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Iron Maiden - "From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010" (2-CD Set)

Iron Maiden - "From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010" 2-CD Set cover image

"From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010" track listing:

Disc One:
1. The Wicker Man
2. Holy Smoke
3. El Dorado
4. Paschendale
5. Different World
6. Man On The Edge (live)
7. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
8. Blood Brothers
09. Rainmaker
10. Sign Of The Cross (live)
11. Brave New World
12. Fear Of The Dark (live)

Disc Two:
1. Be Quick Or Be Dead
2. Tailgunner
3. No More Lies
4. Coming Home
5. The Clansman (live)
6. For The Greater Good Of God
7. These Colours Don't Run
8. Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter
9. Afraid To Shoot Strangers
10. Dance Of Death
11. When The Wild Wind Blows

Reviewed by on June 3, 2011

"Yes, there are tracks from the band's 'lost weekend' in the 1990s, but at its best, 'From Fear To Eternity' doesn't just represent 'The Best Of 1990-2010' — it represents some of the finest work of Iron Maiden's career."

Unlike a lot of bands, which seem to have a built-in expiration date of 10 years or less, Iron Maiden is working on its fourth decade of high-quality metal. Hence, it's no wonder that, a few years after honoring its '80s output with the "Somewhere Back In Time" collection, the band is putting forth the best of the rest of its career with "From Fear To Eternity: The Best Of 1990-2010."

There's no doubt that "Somewhere Back In Time" is more of a "greatest hits" collection than "From Fear To Eternity," but some, including this author, would argue that the best of the tracks on the latter collection show a maturity and depth of songwriting (not to mention playing ability) that the band likely would've been incapable of in its earlier years. Unfortunately, "From Fear To Eternity" also encompasses the 1990s, when the band struggled to stay on track.

Like "Somewhere Back In Time," "From Fear To Eternity" deftly avoids dealing with a period in which Bruce Dickinson wasn't the band's singer by using live versions of tracks that were originally sung by someone else. In this case, Dickinson provides perfectly passable versions of "The Clansman," "Sign Of The Cross" and "Man On The Edge," which were originally sung by Blaze Bayley during Dickinson's 1990s break from the band.

More troublesome, frankly, are the tracks from the period just before Dickinson took that break. Tunes like "Holy Smoke," "Be Quick Or Be Dead" and "Tailgunner" from the "No Prayer For The Dying" and "Fear Of The Dark" albums feel distinctly out of place amid the far more lushly produced tracks like "The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg" and "Dance Of Death." Dickinson's vocals, in particular, are somewhat lacking by comparison. That said, the only truly terrible track on the entire compilation is the silly "Bring Your Daughter ... To The Slaughter."

Then again, listening to those tracks also brings an even greater appreciation of just how great the 21st century version of Maiden is, with "Paschendale" standing out as arguably the finest example of the band's epic vision. With orchestration that makes it feel almost symphonic in scope, the song swells and fades like the battle depicted in the lyrics. It's also an excellent showcase for the band's 21st century triple-ax attack, with guitarists Dave Murray, Janick Gers and Adrian Smith (who co-wrote the song with bassist Steve Harris) all acquitting themselves excellently. The same goes for "When The Wild Wind Blows" from the band's latest studio album, "The Final Frontier."

Though the band's post-2000 output has been known for its lengthier tunes, there are plenty of tracks here, including "The Wicker Man" and "Rainmaker" that come in at less than five minutes and flirt with a near-pop sensibility in the same way classic tracks like "Number Of The Beast" and "Run To The Hills" did.

It's also impossible to listen to the tracks from the past decade and not praise producer Kevin Shirley, who, working with Harris in the control booth, has created a lush soundscape in which synthesizer flourishes actually add to the heaviness of the guitar and bass riffs without distracting from them.

Yes, there are tracks from the band's "lost weekend" in the 1990s, but at its best, "From Fear To Eternity" doesn't just represent "The Best Of 1990-2010" — it represents some of the finest work of Iron Maiden's career.

Highs: "Paschendale," "The Wicker Man," "Rainmaker"

Lows: "Bring Your Daughter ... To The Slaughter"

Bottom line: A mostly excellent compilation that, minus a few moments from the band's 1990s output, captures Iron Maiden hitting its late-career peak.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)