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June 19, 2024

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Iron Maiden
Edward The Great (Sanctuary Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Before picking apart the track selection and yet another stab at mass market consumption that's seeing them slowly gain ground on Rock band gone capitalist kings in disguise, Kiss, I want to first comment on the absolutely awe-inspiring cover art for the hands down leaders of coincident underground album artistry. All Hail Eddie, indeed! Better yet, buy his "Ed Hunter" CD-Rom; it's worth the price of admission solely for the characterization if not the stodgy Doom-like game play. "Edward The Great" is their latest foray into the keep the motor running derby while life on the road and at home prevails upon the development of new material -- but rest assured, according to Mr. Harris, the acceleration pedal shall be depressed soon enough. Does the Metal world need another Maiden comp? Nah. But then considering that '98s "Best Of The Beast" seemed to somehow fly by unnoticed, and given the fact that Iron Maiden is indeed back to the reclaim their rightful throne as indisputable industry leaders, why let the grass grow too high? Sure some will view this as another rip off stab at gaining a few extras from the fan as the band regains the monumental momentum they hadn't known for fifteen years; Others will welcome the fact that Maiden's still releasing anything together and against, still, the opposing winds of industry commercialism. The re-releasing of two full catalogs within the span of, what, two or three years, was a little nonsensical, for sure, but then again, can there be such a thing as over saturation in a truly "Metal" market these days anyway? So here we have "Edward The Great," a by design by-product of Eddie's latest six-disc archive casket set from a few months back, and mainly the subservient initiative for the "new" fan just discovering or rediscovering the band, as the case may be. Be it known that there are no overlapping tracks between this and those. And for the new fan, there's some priceless material here that you're lucky enough to pick up on now -- all the classics from "Run To The Hills," "The Number Of The Beast," "The Trooper," "Wasted Years," "The Wicker Man--" and of course, the late great Eddie's dominance, embossed in great detail on the front cover, though oddly enough, nowhere to be found again within the contents. For those of an already established fan base, well, it's Iron Maiden, so you're not buying it for the remastered songs you already have anyway; it's just another addition to your collection, and as far as collections go, it's not earth shattering but gets the job done. Again I'll revert to "Best Of The Beast" that was a full on spread of the many faces of Maiden during their then 20 year anniversary. So with the exception of a couple of the newer tracks here, you're basically getting the same thing, only with the added advantage of hearing Blaze Bailey digitally remastered twice over! Most everything that's supposed to be here is; the band is represented well, though I would question the fact that nothing from their first two albums is included -- two very essential albums as any true fan will tell you. So if the idea is to exploit only the Dickinsonian period, why then was there a need to include "Man On The Edge" and "Futureal?" Not bad songs by any means, in fact I wouldn't mind it if they included "Sign Of The Cross," "Aftermath," or "Lightning Strikes Twice." We could probably do without "Can I Play With Madness," one of four inclusions from their poor sounding "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" 1988 release which is a little too overexposed here. For those who didn't get an earful of their last live release, "Live In Rio," that's absolutely necessary for any such initiation into the world of Maiden and the universal acclaim they continue to boast -- here you'll get a quick glimpse of its monumentality with the closing, "Fear Of The Dark," originally done on 1992's under appreciated album of the same title. Lastly, the 24 page cover leaflet, done on glittery, glossy paper, mainly involves song lyrics and a couple unforeseen group photos, with the random skull, snake, and gold emblem thrown in for regality. So for the newcomer, "Edward The Great" is an essential acquisition into the world of one of Metal's all-time great packages. For the long time fan, there's nothing I or anyone else can write here to convince you to buy or not buy -- you already know the songs, you probably already have the remasters, and you might even be a little bit pricked about missing the "Brave New World" tour. But as a fan, it's something you'll inevitably add to the collection because, well, that's what we do.
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