The Final Frontier

The Final Frontier
The Final Frontier
Studio album by Iron Maiden
Released 13 August 2010
Recorded 11 January - 1 March 2010[1]
Compass Point Studios
(Nassau, Bahamas)
The Cave Studios
(Malibu, California)
Genre Heavy metal
Length 1:16:35
Language English
Label EMI
UME, Sony (United States)
Producer Kevin Shirley, Steve Harris
Iron Maiden chronology
A Matter of Life and Death
(2006)
The Final Frontier
(2010)
Singles from The Final Frontier
  1. "El Dorado"
    Released: 8 June 2010

The Final Frontier is the fifteenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 13 August 2010 in Germany,[2] Austria and Finland,[3] 17 August in North America,[4][5] and 16 August worldwide.[6] At 76 minutes and 35 seconds, it is the band's longest to date and their first since A Matter of Life and Death in 2006 (the longest gap to date between two consecutive Iron Maiden studio releases). Melvyn Grant, a long-time contributor to the band's artwork, created the cover art.[7]

EMI released the album in most of the world, while in the United States and Canada it was released jointly by Universal Music Enterprises and Sony Music Entertainment - the successor to the Sanctuary Records/Columbia Records joint venture that had previously controlled the Iron Maiden catalogue in North America.

Contents

Overview

On 22 April 2009, during a Rock Radio interview promoting Iron Maiden: Flight 666, Nicko McBrain mentioned that Iron Maiden had booked studio time for early 2010.[8] On 8 June, the album artwork, release date, and track listing were revealed, along with a free download of the track "El Dorado."[7] The album was released as a regular CD, an iTunes LP, a digital download, and a limited collector's "Mission Edition", containing interviews and a game entitled Mission II: Rescue & Revenge.[9]

The North American leg of their tour in support of the album started in Dallas, Texas on 9 June 2010,[10] with a European tour beginning in Dublin on 30 July.[11] As these dates preceded the record's release, "El Dorado" was the only new song played in 2010.[7] The full album tour commenced in Moscow on 11 February 2011, and would see the band tour extensively in South East Asia, Australia,[12] South America and Florida,[13] as well as returning to Europe.

Prior to its release, band founder Steve Harris was quoted as saying that he imagined the band would release a total of fifteen studio albums.[14] The title, which also shares its name with its supporting tour and opening track, fuelled further rumours that The Final Frontier would be Iron Maiden's last,[15] however the band members have since admitted that they hope to make further releases and continue touring in the future.[16]

Production

On 2 November 2009, Janick Gers confirmed to BBC News that the band already had new material written and would head to Paris, France, to start composing and rehearsing the bulk of the new album. After taking time off for Christmas, recording commenced in January at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas, with Kevin Shirley producing.[17] This would be the first time the band would return to the Bahamas since they last recorded at Compass Point in the 1980s, to which Dickinson remarked:

“The studio had the same vibe and it was exactly as it had been in 1983, nothing had changed! Even down to the broken shutter in the corner... same carpet... everything... It was really quite spooky. But we felt very relaxed in such a familiar and well-trodden environment and I think this shows in the playing and the atmosphere of the album.”[7]

After a month in Nassau, the production was moved to Malibu, California, where the songs were mixed and additional vocals were recorded.[1] On 6 April, Shirley told Blabbermouth that he had completed mixing the album,[18] and commented on the final stages of its production on 6 May.[19]

Songs

The album is the fourth for which Steve Harris receives writing credits for every track, following Killers, Brave New World, and A Matter of Life and Death.

"El Dorado" was released as a free digital download on the band's official website on 8 June and went on to win in the Best Metal Performance category at the 2011 Grammy Awards.[20] The album's first and only music video was released on 13 July, filmed in Rendlesham Forest and containing the latter half of "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier". Although the album has no official single releases, both "El Dorado" and the second part of "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier" (along with its music video) were released as promo radio singles before the album's release. "Coming Home" was also released as a radio single on 27 October, featuring an alternative "radio edit" version of the song.[21]

In a 1 July interview with Billboard, Dave Murray commented that the album mixes "straight-ahead, uptempo rock songs with good grooves with some other tracks that are kind of longer and more complex", referring particularly to "When the Wild Wind Blows", the band's third longest song to date, after "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "Sign of the Cross":[22] Interviewed for Ultimate Guitar on 15 July, Janick Gers discussed the album's overall sound: "We're taking it to extremes. The one song we released isn't indicative of the rest of the album. There's so many different feels and ways of playing. We go through some different attitudes and take you to different places. There's a lot of thematic tunes and some very varied music."[23]

Although "El Dorado" would be the only new song featured in the 2010 leg of The Final Frontier World Tour, "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier," "The Talisman," "Coming Home" and "When The Wild Wind Blows" were added to the setlist in 2011.[24] "El Dorado", "Coming Home" and "When the Wild Wind Blows" were later featured on the "Best Of" album From Fear to Eternity.

