Metal Chick of the Month – Wanda Ortiz

I’ve been looking so long for you now… You won’t get away from my grasp…

As 2019 promises to be another memorable year for Maidenmaniacs from all over the world, especially for the ones that reside in the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America who will have the utmost pleasure of seeing Steve, Bruce & Co. live during their upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019, there’s nothing better than kicking off our Metal Chick of the Month section with an amazing bass player that truly understands what it means to be part of the legacy (and also continuing our tradition of starting the year with a badass girl on bass guitar, of course). I’m talking about Wanda Ortiz (or Wanda A. Ortiz), the skillful bass player for the all-female tribute band The Iron Maidens (billed as the “World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden”) under the brilliant stage name of Steph Harris, who’s ready to crush your skull in half to the sound of her thunderous, galloping bass allied to her endless stamina when performing live.

Born on March 27, 1968 in Huntington Beach, a California city southeast of Los Angeles, Wanda first learned to play bass at the early age of nine years old, when the elementary school she attended had a music program that enabled students to sign up and choose an instrument. When she arrived late on the first day of music class, she wound up with a junior-sized double bass, and from that moment on we can say it was “love at first gallop”. In addition to that, while she took lessons on the double bass, also known as an upright bass, Wanda also taught herself how to play electric bass when she was 11 years old in order to play in the school jazz band, and she continued playing bass throughout her school years, eventually earning a Bachelor of Music in Performance (BMus) degree from UCI – University of California, Irvine. One funny thing about Wanda and her relationship with the bass guitar is that, according to Wanda herself, she felt a little sad about her instrument when in high school because she could rarely play the melody, which were the fun parts for her, as she got stuck with simpler lines meant to hold down the beat (in other words, a typical bass line), which despite being very important could get really boring at times. Luckily, she had a friend who told her about bands like Iron Maiden and Rush that really featured bass in their music and, after listening to them, she felt a lot better.

Moving on to her career as a musician, our dauntless bassist, who plays a variety of styles such as Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Blues and classical music armed with her glitter blue G&L SB-2 bass guitar and her black SB-2 bass guitar on select shows, started playing in a more professional way in 1997, when she joined a California-based Punk Rock/Rock N’ Roll band named Rotten Rod & The Warheads. She was their bassist from 1997 to 2002, having recorded with the band a demo in 1998 titled Practice Bomb (under the eccentric moniker of “Wanda Smart Bomb”), containing songs like Germs and Cruel World. I don’t know about you, but I would love to listen to the music by this fun and electrifying band on any rock n’ roll radio out there. Anyway, while still playing for Rotten Rod & The Warheads, she was also the bassist for Heartache City from 1999 to 2001, with whom she recorded the band’s self-titled album in 2001. I couldn’t find anything online form this band, but if Wanda was their bass player I’m sure their music was at least fun to listen to, right? Furthermore, Wanda was also the bassist for a Huntington Beach-based Rock/Blues band named Field of Vision in 2004, having recorded with them the six-track album FOV that same year, highly influenced by renowned acts such as David Bowie, The Rolling Stones and Velvet Underground. Once again, there’s nothing online about this specific album, but as aforementioned we know from the bottom of our hearts it’s good music we’re talking about. As a matter of fact, in 1998 and 2004, she won the Best Female Bassist award at the Rock City News Awards and, in 2003, she also won the best bassist award at The All Access Music Magazine Awards, proving how talented and focused she has always been as a musician.

In addition to those previous acts and to The Iron Maidens, our ass-kicking bassist also works as a freelance musician in various groups and orchestras in the Southern California area, including The South Coast Symphony as principal bassist since 1996. When asked about how different it is playing for The South Coast Symphony and for The Iron Maidens, if that’s the type of diversity she needs in her playing style, Wanda said that she likes to play classical music just as much as metal, and after playing an upright bass she thinks it keeps her chops up, also saying that it’s like someone who enjoys playing basketball and baseball, two different sports but both fun, which is the same with classical music and metal for her. Moreover, her talent is also recognized by several important brands and companies, being endorsed by BBE Sound, Digitech, Dunlop Manufacturing, G&L Musical Instruments, RotoSound Strings, Schroeder Superior Sound Cabinets, Coffin Case and Monster Energy Drink, and she’s also been in a couple of interesting documentaries recently, those being Hair I Go Again (2016) and the upcoming Rock Is Dead? (2019).

