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  • Repost: About the Iron Maiden DLC for Rock Band

    Posted on June 12th, 2009 Shawn 1 comment

    Since I did not pick up the Iron Maiden DLC pack for Rock Band, and have had no intentions on ever doing it, there was no reason for me to write a review about it. Thankfully, Stephen Coldwell at examiner.com put a 2,300 word post about it. After reading it, you may be tempted to pick up the pack…I sure am.
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    Here’s the repost:

    Can I tempt you, come with me,
    Be devil may care, fulfill your dream,
    If I said I’d take you there,
    Would you go, would you be scared?
     ~ Iron Maiden, “Caught Somewhere in Time

    After over a year and a half of waiting, Iron Maiden has come to Rock Band in all their glory, and in answer to the question posed above: yes, you should be scared. There are twelve songs in total, and nine of them include at least one part with the dreaded “5 Devils” rating. This is the dream set list I’ve been waiting for since Rock Band was first announced, and I’m delighted to report that it has spent the last three days kicking my ass.

    I led off with the quote above in honor of my friend Nate Draper. Nate was good friend in high school, and despite the fact that I haven’t seen him in over a decade, a day hasn’t gone by in that time when I have not been in his debt. Nate is the one who, in May 1988, insisted that I absolutely needed to listen to Iron Maiden. At that point, I knew of Maiden but had never heard their music. I knew them mostly from their striking cover art and omnipresent zombie mascot, Eddie. Nate convinced me to sit down with a pair of headphones and listen to “Caught Somewhere in Time.” The fuse was lit.

    The next day I went to the Southborough Library, where they had just started carrying those new-fangled compact discs. They only had about ten, but by divine musical providence,  one of them was Maiden’s “Live After Death.” I was completely hooked by the intriguing song titles (“2 Minutes to Midnight,” “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” “The Trooper”) and the cover art, depicting a lightning-struck Eddie bursting out of the grave (still my favorite piece of Maiden art). At the time, there was a CD store in Framingham that would give store credit for used CDs. After listening to “Live After Death” for about a day, I took every CD I owned to that store and exchanged them for all of Maiden’s albums (“Number of the Beast” through the just released “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” (the first two albums not being available on CD in the U.S. at the time).

    By the time Maiden played the Worcester Centrum two months later (with special guest Ace Frehley…the man who has accounted for at least five of my Halloween costumes), I knew every track on every album by heart. Their live show sealed the deal. As great as Maiden is in the studio, they’re legendary in concert. Sadly, my sister (a fellow metal head) would have to wait many years before she’d see the band live. That fateful night in 1988, she opted out of seeing Maiden in favor of going to see Richard Marx (sorry Laura…it’s a Maiden article; it had to come up).

    As a card carrying (literally…it’s laminated with “The Trooper” on it) member of the Iron Maiden Fan Club, it was with obvious glee that I dove into the Iron Maiden track pack on Tuesday. Be warned, none of these songs are for the faint of heart. Cramped hands, strained vocal chords, and cracked drum sticks may ensue. Those of you who slide through the tough solos riding on overdrive, it’s not going to happen here. On the studio tracks, you’re going to be soloing along with Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, and on the live tracks you can add Janick Gers (the “new guy”…he’s only with the band about twenty years) to the mix. That’s three of the world’s greatest guitar players, and they do like to solo. In most bands, the guitar player takes a solo and you move on. In Maiden, the end of a solo is the cue for the next guy to take over.

    Moving on to bass, you’ll be playing along with Steve Harris, the founder of the feast. Harris writes a bulk of Maiden’s songs, and he doesn’t give himself the easy part. Consider these twelve songs due payback to your band’s bass player for the easy ride they got on last years Judas Priest pack. Vocals? There’s a reason Bruce Dickinson carries the nickname “the air raid siren.” In addition to being a licensed airline pilot, he’s also got one of the strongest voices in the rock history. No screaming here folks…warm up the old vocal chords and get ready to do some legitimate singing. Nicko McBrain rounds out the crew on drums, actively disproving the cliché that drummers are just timekeepers and not musicians. There are only a handful of bands where the drummer has a distinctive “voice” in the music. Rush is one, Maiden is definitely another. If you’re playing drums on these tracks, get ready for a lot of “really, you want me to do what?”

