Top 10 Iron Maiden ‘Bruce is Back’ Songs: 1999-Present
When heavy metal titans Iron Maiden welcomed vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith back into the fold after an extended absence, there were certainly no guarantees that they would once again dominate the genre as they had throughout much of the ’80s. Now, 15 years after the official announcement of said reunion, there’s no longer any doubt: Maiden rules once again. And it is therefore with the sincere hope that we’ll enjoy at least another 15 years that we respectfully compile our list of the Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs of the 2000s and beyond
‘The Wicker Man’
There’s no better place to start our countdown than with the song that kicked Iron Maiden’s second Dickinson-fronted era into gear: the ‘Brave New World’ album’s turbocharged riff-fest, ‘The Wicker Man.’ The song may have started out as a demo for Dickinson’s next solo venture, but by the time Steve Harris, Smith and the rest of the band had laid their hands on it, it was 100% pure Maiden. “Up the irons!”
‘The Longest Day’
Six years later, Iron Maiden were truly firing on all cylinders as they delivered what many believe to be the finest overall effort of their new millennium comeback in the dense, epic-filled and war-themed ‘A Matter of Life and Death.’ Among its stellar songs was the next entry in our list of the Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs of the 2000s, inspired by the heroic events of the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day.
‘The Man Who Would be King’
History and fiction have often dominated Iron Maiden’s lyric themes in equal measures, and this standout from 2010’s ‘The Final Frontier’ saw cowriters Harris and guitarist Dave Murray dipping into the latter for inspiration. Specifically, Rudyard Kipling’s 19th century novella by the same name, later made into a motion picture starring Sean Connery, and thus made up of suitable fodder for our heroes to explore in song.
Another Murray composition that was polished off by Harris and Dickinson with memorable results is ‘Rainmaker,’ which became the second single from the ‘Dance of Death’ LP, in 2003. Allegedly given that title because the introductory guitar lick reminded Dickinson of raindrops falling, the song received a striking choreographed music video (as you can appreciate below) and harnessed all of Maiden’s power and anthemic songcraft within a tight, infectious timeframe.
‘The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg’
Not that singles of short duration were ever a concern for Iron Maiden (nor even singles, for that matter), but they sure let it all hang out even more generously on the seven-minute lead-off track from 2006’s ‘A Matter of Life and Death,’ the mysteriously named ‘The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg.’ This, as it turned out, was a fictitious character concocted by the band, around which a clever viral marketing campaign was developed, spurring fans to canvas the web in search of clues to Breeg’s identity. (Spoler: it was Eddie!)
’The Fallen Angel’
As we were quick to point out at the start of our list of the Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs of the 2000s, Adrian Smith’s reintegration into the group was just as important to their rebirth as was Dickinson’s. After all, it was Smith, even more than Bruce, who shared a significant songwriting load with bandleader Steve Harris throughout the band’s ‘80s golden years; and his presence was felt right away on ‘Brave New World’ via the occult-laced minor masterpiece that was ‘The Fallen Angel.’
’Isle of Avalon’
Iron Maiden’s fifteenth and most recent studio effort, ‘The Final Frontier,’ may have thrust their long-suffering mascot, Eddie the ‘ead,’ back into the future (this time mutated with the Predator!), but its songs still dealt primarily in tales of old, both historical and fictitious. So it was no surprise when, out of the mists between the two, emerged another Maiden epic for the ages in the nine-minute ‘Isle of Avalon,’ which saw the band effortlessly adapting Arthurian legends to suit their metallic whims.
‘Brighter than a Thousand Suns’
An absolute stunner of a song, ‘Brighter than a Thousand Suns,’ was the second tune revealed online from 2006’s ‘A Matter of Life and Death,’ and arguably also the album’s strongest all-around effort. Certainly, it was its darkest and most pessimistic, bearing all manner of apocalyptic horrors (“Bombers launched with no recall,” “Chain letters of Satan,” etc.) behind the blinding blast threat of nuclear war – something its creators could imagine all too well as children of the Cold War. Scary stuff!
As Maiden fans continued to rejoice in their favorite band’s long-hoped-for reunion with Smith and Dickinson, no song on the stupendous ‘Brave New World’ opus better addressed their feelings about metal’s once again reigning champions than the perfectly apropos ‘Blood Brothers.’ And never mind that the song’s lyrics actually delved in no small amount of fear and uncertainty, because its rousing chorus asserted, again and again, that a brighter day would surely come to those who kept faith with their brethren and heavy metal, in general, through thick and thin.
Finally, our No. 1 choice for this Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs of the 2000s list is one that we feel epitomizes all of the bombastic grandeur and cinematic scale evoked by the band’s greatest heavy metal masterworks: the utterly majestic retelling of the pivotal WWI battle ‘Paschendale.’ Here, like nowhere else in the band’s third millennium oeuvre, Iron Maiden’s comprehensive mastery of metallic musical forms is elevated on par with anything recorded during their ’80s heyday – and then some, thanks to stirring string arrangements soaring in the background, amid eagles’ cries and exploding shells. Indeed, a more climatic capper to our list would be hard to find, but you tell us: which song (or songs) would you have placed in this Top 10 list?