It was in September 2002 when Wanda finally joined The Iron Maidens, remaining with the band ever since and adopting her stage name “Steph Harris” as an obvious reference to Iron Maiden’s iconic bassist and founder Mr. Steve Harris. So far, she has recorded with the band the albums World’s Only Female Tribute to Iron Maiden (2005), Route 666 (2007), The Root of All Evil (2008) and the video Metal Gathering Tour Live in Japan (2010), trying to be as loyal as possible to Iron Maiden’s original sound. In one of her interviews, Wanda said that when she joined the band everyone was just looking for a fun and original side project (there were already several all-female tribute acts for bands like AC/DC in the area), as they all had their own bands and projects, with a goal of playing maybe once or twice a month at some local pubs. However, after the first few shows a lot of people started calling them, with things really kicking off after the band had been together for about a year despite the fact they never took themselves too seriously at that time. As a matter of fact, if there’s one thing they always took very seriously was the music, always trying to replicate the original tones from Iron Maiden the best possible way even with the different instruments they use like Wanda’s bass, which is technically a Fender bass but not the same one used by Steve. If you want to take a good listen at how amazing Wanda and the girls from The Iron Maidens are, simply search for them on YouTube, as there are countless fantastic videos of their live performances such as The Trooper and Die With Your Boots On in California in 2014, or these two full concerts recorded in New York in 2018 and in California in 2013. Also, how about a nice and relaxed interview with the entire band conducted by Grasser Production in 2017 called “15 questions with The Iron Maidens”?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Regarding the songs she likes to play the most from the Iron Maiden vast and rich discography, she said her all-time favorite are Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), Phantom of the Opera, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and when questioned if it’s hard for The Iron Maidens to come up with a setlist to please all fans she said it’s not difficult at all because it’s drummer Linda McDonald who keeps track of all places the band plays and what songs they played before, also taking into account her own endurance and the timing for their lead singer to do a costume change, for example, and always focusing on old songs not usually played by Iron Maiden during their current concerts and tours. She was also questioned if she ever struggles with identity, wanting to do her own original material and showcasing it, and she said she doesn’t really have any issues with that, stating that she actually enjoys playing music written by a wide variety of different composers, either metal or orchestral music, and that it doesn’t stop her from writing her own music which she has done before in original bands. Also, when asked if the band has ever had to deal with any issues related to artwork, royalties, cease-and-desists from lawyers or anything like that, she said the band does everything they can to avoid that, but that they were asked to change their logo many years ago (and they did). She complemented by saying that wasn’t a big deal, and she doesn’t think the guys from Iron Maiden were even aware of it; they simply have a good team of people who help look after everything.

Of course, it’s impossible not to talk about her “relationship” with Mr. Steve Harris and his two-fingered galloping bass method. In one of her interviews, Wanda talked about how much Steve Harris and his bass have influenced her taste for music and her playing style, talking about the aforementioned story of her playing only the basic notes while her friends would play the melodies with their violins and violas in high school, but that after listening to the all-time classic Piece of Mind she fell in love with her bass guitar again and never stopped listening to the music by Iron Maiden ever since. Apart from Steve Harris, she also cites Geddy Lee, lead vocalist, bassist, and keyboardist for Canadian Rock titans Rush, and Chris Squire, bassist and founding member of English Progressive Rock band Yes, among her influences, once again showing how much she loves the most intricate, unique and vibrant sounds anyone can extract from a bass guitar. There’s also a price to pay for having Steve Harris as her major influence, and especially for playing Iron Maiden’s music, which comes in the form of fans who believe they can offer her advice on how to perform that material beyond her considerable talent. “Every once in a while, there will be a bass player in the audience. There’s a couple songs that I’ve gotten used to playing it a certain way or maybe a different position, but they’re the same notes, but it’s not the same position (Harris) plays it in. Sometimes I’ll get that, or sometimes I’ll get like, ‘Well, Steve uses two fingers’. Well, okay. Sometimes I’ll hear that. Very rarely though,” said our talented bassist.