    All tracks are out now on Xbox Live, the PlayStation Network, and the in-game “Rock Band 2” store for the Wii. Prices are $1.99 (160 MSP for Xbox) or $2.00 (200 Wii points) per track, or $19.99 (1600 MSP for Xbox) for the full 12-song pack. Unfortunately, the tracks are only available individually on the Wii. As always, comments below are based on the Expert settings.

    Churchill’s Speech / Aces High
    Band: 4
    Guitar: 5
    Drums: 4
    Vocals: 3
    Bass: 5

    “Out for the scramble, we’ve got to get airborne / Got to get up for the coming attack.”

    There are possibly no more apt lyrics to kick of this brutal set than Maiden’s tribute the World War II fighter pilots. This version is taken from “Flight 666.” For Maiden, live is almost always synonymous with faster and more complicated; quite a feat for a band going into its fourth decade of playing live. Personally, I think they’ve got the ratings switched. The bass is very straight forward, one of Steve Harris’s less mind bending concoctions. The guitar, on the other hand, is tough going. Lots of chord jumping and a monstrous solo await you.

    2 Minutes to Midnight
    Band: 4
    Guitar: 5
    Drums: 4
    Vocals: 4
    Bass: 4

    “As the madmen play on words and make us all dance to their song / To the tune of starving millions to make a better kind of gun.”

    This is the original version, from “Powerslave.” Even with only two guitar players, the solo on this one is the killer. I still have not finished this one on Expert Guitar, but it’s a lot of fun on Hard.

    The Trooper
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 5
    Vocals: 2
    Bass: 5

    “The bugle sounds, the charge begins / But on this battlefield no one wins.”

    And here we go with the “5 Devils” rating. Inspired Kipling’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” everything about this song is supposed to remind the listener of galloping horses. This studio version from “Peace of Mind” is tough enough; be thankful it’s not the faster live version. Once you get past the sonic attack of the first line, the vocals are pretty easy (for a Bruce song). This has become a classic Maiden sing-along despite the fact that there’s no actual chorus.

    Wasted Years
    Band: 4
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 3
    Vocals: 2
    Bass: 4

    “From the coast of gold, across the seven seas / I’m travellin’ on, far and wide.”

    Written by Adrian Smith for the “Somewhere In Time” album, this is one of Maiden’s most straight ahead rock numbers and one of their most ripped off riffs. Look hard and you can find at least two songs on “Rock Band” alone that blatantly lift it. Speaking of which, as challenging as the opening of “Wasted Years” is, if you can handle The Who’s “Pinball Wizard,” you can handle this. If anything’s going to take you out of the game, it’s that damned guitar solo again.

    The Number of the Beast
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 5
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 5 Devils

    “666, the Number of the Beast / 666, the one for you and me.”

    Oh look, two tracks with “5 Devil” ratings. Super! The title track for Maiden’s first album with Bruce is also the song that inadvertently created the misconception that the band was Satanic. The song is actually based on a nightmare that Steve Harris had. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it’s not Nicko on the drums. Original drummer Clive Burr was no pushover. If you could handle the cover version originally available as “Rock Band” DLC, you should do okay here.

    Run to the Hills
    Band: 5 Devils
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 5 Devils
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 5 Devils

    “White man came, across the sea / He brought us pain and misery.”

    Looks like Bruce was slacking off on this one, as he’s the only part with a meager level 5 difficulty. I cannot stress this fact more strongly: this is NOT the same as the cover version from the first “Rock Band.” This is Maiden at their tightest, fastest, and most aggressive. The only thing that may help is that it’s only 3:10.

    Can I Play With Madness
    Band: 4
    Guitar: 5
    Drums: 3
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 4

    “Give me a sense of wonder / To know I can be me.”

