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| The Iron Maiden Commentary | Rants | Rant 1: Changes in Iron Maiden |
 

RANT 1

Changes in Iron Maiden

Bæleron

Over the last year or so, I've had many conversations both online and face to face regarding Iron Maiden, Blaze Bayley, Janick Gers, and Bruce Dickinson. After much pointless argument, I feel the need to express my opinion once and for all. It seems that there are a few individuals out there who refuse to accept Blaze and Janick as legitimate members of the band. Despite Iron Maiden's history of regular line-up changes, these people seem unable to accept any change that has occurred since the late 80s (which in all likelihood was when they first became fans).

You might think, "So what? Everyone is entitled to their opinion. What's the problem?"

If that's all there was to it, there wouldn't be any problem. But sadly, there's sometimes more. These individuals are not content to simply cease being fans and find music that is more to their tastes. Instead they focus vitriolic hatred on Blaze, Janick, and anyone whose opinion is different from their own. They post asinine notes on the internet, chant at concerts, and even threaten physical violence. One individual tried to start a "get rid of Blaze" email campaign. It's completely irrational, and I've been at a loss to explain it.

It would make somewhat more sense for them to blame Bruce for leaving. After all, it was Bruce who grew dissatisfied and quit the band. But perhaps because they can't bring themselves to blame someone who they have idolized, they seem to transfer the blame to the innocent replacement. In any case, I'm beginning to notice a common thread in these attacks against Blaze, Janick, and the band – the feeling that Iron Maiden owes us something, and is failing to provide it. One individual, presuming to speak for all Maiden fans, summed it up like this:

"We bought your records! We put you where you are now! We made you rich and famous! You owe us!"

I would like to suggest that this is complete and utter bullshit. It's this type of twisted thinking that makes TV preachers rich and gets Republicans elected. When we bought the albums and went to the concerts, were we doing it merely as a favour to the band? No! We bought the albums because they contained some of the best music ever made, and our motives were utterly selfish. And while I admit that my own motives were as selfish as anyone's, I also have some amount of gratitude to the band for the great music they have made. To make demands on the band seems to me to be the height of arrogance. Sure, they have profited from their success, which came as a direct result of their creativity, hard work, and unwillingness to compromise. But they haven't quit or sold out as did so many of their peers from the 80s, and for that we should be grateful. So if you think Maiden personally owes you something, then as Nicko might say, "too f'king bad!"

A second point that is often overlooked is that the band members are artists. And like any other type of art, music can only have true meaning if it comes from the heart. Since their earliest beginnings, Iron Maiden has always made the kind of music that THEY wanted to make. It took them several years to land a record deal simply because they refused to play punk, which was the popular fad at that time. If they had merely pandered to popular opinion, where would they be now? Maiden should be commended for their backbone, both then and now. Asking them to abandon it is like asking them to sell out. Iron Maiden has demonstrated their ability to rise to stardom on their own terms, and to survive hard times that have crushed virtually every other metal band of their era. They must continue to chart their own course.

One thing I'm unable to comprehend is how some fans can't seem to appreciate the newer albums. Sure they are a bit different from the 80s material. But each of them contains songs that are completely inspired and would belong on any "best of" compilation. I guess it's a matter of personal taste, but it's still difficult to understand.

Another thing I have trouble comprehending is why some fans cannot accept change. They seem to expect and even demand that a band remain essentially static, continually rehashing the same old style and material. Not only would this quickly become tedious to the musicians, it would soon become tiring to the fans as well. For example, every AC/DC album for the last 2 decades has sounded pretty much identical, and I'd wager that the only AC/DC material that can be considered classic dates back to their first few albums. (When was the last time you listened to Flick Of The Switch?) Clearly, getting stuck in a rut is not beneficial to either the band or the fans.

So to all the people who refuse to accept changes in Iron Maiden's lineup and style of music, I would like to suggest the following:

  • Be grateful for the past. You'll always have those classic albums that you love. Nothing can take them away, nor the memories that they bring back.

  • Sincerely give the new albums a fair try. Don't give up on them after only one or two listens. Maiden's music has always been deep, requiring dozens of listens before it begins to fully sink in. A good rule of thumb is not to judge an album until you've listened to it enough to have memorized most of the lyrics. Don't get stuck on petty details, but try to let the album sink in as a whole. You might find that it speaks to you after all.

  • If you still find that you don't care for the newer material, that's fine. Go your own way, and find other music that better suits you. But don't try to ruin the situation for those of us who do like the new albums. All the nastiness will accomplish is maybe to encourage Maiden to quit altogether, in which case we all lose.

