And now for something completely different! Why review an acoustic album with covers of the British metal masters of Iron Maiden, which is basically not a progressive metal band? Well, in the first place because I like Iron Maiden very much; secondly the classic epic songs of the band can certainly be qualified as progressive, and thirdly the presence of musicians who have proved to belong to the progressive metal scene. So, Across The Seventh Sea by the Dutch/British tribute band Maiden UniteD surely deserves a review.
The project Maiden UniteD (see interview) was initiated by bass player Joey Bruers, a band member of Up The Irons, an Iron Maiden tribute band. He asked guitarist and friend Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation) to join him and with that the core of the project had been formed. Later on pianist Marco Kuypers and drummer Mike Coolen joined the ranks, but the icing on the cake was the participation of Damian Wilson with his mighty voice. Of course, he's well-known in the progressive scene from Landmarq, Threshold, Ayreon, Headspace and his solo projects. This is another good reason to write about this project and this album.
After the first album Mind The Acoustic Pieces (2010) − containing an acoustic version of the Iron Maiden album Piece Of Mind − and an excessive tour, the response was immense and the decision to continue with a second album was easily made. This time the songs were taken from several Iron Maiden albums and they all got a true Maiden UniteD treatment. Being a guest musician cello player Perttu Kivilaakso (Apocalyptica) added his craftsmanship to the band. Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), who sang a duet on the previous album isn't present this time. Personally I regret that, because the two voices matched perfectly. What makes this music special is the treatment I talked about earlier; the basics of the Iron Maiden songs are present, but in such a way that the new arrangements sound new and fresh. Listen to the opener Only The Good Die Young, or the impressive version of 22 Acacia Avenue and you'll be amazed. 2 Minutes To Midnight contains an almost Pink Floyd sounding acoustic guitar and the piano in Children Of The Damned adds a new dimension to this classic metal epic!
The Dutch hit single Wasted Years holds a fine guitar solo followed by a great piano part. Throughout the album the original guitar parts are prominently and outstandingly transcribed for piano without losing the original feel of the song. For me, being an old Maiden-fan, the highlight is a song from Iron Maiden's debut album Prowler. Listening to this song brings back memories of the first Iron Maiden concert I attended in 1980. However, the true highlight can be heard throughout and that's the way Damian Wilson interprets Bruce Dickinson's original vocal lines. These are no less than fabulous. If you like Wilson's voice than this album is a compulsory purchase.
The best thing about this album is that people, who didn't grow up with Iron Maiden or never listened to the originals, can have a great experience by just closing their eyes and let the mighty voice of Damian Wilson take you away. Together with a number of splendid instrumentalists he has paid a tribute to an old metal band that deserve it. For people who only listen to the loud and electric versions, here's a suggestion: play the album late at night with the lights dimmed, a bottle of wine and your partner close at hand and you will have a great time.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
Where to buy?
All Rights Reserved Background Magazine 2013