Iron Maiden fans are some of the most loyal, zealous and durable out there, and are among the chief reasons why, even in their 40th year, their idols remain as indomitable as ever.
That devotion was there for all to see during singer Bruce Dickinson’s successful battle against cancer earlier this year, and for their part the band - barring a blip in the ‘90s - have always repaid them in spades.
Many listeners would baulk at the idea of their favourite group delivering their very first double album, a sprawling 92-minute epic - at such an advanced stage in their career. Not Maiden fans.
And this is anything but blind fidelity, as with The Book of Souls the six-piece have delivered their finest album since the turn of the millennium.
Sure, it can be hard work. The runtime alone represents a significant challenge, while at 18 minutes, Dickinson’s Empire Of The Clouds is the longest song they’ve ever recorded.
There’s a definite progressive tinge to the likes of The Red And The Black and the title track too; but the overwhelming sound here is of an outfit in their element, delivering the trademark Maiden gallop without so much as a hint of fatigue or stagnation.
It’s not going to attract a new generation of followers - their formidable ‘80s catalogue is still seeing to that - but what it does prove is that for all the young pretenders, Iron Maiden remain British metal’s undisputed overlords. 8/10. AW