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Everyone can recall the first time they heard, played, or saw, a certain entry into a long running series. I’m no different. With Apoch’s Metal Review now in it’s fourth year, and I start to reflect on fourteen years of Metal intrigue, it felt appropriate to share the early days of my journey into the land of rebellion, frostbite, gore and unicorns by discussing some of my first experiences with my favorite bands in the day before instant internet gratification, when you had to physically search for and even wait to buy a physical pressing. This was before cable and DSL became standards, before the social networking boom, prior to the creation of Youtube, iTunes, and the Metal Archives. This is a look back at my first album from…

Iron Maiden (Logo)

My Iron Maiden blood may be strong now, but it’s actually fairly new. It was around 2001, and I was still in high school. My love of Metal in general had started to bloom wildly despite my steady diet of Death Metal and Thrash Metal. One band that people continued to suggest I check out was this one, and the name was not unfamiliar to me long before this. It was the summer, and I had gone on a family trip with my mother and grandmother to a large indoor/outdoor flea market some two hours away from where we lived. My birthday had actually just passed, and with what money I saved up from my allowance, as well as birthday cash I didn’t blow on video games, I had gone on a hunt for something new to play, or to listen to.

Once we were inside, we split up, and a good twenty minutes later I had found exactly what I was looking for. To my shock, a quarter of the building was occupied by a store local to me capitalizing on the flea market crowd, something they had done in the past with closer ones. I looked around at what they had to offer in hopes of something new to listen to on the way home, and given the selection, it took a while, but I did just that. I picked up another Amon Amarth album, and a few others that I can’t even remember what they were, but quickly lost interest in not too long after. The most notable was the new Iron Maiden album, Brave New World for five dollars used. How could I pass up the opportunity to finally check out these legends at a decent price?

Iron Maiden: Brave New World

When we did leave that day, I threw the album into my portable CD player, laid down in the backseat of the car, closed my eyes, and let the music sweep me away… for a very brief while. Back then, this was a new experience, but with all the hype everyone built up around them, after a few songs I sat there thinking, “Wait… This is it?” I loved “The Wicker Man” and it’s highly infectious music, and “Ghost of the Navigator” was the one that really stood out the most to me. But, come “Brave New World,” I was starting to fade. Much like the others, it was catchy, but it felt incredibly simple and overly drawn out. “Blood Brothers” was about the same, but it had a bit more of an epic vibe to it that did pull me back in, as did “Out of the Silent Planet,” though the simpler lyrics really didn’t hold my attention the same way the energy of the chorus did.

I sat through the whole album, and sometimes I was happy and giddy, while others I was let down. Brave New World didn’t feel like much of a brave “new” world for me at all back then. In fact, this album left a rather a foul taste in my mouth/opinion on the group, and for quite some time I had actually avoided them. At this time, I was unaware of the band’s extended existence, and had assumed they were around only for maybe ten years max. At the time, I did have the internet, but had no idea where to even begin my research on them, and given the impression I had, there was no real rush for me to do so since I was a teenager that knew everything. I just wrote them off as something overly hyped and continued to explore more bands.

Periodically through my teens, I’d throw this one on from time to time, but largely for the first four songs. It was maybe another year before I finally learned of the band’s history thanks to various music discussion forums. But, given how little I cared for Brave New World, I wasn’t in a rush to experience their older albums. As I grew, I looked at this release as a possible fluke, becoming more experienced in analog recording qualities versus the modern digital sound. So, I gave the band another chance and picked up Killers and Iron Maiden, both of which impressed me enough to seek out more, leading to my finally picking up Number of the Beast in 2004, and solidifying my role as an Iron Maiden fan. To this day, I have plenty of their releases, and even some harder to find pressings such as the radio single The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg.

But, even to this day, I still look at Brave New World with some disgust. A few months ago I even threw this into my car stereo for a long drive with my fiancee, and she wasn’t too impressed either, though her introduction was a bit worse than mine, building her understanding of the group around the two Blaze-era releases. After about half the album I hit the eject button and threw on another effort that was in reach. In the end, the same songs spoke volumes to me, while I’ve grown to enjoy “Blood Brothers” and “The Fallen Angel” for what they are. However, I do still find some of the other songs to be too light due to the digital production making things way too clean, and coming off more radio friendly due to it.

While it’s not a bad album by any means, it was quite possibly the worst introduction to Iron Maiden I could have possibly had next to The X Factor and Virtual XI, which nearly was my fate. But, the fact this was a Bruce Dickinson release, the singer many told me to make sure I heard, nearly made me hate them. This wasn’t really the band’s fault, and given that I was still somewhat new to Metal at the time, I didn’t realize that the modern production quality could really hurt the impact of an album, something I realized a little later upon hearing early Annihilator, Possessed, and Mercyful Fate recordings. From this album on, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Iron Maiden‘s new full-lengths, and honestly rarely listen to anything 2000 and on, making this the perfect example of what a high studio budget today can do to greatly sterilize what could have been a classic release.

I admit, I’m still shocked this one gets such great reviews, as I feel much of it is the same as it was back in 2001 when I first heard it: Rather boring. This is an album I in no way regret buying. I actually still have that exact pressing considering how little I wound up playing it. The disc is a little scuffed up due to the time I ran out of room and put all my CDs in binders, and the front artwork has some water damage to the lower right corner, but overall it’s stood the test of time well. Given my better understanding of music today, I’m really glad I do still have it and can throw it in whenever I want. I find more enjoyment with it now than I did before, and not just for the sake of nostalgia. But, one spin through is really all I need for a little while, as it’s not one that leaves me jonesin’ for another fix right away. Would I suggest this album? Yes, and in fact I’ve played this copy for people who haven’t had a chance to hear it yet. But, I would never do that, or even advise hearing this as a first experience.

Iron Maiden (band)Article based on physical material material provided by personal funds.