Life must feel good in the Maiden camp. Remarkably, some are saying that Brave New World is Iron Maiden's finest output to date. Pretty strong sentiments to compare a bunch of ol' blokes' output at present with some of the finest Heavy Metal created, Powerslave, Piece, Seventh Son and Beast to name a few. Sitting with pint in hand and with plenty of repeated listens, I'm in awe. This album wrestles EVERY comeback to the ground: Aerosmith, Priest, Purple, Kiss, Ozzy, Sabbath, Page/Plant whoever, this is the real deal, from start to finish. And the funny thing is, the first single, 'The Wicker Man', is far from representing the full feeling of this record, although it grows over time with its anthemic qualities. A definite show-opener. In one word, Brave New World is mature, a record created by experience itself, the six-piece far from weathered by the sands of time. Maiden have made great albums in the past, but with Brave New World the whole unit is aligned in synch with fascinating results. Harris is still holding the reigns tightly, but he's not overbearing. Nicko McBrain has indeed found his chops and he's damn hard to air-drum to again! The three axe attack is audible with increased listens, a bloody army of riffs. Dickinson, well kiss this man's feet. And virtually EVERY track is an epic: only two bruisers, 'The Mercenary' and 'The Fallen Angel' are under five minutes in length - the latter galloping forcefully but gliding smoothly into the memorable chorus line of 'Show them no fear, show them no pain.' Back to the epics. You know damn well that the genius of Harris is behind each one of them and they emerge fresh and exciting. The finest is 'Blood Brothers', a bittersweet tale of the bass legend and the relationship with his father, a rather touching call to arms between siblings that we can/should all relate to. But it's the shivering chorus line that Bruce belts out that has me on the floor - one of the true Maiden triumphs ever. 'The Nomad' is next, a cut about The Bedouin warrior tribes of the desert, musically part II of 'To Tame A Land'. Its Middle East down-tuned nature is unstoppable and Harris' keyboard orchestrations keep the listener on one path without wandering aimlessly in boredom. 'The Thin Line Between Love And Hate' closes the record, a real odd vocal trip for Bruce, the cut soldiers forward until the latter half invades with the a guitar duel like none before it, escalating into a neverending moving finale, once again Harris turning an epic into an unforgettable classic album cut, Bruce's lungs in tip-top shape belting out the title lyric with heartfelt passion. This man has more stamina and vocal prowess than Plant, Halford and Gillan combined. At the very of the record, producer Kevin Shirley includes McBrain's in-studio comment: "Ohhhh, I fucking missed it," regarding some miscue. These lads have far from missed it. And Steve, whatever was going through yer head when you hired Blaze, you're now mostly forgiven by providing us a Brave New World to focus on. Thank you.