Words: Simon Opie
Where there’s muck there’s brass as my gran used to say, and appropriately I’ve been musing on how the fates have been kind to her favourite heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. He’s such a nice boy that Bruce Dickinson, she would say, and in a recent edition of Metal Hammer there’s a photo of him in the cockpit of his 757, resplendent in his pilot’s uniform, that would have made her so proud.
Iron Maiden of course are laughing all the way to the bank since they’re more popular and more profitable than at any other time in their career. World tours and the DVD recordings of them, follow each other relentlessly. Even albums of new material that still hits the spot appear every two years or so, although lets face it if they started recycling some of their early songs no-one would really cause a fuss.
So how do they do it – and what’s the lesson for the UK generation that started their careers a bit later at the end of the nineties, and who may not be enjoying the same level of success. Well firstly the music industry had already discarded the old dinosaurs before it went into terminal meltdown and those old boys developed strategies for getting by without the support of record labels and the like because they had to. I suspect they’ve succeeded beyond their wildest expectations.
Connecting with loyal fans and giving bigger and bolder live shows has worked supremely well. But as the new Primal Rock Rebellion album, 'Awoken Broken' – a collaboration between Maiden’s Adrian Smith and ex-Sikth vocalist Mikee Goodman - shows, there’s still a fire burning that fuels their music making. The album is a surprisingly successful adventure in contemporary metal and a bravura performance from both main protagonists. Opener 'No Friendly Neighbour' and the queasy 'Snake Ladders' are my favourites but it’s a fine effort all round. [7.0/10]
Orange Goblin are a personal favourite, British metal band with a similarly loyal, but rather smaller, fan base built from the late nineties onwards with a succession of excellent albums and terrific live shows. Trouble is, I guess they have somewhat smaller bank balances too – so much so that their February release 'A Eulogy For The Damned' was potentially their last album.
They put a lot of effort into going out on a high and it shows. The songs are strong and the production tremendously good. Chris Turner is an outstanding drummer and frontman Ben Ward gives the performance of his life. Songs like 'Red Tide Rising' and 'Stand For Something' are amongst their very best, although if I were to be picky I’d say in places they’re trying almost too hard. [8.5/10]
The album sounds like a greatest hits compilation of all new material, and I somewhat prefer the rough edges of 2004’s 'Thieving From The House Of God', which remains my favourite album of theirs. But that said, it’s a highly enjoyable listen and really deserves to bring them success and new fans. At least it can hopefully keep them going till the Goblin Jetliner (orange livery of course) and the stadium world tours materialise. No one can say they don’t deserve it.
To feature in this column in the future, rock-orientated bands should email submissions/bribes directly to Simon at altrock(at)fadedglamour.co.uk rather than the usual FG addresses.