I was least excited for this album review because it’s the longest album I’ve covered on my blog so far (almost an hour and 22 minutes total). But you know what, I can’t put it off anymore! I’m doing it! I’m finally going to review Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu (2021) album, the band’s first studio album since The Book of Souls (2015). The line-up that played on this album includes Bruce Dickinson on lead vocals, Dave Murray on guitars, Adrian Smith on guitars, Janick Gers on guitars, Steve Harris on bass and keyboards, and Nicko McBrain on drums. With all that said, let’s get on with the music!
The title track kicks off the album and the drum intro transports me to Japan. The moody guitars set the tone for the track and Dickinson gets down to business. For an older guy like Dickinson, he sounds pretty good, but his voice has aged slightly to a point where he sounds out of breath. “Stratego” is next and it picks up the pace a little. I can see why it was the second single for the album. It’s classic Maiden, it has a good beat, and it gets your blood pumping in five minutes (as opposed to the band’s longer tracks).
“The Writing on the Wall” has a western flair to it and I find that so unique. I feel like I’m in a western movie while listening to this song. I love the guitar solo and how the lyrics paint a picture. “The dead gave us the time to live and now our time is done.”
Next up we have “Lost in a Lost World” and there are so many parts to this song. But even with the different sections, “Lost in a Lost World” is so boring and unsatisfying. It took about five verses just to get to the chorus and the chorus wasn’t even that good (it did have a headbanging feel, though). The guitar solos were so sleepy and the lyrics felt very random, like Harris purposely added any kind lyrics just to bore me to death.
“Days of Future Past” is the shortest song on the album (4:03) and I was awake through all of it! I don’t have a problem with long songs, by the way. It’s just, if you’re going to write a long song, make it exciting, include meaningful lyrics, and don’t include sleepy instrumentals. I have no idea how bands pull off playing eight to twelve minute-long songs live because of all the notes they’d have to memorize, but you know what, that’s their problem! I’ll just listen to the music and have Maiden worry about playing their long tracks live.
“The Time Machine” closes off disc one. I think some of the lyrics are lame and childish, but instrumentally, it’s a cool track. “Have I ever told you about my time machine / Sit you down, I’ll tell you everywhere I’ve been.” The “time machine” reference got me thinking about the Jonas Brothers’ cover of “Year 3000,” strangely enough.
“Darkest Hour” kicks off disc two and it’s my favorite song on the album. The track starts off with sounds of the ocean and seagulls. The lyrics once again paint a picture and set the mood for the track. According to AZLyrics, “Darkest Hour” is about former UK prime minister Winston Churchill’s battle with depression, so it’s a very dark and depressing song. Depending on your mood, you may think that “Death of the Celts” is really cool or really boring. It had an interesting riff in the beginning where I could hear the bass loud and clearly, but there was also an instrumental section that I thought was never going to end.
“The Parchment” is the longest song on the album at 12 minutes and 39 seconds. The verses go by fast, instead, it’s those instrumental sections that make the song really long. Some are slow and moody and the instrumentals towards the end are fast and chaotic. Where the heck is the chorus, though? I just kept seeing a bunch of verses with no build-up, geez!
Iron Maiden is a very strange band. Take the closing track, “Hell on Earth,” for example. It starts off soft and slow, then the drums kick in and everyone goes nuts, then the song returns to the soft and slow feel it had going on, like the previous eight minutes was all just a dream. It’s like a heavy metal orchestra in a weird way. I liked the chorus, McBrain’s drum parts kept me entertained, Dickinson sounded great, and overall, not a bad way to close off the album. “I wish I could go back / Will never be the same again / Bled for all upon this hell on earth.”
I enjoyed eight of the 10 songs (“Death of the Celts” and “The Parchment” got half points), which is about 80 percent. With that in mind, I’ll give Senjutsu a rating of 4 out of 5 stars. Not a bad score, to be honest, and I’ll give Maiden props for that wicked album cover! Black and red is such a great combination, plus I love skulls.
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