In 1986 Iron Maiden were the biggest metal band on earth, and when ‘Somewhere In Time’ appeared in September of that year, their sound had changed, guitar and bass synths had been introduced and an overall slickness in the harmonies and production was present.
Written by: Dangerzone
ARTIST: Iron Maiden
ALBUM: Somewhere In Time
SERIAL: EMC 3512
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Bruce Dickinson – vocals * Dave Murray – guitars * Adrian Smith – guitars * Steve Harris – bass * Nicko McBrain – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Caught Somewhere In Time * 02 Wasted Years * 03 Sea Of Madness * 04 Heaven Can Wait * 05 The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner * 06 Stranger In A Strange Land * 07 Deja Vu * 08 Alexander The Great
WEBLINKS: Site Link
In 1986 Iron Maiden were the biggest metal band on earth, a point emphasized by the mammoth year long ‘World Slavery Tour’ of 1984/85, which saw them sell out arena’s worldwide. A break was needed and 1985’s classic ‘Live After Death’ album filled the gap nicely.
When ‘Somewhere In Time’ appeared in September 1986, Iron Maiden’s sound had changed slightly. Guitar and bass synths had been introduced and an overall slickness in the harmonies and production was present.
Noticeable by their absence were any compositions by Bruce Dickinson, who later admitted to being so burned out he was unable to contribute to the songwriting. The biggest hit of the album, ‘Wasted Years’, was written by Adrian Smith who felt too scared to present it to the group at first, fearing it was too commercial!
Iron Maiden had sacrificed nothing in heaviness, witnessed by ‘Caught Somewhere In Time’ which moves with speed, led by Harris’ famed galloping bass riffs. The guitar riffs themselves are ultra melodic and it’s a slice of vintage Maiden. ‘Wasted Years’ was their most accessible track up to that point, with a chorus on the verge of AOR. Suitably it went to no 18 on the British charts.
The guitar synths are to the forefront in ‘Sea Of Madness,’ which features an interesting slower breakdown halfway through before the intensity picks up. One of Iron Maiden’s most loved songs appears with ‘Heaven Can Wait’, a Steve Harris special with an unforgettable chorus and some surging breaks.
McBrain’s drumming reaches thrash like proportions during ‘The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner’ but the harmonies are so smooth that it is far removed from that then burgeoning movement. Smith strikes again with ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ featuring some stunning arrangements, the synths used primarily for atmosphere. ‘Deja Vu’ and ‘Alexander The Great’ let things down slightly, devoid of character and more filler than usual.
That aside, ‘Somewhere In Time’ is the perfect example of heaviness and melody being merged, without losing musical identity. Iron Maiden were still a metal band, even if there were murmurs of discontent from some fans. It had no effect on sales, going platinum in the States and ensuring another epic tour which was highlighted by six sold out shows at London’s Hammersmith Odeon.
For Dickinson it was the beginning of the end, he later said he wanted to quit the band at this juncture, having wanted the album to be acoustic! A veritable classic of an album nonetheless, melodic heavy metal has never sounded better.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)