Iron Maiden – The Essential – Review

ironmaiden200Iron Maiden

The Essential (Sanctuary)
By Tim Den

When compiling a best-of for a band like Iron Maiden, it’s hard not to: 1) say “everything!” and call it done, 2) expect the “hits,” and/or 3) wish there were more surprises in tow. Well, #1 is unrealistic, so let’s move on to #2: What The Essential is made up of. “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Fear of the Dark,” “Aces High,” you know the drill. This is timeless metal, with ageless melodies and divine human creativity that challenges the heavens. Need proof? How ’bout 40 million (I repeat: MILLION) albums sold with absolutely NO radio or video support? Still think hype could’ve created such a beast?

For a diehard like me, I really wish that #3 would come true once in a while. The likes of “Sea of Madness,” “No Prayer for the Dying,” and “Judas Be My Guide” deserve way more than their footnote status, especially when what’s on The Essential is already on Edward the Great and a plethora of live albums. Okay, so there’s a live version of “Running Free” from the upcoming Death on the Road album and DVD, but JESUS, how many more versions of “Running Free” do we need!? Why not just grab Maiden Japan, or Live After Death, or Maiden England, or A Real Dead One, or Live at Donington?

The Essential is for either a complete newbie or a completist, but definitely not for anyone who’s already familiar with the mighty institution. But shit, if you’re new to Iron Maiden, you might as well pick up the new Travis Tritt.