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 71/100[25]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3.5/5 stars[26]
Blabbermouth 9/10 stars[27]
BW&BK 9.5/10 stars[28]
Classic Rock 9/10 stars[29]
Consequence of Sound 4/5 stars[30]
Kerrang! 4/5 stars[31]
Metal Hammer 8/10 stars[32]
PopMatters 8/10 stars[33]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[34]
Rock Sound 8/10 stars[35]

The album's release was met with widespread critical acclaim, with Classic Rock praising it as "densely-layered and substantial," as well as "beautifully paced and disarmingly complex" and "a fresh take on a sound that has admirably withstood three decades of fashions and fads."[29] Kerrang! called it "a record that'll still bowl you over in a decade's time"[31] and MusicRadar stated that "Iron Maiden have created a work full of hypnotic excitement, unconventional structure and dizzying vision...the group have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams."[36] Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles called it "a thrilling and deeply satisfying glimpse into a brave new future for the people’s metal band,"[37] while the BBC praised the album as "a remarkable achievement," complimenting the band for "no compromises, just complexities and challenges and more moments of brilliance than perhaps even they thought they still had left in them."[38]

Many reviewers, such as Metal Hammer, deemed it "a demanding album, but one that most Maiden fans are going to absolutely adore."[39] The Quietus commented that "The Final Frontier takes time, it takes effort, but it's overwhelmingly brilliant. They haven’t just served up the easy option - that would have been boring for us and, more importantly you feel, boring for them."[40] PopMatters considered the album "in some ways... the most ambitious album Iron Maiden has ever made, a 76-minute opus."[33]

Many critics commented on where The Final Frontier rates in comparison to the band's past releases, with Consequence of Sound deeming the album "easily the best from the six-piece since 2000’s Brave New World."[30] Allmusic agreed with this, stating that "The Final Frontier still brings Iron Maiden closer to their aesthetic legacy and triumphant year 2000 rebirth than its two predecessors."[26] Blabbermouth, on the other hand, praised the album as "better than Brave New World," explaining that "this is the reason Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoined the band, the fulfillment of a decade of promise, and arguably the first time that Steve Harris's post-Fear of the Dark cinematic vision has been backed up with consistently strong songwriting, spot-on production, and a fire-in-the-belly performance from the whole band."[27]

The Guardian, however, were more critical of the release, commenting that "with four songs alone clocking in at 40 minutes, The Final Frontier becomes less an exercise in experimentation than old-fashioned endurance, and the hushed-intro-bombastic-chorus dynamic begins to grate a little."[41] Drowned in Sound agreed, commenting that "standards sink fast after ["The Alchemist"], and don't rise again for another half an hour," although going on to add that "the epic 11 minute closer, 'When the Wild Wind Blows' ... shows the subtlety and craftsmanship of the four songs that preceded it, but adds an emotional depth that they seemed to lack."[42]

As of September 2011, the album held a score of 71 at the aggregate review site MetaCritic.[25]

Track listing

No. Title Music Length
1. "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier"   Adrian Smith, Steve Harris 8:40
2. "El Dorado"   Smith, Harris, Bruce Dickinson 6:49
3. "Mother of Mercy"   Smith, Harris 5:20
4. "Coming Home"   Smith, Harris, Dickinson 5:52
5. "The Alchemist"   Janick Gers, Harris, Dickinson 4:29
6. "Isle of Avalon"   Smith, Harris 9:06
7. "Starblind"   Smith, Harris, Dickinson 7:48
8. "The Talisman"   Gers, Harris 9:03
9. "The Man Who Would Be King"   Dave Murray, Harris 8:28
10. "When the Wild Wind Blows"   Harris 10:59
Total length:
76:35

Chart performance

Throughout The Final Frontier World Tour, Bruce Dickinson often requested that fans put the album to number one in the respective country's music charts,[2][43] which it did in twenty-eight countries worldwide.[44]

It is the first Iron Maiden release to debut at number one in the United Kingdom charts since 1992's Fear of the Dark, having sold 44,385 copies in its first week.[45] The Final Frontier debuted at number four in the Billboard 200 with 63,000 units sold, the highest position the band has ever reached in the United States.[46]

By the end of its first week, over 800,000 copies had been shipped to retailers worldwide.[47] The album's overall chart success arguably makes it the band's most triumphant release to date.

