Iron Maiden Returns: First New Album in 6 Years

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Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden have announced the release of their first new album in six years. Senjutsu, their 17th studio album, arrives September 3, 2021. The announcement was preceded by a new track, “The Writing on the Wall,” that was accompanied by a state-of-the-art animated video. The song, with a running time of 6:13, was written by Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith and lead singer Bruce Dickinson. Watch the clip and listen to a second track, “Stratego,” that was released on Aug. 19, below.

The album was produced by Kevin Shirley and co-produced by the band’s bassist and founder-member Steve Harris.

For Senjutsu – loosely translated as ‘tactics & strategy’ – the band once again enlisted the services of Mark Wilkinson to create the Samurai-themed cover artwork, based on an idea by Harris. With a running time of a little under 82 minutes, Senjutsu, like their previous record The Book Of Souls, will be a double CD/triple vinyl album, including a limited edition on silver vinyl.

The album was recorded in early 2019 during a break in their “Legacy” tour. Dickinson says, “The songs are very varied, and some of them are quite long. There’s also one or two songs which sound pretty different to our usual style, and I think Maiden fans will be surprised – in a good way, I hope!”

From the opening frames of Iron Maiden’s “The Writing on the Wall”

From the video announcement: Dickinson initially had a concept for the video which came to fruition in collaboration with two award-winning former Pixar executives and long-standing Maiden fans Mark Andrews and Andrew Gordon. The pair have over 50 years of animation industry experience between them including work on The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Monsters Inc and Finding Nemo. Together, they chose BlinkInk, a London-based animation studio celebrated for their work with a variety of global brands from Adidas to Coca-Cola and a number of high-profile music videos.

In BlinkInk director Nicos Livesey, another long-time Maiden fan, they found someone who shared the collective vision for the track – resulting in the final film which features the very first glimpse of a stunning new incarnation of Eddie in spectacular 3D form.

Dickinson says, “I had a pretty clear idea of the concept to accompany the song and when I met Mark and Andrew, on Zoom, it quickly became clear we were all very much on the same wavelength, and this was reinforced with the addition of Nicos and his BlinkInk team.

“I knew it was going to work out as soon as Mark brought my treatment to life with his incredible storyboards – I thought we could make something very special together.”

The director, Livesey, adds, “We quickly found the expertise we wanted; we had more than 60 people in 13 countries [working on] the clip and I’d say their love, passion and understanding of the band shines through every frame.”

Watch them talk about the making of the album

The announcement follows weeks of online speculation among Iron Maiden fans and the rock and metal press after posters emblazoned with ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ first appeared at the Download Pilot Festival. Since then fans have been avidly following clues and sightings from around the world, with many sites seemingly linked to Maiden’s rich history, such as Long Beach Arena in L.A. and The Cart & Horses in London, as well as 22 Acacia Avenue.

A frame from “The Writing on the Wall” video

Dickinson wore the same image on his shirt during a Sky TV News piece, further heightening speculation, before he formally invited everyone to ‘Belshazzar’s Feast’ following a Twitter listening party of Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album on July 9.

He sings: Across a painted desert lies a train of vagabonds
All that’s left of what we were it’s what we have become
Once our empires glorious but now the empire’s gone
The dead gave us the time to live and now our time is done

Watch the animated video for “The Writing on the Wall”

Senjutsu Tracklist
Senjutsu (8:20) – Smith/Harris
Stratego (4:59) – Gers/Harris
The Writing On the Wall (6:13) – Smith/Dickinson
Lost In a Lost World (9:31) – Harris
Days Of Future Past (4:03) – Smith/Dickinson
The Time Machine (7:09) – Gers/Harris
Darkest Hour (7:20) – Smith/Dickinson
Death of the Celts (10:20) – Harris
The Parchment (12:39) – Harris
Hell on Earth (11:19) – Harris

Iron Maiden have plans for a summer 2022 tour. Tickets are available here and here.

Listen to “Stratego” from the album

Related: 10 classic rock covers by metal bands

Best Classic Bands Staff

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