On Sept. 3, British rock legends Iron Maiden released their highly anticipated new album “Senjutsu.” It marks the band’s first release since 2015’s “The Book of Souls” and their 17th studio output since their founding in 1975. The album features ten tracks and has a length of 82 minutes, making this the band’s second (consecutive) double album.
The album was recorded in Paris in 2019 with producer Kevin Shirley. It is their sixth album to feature singer Bruce Dickiinson since he returned to the group in 1999, and the 13th to feature him overall. The rest of the band is composed of bassist Steve Harris; guitarists Adrian Smith, Dave Murray, and Janick Gers; and drummer Nicko McBrain.
“Senjutsu” kicks off with the roaring eight-minute title track which is arguably their finest opening track since “The Wicker Man.” The powerful drum pattern from McBrain dominates the track and sets the tone for an epic opener the likes of which only Maiden can create.
The term “senjutsu” loosely translates to “tactics and strategies” in Japanese and these themes are evident in this song and throughout the album. This takes us to the next two songs, “Stratego” and “Writing on the Wall,” which were released as the two singles for the album. “Stratego” features the classic Maiden galloping sound and could be mistaken for a song on the album “Powerslave.” One of the shorter tracks on the new album, “Stratego” is crisp and to the point ,and it will likely be a staple of the band’s live shows for years to come. “Writing on the Wall” takes Iron Maiden to a place we’ve never seen them before. A Southern, country-influenced intro may surprise people, but the song still sounds like classic Maiden and the accompanying music video is a treat. The song’s lyrics discuss the Bible and the writings on the wall from chapter five of the Book of Daniel. If you are a fan of Iron Maiden, you know that many of their songs discuss historical elements and war, and these themes are evident in this song.
“Lost in a Lost World” starts off slow, with an acoustic intro. Around the two-minute mark, it rips into the lead riff that sounds like something off the album X Factor,” which is not a bad thing by any means (in my opinion this is an extremely underrated album). I love the ending of this track, as the music comes to a close and Dickinson sings about the threat of existence as we know it and destiny. It is truly a beautiful ending that’s unique and unexpected. While the song could have benefited from being a little shorter, it is still a rocking track nonetheless.
“Days of Future Past” is the shortest track on the album and it sounds like it could have been taken off the “A Matter of Life and Death” album. The song itself is very catchy and melodic, and is one of my personal favorites on the album.
“The Time Machine” is a song that reminds me of “The Talisman,” which was featured on the album “The Final Frontier.” A long, slow intro that builds into a steady rocker. This song is good enough, but in my opinion it is the least interesting and appealing on the album. The following song, “The Darkest Hour,” discusses Winston Churchill and World War II and starts off with a slow, but catchy riff. I find it so interesting that Iron Maiden talks so much about history in their songs. You could mistake their music for a history lesson. This song is classic Maiden and reminds me of songs such as “Alexander the Great,” “Lord of the Flies,” and “The Longest Day,” which are all history lessons in themselves. “Death of the Celts” is another song that sounds like it could have ended up on the album “The X Factor,” and reminds me a lot of the song “The Clansman,” which has become a staple on the band’s current tour.
The final two tracks, “The Parchment” and “Hell on Earth,” are the longest on the album and both songs contain great riffs and catchy melodies. The latter song is another one of my favorites on this album. It has a great arrangement and features killer solos and a lot of energy throughout. Maiden always does a good job at ending the album on a high note and they did not disappoint this time around, either.
Overall, the album “Senjutsu” is another masterpiece from Iron Maiden. For those of you expecting another “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” or “Number of the Beast,” you will be disappointed. Maiden has taken a new approach in the last 20 years, and they have turned into more of a progressive rock band. This album takes a lot of patience to listen to, but it takes you on an hour and a half-long journey, as do all Maiden releases nowadays. If you are a fan of the rock genre, I definitely recommend this album— there are songs that will appeal to you. Some songs may take a few listens, but they will catch on quickly. If you are not a fan of the band and want to begin listening to them, I suggest the tracks “Stratego” and “Days of Future Past,” as they are short and sweet and give you a feel of the classic Maiden sound we have all come to know and love. Up the Irons!
My rating: 9/10 stars
Erick Klambara is a first-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Journalism. EK924666@wcupa.edu