With the new Iron Maiden song released last week, Metal Insider decided this was the perfect time to have a headbanger’s brawl on what we really think about “The Writing on the Wall.”
Jeff Podoshen: I found this new song underwhelming and not anywhere near their best work. Even by using Maiden’s recent, rather uninspiring records of late, this song just doesn’t seem to reflect what this band is capable of. In fact, I would easily choose to listen to any of the Maiden songs featuring Blaze Bayley on vocals over this one. In terms of the rather tired vocal on this track, I might even suggest that Blaze would have been a better choice for it. While I like Nicko’s drums and Harris’s signature bass, the three guitarists are way underutilized here. And how much country music has Adrian Smith been listening to lately? Apparently way too much. The rhythm guitars, while they sound like Maiden, are more reticent of the duller songs in their catalog.
All in all, this song just doesn’t work for me and I could only imagine how bored the crowd is going to be when they insist on playing this live.
Elliot Levin: I wanted to contribute some thoughts on this, but frankly I’d just be rewording what Jeff said. I share those exact sentiments. especially about its inevitable live performances.
Matt Brown: Full disclosure: I love Maiden through and through, and that includes the Blaze albums and their more recent material. So I enjoyed this song. It’s definitely a different choice for a first single: usually it’s something more upbeat paired Harris signature galloping bass like “Speed of Light” off The Book of Souls. But I like the touch of southern twang in there, it’s a bit different but doesn’t sound completely out of left field. Bruce is Bruce and the chorus is catchy. As for live performances, I’m not sure it’s possible for Maiden to be boring live, even with slower songs like this one. I will concede that the guitar work on here isn’t Maiden’s most dazzling,
I’m not disillusioned: I know that many people will have an opinion similar to Jeff’s, and I get why. Maiden have tweaked their sound and songwriting since 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death. I loved that album, but it’s full of slower songs and tracks that range from 7 to 9 1/2 minutes, and they’ve continued that trend on subsequent albums. It’s not to everyone’s taste, so if you didn’t like those, “The Writing on the Wall” isn’t going to blow your mind. For my part, the new single has me eagerly awaiting a new album. Also I thought the music was cool as hell.
Bram Teitelman: There’s very few bands that have existed for 40 years, especially ones that are still vital. Maiden’s “current” period since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned (which, hysterically, is actually 21 years ago), obviously doesn’t find them as hugry and boundary-pushing as their first eight, but I think they’ve got a pretty high on-base percentage, and if seeing Maiden live isn’t the most fun you can have at a metal show, I’m not sure I want to hang out with you. Which brings us to “The Writing On the Wall.”
I actually really enjoy this first taste of album #17. It’s unmistakably an Iron Maiden song that I already envisioned arenas of fans chanting the chorus to by the second time I heard it. Sure, it’s not as fast as they perhaps used to be, and to Jeff’s point, the triple guitar attack is underused, but this could’ve come out on just about any Maiden album since Piece of Mind in my humble opinion.
And while this has nothing to do with the song, the way they unveiled it was amazing marketing. Having people (not just the band) wear cryptic “Belshazzar’s Feast” shirts, dropping hints on admats, and the Twitter account that followed just 16 accounts, all of which were a Maiden album? Even if the band themselves didn’t come up with those ideas, it’s still brilliant marketing on their label and management’s parts that show they’re not just resting on their laurels as one of the biggest metal bands of all time. I’m jaded af, but damned if I wasn’t ready to join the feast at 1pm on the 15th.
Mark Zapata: Yuck. Having said that, I liked the marketing approach. It even had me waiting to hear the whatever it was that they were announcing. Not nearly as powerful as I was expecting. But if you don’t expect anything you will never be disappointed. I am not a fan of this song but I will listen to it again just because it’s Maiden and they get the benefit of the doubt.
Elise Yablon: On first listen, I didn’t find the song that memorable. Not bad, just not memorable. With the second listen, that changed. It’s enjoyable. It has a good pace to it. It also feels a bit formulaic. I can hear it being played on a hard rock radio station over and over again blending in with everything else as if it was always part of the playlist. And because it’s Iron Maiden, it probably will.
Jeff Podoshen: Bram, you really think people are going to be singing that chorus at the live shows? I have a strange feeling that it’s going to be a rush on the bathrooms as soon as Bruce says, “Scream for me New Jersey! Sccccreeammm for me New Jersey! The Writing’s On the…..” and then people start getting up and heading towards the exits.
Bram Teitelman: The same people that sing the entirety of “Fear of the Dark,” even the musical parts, like it’s their country’s national anthem and they’re at the World Cup? Yeah, I could see them adapting this. Maiden fans aren’t normal music fans, nor should anyone expect them to be.
Jeff Podoshen: Ok, maybe those people. But are those the same people who think Jannick also actually plugs his guitar in?
Zenae Zukowski: I finally had a chance to give this a full listen. My first thought was (sorry Jeff), yes, I can hear fans enjoying a beer and chanting along to this song. It’s not the Maiden that made us fall in love with Maiden, but it’s enjoyable, and there’s something about this country-vibe that I find charming about this song. It does sound more like a Southern rock hit from the early 2000s, but, for some reason, it’s working? Is “The Writing on the Wall” my favorite Iron Maiden song? No. And as Elise said, it’s not memorable. Being the first taste from their new album, Senjutsu, which already has a questionable title, does it make me hesitant/scared to know what’s next to come? Yes. As far as the rest of Maiden fans go, I can see people either loving or hating it. I find it a decent song, but I was more excited about Insomnium’s new track and EP reveal.
Jeff Podoshen: “Scream for me Alabama!!”