It’s been 35 years, 16 studio albums and counting for Iron Maiden, and the band’s fan base continues to grow. Iron Maiden plays one of the best live shows on earth, with a quintessential set list comprised of songs from the 1980 self-titled album to 1992’s Fear of the Dark, along with a dash of singles from various releases thereafter. Book of Souls, their first double album, may arguably be Maiden’s most ambitious record since vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s return to the fold, after an absence of 6 years, on 2000’s Brave New World.

Over the years, prog-rock length songs, like “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” have given Iron Maiden opportunity to meld its poetical breadth with powerful music. However, “The Red and the Black,” which is just over 13 minutes, sucks all the oxygen out of the album and is as dull as the gym floor in an elementary school in June. Picture a bunch of yabbos in an Australian pub, well into their cups, arms about each other, singing a chorus with too many “whoa oh oh ohs.”

“Shadows of the Valley”, however, encompasses classic Maiden elements: the three-guitar attack, Steve Harris’ bass, Nicko McBrain’s drums, and Dickinson’s voice. Its alluring “Wasted Years”-like guitar intro instills their dedication to writing good songs. The trademark, get-to-the point brutality of Maiden bursts with “Speed of Light” and “Death or Glory.”

Two tracks were written solely by Dickinson: “If Eternity Should Fail” and the venturesome 18-minute epic, “Empire of the Clouds.” Not since Powerslave (1984) has Dickinson had two sole writing credits on an Iron Maiden album. His songs bookend Book of Souls well and both are undisputedly set list-worthy. Washing off the skid mark left by 2010’s Final Frontier, Book of Souls is redemptive. It’s almost classic Iron Maiden.

Track listing:

Disc 1
01. If Eternity Should Fail
02. Speed of Light
03. The Great Unknown
04. The Red and the Black
05. When the River Runs Deep
06. The Book of Souls

Disc 2
07. Death or Glory
08. Shadows of the Valley
09. Tears of a Clown
10. The Man of Sorrows
11. Empire of the Clouds

Run Time: 90:11
Release Date: September 4, 2015

Check out the song “Speed Of Light” here.