Fear Of The Dark

Iron Maiden

Raw Power Records, 1992


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


By the time Fear Of The Dark, the ninth studio release from Iron Maiden came out, the band sounded tired. They had been through the highs and lows of fame, and had gone through almost as many lineup changes as Spinal Tap had gone through drummers. Worse yet for them, the music scene was in a complete state of flux, and about the only thing anyone in the corporate circle could agree on was that metal was not a commercial force.

Add onto this the stress of losing guitarist Adrian Smith and replacing him with Janick Gers on their last disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 No Prayer For The Dying, and having to somehow return to superstar form with their music this time around, and one can't really blame Iron Maiden for the end result. Fear Of The Dark was, to this point, their weakest outing, and served as a rather sour note for singer Bruce Dickinson to go out on -- during the tour for this disc, he announced his retirement from the band, which lasted until 1999.

Oh, sure, things start out solidly enough with "Be Quick Or Be Dead," even if it wasn't quite up to the standards that Iron Maiden was known for in terms of singles. Without a plot line to follow, this track just sounded a bit off -- something, regrettably, the whole album would suffer from. (It should have been a warning sign, I guess, that the cover art was done by someone other than Derek Riggs, the band's longtime illustrator.)

It's not that the songs on Fear Of The Dark are bad -- you have to go to Virtual XI for that dubious honor -- but that bassist Steve Harris and crew, for the first time in their career, really don't seem to know which direction to take their music. Tracks like "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" doesn't know whether to be a ballad or to have some muscle behind it, while tracks such as "Judas Be My Guide," "Weekend Warrior" and "Fear Is The Key" just fall completely flat.

The title track does try to capture some of the mystique that earlier Iron Maiden songs had, with just a hint of dread lurking behind the backbeat. But it is nowhere near enough to salvage the disc.

Like Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, this particular disc tends to divide Iron Maiden fans along party lines, with precious little middle ground to tread on. But Fear Of The Dark hardly measures up to the levels of excellence that Iron Maiden had created for themselves, and ended up taking a step backwards with this disc -- a step they would take a long time to recover from.

Rating: C-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Raw Power Records, and is used for informational purposes only.