappointment or even the worst of their entire career. And the “seppuku”-thing is an accident, honestly. The day the album was announced I called it “sepukku” by accident, although I am still wondering if this was a Freudian slip…
I admit that on this day I was definitely put off by the cover, which is only a crossover of the cover of the last album (The Book of Souls, 2015) and the label of the Sun and Steel beer to me. The so called “new” Eddie is Samurai Eddie with a bad dentist. This lack of inspiration and originality is new for Maiden artwork. What makes this so much worse, Maiden would have the most amazing and breath-takingly beautitful artwork at their disposal, because their mobile game Legacy of the Beast contains a Japanese themed dunegon, including different landscapes and characters. None of this artwork has found its way to the album, although it must be their property. What a waste! Why oh why was this ignored?
What really bugs me with the new album is my constant urge to change the sound settings on my device. Problem being that I cannot change them. It is the mix. I have already seen that others share my sentiment that this is a very bad mix. The guitars bury the vocals, which also makes it hard to make out the lyrics. What on earth? Nothing was new for this production. Same studio (Guillaume Tell in Paris), same label (Parlophone), same producer (Kevin Shirly). Are Maiden sabotaging themselves?
What’s more, (and again, I have already seen that many agree with me), Bruce Dickinson sounds so much better when he is singing with a deep voice. This album, however, makes mostly use of insane high keys that evoke the impression that Dickinson had sadly lost his voice. C’est la vie. Just that it is not true. I heard him live one year after this album was recorded. (This album had indeed been shelved, just like I had assumed before, for a solid 2,5 years.) Well, I heard Dickinson in spring 2020 and his voice is strong, crystall clear, and brilliant. For some reason none of this has travelled to the album. Again: Why oh why? Do Iron Maiden hate their singer?
Well, the facts that there are too many keyboards and synthesizers on this album to make me comfortable and that I am neither a fan of the very obvious repetitions of other Maiden songs are rather personal. There are also moments I really love, like the middle part of “Time Machine,” the beginning of “Lost in a Lost World,” and all of “Darkest Hour.” I am still a big fan of the first single “The Writing on the Wall.” What makes me wonder is this weird production that makes you wonder if Iron Maiden too have mixed up “senjutsu” (tactical thinking) with “seppuku.”
Iron Maiden. Senjutsu. Parlophone, 2021.