Sunday, August 16, 2015

Singles Roundup: Iron Maiden & W.A.S.P.

If you're paying attention, it seems like there is a stream of new singles and pre-release tracks coming out on a daily basis, to the point where it's hard to keep track of just who is releasing what. Normally, these songs go in one ear and out the other, unless they come from bands that I am already keeping an eye on. It's simply impossible to listen to that much new music, without taking a break to retreat back to your favorites.

This week saw the release of two new tracks, one of which is the eagerly anticipated first peek into Iron Maiden's upcoming double album, "The Book Of Souls", and the other is the out-of-the-blue new track from veteran underachievers W.A.S.P.  Let's take a look at these tracks in a bit more detail:

Iron Maiden - Speed Of Light

I am one of those people who is a staunch defender of the reunion era Iron Maiden albums. Their last four records have been my favorites, and this is the era of the band that I listen to 95% of the time. Needless to say, I am quite excited for this new record, despite my fears about it being a double album. "Speed Of Light" is the first track we get to hear, and it fits right in with where Iron Maiden has been for the last fifteen years. It's the short and snappy number to remind people of the past, but played without the frantic energy of those days.

The main riff here is more rock than metal, and Bruce's voice is showing some signs of age. He still sounds fine, but there's a roughness to his delivery that didn't used to be there. The triple guitar attack isn't always noticeable, but they deliver the trademark Iron Maiden harmonies. The only place the song comes up a bit short is with the chorus. I'm not sure if it isn't hooky enough, or if it just needed some backing vocals to beef it up, but it could have been a touch stronger. Still, it's a rock solid Iron Maiden track that should anchor the more adventurous material "The Book Of Souls" will contain.

W.A.S.P. - Last Runaway

This has always been one of those bands that has eluded me, with one exception. Blackie Lawless and company have always been a group whose music didn't seem to fit in anywhere, and didn't have much to say. Maybe I was predetermined not to like them from their controversial 80s days. I don't know.

The one time I did like them was on their concept opus, "The Crimson Idol". That is a record that goes so far above and beyond what I thought the band to be, and it remains a thoroughly enjoyable album, even if it is a bit bloated. "The Last Runaway" reminds me a lot of that record. Blackie sounds shockingly good here, much younger than you would assume. The band behind him cranks out some classic rock/metal hybrid riffs, letting the whole of the song rest on Blackie's performance. That might not always be the best decision, but it works here, because Blackie delivers a heck of a strong melody. This goes back to the days when he was writing "Chainsaw Charlie (Murders in the New Morgue)", and brings W.A.S.P. right back to their glory. I don't know if it will hold up throughout the record, but this is a huge shock, and has me legitimately interested in listening to the new album for the first time.

Bring 'em on!

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