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As we approach these last weeks of 2021 I wanted to let my readers know about some of the best albums released this past year; the albums to be released here at year’s end! Misfits have a healthy selection of records to choose from long running classic groups like Cheap Trick and Iron Maiden to more recent offerings from Mastadon and Dark Throne.

Music has been such a wonderful way to relieve the daily worries concerning the ongoing Corona virus pandemic. Despite the worldwide shortages contributing to changing release timelines for records things have been getting better.

Life here in New York City has been much more back to normal with the re-opening of Broadway shows and Movies. Concert venues also came back to life; proof of vaccinations required.

Best of 2021

Here is a list of some of the best rock/metal albums released in 2021….not definitive in any form…just my opinion alone. This year has 8 weeks to go. ABBA just released its first new studio album in 40 years! Here are my faves so far:

Alice Cooper’s Detroit Stories marks the veteran rocker’s 21st solo release. Proudly made in Detroit this collection features classic hard rock from the motor city where this genre of music was birthed. This recording hails the long awaited reunion the surviving members of The Alice Cooper Band! A solid heavy rock record from old black eyes.

Iron Maiden’s Senjutsu is another double album from the British heavy metal legends continuing their journey into progressive territory. Single “The Writing On The Wall” has a southern flavor never heard before on any previous Maiden record. The music video for this track and second single “Stratego” are both animated in the style of the 1981 cult film, Heavy Metal, and are both amazing visually, musically, and sound like nothing else in this expanding catalog of now 17 releases! The last 3 songs on this extremely satisfying platter are all written by bassist/founder Steve Harris–“The Parchment”, “The Death of the Celts”, and “Hell On Earth” all run 10 plus minutes. Maiden are the most epic band in all of Heavy Metal. In my opinion this record is probably the band’s best to date. Incredible for a band whose current line-up reunited back in 2000 and is proving to be its best.

Cheap Trick’s In Another World was ready for 2020 but delayed until now. It was worth the wait. The power pop legends’ 20th album is their best to date. Hard rocking like 1977 in 2021 is no cheap trick but a delightful treat to listen to track after amazing track. “Light Up The Fire” is a scorcher; “Another World” envisions how bright the future could be in that ballsy balladry Robin Zander still delivers like he is only 20, in this world he is in his 70’s! Their cover of John Lennon’s “Gimme Some Truth” closes out the set. Strongly recommended.

AC/DC’s PWR UP gave us all hope upon its release. Dedicated to the late Malcolm Young who co-wrote every track and whose rhythm playing gave the band’s sound its backbone is all over this great album. For decades they have been rock’s diehard battery. This remains true here. Featuring the smash single “A Shot In The Dark” it never lets up. You will feel energized until the final notes are played. Arguably the band’s best promo videos have been created for this album. “Demon Driver”, “Witch’s Spell”, and “Mists of Time” are for my money the best trifecta in their glorious history. Let there be rock!

Helloween’s eponymous release that features the reunited German power metaller’s best work of the past decade will get you of of any doldrums transporting you into heavy metal revelry. From the opener “Out For The Glory” to “Indestructible” you will be amazed.

Mastadon’s Hushed and Grim is just another solid outing from these metallers from Georgia. Their blend of brooding dark themes and strong melody flows well here. “Pain With An Anchor” sets the tone followed by “The Crux” which just pulses away giving the proceedings a vitality it never loses. Following a concept record about Moby Dick and their prog breakthrough “Crack The Skye” this is their epic Tool inspired masterpiece.

Greta Van Fleet’s The Battle At Garden’s Gate is a great prog rock album. “My Way Soon”, “Heat Above”, “Age Of Machine” and “Broken Bells” are epic tracks. Recorded in Nashville this sophmore effort suffers no jinx. Great follow-up to their debut.

Weezer’s Van Weezer brings the world River Cuomo’s long gestating metal record with a strong tribute to late great Edward Van Halen!

Accept’s Too Mean Too Die was released back in January and remains one of the year’s crowning metal achievements. Featuring the track and video “The Undertaker” brings back all the reasons we still love Accept.

The records on this list are among the best of 2021. In the New Year records are coming from Scorpions, Saxon, JohnSix & The Creatures, and Ghost. 2022 will hopefully be the return of concerts/tours.

Thank you my dear readers for visiting Evan’s Gate!

