By Keith Sharp
England’s Iron Maiden may have been passed over for inclusion into The U.S Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame earlier this year by a group of stuffed shirts who clearly cannot comprehend a real legendary band in their midst. Yet their response has been the release of a new single “Writing On The Wall” (based on a biblical reference to Belshazzar’s Feast) and an accompanying video that is so futuristic, it presents the band as being streets ahead of any competition.
Releasing their first piece of music since their 2015 ‘The Book Of Souls’ record, Iron Maiden members (bassist) Steve Harris, (vocalist) Bruce Dickinson, triple guitarists (Dave Murray, Adrian Smith and Janick Gers) and drummer (Nicko McBrain) have spent their enforced pandemic break concocting and releasing a single and video that is set to be a predecessor to a new album titled `Senjutsu”, a double record, set to be released September 3rd, their 17th studio recording, produced by long-time producer Kevin Shirley and co-produced by Harris.
For those not in the know (and I am sure there are many), Belshazzar’s Feast is taken from The Bible (chapter five in the Book Of Daniel) and refers to writing that mysteriously appears on the wall of Belshazzar’s temple warning him of his impending doom (check out Belshazzar’s Feast for the complete story)
Written by Harris and Smith, the six-minute epic “Writing On The Wall” serves as a soundtrack for a totally epic video which in true, Iron Maiden fashion, inserts a number of controversial messages that somehow include Adam and Eve, The Four Horsemen Of the Apocalypse, a character purporting to be Donald Trump, and in an epic scene, Iron Maiden’s ghoulish Eddie mascot transforms from a Robot into a Samurai Warrior.
The video storyline was devised by lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson, the video’s 2D cell animation with C.G elements was created by Pixar’s Mark Andrews and Andrew Gordon at Blink Ink Animated Studios in London under the direction of Nicos Livesey. “The basic theme is focused on those one-percenters, sitting in their shiny castles, leaving everyone else outside to rot in a dying planet,” noted Livesey.
Talking to Loud Wire Magazine, Dickinson explained “I had a pretty clear idea of the concept to accompany the song and when I met Mark (Andrews) and Andrew (Gordon) on Zoom it quickly became clear we were all on the same wavelength, our weekly Zoom meetings were then usually both highly creative and a lot of fun.”
In true Iron Maiden fashion, they teazed the launch with a lengthy social media campaign, re-issuing previous album images with a mysterious WOTW inscription, Belshazzar’s Feast posters and tee shirts popped up all over the place with Dickinson dropping numerous hints as he executed a solo speaking tour around the U.K.
But the accompanying album is not called Belshazzar’s Feast as originally suspected but ‘Senjutsu’ which is a loose translation of the words `tactics and strategy’ with artwork created by Mark Wilkinson based on an original idea by Harris.
Clocking in at 82 minutes, the band’s 17th studio album was recorded in Paris during a break in the band’s 2019 Legacy tour. “We chose to record at Guillaume Tell Studio in France as the place has such a relaxed vibe,” Harris told Rolling Stone magazine. “The place there is perfect for our needs; the building used to be a cinema and has a really high ceiling so there’s a great acoustic sound. We recorded this album the same way we did “The Book Of Souls” in that we’d write a song, rehearse it and then put it down straight away while it was still fresh in our minds.”
“There are some very complex songs on this album which took a lot of hard work to get them exactly how we wanted them to sound so the process at times was very challenging. But Kevin (Shirley) was great at capturing the essence of the band and I think it was worth the effort,” he added.
Lead singer Bruce Dickinson says “We are all excited about this album, we recorded it back in 2019 during a break in the Legacy tour so we could maximize our touring yet still have a long set-up period before release to prepare great album artwork and something special as a video. Of course, the pandemic delayed things more – so much for the best-laid plans – or should that be strategies the songs are very varied and some of them are quite long. There are also one or two songs that sound pretty different than our usual style and I think Maiden fans will be surprised – in a good way I hope.”
- The Writing On The Wall
- Lost In A Lost World
- Days Of Future Past
- The Time Machine
- Darkest Hour
- Death Of The Celts
- The Parchment
- Hell On Earth
Iron Maiden will make up for previously cancelled dates with a European Legacy Of The Beast tour through June and July of 2022 (including a much-anticipated appearance on June 11 as headliners at Donington Park in Derbyshire England.
And you can eventually expect a full North American tour either in the Fall of 2022 early 2023 which will no doubt include a Toronto date. Stay tuned for further details!!!