Wanda’s first ever Iron Maiden concert happened many years ago during the World Slavery Tour, when according to Wanda herself she didn’t drink anything to avoid having to leave to use the bathroom, as she didn’t want to miss any part of the show (well, it’s the same for me). Years later, Wanda was even able to get to know Iron Maiden in person when Michael Kenney, Steve’s long-time bass tech and the band’s onstage keyboard player, introduced the whole band to them at a concert in Irvine, California. Wanda and the other girls were obviously nervous at first for meeting their idols, but the guys were really friendly to them and down to earth, making the whole experience very pleasant. The only thing that didn’t go as planned was that they weren’t able to give them cookies that they baked specially for them, as their singer left them in her car. I’m pretty sure those cookies were delicious, but you know what was even better than that? The fact that The Iron Maidens were not only able to meet their icons in person for the first time ever, but also that the band led by Mr. Steve Harris supports them, acknowledging their undisputed talent, their passion for metal and their hard work, and that they can rest assured “Steph Harris” and the girls will always represent this more “feminine” and “delicate” side of Eddie with a lot of energy, respect and admiration. Having said that, don’t forget to check Wanda and the girls live whenever they take your city by storm, and of course, as usual… UP THE IRONS!

The Iron Maiden’s Official Facebook page
The Iron Maiden’s Official Instagram
The Iron Maiden’s Official Twitter

“As a bass player, of course, you’re going to be drawn to music more challenging, interesting and fun. I’ve always been an Iron Maiden fan since I was very young. When the band first formed everybody wanted to do something different, something more challenging. Since we all wanted something unique that nobody else was really doing, we thought Iron Maiden would be a good fit. We are all coincidentally huge Iron Maiden fans, so that made it better.” – Wanda Ortiz

Advertisements

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2019 Calendar

Are you already on your personal countdown to become part of the legacy on the upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019?

As there are only a few days left until 2018 comes to its inevitable end, it’s time to get ready for the year that’s about to start with the already classic annual calendar by Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden, allowing you to properly count the days until Bruce, Steve & Co. take your city by storm with their undisputed Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019. And although the Iron Maiden 2019 Calendar might not be a masterpiece, mainly because the manufacturer, your friendly neighborhood Danilo Promotions Limited, missed a fantastic chance of crafting the entire calendar based on all the different Eddies from their critically-acclaimed, epic mobile game Legacy of the Beast, it’s still a fun piece to add to your collection.

As I said, instead of assigning a distinct (and ass-kicking) Eddie from the game to each month of the calendar, such as the Eternity Eddie, the Vampire Hunter Eddie, the Grim Reaper Eddie or the Samurai Eddie, they decided to take a more conventional path by simply adding pictures of the band members taken during their Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018. The front cover and the photos chosen to be part of the calendar are amazing, no doubt about that, especially the ones from February, April and September, but as a Maidenmaniac I still believe the Eddies would have been a much more suitable choice. Well, we can’t actually complain about that if you take a look at all previous versions, as it seems the manufacturer alternates between an Eddie-themed calendar (like their amazing 2018 edition) and a version containing solely band photos from year to year. Having said that, who knows, maybe next year when the 2020 version of the calendar is released we get all those fancy Eddies from the game, right?

