Senjutsu premiered last friday on September 3rd 2021 and is the 17th record from the 46 year old english metal band Iron Maiden and stays true to their essence and tradition. Maiden is already a Heavy Metal hero, they have to be careful to not die as the villain.
Iron Maiden has always portaied Eddie the Head, the band’s maskot, in different contexts on the album covers. They have a mayan Eddie, a sci-fi Eddie, a edgypcian Eddie, a mummy Eddie and for Senjutsu they present us with a Japanese Eddie dressed as a samurai and katana in hand. The record and its lyrics are themed arround war and strategy, hence the name of it, ”Sen 戦” meaning war and ”Jutsu 術” meaning technique.
The album kicks in with the title track and its dramatic battle drumming that allude to taiko drums, a kind of Japanese percussion, and a heavily distorded electric guitar. The song is all about war and protecting your homeland from enemies, it has an epic and heroic chorus with synths and slow bass. All this elements along with exceptional production from Kevin Shirley are combined to give this song and the whole record a big, strong and powerful sound, just like an army of Japanese warriors.
It’s Steve Harris we’re talking about, of course we would have amazing electric bass recordings on this release. We have the signature gallop rythm back for that extra warlike horseriding feel and melodic lines you don’t see that often recently. This is not by any means a bass heavy production, it stays true to the classic sound of Iron Maiden.
Surprisingly Good Singing
I personally am not an active Maiden listener so what I expected from this record was for it to have a completely different sonority than what we had back on the golden age of Heavy Metal and for the singing to sound like a 63 year old tired grandpa trying to sing his teenagehood favourites but boy I couldn’t be more wrong. Bruce Dickinson sings better than he ever has and yes, he is 63 years old but he definitely doesn’t sound tired and is still one of the best vocalists and frontmans to ever walk this earth.
An instrument that has seen an excessive spotlight in the last 60 years but has now consolidated its place is the electric guitar, and as you might have imagined, this record has electrics all over it but maintaining the classic Iron Maiden sound texture of mixing a clean electric with a steel acoustic for some beautiful fingestyle riffs and intros.
More of the Same?
As this style of music is really good and one of my personal favourites it is, just like all things, getting old. The fact that this album sounds like it could be released in the 80’s is impressive but isn’t really that great, it’s a sonority that has been arround for over 40 years and has now left the mainstream media. Iron Maiden is great for a lot of reasons with some of them being listed above but inovation is definitely not one of them. The main reason is
Theese days the vast majority of mainstream music is locked to the tempo grid (quantized) and has a lot of pitch correction on top of the vocal tracks but this record isn’t on the vast majority of today’s mainstream music. This album is not quantized and it even has a 3+3+3+3+4/16 time signature in the middle of Time Machine, it slows downs and speeds up at will and has no pitch correction whatsoever.
This record scores an overall 8.5/10 in objectve aspects and a 9/10 in my perspective. I didn’t know I needed new Iron Maiden songs until I got my headphones and listened to this record for a whole week, this really gave me the energy I was missing from modern music but I understand that it is not inovative and not good for the industry. It’s like eating your mom’s food as an adult after a long time, it’s still the same delicious food you used to eat as a kid, but the times are different, you’re not a kid anymore and you mom is getting old.