Debut Position Countries
1 Austria;[48] Brazil;[49] Bulgaria;[49] Canada;[50] Chile;[49] Colombia;[51] Croatia;[52] Czech Republic;[53] Denmark;[54] Estonia;[55] Finland;[56] France;[57] Germany;[58] Greece;[59] Hungary;[60] Iceland;[61] India;[44] Italy;[62] Mexico;[63] New Zealand;[64] Norway;[65] Portugal;[66] Saudi Arabia;[67] Slovenia;[68] Spain;[69] Sweden;[70] Switzerland;[71] UK[72]
2 Argentina;[44] Australia;[73] Netherlands;[74] Russia[44]
3 Ireland;[61] Poland;[75] Turkey[49]
4 USA[76]
5 Singapore;[49] Japan[77]
6 Belgium[78][note 1][79]

Notes

  1. ^ Subsequently rose to number 2

Chart precession and succession

Order of precedence
Preceded by
One Love by David Guetta
Hungarian Albums Chart number-one album
16 August 2010 – 22 August 2010
Succeeded by
A királyok hegedűse by Zoltán Mága
Preceded by
She Wolf by Shakira
Italian Albums Chart number-one album
16 August 2010 – 6 September 2010
Succeeded by
Controcultura by Fabri Fibra
Preceded by
Vapaa ja yksin by Chisu
Finnish Albums Chart number-one album
18 August 2010 – 8 September 2010
Succeeded by
Maapallo by Raappana
Preceded by
En plats i solen by Kent
Swedish Albums Chart number-one album
20 August 2010 – 3 September 2010
Succeeded by
Lovekiller by Darin
Preceded by
Zaz by Zaz
French Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 29 August 2010
Succeeded by
Frontières by Yannick Noah
Preceded by
Euphoria by Enrique Iglesias
Mexican Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 29 August 2010
Succeeded by
Poquita Ropa by Ricardo Arjona
Preceded by
Leite etter lykka by Hellbillies
Norwegian Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 6 September 2010
Succeeded by
Melodi Grand Prix by Various Artists
Preceded by
Pai da criança by Chave D'ouro
Portuguese Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 29 August 2010
Succeeded by
O Melhor De Beto by Beto
Preceded by
One Love by David Guetta
Spanish Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 5 September 2010
Succeeded by
One Love by David Guetta
Preceded by
Recovery by Eminem
UK Albums Chart number-one album
22 August 2010 – 29 August 2010
Succeeded by
Recovery by Eminem
Preceded by
Recovery by Eminem
New Zealand Albums Chart number-one album
23 August 2010 – 29 August 2010
Succeeded by
From the Inside Out by Stan Walker
Preceded by
Recovery by Eminem
Austrian Albums Chart number-one album
27 August 2010 – 3 September 2010
Succeeded by
Ich hab dich einfach lieb by Hansi Hinterseer
Preceded by
Rasmus Seebach by Rasmus Seebach
Danish Albums Chart number-one album
27 August 2010 – 3 September 2010
Succeeded by
Ich hab dich einfach lieb by Hansi Hinterseer
Preceded by
Große Freiheit by Unheilig
German Albums Chart number-one album
27 August 2010 – 3 September 2010
Succeeded by
Große Freiheit by Unheilig
Preceded by
Recovery by Eminem
Swiss Albums Charts number-one album
29 August 2010 – 5 September 2010
Succeeded by
Recovery by Eminem
Preceded by
Recovery by Eminem
Canadian Albums Chart number-one album
4 September 2010 – 11 September 2010
Succeeded by
Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
Preceded by
by Richard Müller
Czech Republic Albums Chart number-one album
4 September 2010 – 2 October 2010
Succeeded by
A Thousand Suns by Linkin Park

Certifications

Country Certification Sales
Brazil Platinum[80] 45,000+
Colombia Gold[81] 5,000+
Finland Platinum[82] 20,000+
France Gold[83] 50,000+
Germany Gold[84] 100,000+
Italy Gold[85] 30,000+
Norway Gold[86] 15,000+
Poland Gold[87] 10,000+
Russia Gold[88] 10,000+
Sweden Gold[82] 20,000+
Switzerland Gold[89] 15,000+

Personnel

Production list acquired from AllMusic[90]

Iron Maiden
Production

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