    Taken from “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” this is one of the most immediately playable Maiden tracks for non-Expert players. It’s a fun, fast, and absurdly catchy tune that I actually wore out on a cassette version of the album. My friend John has a shirt with the artwork from the single that he wears to every Maiden show, and most other metal shows we go to. At this point it’s only about one molecule away from breaking down into its component elements.

    The Clairvoyant
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5
    Drums: 5 Devils
    Vocals: 4
    Bass: 4

    “There’s a time to live, but isn’t it strange / That as soon as you’re born, you’re dying.”

    With another studio track from “Seventh Son,” it’s time from your drummer to earn his/her keep. The 5 rating for the guitar seems a little high. There’s your standard blistering guitar solo, but it’s short enough that a full bar of overdrive should help you come out the other side. On another note, I’ve got a jumbo size London subway poster for the single of “The Clairvoyant.” File that under “things I might as well not own now that I’m married.”

    Powerslave
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5
    Drums: 5 Devils
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 5

    “Now I am cold but a ghost runs in my veins.”

    Here’s some more heavy lifting for your drummer, straight from the album of the same name. That’s not to say anyone in the band has it easy this time out. I could say more about this track, but I still haven’t beaten it on Expert. Damn solos.

    Fear of the Dark
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 5
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 5

    “When the light begins to change / I sometimes feel a little strange / A little anxious when it’s dark.”

    I’ve got to disagree with the ratings for this live version from “Flight 666.” Despite the “5 Devils,” I thought the guitar part was a treat to play. Again, there are multiple solos, but nothing to terribly overwhelming, and the song itself is pretty easy going. Another major concert sing-along, this is one of my favorites to play in the Maiden pack.

    Hallowed By Thy Name
    Band: 5
    Guitar: 5 Devils
    Drums: 5
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 4

    “I’m waiting in my cold cell, when the bell begins to chime.”

    Guitarists, welcome to the longest seven minutes, ten seconds of your life. Taken from “Flight 666,” this is the perfect example of how quickly a song can go from so right to so wrong. Right around the 1:00 mark, you should be thinking “wow, I’m at 100%…this isn’t so bad.” Then around the 2:00 mark, “Rock Band” will be asking if you’d like to try again. My advice is to take it on Hard a few times before moving up to Expert. The last thoughts of a convicted prisoner awaiting execution, this is one of Maiden’s greatest songs, and deserves to be enjoyed even if it means playing at an easier level.

    Iron Maiden
    Band: 4
    Guitar: 4
    Drums: 5 Devils
    Vocals: 5
    Bass: 5

    “Oh well, wherever, wherever you are / Iron Maiden’s gonna get you.”

    And we come to the end with the “Flight 666” version of Maiden’s theme song. Very playable, except for the drum track, which may make you cry. Worth noting: song is fast and short, but it’s the closing number of the live show, so the big rock finish bonus was long enough that I was able to literally double my existing score.

    On a totally random note, I can never hear a band play a self-titled theme song without thinking of Lemmy Killmeister and my all-time favorite bit of stage banter: “Good evening…we are Motorhead! This next song is called…‘We Are Motorhead!’”

    After the long wait, Harmonix has really come through at a level worthy of the source material. My only disappointment is that the “Flight 666” version of “Aces High” wasn’t recorded at the Izod Center in New Jersey (where they recorded “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”). I drove to New Jersey for that show and then had to drive home the same night because my father-in-law was getting married at 10:00AM the next morning. My sister-in-law and niece flew in from Chicago and stayed home with my wife and daughter while I drove to Jersey. Just as the lights went down, my wife called me at the show because my daughter and niece wanted to play a video game. Somewhere on the tapes of the Izod Center version of “Ace’s High,” you can hear me, standing twenty feet from the stage and screaming instructions on how to set up “Rock Band.”

    SOURCE: [here]

     

    1 responses to “Repost: About the Iron Maiden DLC for Rock Band” RSS icon

    • Thanks for the repost Shawn! I grew up in Southborough in the 70s and 80s, and spent a lot of time in Framingham (Bop City, Bedrock Comics) and Marlborough. We definitely may have crossed paths. Glad to hear I sold you on the Maiden pack. I’ll add your site to my links on Examiner.

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