Little bit late on this one, but hey! That’s what happens when you spend six hours editing and laying out a newsletter at work. (No word of a lie, that was my day today. Brains were mush by 2 PM.) Anyway, it’s Wednesday, so let’s get right to a new Stage Dive topic. We’ve got one that’s especially relevant this week, so let’s waste no further time. Our question is:
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE METAL COMEBACK ALBUM?
I say “especially relevant” because as I type this, I’m listening to a rather excellent new album from UK industrial metal legends Godflesh–their first studio album in 13 years, and one that I’m very much looking forward to discussing on this week’s podcast. This, of course, is to say nothing of the fantastic comebacks we’ve already seen from Eyehategod and Behemoth this year, the forthcoming At the Gates record (itself a mere 19 years in the making) and the stellar returns we saw from Carcass and Gorguts last year. Seems like a great comeback records are all the rage, you guys!
But after a bit thinking a bit on this topic, I can really only answer this question one way. As much as I’ve enjoyed all of the above records–at least the ones that are available, anyway–my FAVORITE metal comeback album would have to be Iron Maiden‘s Brave New World.
Technically, I guess this wasn’t so much a “comeback” album as a “return-to-form;” for better or worse, after vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith left the band in the early ’90s, Maiden decided to carry on with new Blaze Bayley and Janick Gers, respectively, rather than breaking up. I won’t pretend I’m old enough to have been around during the band’s ’80s heyday, or that I appreciated Dickinson and Smith’s return to the band nearly as much as anyone who was a fan back then. Hell, I wasn’t even listening to metal when this thing came out. But at the time I got into Maiden, this was their then-most-recent album, and thus the one I was drawn to after familiarizing myself with all the “Troopers” and “Wrathchilds” (“Wrathchildren?”) from their earlier discography.
And if I’m being honest…no, this thing isn’t perfect: “The Mercenary” is one of the stupidest Maiden songs ever; “Dream of Mirrors” is four or five minutes longer than it needed to be; I’ve never liked “The Nomad” as much as a lot of people; etc. etc. Is this the best comeback album a metal band’s ever put out? Hell no. But flaws and all, it’s my favorite. Why?
Because “The Wicker Man” is on a shortlist of Maiden’s best album opening tracks ever. Because “The Fallen Angel” is underrated as all hell and at the time was one of the band’s best pure rockers in several years. Because “Blood Brothers” is one of the prettiest, most moving metal tracks you’ll ever hear (even Gers’ solo is mint!). Because the tour supporting Brave New World yielded the band’s infamous Rock in Rio performance and DVD, which I watched religiously as an angsty middle schooler daring to be different. Plus, even if I can’t personally claim to have appreciated it at the time, can anyone deny the importance of the return of Dickinson and Smith to the fold?
Sorry, I’m not having it any other way. When you talk about comeback albums, Brave New World will always be the one I think of first. It’s not the best one we’ve ever seen, but it sure as hell isn’t one you can undermine lightly.
You know what to do now. Share yours in the comments and keep the discussion going!
Live. Love. Plow. Horns Up.