Iron Maiden in the 90's may be remembered as a time when they had some great songs but not great albums. In fact, it was probably their worst decade as far as critical and commercial aspects go. However, they did do what was probably their best album of the 90's and the last one with Bruce Dickinson as he would leave shortly afterwards (He came back at the end of the decade though and brought guitarist Adrian Smith back with him). This is also the second Iron Maiden album with guitarist Janick Gers. Musically, it continues where No Prayer For the Dying left off - back to basics metal which (at the time) was a MAJOR disappointment after Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son propelled them to new heights of creativity. Opener "Be Quick Or Be Dead" kicks off the album and - it's awesome! It's probably the closest the band have got to thrash metal and it's lyrics speak of the financial scandals that were rampant at the time such as Robert Maxwell Pension Fund. Definitely one of the highlights! Other quality songs include "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" (Gulf War 1) and the title track which is so burnt into Maiden folklore whenever it's played live, the crowd ALWAYS sing along to the melody! It also shows Maiden doing songs about more 'real life' issues (Songs about AIDS, growing up, love and, erm football hooliganism) which came as a shock as they always had this "Boys Own" thing going with a lot of their songs about historical events or films. There are two problems with this album. 1) Too much filler and 2) even the good songs are nowhere near as good as their previous material although every Maiden release up to this point had been either very good or simply brilliant, they were bound to have one stinker eventually. The changing of subject matter to more 'real life' issues threw a lot of people and it definitely doesn't seem like the Maiden we'd grown up with at this point. Now although it's true that a change is as good as the rest and some bands improve greatly when 'getting real', others don't and it seems all the joy has been sucked out of them. Dickinson in particular had started doing this growling, raspy singing voice instead of the soaring "air raid siren" we'd came to love since '82. Luckily, they were able to get back to a more acceptable form in Y2K but never again would they hit the heights they did in the 80's.
6/10. Now I can see where you're going, but not quite there.