Somewhere in Time
It had been a long and hard few years for world touring, chart topping Iron Maiden. After several successful releases and massive expeditions around the globe to bring their British flavour of epic heavy metal to blood thirsty fans everywhere, an album like this becomes a jewel for the crown of the era. An honest take at the illusory world around us, the sinister nature of reality with the challenges and emotive twists in the tail each day.
Track one, the title track of this album, tells a story of a person who lives in their mind, who is not present in the moment. A heavy metal song long before the concept of Eckhart Tolle's “The Power of Now” this album as a whole encapsulates the message. The opener being the dilemma, the place of suffering within which we are continually oppressing ourselves over the errors or misfortunes of the past. The ego taunts the spirit, offering itself as the saviour, at the price of silence in the soul.
Wasted years slices through the tension with a blade of ultimate riffage written by the guitar mega-man, Adrian Smith. This being the post Di'anno but pre Gers era, the band were still a 5 piece at this time. The song replies to the last, it has a heart of gold and reminds the self that dwelling on the past only brings challenges, letting go is the easiest way to move on and find that spark again. Probably one of the best solos on the record accompanies this Maiden classic, still a jukebox favourite in many greasy bars up and down rock avenue.
Maybe one of the secrets to the success of this monolith of metal that is Iron Maiden is the fact that every now and then they make a song that is relatively simple to learn. This album doesn't have any of them really, as a guitar player myself, I can state personally that there is no song on this album which for me was instantly playable. Maybe this is the first time the band really pushed out their personal boats to create a record of personal genius and class. Sea of Madness highlights this sensation as its intro riff is maybe the heaviest piece of music to come out of 1986. An almost jazz style middle 8 tempts us into a calming drift before the song pounds again on our eardrums.
Heaven Can Wait was played at many live shows after this record, perhaps an easy one to please the crowds, it has a large interactive section in the middle. The heavy blues guitar work paves the way for melodic power chords to open the first verse. It's a song about having a near death experience. It tells the classic story of the path to the light and the desire to return. Track five is The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, a title of a book also, and the song is a story of pushing ourselves to the ultimate limit then beyond in an ever present desire to succeed. Most artists know this feeling. It is indeed lonely at times. But that's also OK, or we'd give it up.
Stranger in a Strange Land also borrows its name from a book, gallops us through the ever turning pages of change, inevitability and continual growth into the unknown. De-ja-vu is a song about the phenomenon in which we see something we feel we have seen before, or maybe even dreamed. It does happen sometimes to all of us, and so there is no better subject matter for a song. The vocals on this have an experimental grungy feel, an almost distorted Bruce Dickinson mixes in with terrifying brutality, for a Maiden L.P.
Alexander The Great is pretty much a straight forward history lesson set the a soundtrack of epic heavy metal, learn something, rock your brains out, what's the difference? Both have benefits. This album is a real paving stone on the path of Maiden's career. Not as iconic as The Number of The Beast and not as famous as Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, Somewhere in Time has earned its place in history as a monumental piece of work, the pyramid inspired by Powerslave, the run up to huge things.
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