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Maiden uniteD - 'Across The Seventh Sea' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/dc/d2/fa/3186_maidenunitedacrosstheseventhsea_1358735223.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 21, 2013    
 
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An impressive and beautiful departure from the usual riff and bluster metal throws out.

With their debut album ‘Mind The Acoustic Pieces’, Maiden uniteD proved that sometimes the simplest of ideas are in fact the best. Bringing together guitarist Ruud Jolie and drummer Mike Coolen (both from Within Temptation), singer Damian Wilson (Threshold), keyboard player Marco Kuypers (Cloudmachine) and bassist Joey Bruers (of Iron Maiden tribute act Up The Irons), Maiden uniteD took the Iron Maiden master-work ‘Piece Of Mind’, stripped it right back and presented it as a fragile, passionate acoustic reimagining. Somehow the songs felt new and fresh, while still obviously being familiar friends. The talent behind such a convincing undertaking can’t be underestimated, however the real test comes when you try and perform that same trick a second time.

Contrary to what the title ‘Across The Seventh Sea’ suggests, album number two only uses Maiden’s ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ opus as a basis, with three tracks and the two ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ bookends coming from that album. Five of the other six tracks are hand-picked from the classic Dickinson era, while ‘Prowler’ originates from the self titled debut fronted by Paul DiAnno.

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Three things immediately strike you, firstly how well twin guitar led riff-fests translate to almost classical arrangements, secondly what a stunning singer Damian Wilson is and lastly just how under rated Maiden’s lyrics really are. The adage of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” certainly applies here, with the atmospheric vibe of the Maiden uniteD debut being exactly replicated on ‘...Seventh Sea’. All of the songs are beautiful, fragile, emotional and completely different to how you know and love them, while still allowing you to croon along with Wilson from the first time of asking. ’22 Acacia Avenue’ becomes a heart-breaking tale recounted by piano and voice, before a jaunty acoustic riff alters the mood, if not the sentiment. ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ shines as a laid back, almost lounge lizard vocal rendition, while ‘Infinite Dreams’ benefits from restrained cello work from Perttu Kivilaakso, segueing between a drum driven pound and a gentle acoustic strum. All work superbly; if in a very similar fashion - and if there’s an issue, then that’s it. Whether it is the majestic vocals during ‘Children Of The Damned’, intricate guitar punctuated ‘Prowler’, or a combination of tight percussion and impassioned words on ‘Wasted Years’, there’s no denying that ‘Across The Seventh Sea’ can all start to sound uniformly similar. The performances, passion, skill and dedication is never in question, but I do wonder if this second outing may, with the band’s obvious leaning towards the era of Maiden between the debut and ‘Seventh Son...’ signal an exhaustion of material that will sound so convincing in this setting.

Still, ‘Across The Seventh Sea’ is an impressive and beautiful departure from the usual riff and bluster metal throws out, and one to thoroughly enjoy in those more introspective moments.

Steven Reid

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