Iron Maiden

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I bought my first Iron Maiden record in 1982. “The Number of the Beast” garnered great reviews from the heavy metal community.

Here in America it also received threats from church officials as being an agent of satanism. Heavy metal music does a lot of satanic material. It just fits the genre so well. This kind of music is a tonic for many fans. I love complex guitar based music. Soaring vocals are a huge component as well.

Circus magazine wrote a response to the controversy. The article explained Iron Maiden are not devil worshippers, just devil-may-care.

I was a fan for life after that era. Their mascot Eddie, a re-animated ghoul, appears on every album cover. Created by Derek Riggs, he assumes different types and styles that fit each album’s themes and concepts.

From their eponymous debut in album to their first double studio album in 2015, the band’s music has evolved from traditional metal to a more progressive groove.

Their line-up changed several times. Original vocalist Paul DiAnno quit due to substance abuse. His replacement was Samson singer Bruce Dickinson who turned out to be their ticket to global stardom.

For two albums, Bruce was replaced by Blayze Bayley. Their 10th and 11th albums were as good as anything they had done before but fans did not like this change.

In the year 2000 the band made a huge comeback with Bruce’s return. Guitarist Adrian Smith also came back. This current line-up of the group proved to be their best.

Since the year 2000 Iron Maiden are Bruce Dickinson (Vocals), Steve Harris (Bass), Adrian Smith (Guitar), Dave Murray (Guitar), Janick Jers (Guitar), Nicko McBrain (Drums).

The past 20 years of a nearly 50 year career have produced critically acclaimed records like “Brave New World”, “A Matter of Life and Death”, “The Final Frontier”, and “The Book of Souls”.

This followed their now classic albums of the 1980’s: “Killers”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Piece of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere in Time”, and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son “.

A documentary film, “Flight 666”, follows Maiden on a record setting world tour in which lead singer Bruce Dickinson piloted the band’s plane called Ed Force One.

Around the world Maiden’s fan base grew not only larger but younger too. In my opinion Iron Maiden have the best fans.

In the past four decades you will have seen people wearing Iron Maiden shirts or patches or bracelets or hats.

In 1982, Eddie was a demon spawn. Then in 1983 he was condemned to the rubber room. In 1984 he was an entombed pharaoh. In 1986 he became a cyborg. In 1988 he became the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

Now in their fifth decade, Iron Maiden are nominated to the Rock Hall of Fame.

Not seeking this award, the band will continue to empower their massive audience that spans the globe with their upcoming seventeenth studio album.

Bassist Steve Harris founded the group on Christmas day 1975! He said at the end of each decade that Maiden had another ten albums in them. And their sixteen studio records all have songs that became big concert classics.

This is a snapshot song list of my favorites from the band’s ongoing career:

Remember Tomorrow

Strange World

Transylvania

Iron Maiden

Wrathchild

Running Free

Sanctuary

Murders In The Rue Morgue

Another Life

Innocent Exile

Prodigal Son

Killers

Phantom of the Opera

Die With Your Boots On

The Prisoner

The Number Of The Beast

Run To The Hills

Revelations

Hallowed Be Thy Name

Flight Of Icarus

Where Eagles Dare

The Trooper

Still Life

To Tame A Land (inspired by Dune)

Sun And Steel

Aces High

Two Minutes To Midnight

Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Powerslave

Sea Of Madness

Somewhere In Time

Wasted Years

Stranger In A Strange Land

Moonchild

Infinite Dreams

The Clairvoyant

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

The Evil That Men Do

No Prayer For The Dying

Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter*

Holy Smoke

Public Enema Number One

Be Quick Or Be Dead

From Here To Eternity

Afraid To Shoot Strangers

Wasting Love

Judas Be My Guide

Weekend Warrior

Fear Of The Dark

Sign Of The Cross

Lord Of The Flies

Man On The Edge

The Aftermath

Judgement Of Heaven

The Unbeliever

Futureal

The Angel And The Gambler

The Clansman

The Educated Fool

Wildest Dreams

Rainmaker

Dance of Death

Paschendale

The Wicker Man

Brave New World

Blood Brothers

Out Of The Silent Planet

Different World

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns

The Pilgrim

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg

Lord Of Light

Satellite 15…The Final Frontier

El Dorado

The Alchemist

Isle Of Avalon

Star blind

The Talisman

The Man Who Would Be King

When The Wild Wind Blows

If Eternity Should Fail

Speed Of Light

The Book Of Souls

Death Or Glory

Tears Of A Clown

Empire Of The Clouds

*The only single to reach #1 on the chart.

