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 again dominate the genre as they had throughout much of the '80s. Today, long after the official announcement of this reunion, there can be no room doubt: Iron Maiden rule once more. And it is therefore with the sincere hope that we'll enjoy many, many more years that we respectfully compile our list of the Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs from 1999 through the present.
'Shadows of the Valley'From: 'The Book of Souls' (2015)
Among the first songs written for this very well-received double album, "Shadows of the Valley" contextualizes this modern era with an approach that is both ambitious and introspective. You hear whispers of the theme from "Wasted Years," and the chorus from "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" (found elsewhere on our list of Top 10 Iron Maiden ‘Bruce is Back’ Songs: 1999-Present), as the band takes brief looks backward. At the same time, however, co-writer Janick Gers' proggy asides push Maiden ever onward.
‘The Longest Day’From: ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (2006)
By this point in their reunion, Iron Maiden were truly firing on all cylinders. 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 ‘Bruce is Back’ Songs: 1999-Present, inspired by the heroic events of the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day.
‘Rainmaker'From: ‘Dance of Death’ (2003)
A Dave Murray composition that was polished off by Steve Harris and Dickinson with memorable results, "Rainmaker" became the second single from this LP. Allegedly given that title because the introductory guitar lick reminded Dickinson of raindrops falling, the song received a striking choreographed music video and harnessed all of Iron Maiden’s power and anthemic songcraft within a tight, infectious timeframe.
‘The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg’From: ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (2006)
Not that singles of short duration were ever a concern for Iron Maiden (or even singles period, for that matter), but they sure let it all hang out even more generously on the mysteriously named seven-minute lead-off track from A Matter of Life and Death. Benjamin Breeg, as it turned out, was a fictitious character concocted by the band. A clever viral marketing campaign was developed, spurring fans to canvas the web in search of clues to Breeg’s real identity. (Spoiler: It was Eddie.)
'Red and the Black'From: ‘The Book of Souls’ (2015)
A thunderous, 13-plus minute track that somehow isn't even the centerpiece on this sprawling, return-to-form studio project. They begin with a patented bass gallop, then swerve into a soaring Dickinson's take on Steve Harris' thrillingly tongue-twisting lyrics, before emerging with a brilliant, nearly all-instrumental finale.
’The Fallen Angel’From: ‘Brave New World’ (2000)
As mentioned at the start of our list of the Top 10 Iron Maiden ‘Bruce is Back’ Songs: 1999-Present, 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. His presence was felt right away on Brave New World via this occult-laced minor masterpiece.
’Isle of Avalon’From: ‘The Final Frontier’ (2010)
Iron Maiden’s 15th studio effort may have thrust long-suffering mascot Eddie back into the future (this time, apparently mutated with the Predator), but its songs still dealt primarily in tales of old – both historical and fictitious. 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’From: ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ (2006)
An absolute stunner, this was the second tune revealed online from A Matter of Life and Death, and arguably also the album’s strongest all-around effort. Certainly, "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" 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.
'Blood Brothers’From: ‘Brave New World’ (2000)
As Iron 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 better addressed their feelings about metal’s once-again reigning champions than the perfectly apropos "Blood Brothers." The song’s lyrics actually delved in no small amount of fear and uncertainty. Its rousing chorus asserted, however, that a brighter day would surely come to those who kept faith with their brethren – and heavy metal, in general – through thick and thin.
‘Paschendale’From: ‘Dance of Death’ (2003)
Finally, the No. 1 choice for this list of Top 10 Iron Maiden ‘Bruce is Back’ Songs: 1999-Present epitomizes all of the bombastic grandeur and cinematic scale evoked by Iron Maiden's greatest heavy metal masterworks. This utterly majestic retelling of a pivotal World War I battle illustrates Iron Maiden’s comprehensive mastery of metallic musical forms like nowhere else in the band’s third millennium oeuvre. "Paschendale" 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. A more climatic capper to our list would be hard to find.