  • For all the people who like to wave banners or shout for Bruce at Maiden concerts, try shouting this: "BRING BACK DENNIS WILCOCK!" See how idiotic it sounds? That's how you sound too. If you want to see Bruce and Adrian on tour, then go and see them – they're on tour right now in support of a pretty good album. I'm surely going to see them if they come to San Francisco! But don't insult us and Maiden by shouting shit at Maiden concerts.

  • If you insist on bashing, listen to 'Virus'. It just might be about you.

And to the band (I know you guys do surf the net), I would like to say:

  • Thanks for everything! Thanks to Blaze and Janick for hanging in there in spite of all the shit, and thanks to the Steve, Dave, and Nicko for backing them up and refusing to quit or sell out.

  • I really think that the detractors, however vocal they may be, are really just a tiny minority. Don't let them bother you. There are millions of us out here who appreciate what you're doing. (Yes, even in North America)

  • Hurry and start on the next album!

UP THE IRONS!!!

Bæleron
24th November 1998

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P.S:

Just to put things in perspective, think about the following bands who were peers of Iron Maiden during the 80s, all of which were more or less considered to be heavy metal, and all of which experienced some degree of success. What sort of music do they make now? (if any). How many of them haven't changed either their line-up or musical style? Has any of them made better decisions than Iron Maiden? Are any of them still making new and creative albums, and/or going on world tours? Have you purchased any of these albums or seen them on tour recently?

  • Metallica
  • Judas Priest
  • AC/DC
  • Def Leppard
  • KISS
  • Black Sabbath
  • Ozzy Osbourne
  • Deep Purple
  • Scorpions
  • Motley Crue
  • Ratt
  • Van Halen
  • Queensryche
  • Dokken
  • Accept
  • Guns'n'Roses
  • Krokus
  • Bon Jovi
  • Dio
  • WASP

 

DISCLAIMER:

    The opinions expressed in this rant are solely my own. I don't claim to speak for anyone else nor to represent the opinions of Iron Maiden. If you want to respond, feel free to email me. A few responses might even get posted here, if they are intelligent and well reasoned. Mindless flames will be laughed at and discarded.

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RESPONSES:

Well said Baeleron, I am impressed!! I support your words for 100%....

I personally like Bruce better than Blaze. I saw him play yesterday and I had a great time.. BUT: My all-time-favourite band is still Iron Maiden. I have seen them twice in the new line-up and Blaze had some difficulties with some high notes, while playing the songs live, but he has progressed! I like him a lot and Blaze, if you read this: I saw you in Rotterdam, earlier this year, and you showed what you are capable of: having the confidence and giving a great show!

About Janick: I never had problems with him. There is nothing wrong with him. Actually, he can play some of the best guitar-solo's. He (co-)writes great songs too. Listen to masterpieces like The Unbeliever, The Edge of Darkness. Listen to Wasting Love... I could go on like this.

Both fit in very well and should be respected for what they do. If you don't like them nor the last 2 albums, go to one of their gigs and you probably change your mind. If not, just listen (like Baeleron said) to the "old" albums and crank up the volume!

Greetings,
Forostar

28th November 1998

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I was just reading through some of the previous rants on the subject of Bruce and Blaze. I for my part absolutely loved Blaze's part in the Maiden legend, no matter what critics of him say. I'm naturally thrilled that Bruce is back in the band and that the whole group is on such good form.

I recently saw them at the Glasgow SECC gig and must say one thing which, if it were up for debate with other Maiden-ists, would probably be a bone of contention. Bruce does not sing the songs Blaze sang as well as Blaze did. By that, I'm not saying either is a better singer, I'm saying they are very different singers. I find the reason for this is that Blaze's voice was both lower and more suited to quick bursts of vocals while Bruce, naturally given the air-raid-siren comparison of his voice, is far more suited to longer notes and higher pitches. One notices the difficulty Bruce has with the faster, half-spoken/half-sung parts of songs such as Futureal (the live B-side of the second Wicker Man cd single is a good example). However, on those with longer, drawn-out notes, such as 'Sign Of The Cross', Bruce is able to excel on the chorus since it is more his style. Blaze did have the ability to sing in both styles, since his voice was also able to reach adequate heights, even if it did not have the 'wideness' of Bruce's on the upper ranges.

I suppose I'm saying this to try to make people realise that they should not try to compare Blaze and Bruce's singing styles. They should listen to them as separate entities, working together to drive on the Beast and not to try and split it apart. People should simply accept the two styles as unique and revel in the spine-tingling genius they both create.

Gavin Anderson
20th November 2000

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