Iron Maiden 2019 Square Global (Multilingual Edition)

Anyway, just like in all previous years, the 2019 calendar dimensions (30.4 x 1.5 x 42.4 cm) and weight (299 g) are quite standard, and you can purchase your copy of it from your regular retailers such as the Iron Maiden webstore, Danilo.com, Amazon (USCanada or UK, for example), and Calendar Club. In addition, don’t forget there’s always the 12 x 12 version of the calendar named Iron Maiden 2019 Square Global (Multilingual Edition) if you prefer that specific format, although I believe it will be hard for anyone to find it online for purchase (it’s sold out in most locations) unless you go for the alternate version with a different front cover sold by BrownTrout. The price of the calendar, that being either the regular A3 version or the 12 x 12, varies depending on where you buy it, but I would say anything between 15 and 20 US Dollars should be fine.

Iron Maiden 2019 Square Global (BrownTrout Version)

In a nutshell, this is another good quality merch released by the one and only Iron Maiden that will certainly please most of their diehard fans (like this guy here who’s writing this review to you right now), also helping them count the days to their upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2019 as already mentioned, especially if you live in North or South America. I’m already on my personal countdown to the two concerts in a row I’m attending here in Toronto, eager to see them performing their all-time classics mixed with some of my favorite “underground” hymns such as Where Eagles Dare, The Clansman, Flight of Icarus, Sign of the Cross and The Wicker Man for the first time after so many years and, as a consequence, becoming part of the legacy together with one of the most important bands not only in the history of metal, but of music in general.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar

Get ready for the upcoming Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018 with the newest,  kick-ass edition of the already famous and always fun Iron Maiden official calendar.

It’s that wonderful time of the year we all start to get anxious for several days of happiness and fun that are about to begin, and I’m obviously not talking about Christmas and the holiday season, but about the new fantastic tour Iron Maiden will start in May 2018 in the beautiful Tallin, the capital of Estonia (unless they add any new dates before that, of course), named Legacy of the Beast Tour 2018, inspired by their own game Legacy of the Beast. Well, there’s nothing better than a classy calendar for the countdown, right? And that’s exactly what Iron Maiden together with Danilo Promotions Limited are providing us once again this year with the brand new version of their already traditional official calendar.

Featuring some of the most memorable versions of Eddie that appeared in different event shirts during The Book Of Souls 2016 World Tour and The Book Of Souls 2017 World Tour, such as London, California, Chicago, Texas, Canada, Japan and South Africa, among others, the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar kicks some serious ass when compared to most of its previous editions. Simply check the 2017 edition of the calendar and you’ll see what I’m talking about. If someone by any chance forced me to make any negative comments about this new calendar, let’s say it would be the fact they didn’t use any of the Eddies from the Legacy of the Beast game in it, but the special event Eddies displayed in each month are so cool I’m sure on one will complain about that either, don’t you agree?

With its front cover being a fusion of the already iconic “Eddie Sapiens” inside a ring of fire and the aforementioned Eddies from several event shirts used during the band’s The Book Of Souls tours, and having very similar dimensions (42 x 29.2 x 0.5 cm) and weight (325 g) to all past editions, the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar is the perfect gift for that Maidenmaniac friend of yours who knows each and every date Iron Maiden are playing on their forthcoming tour, but that at the same time can only remember the birthday of his or her significant other if he or she writes it on the calendar and sets up an alarm as a reminder. There are as usual several places where you can grab your copy of the calendar, such as at  Danilo.com, on Amazon.com (where you can also find special bundles such as  calendar + keyring or calendar + fridge magnet), on Amazon.ca, or on any other local Amazon website, at Calendar Club, or at your nearest physical calendar store.

Iron Maiden 2018 Square Global (Multilingual Edition)

