Iron Maiden's The Final Frontier hits the ground not only running, but kicking and screaming. Ten tracks of pure adrenaline are simply guaranteed to please fans - and if you've never owned any Maiden, why not start now, so you don't feel out of place among other people who just call them Maiden? Enough people will be talking about this album for some time to come that you could probably blag your way to a status as a 'proper fan' without actually knowing any of Maiden's previous work.
If you do already own everything that's come before, and you're wondering whether this can possibly live up to it - well, you don't get to be one of the world's greatest rock groups by a single half-decent effort. Maiden continue to put the Iron in Metal (see what I did there? You can have that one for the pub...) and are well deserving of support from all comers - new or old. Read on for my personal picks of the best tracks, and the final verdict.
The double bill of title track Satellite 15....The Final Frontier and its immediate follow-up, El Dorado, feels like a concert performance. The pair are almost seamless - El Dorado just works almost as a second half to The Final Frontier. That's not to say neither track stands alone - The Final Frontier is a worthy title track that provides a little insight into what it might be like to be what the tabloids would call an ageing rocker.
No signs of ageing in El Dorado itself - this fiery little number brings the energy up to 11 and dismisses the hints of melancholy in its predecessor. The subtext, if there is one, must surely be that Iron Maiden are not going anywhere for some time yet, which can only be good news for proper fans of real rock the world over. Get that leather jacket out and rub it down with saddle soap - there's work to be done yet.
An honorable mention too for The Alchemist. An awful lot packed into less than four and a half minutes, the pace is relentless and the song as a whole manages to be among the album's most epic. Also, it made me say "This is a good song..." out loud, which has to be a positive.
OK, I got a little carried away there. But the truth is, Iron Maiden's energy is infectious. As always, we're talking about racing guitar riffs, crashing cymbals and truly epic vocals. It's a classic combination that shows no signs of sounding dated - at least not in any negative sense. The only criticism would be of modern music and the fact that there just aren't many people out there getting things right any more, at least where rock is concerned.
Then again, that really doesn't matter when Iron Maiden are still around and releasing albums like The Final Frontier. If you like your albums to name-drop God and Satan, death and murder, buy this. You won't be disappointed.
Final Score: 66.6%