Needledrop Of The Day 1/9/2012 - Iron Maiden - Sun And Steel
METAL! Yep...it's time to dip into some good ole NWOBHM. And this is a very good opportunity to listen to something a lot of people haven't heard in many years, which is Iron Maiden sounding the way they are supposed to. Iron Maiden are amongst too many other metal groups (Judas Priest among them) that have done their fans the favor of "REMASTERING!" their back catalogue. The only issue with this is that these groups want their new CDs to sound like modern metal CDs. Namely, they want them to be LOUD LOUD LOUD! Lots and lots of boosting the gain and them limiting the level at around 99%. Then, they generally boost the low and high frequency to give it "thump" and "clarity". This comes as a sacrifice to the midrange, which coincidentally is where most of the valuable frequencies in music are (vocals, guitars, most of the drums, upper bass). The result of these remasters is basically a really exaggerated smiley face EQ with a total lack of dynamics. Without dynamics much of the REAL "thump" is gone, along with room to breathe. Many claim, and I agree, that extremely compressed masters along with the boosted highs causes listening fatigue. It also makes the music much more difficult to listen to at high volume. It may sound neato on iPod earbuds, but on a decent system it's way too overbearing. I know that Steve Harris fans may cry foul, but the Iron Maiden albums I grew up listening to simply didn't have THAT MUCH BASS! It's more subdued than that...these are not rap records.
So as far as Iron Maiden is concerned you have two avenues to explore, the original CDs (along with their 1996 Castle reissues which are the same exact thing with bonus discs) and the original vinyl. Many of the CDs are pretty good and worth having. But many feel that Piece Of Mind really only comes to life on vinyl. I'm not so sure about that, their EQ-ed very similar to each other but indeed I do give a slight edge to the LP for this one.
The subject matter speaks for itself here. "Sun And Steel" isn't subtle. It pretty much reads like a Advanced Dungeons And Dragons module. Steel, glory, war, drinking blood with an ale chaser out of a stein...all that good stuff.