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Iron Maiden

Somewhere in Time

Review by Gary Hill

I had been one of the early fans of Iron Maiden, first discovering them when they only had two albums out. By the time Somewhere in Time came out, I had sort of moved on from them. Well, it's probably more accurate to say that they had moved on, their sound morphing from the early music that had brought me into their fandom. So, I really didn't pay a lot of attention to this when it came out. Apparently it was a bit of a shock to fans who had followed them to that point as it was the first disc to be created with the use of guitar synthesizers. I have to say that this album holds up quite a bit better than I think a lot of folks regarded it at the time. There are some exceptional tracks, and none that land as mistakes. It should be mentioned that I previously reviewed "Wasted Years" on the Edward the Great collection. For the sake of consistency the track review here has been modified from that one.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Caught Somewhere in Time
Dramatic textures bring this into being. A classic marching kind of Maiden sound takes over as it drives forward. As it approaches the one-minute mark it shifts gear, making its way to a different trademark Maiden sound. The vocals join, driving that home. This is furious and mean. The guitar solo section is so fiery. The hooks are catchy, in a meaty metal way. All in all, this is a smoking hot tune.
Wasted Years
The intro on this one, with its staccato patterns is quite strong, and the fast paced stomp that follows holds up equally well. The production is a bit wanting, though. Another point in the negative file is that the chorus is a bit generic.
Sea of Madness
They waste no time, firing out into some seriously fast-paced metal right at the start. The production on this cut seems to be a bit of an issue, too. This is a strong cut despite that, though. That said, I'd consider it sort of an "also ran" in terms of the set, based more on the strength of some of the other stuff here. I really do love the closing section. It has a great hook to it.
Heaven Can Wait
Keyboard styled textures (guitar synth) bring this into being. The cut gets a bit of a staccato pattern that emerges as some guitar flies overhead. They launch out from there to some trademark Maiden jamming. This has some cool changes. The chorus vocals rock, too. This is really quite a powerhouse of a track.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner
Coming in rather mellow and melodic, this rises up to more of a powered up metal jam from there. This thing gets quite furious and fierce. Of course, what do you expect from a song about a runner, slow pacing?
Stranger in a Strange Land
The rhythm section brings this into being. A killer guitar grind joins as it drives onward. This is arguably the most straight-ahead metal stomper of the whole disc. That said, it does drop back for a mellower movement mid-track. This is one of the highlights of the set, as far as I'm concerned.
Deja-Vu
Another that reflects that fierce metal side, this really calls to mind older Maiden in a lot of ways. There is a cool wandering kind of movement later. This is another of my favorite tunes on the disc.
Alexander the Great
The closing piece is the epic of the set. The sound of wind along with a theatrical spoken word element starts this. A dramatic kind of building section comes in rather mellow, bringing the music to drive it onward with a bit of a martial rhythm. Guitar rises up with melodic, but crunchy, soloing as the intensity increases. It eventually builds out to stomping, powerhouse Iron Maiden metal screamer. The instrumental break after the four-minute mark brings some proggy type things, perhaps in a sign of things to come. They resolve it back out into more pure heavy metal from there, though. They keep reinventing it and evolving it as they drive forward. While the instrumental section is extensive, it eventually gives way to a return to the song proper to continue.
 
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