And just like I mentioned last year, there’s also a 12 x 12 inch square version of the calendar that can be found online under the name Iron Maiden 2018 Square Global (Multilingual Edition), bringing the same Eddies used in the A3 version of the calendar but obviously in a square format, if you fancy that variation of the regular version of it. Actually, as long as you purchase the Iron Maiden 2018 Calendar, no matter if it’s A3 or square, you’ll be more than ready to initiate your personal countdown for the first gig of the upcoming tour in May, when you’ll finally know the setlist they’ll be playing until the last show of the tour (which is right now booked for August 11, 2018 in London, at the O2 Arena), how their new stage will look like, how the new stage Eddies will be, among other things only a band like Iron Maiden can provide us metalheads. If you’re lucky enough to live in a city where they’ll play in 2018, or if you’ve already booked your trip to one of those places, then the calendar will be of the utmost importance for your planning stages, using it to mark the dates when you’ll receive your tickets, book your accommodation, receive your brand new Iron Maiden shirt to get properly dressed for the concert, and so on. And that’s the fun of being a Maidenmaniac, as Steve, Bruce and Co. never get tired of amazing us all with their unparalleled Heavy Metal, while we of course never get tired of following those guys.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Concert Review – Iron Maiden (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 07/15/2017)

On a pleasant summer day in the city of Toronto, over 18,000 metalheads had a beautiful time screaming, singing, jumping up and down, raising their horns and “climbing like a monkey” to the flammable music by the unparalleled Iron Maiden.

OPENING ACT: Ghost

As opposed to last year’s Iron Maiden concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, when it was freaking cold and a snow blizzard covered the city and made driving a true nightmare, this Saturday the weather couldn’t be more perfect, with a temperature close to 30 degrees in a sunny day, resulting in another memorable night for all Maidenmaniacs that attended the concert at the always amazing Budweiser Stage (which used to be called Molson Canadian Amphitheatre). You could see in the eyes of the fans that everyone was in a great mood, probably because they spent the whole day getting ready for the concert, drinking beer, enjoying a nice BBQ or simply listening to Iron Maiden while getting tanned by the nice afternoon sun. And besides, everyone would have the whole Sunday to recover before returning to work on Monday (unless you were also seeing Metallica on Sunday, but that’s a different story).

It was around 7:30pm when the opening act hit the stage, Heavy Metal blue-eyed boys GHOST, who for some reason are deeply loved by most musicians, but not as much by fans of metal music. Even Metallica’s James Hetfield himself was at the venue watching the performance by Papa Emeritus III (also known as Tobias Forge) and his nameless ghouls. Anyway, this was my second time seeing Ghost, once again opening for Iron Maiden as in 2014 in the Czech Republic, and this time was way better than the first, I must admit. Papa Emeritus III was more dynamic on stage, more communicative and less “stuck” to the pope gimmick. A considerable amount of fans that were at the venue enjoyed their performance, singing together with the band songs like Ritual, Year Zero and Absolution, and as their performance wasn’t too long I guess not even the most diehard fan of Iron Maiden got bored with Ghost.

Setlist
Masked Ball (Jocelyn Pook song)
Square Hammer
From the Pinnacle to the Pit
Ritual
Cirice
Year Zero
Absolution
Mummy Dust
Monstrance Clock

Band members
Papa Emeritus III (Tobias Forge) – vocals
Nameless Ghouls – all instrumentalists:

  • Fire – lead guitarist
  • Ether – rhythm guitarist
  • Water – bassist
  • Wind – keyboardist
  • Earth – drummer

IRON MAIDEN

Finally, after over one year (and another cold winter), it was time for Toronto to scream one more time for the one and only IRON MAIDEN, this time during their The Book Of Souls World Tour 2017, the second leg of their majestic tour promoting their 2015 masterpiece The Book Of Souls. The setlist was pretty much the same as last time, except for Tears of a Clown being replaced with The Great Unknown, and the saddest change of all time, Hallowed Be Thy Name being replaced with Wrathchild due to a legal dispute with retired rock band manager Barry McKay, who is taking Steve Harris and Dave Murray to court over the song. Barry claims Hallowed Be Thy Name reproduces major parts of a song titled “Lying in my Shadow”, written by musician Brian Quinn (under the name Brian Ingham), and because of that Iron Maiden couldn’t play one of their most beautiful and powerful classics during their 2017 tour.

