Empire Of The Clouds – Iron Maiden

That it’s taken me six months to post and Iron Maiden song would have horrified the 14 year old me. If he’d have understood this blog one bit he’d think not having a Maiden top ten on here was selling out. Iron Maiden were the only thing that mattered to the mullet haired school kid I once was. Some kids support football teams. I supported Iron Maiden FC.

I spent years crate digging for every version of every single they ever released. I completed my discography from The Soundhouse Tapes (an extortionate purchase even by today’s standards) right the way up to A Real Dead One over the course of about six years.

Then I’ll admit, Maiden and I parted ways for some time. I wanted to be cool. I wanted to get my own place and go grunge. So I moved out of my folks and became an artist.

Now, I’d never really owned anything of value apart from that Iron Maiden vinyl collection. It had rare imports. It had the Christmas Card in the sleeve of The Phantom Of The Opera and the weird vinyl banner in the picture disc of Seventh Son.

So when I was 19, living in my first little rented place and came up short on the rent one month I realised the only thing of value I had was the Iron Maiden back catalogue. Reluctantly I went down to the Record And Tape Exchange and handed over that complete collection that I had valued in my head at around £1200 and exchanged it for £110 cold hard cash. That paid for the rent and the cockroaches were free of charge.

I came back to the Iron Maiden fandom when Bruce came back to the band. We were both old enough to stop trying to be cool and could pick up where we left off. Except… Maiden didn’t. They faltered a little at first. Only a little. But the galloping metal was still present in heavier, longer, proggier forms.

Maiden get criticised for making the same record over and over. By people who never listen to their records.

I can’t think of many bands who would pull off something as ambitious, audacious, as epic and as beautiful (yep, I just described an Iron Maiden song as beautiful) as The Empire Of The Clouds at this stage of their career.

The Book Of Souls was released in September 2015 while I was working at a very posh kind of music festival. The bands on the bill were all cool hair and no socks. I snuck off to a charging station, piggy backed onto the Crew Wi-Fi and downloaded the album. I spent the hours between the poser bands and poetry readings listening to the record and marvelling at the wonderful state of the band I’d loved all these years.

I felt like a kid again.

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