Flashback Album Review: Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark
Iron Maiden's ninth studio album hit record stores 31 years ago, here we share our review
After the slump that was No Prayer For The Dying with which Iron Maiden sought to return to their roots after the synthesizers of Somewhere In Time and the concept of Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, Iron Maiden would release Fear Of The Dark on May 11, 1992.
The second album with Janick Gers on guitar sought to continue recovering the classic sound of the band from their first albums. It was not a very complicated task for them since they were already positioned as one of the most important metal bands on the planet.
Opening with 'Be Quick Or Be Dead' the track has some maddening riffs executed by Dave Murray and Janick Gers as well as an equally maddening scream by Bruce Dickinson. According to the band, 'From Here To Eternity' is part of the saga of Charlotte The Harlot, a song with the spirit of the band's first albums and a sensationally catchy chorus.
The pace is lowered a little with 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers,' a song that begins as a sweet ballad that narrates human fears during wars, this is where the already characteristic melodies of Maiden begin to be present. An interesting theme that takes us like a roller coaster, from bottom to top. Highlights include epic solos by Dave Murray and Janick Gers. 'Fear Is The Key' is the fourth track of the album that begins to sound more mature than the first two songs that open the album, as the lyrics confirm and the atmosphere of the album itself tell us the importance of the feeling of fear and how it abounds so much in humans.
'Childhood's End' narrates the poverty that children live in, especially in the slums of London. The beginning of the track starts well, but the drums of Nicko McBrain aren't great and the track could be considered as the first filler of the album. We arrive at the halfway point with the first ballad recorded by Iron Maiden; 'Wasting Love.' This track received success from the media and was one of three singles that was released to promote Fear Of The Dark. It's a beautiful ballad that stands out for the highly melodic initial riff with a theme that discusses relationships that do not bear good fruits and many times we waste time and, above all, life in meaningless relationships; perhaps for fear of being alone. Without a doubt it is curious that this ballad is one of the best songs on the album.
Starting with the second half of the album we have 'The Fugitive,' a song that sounds a bit flat but is rescued by the chorus and the guitar solo. 'Chains Of Misery' seeks to return to that metal sound of the eighties, with a ruthless start by Nicko's drums. Again the melodies of the band are still present, with a catchy chorus. The next song 'The Apparition' honestly feels predictable and to some extent meaningless. Even so, the nineties melodies that seem to be taken from a video game between the guitar solos is appealing. 'Judas Be My Guide' has an epic introduction very much in the style of 'The Evil That Men Do.' The band recovers their rhythm and the path that the album was trying to take; Bruce Dickinson's voice and that chorus are sublime.
'Weekend Warrior' sounds confusing to begin with with their approach to the early 90s metal sound, yet it seems to be a completely unnecessary theme within the album. For the end of the album we find the theme that gives name to the album; a theme that needs no introduction. This track for many, is the best of the album - Fear Of The Dark. You can appreciate the musical maturity that the band already began to display since Somewhere In Time. The track narrates the fear that many people can feel when they are in the middle of the darkness, a very common phobia. A track that immediately became a hymn for Iron Maiden fans and one designed for stadiums. The melodies of Fear Of The Dark are completely beautiful, as is the riff and chorus that makes us jump to exhaustion; an epic closure.
This attempt to return to their roots but with the intention of approaching a new audience that at that time was already crazy about the birth of grunge was not entirely good for the band. Some musical compositions are due for a band that in the early 90's was still struggling to fill stadiums around the world with new material. A highlight is the album cover that seems to be taken from some horror comic, simply sensational. From Fear Of The Dark would end an era and begin a completely new one for Iron Maiden.