After a long hiatus, The Infamous albums series makes it’s return to Alternative Nation. For this new entry, we look at Iron Maiden’s 1992 album, Fear of the Dark.
Formed in 1975, Iron Maiden is one of the most successful and well known bands in metal history. All of their 80’s material is considered to be some of the best metal out there and they have managed to maintain their success, both critically and commercially, well into the 21st century. However, that doesn’t mean that Maiden haven’t released the odd dud.
With the release of their 1988 masterpiece, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, the band moved in a proggier direction. Two years later they would release No Prayer For The Dying. For this album, long time guitarist Adrian Smith left and was replaced with Janick Gers. The record presented a more stripped down sound and, although it had the band’s biggest hit to date, “Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter”, the album was trashed by fans and critics alike.
Between 1995 and 1998, ex-Wolfsbane vocalist, Blaze Bailey replaced Bruce Dickinson for two albums, The X-Factor and Virtual XI. Bailey’s voice left much to be desired and the song writing was often insipid and uninspired. During this time, Bruce Dickinson released two solo albums, Chemical Wedding and Accident of Birth both featuring Adrian Smith. These albums are much better and are highly recommended for any Maiden fan.
Sandwiched between these two eras is 1992’s Fear of the Dark. The title track is one of the band’s most well known and beloved songs and is still a common feature of their live sets. The rest of the record, though is widely panned and this disc is commonly lumped in with Maiden’s 90s duds. But is it really that bad?
No Prayer for the Dying had Bruce singing in this weird raspy vocal style. On this album, the band is able to write songs where the vocals actually fit. This is best shown in the tracks “Be Quick or Be Dead” and “Judas My Guide”, both which have a great speed metal like feel and hold up against some of Maiden’s best tracks. We also get to see a softer version of this style on the tracks “The Fugitive” and “From Here to Eternity”.
This album isn’t without it’s filler though. “Childhood’s End” is very repetitive and Bruce’s vocals just don’t sit right. “Fear is the Key” has a great main riff but goes on for way too long. “Weekend Warrior” and “The Apparition” are both extremely cheesy and hard not to laugh at.
“Wasted Love” is the band’s first ever power ballad. And while it’s a little cheesy at times, it is pretty catchy and has a nice melancholic feel to it.
This leaves us with the album’s two best tracks, the title track and “Afraid To Shoot Strangers”. The title track is one of the band’s best songs to date and it’s widely accepted as such. The lyrics and ominous tone make this one that never gets old. “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” is an amazing dramatic epic from it’s opening narration, to the last second of the track.
All and all, Fear of the Dark is a solid album. While it does have several filler tracks, it has many great ones with several of them being some of Maiden’s best. This is not one to ignore!
Final Rating: Highly Recommended