Critic score distribution:
Iron Maiden hasn’t lost any of their power, their intensity, or their might. The Book of Souls is the return of a titan and it’s a brilliant reminder of why this band is royalty amongst the metal pantheon.
The fact that The Book of Souls has been split neatly into two halves is a stroke of genius, as it encourages the listener to take his or her time. When you do take a moment to step back and contemplate each half on its own, in its own time, the more of a marvel the entire album turns out to be.
Take it or leave it, but, at least for me, Iron Maiden proved with The Book Of Souls that they still have what it takes without sounding stagnant.
The words ‘double album’ - often the creative death knell and signifier of a shark jumped - are anything but here. ‘...Souls’ is a sinewy beast, abundant with creativity, and while it ostensibly sounds like most other Maiden albums, there are subtle - or not so subtle - differences.
A solid slab of raging pure NWOBHM mainlined straight into the denim-lined veins of Metal Itself, The Book of Souls delivers all the unhinged solos and poetic lyrics one wants from metal’s aristocracy.
It's a heavy metal suite, unlike anything in their catalog. Producer Kevin Shirley does a stellar job capturing an "in studio" sound that allows for spacious dynamics and warmth without artifical mass.
I am yet to come across a double album that truly justifies its length, but The Book of Souls might just be as close as they come. Metal fans take note: the beast is back, and it still has your number.
What's most impressive is how vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who recently survived a tongue-cancer scare, still sounds like a cross between an air-raid siren and Maria Callas [Issue 1243]