Up the Irons!

The list of songs above reflects how well Iron Maiden have covered their horror, science fiction, fantasy, and historical literary interests.

Their songwriting is done now by each band member. Steve Harris is their lead songwriter who composed epic songs lasting a minimum of six minutes on every record. Frontman Bruce Dickinson wrote the longest track in their history so far. “Empire Of The Clouds” runs 18 minutes!

Arguably the most epic of bands, I hope Maiden get elected to the rock hall of fame this year. They deserve this honor.

Dearest readers I leave you with a few of my favorite versions of mascot Eddie:

The Great War

This week the gate will explore a record that reflects on WWI, also known as The Great War.

Songs by Iron Maiden and Motorhead about WWI are explored as well.

A ‘great’ war not because it was a positive event, but a reference to the area it encompassed. The entire European continent was engulfed by the destruction.

The Sam Mendes film, “1917”, nominated for 10 Academy Awards, now playing in theaters is a good moment to look at metal’s contribution to remembering this war.

The Swedish band, Sabaton, whose name is derived from a knight’s foot armor, has an album called ‘The Great War’ (History Version).

Each of the 11 tracks includes a spoken word lesson regarding the conflict. Within a 42 minute span the horrors of gas attacks and scorched earth are laid bare.

Released July 19, 2019 on Nuclear Blast records.
The Great War is the band’s ninth studio album.

#11 U.K.
#42 U.S.

‘The Future of Warfare’ opens with the action in September of 1915. Heralding the arrival of new forms of warfare that will pound the soldiers through 1918.

‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ moves tha action to Arabia and T.E. Lawrence. The guitars roar along with a galloping percussion to pay tribute to the exploits of Lawrence of Arabia. A light in the dark; an eternal flame.

’82nd All The Way’ celebrates the fearless soldiers who did their duty despite the odds of no return. Reference is made to the American effort. Sergeant York is singled out here.

One of the most melodic and harmonic of metal tunes. The guitar solos are inspired.

The cruelty of poison gas attacks are brutal. ‘The Attack of the Dead Men’ tells the tale of a hundred victims of gas who nevertheless rise to strike their foe.

The chorus is mono and somber with slight keyboard accents. The guitar attack is smooth. A beauty of a track that gives hope in a no man’s land.

‘Devil Dogs’ are the squads going to where no soldier would dare go. They were the Marines of this war. Scorching guitars attack against a heavy chorus.

‘The Red Baron’ about the flying aces. Air force was a new invention of this war. The speed matches the feel of flight. Featuring the best keyboards on the record too.

‘Great War’ takes place during the rain soaked battle of Paschendale. Ultimately asking what is so great about war?

‘A Ghost In The Trenches’ describes bloody raids to gain a few inches of ground. Soldiers are ghosts to be in the ditches.

‘Fields of Verdun’ opens with sound effects of a battle in a place no one shall pass.

‘The End of the War to End All Wars’ 4 years and empire’s end could not end war. The machines of battle were now at rest.

A choral blast with guitars, drums, and driving vocals that take us to the end.

‘In Flanders Fields’ concludes the record. Choral music as one would expect in a song of remembrance. Quite beautiful.

Paschendale ” from Iron Maiden’s thirteenth album in September 2003, commemorates the WWI battle.

Guitarist Adrian Smith wrote this well detailed account of battle and it’s awful consequences.

A fallen soldier recounts his experiences while his life fades. The bloody trenches. The hard rain. All the bodies no older than eighteen. Over the wall to their deaths.

The German propaganda machine the likes of which the world had never seen. At least until that point of time.

Account of those nervous minutes before the whistle blows to signal their end propels this track. A progressive metal song with changes in tempo.

1916 Motorhead’s ninth album released on February 26,1991.
On WTG records. Epic/Sony.

The final song on this record was the band’s most somber. A departure from their usual speed and ferocity.

‘1916’ was a stirring tribute to the lives lost during the great war. Written by the late Lemmy Kilmister.

Structured in verse, a poem. Ultimately a recounting of the horror faced and anonymity conferred on the lives of soldiers.

We should know their names. At least we never forget their courage. And never repeat this passage.