Today is the worldwide release of Steve Harris’ British Lion. Maiden Reveleations offers a review and a track-by-track walk-through of the album.
Here is Torgrim Øyre‘s track-by-track review of the album, exclusively for Maiden Revelations:
This is My God
Pretty much the odd one out, this one. This is My God is by far the track that differs the most from the rest of the bunch, both in terms of approach and production. The main theme is probably one of the heaviest riffs Steve Harris ever has laid his bass tracks to. Kind of reminiscent of hard funk rockers of the 90’s like Jane’s Addiction and even Rage Against the Machine. Not something you would expect from Steve Harris, more so with Bruce Dickinson anno Balls to Picasso or Adrian Smith in his Psycho Motel days. It lacks power though and the singer Richard Taylor doesn’t quite manage to lift it of the ground.
Still fairly heavy in the riff department, with a busy Steve Harris working his bass lines upfront in the mix. Lost Worlds also has a slight touch of early 90’s grunge with a melodic and laid back chorus. Pearl Jam‘ish, without being too self indulgent. Taylors voice suits this work better. Nice acoustic round off.
Karma Killer has one foot in the 80’s and the other one in the 90’s. It’s pretty much groove driven and heavy, but has a chorus that touch ground with more traditional metal. Not bad, but not among the strongest tracks on British Lion.
Us Against the World
The opening sections bodes for a traditional metal onslaught, with a nice set of guitar harmonies. However it quickly takes a turn and ventures into more balladry territories. It comes of pretty well and has a nice guitar solo in the middle section.
The Chosen Ones
The Chosen Ones marks a shift in colors and shapes. Now it’s time to head back to the glory days of UFO, The Who and Thin Lizzy. The song is upbeat and has a rocking groove, filled vocal harmonies and dazzling guitar melodies. Nice breakdown in the middle. Sound wise it’s miles ahead of the previous songs on the album. Highlight so far.
A World Without Heaven
This one ponders into AOR-territory. It’s not a bad tune at all; just not something you would expect from Steve Harris, except it has a mid section with dueling guitar solos that might very well fit in with an Iron Maiden track from the No Prayer-era.
Another hard rocking tune with a good guitar hook in the vein of Gary Moore and Phil Lynot’s Out in the Fields. Could have been interesting to hear Bruce Dickinson singing this one.
Eyes of the Young
Without a doubt the most poppy tune on the record. Melodically speaking, it sounds like Boston meets Journey. Nothing wrong with that, it sounds good and has a nice build up in the mid section.
These Are the Hands
This is the best one of the more modern sounding tunes. The production is tight and powerful and Taylors vocals is stronger than on the earlier tracks. Steady bass groove from Mr. Harris.
Every hard rock album needs a real power ballad. The Lesson works well in that respect. Complete with strings and acoustic guitars, it puts a soaring end to a fairly solid record.
Summary: There are a few things that may put people off from British Lion at first listen. First off – the worst sounding tracks in terms of production values are at the start of the album.
It’s obvious that the album has been recorded in sections and some of the tracks suffer from being old recordings not up to par with what one would expect from an album like this released in 2012.
However Steve Harris has managed to compile a diverse album that grows for each listen and stylistically speaking, it is also something unexpected coming from him. Known for epic and proggy songs, British Lion is a nice change of pace and it’s kind of refreshing to hear him do something completely different.
All things considered, British Lion is a good, although not flawless, hard rocking album.
Reviewed by Torgrim Øyre
Here is Christer Bakke Andresen‘s review, previously published in Norwegian in Dagbladet:
When it was announced that Steve Harris would release his first solo album, Maiden fans and journalists alike where taken completely by surprise. Sure, Harris has always stated that he would like to do a solo album at some point, so maybe we had all just forgotten about it. And then there’s the notion that yours truly had: If he ever did one, it would be filled with Celtic-tinged 10 minute songs with an accoustic bass in the foreground. As it turns out, Harris did release a solo record, and it doesn’t sound like what I imagined at all.
Having been worked on over a period of close to 20 (!) years, British Lion is predictably riddled with problems of cohesion. Some songs sound a lot better than others, and it’s obvious to the listener that some have had more care and attention than others. It’s like sticking songs from Virtual XI and Brave New World on the same album. Not that British Lion ever gets close to the quality of Brave New World, but you get the idea.
The chief strength of the album is the sense of melody that carries Lost Worlds, Us Against The World and These Are The Hands. Harris and his band are determined to experiment with styles that mostly sit a long way from Iron Maiden, and this results in This Is My God resembling 1990s grunge and Eyes Of The Young being shameless summer pop that might even remind Scandinavians of Roxette. In other words, there’s a variety of styles here, as well as a variety of production values, that makes British Lion an uneven and incohesive record.
Harris has certainly produced something unexpected, but it’s highly doubtful that anyone but the most hardcore Maiden fans will pay attention to it. Whether or not the album deserves that attention is a question I can only answer with a shrug. Harris doesn’t really care, he’s doing this only because he feels like it, and you can take it or leave it. British Lion can’t be judged in comparison to Maiden’s catalog, but as Harris’ first solo venture, it’s got some things working for it that needs a better production and a more gutsy vocalist.
Reviewed by Christer Bakke Andresen