In the world of heavy metal, Iron Maiden frequently reigns as King of the Metalheads in not too few circles. And rightly so, as they've stuck together and toured consistently for twenty years and that, unlike a band like, oh, Van Halen, the lineup changes were crafted such that fans of Metal would not be disappointed. This is, after all, Iron Maiden, and they play heavy metal.
Ed Hunter is a three-CD greatest hits collection highlighting the band's creative output since the beginning. Two out of the three CDs contain twenty of IM's best (except for "Flight of Icarus," "Invaders," and "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner," but...) The third CD is an insane computer shoot 'em up. Fans of Metal, of course, own the IM catalog a couple of times over, but it's worth it to pick this collection up because all three lineups are featured back-to-back and, at least for me, the listener can really compare the band with singers Paul Di'Anno, Bruce Dickinson, and Blaze Bayley. For example, "Number of the Beast" (Dickinson), "Wrathchild" (Di'Anno), and "Futureal" (Bayley) track in that order. I found that while Bruce Dickinson sounded the most like the "Maiden!" vocalist, it's the raging triple metal guitar jams and percussion crescendo that characterizes the Iron Maiden sound. Of course, what's always characterized Iron Maiden is the intense literacy and historical relevance of their songs. I'm sure not too few metalheads researched the Crimean War after hearing "The Trooper." I giving them a lot of credit, because they're (mostly Steve Harris) excellent songwriters. "Aces High" and "Tailgunner" capture the essence of aerial combat. The former, a celebration of the heroes of the Battle of Britain, ought to be the anthem of the RAF. As an American I'm a bit jealous that our metal bands haven't recorded a song for the heroes of, say, Midway or the Flying Tigers that's of similar majesty.
While the bulk of IM's work was written by bassist and founder Steve Harris, they've included a few by Blaze, some by Bruce; Adrian Smith and Jannick Gers get a couple in as well. That is, "Killers," "The Clansman," "Man on the Edge," and "The Evil That Men Do" are here. My favorite IM tune on the album is "Powerslave," by Bruce Dickinson, that captures the thoughts of a dying pharaoh (or similar god-king) whose entire life was spent in lording over the land and people -- his people -- and wanting to live forever. I'm sure a hundred years from now someone will put together an opera around "Powerslave" (or the album of the same name) and have a clone of Placido Domingo in the leading role...
As far as the game goes, form the look of the liner and from what I remember from their live show last summer (they showed clips during the performance) you have to find the ubiquitous IM mascot, Eddie, and fight Satan as well as other monsters, including band members -- all the time listening to metal!
But, alas, it's for Windows 95/98 only. I only had access to an NT machine and, though it loaded-up the 200 MB of Ed Hunter data, it would not run. Darn! The graphics look Killer(s), too. No Mac version -- a mistake. I don't know if it runs on a Windows 95/98 emulator, though -- I don't have/want one, but maybe now I'll go looking.
At any rate, Ed Hunter is great for the collected music alone, the game might be an added bonus, let me know!
Columbia Records, 550 Madison Ave., 26th Floor, New York, NY 10022-3211
--David Lee Beowulf