Somewhere In Time

Iron Maiden

EMI Records, 1986

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald


Live After Death was over, and with it went traditional Iron Maiden. The days of straightforward guitar blitzes mixed with the crushing rhythm section of Harris and McBrain. On 1986, Harris once again took the band in a new direction. And while many fans to this day still debate this change, it created something that, to me, has never been topped.

Personally, I think Derek Riggs outdid himself with the cover art of this album, which depicts a cyborg Eddie wielding a smoking gun over a falling body while the band stands in the background, amidst a distopic, stormy future. I find this cover to be very reminiscent of Killers, just updated several hundred years. It's this that first captures everyone's attention. It's a masterfully crafted piece of art, and every time I stare at it, I have to question why the band discontinued his work as artist.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The intro to the first track, "Caught Somewhere In Time" is so laden with spacey keyboards that the listener will wonder if they have purchased an Iron Maiden record. However, the song soon explodes into a fantastic, futuristic song about Satan requesting the soul of a human. While maybe it is a little heavy on the keyboards, but is easily one of Maiden's greatest songs ever.

"Wasted Years," the big hit from this album, isn't that mind-blowing, though it does have a terrific tremolo riff in the beginning.

While "Sea Of Madness" and "Heaven Can Wait" are very good songs, the album doesn't hit its next crest until "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner," an absolutely relentless track, with some of the best guitar work ever. Dickinson's manic singing only heightens this song's brilliance.

Following this is "Stranger In A Strange Land," a more relaxed, bass-oriented track that is nonetheless the best on the album (to me). It has one of the great sing-along choruses ("Stranger in a Strange Land/Land of ice and snow/Trapped inside this prison/Lost and far from home" all sung with in the drawn-out, theatrical way of the Air Raid Siren), and a fabulous solo.

The album closes with one of the Irons' greatest, most epic songs, "Alexander The Great." I suggest no one listen to this while in the car, as the mind-blowing guitar leads may cause you to crack your head off the dashboard from fierce headbanging.

My problem with this album: too short! Yes, I know it clocks in at just under an hour, but it's only tracks, and the fantasy is over too soon. Like an addictive drug, it leaves you craving for more. It's unfortunate that many fans weren't (and still aren't) too crazy on the keyboards. It paints a majestic portrait with a spacey feel.

Yes, this is Maiden's greatest album ever. Unfortunately, they would never quite reach this level of euphoria again (though they came damn close with Brave New World). While I recommend this album to everyone (and not just fans of the band, but every human being on the planet), I would also suggest that people look into the band's earlier discography first, so they can get a better feel of the band, and thus appreciate all the more.

Rating: A

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© 2004 Riley McDonald and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI Records, and is used for informational purposes only.