That didn’t stop Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris & Co. to kick ass one more time on stage for the delight of over 18,000 metalheads at the Budweiser Stage, blasting as usual a well-balanced mix of old school songs and newer compositions. Fans were already pumped up during the classic “Doctor Doctor” intro, exploding into sheer ecstasy when Bruce appeared at the top of the band’s Mayan-inspired stage to ignite their “ritual” with the initial spoken words of their new classic If Eternity Should Fail. After that it was an avalanche of hits played to perfection with Bruce interacting with the crowd all the time, while Steve was unstoppable with his galloping bass and Janick seemed as if he was high on something so electric his performance was. And I guess I don’t need to say how awesome Adrian, Dave and Nicko were with their instruments, right? There was only one minor issue with Bruceç mic, which kept failing a little once in a while, but nothing that could harm such sensational concert.

In my humble opinion, the best sequence of the night started with the classic Children of the Damned, where Bruce gave his already traditional speech about most of the fans not being born when the song was written and, for the ones born in 83 or 84, they might be the true “children of the damned”, conceived when the song was written in 82 (as Bruce mentioned, your parents had sex at least once in their lives!). After such stylish composition, the band invited all of us to fly with them and “fight” the Red Baron in the high-octane Death or Glory, with Bruce and his monkey mask enticing us to “climb like a monkey”, a fun move he started last year that became sort of mandatory every time they play this song. And the stunning sequel went on with the 13-minute hymn The Red and the Black, with all fans jumping up and down and singing the “Oh-oh oh-oh-oh! Oh-oh oh-oh-oh!” parts along with Bruce, followed by one of my top Maiden songs of all time, The Trooper, where guess what? It was time to burst our lungs again screaming the song’s famous “Oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh oh!” together with the band. And closing their killer sequel, the imposing Powerslave, which almost made me blind with its initial flames as I was quite close to the stage.

The newer songs like The Great Unknown and the epic The Book of Souls (where Eddie had his heart “ripped out” by Bruce) kept their momentum going, making everyone even more excited for their final batch of unparalleled classics such as Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast (with the stage fires making us literally burn), and Wasted Years. However, it was their 2000 creation Blood Brothers that really stole the show, with all fans signing its heartening lyrics together with the band, after Bruce’s inspiring intro where he spoke about how diverse and welcoming the city of Toronto is, and how there shouldn’t be no differences among us all, as we’re all blood brothers. What a brilliant performance of such amazing tune, I have to say! One of the best I’ve seen live together with the one from Rock In Rio III in 2001. As Bruce said close to the end of the show, Iron Maiden are far from being done, and they’ll return to Toronto with more of their unmatched metal music in a not-so-distant future. Needless to say, all 18,000 fans at the concert Saturday are more than eager for that without a shadow of a doubt. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot and sunny day like this Saturday or if it’s in the middle of a cold winter, we all know that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all.

Setlist
Doctor Doctor (UFO song)
If Eternity Should Fail
Speed of Light
Wrathchild
Children of the Damned
Death or Glory
The Red and the Black
The Trooper
Powerslave
The Great Unknown
The Book of Souls
Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden

Encore:
The Number of the Beast
Blood Brothers
Wasted Years
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life (Monty Python song)

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2017 Calendar

Are you ready for the 2017 round of the kick-ass The Book Of Souls World Tour? You’ll need this neat and classy calendar to keep track of all those dates, not doubt about that.

Rating5

00_iron-maiden-calendar-2017As we’re reaching the end of a year full of highs and lows not only in heavy music, it’s about time we get ready for 2017, because if the new year brings us just half of the intensity of 2016 we’ll certainly have a ton of work to do to survive all the issues and hassles of our modern-day society. Well, nothing better than having a badass calendar to at least plan our year in a decent manner, right? Having said that, it’s time to review (and obviously purchase) the Iron Maiden 2017 Calendar, the brand new edition of the famous kick-ass calendar by Heavy Metal heroes Iron Maiden. And finally, after my complaints about the previous edition of it, we’re treated to a calendar featuring images from the highly acclaimed The Book Of Souls 2016 World Tour.

Once again the calendar was produced by Danilo Promotions Limited, displaying as expected very similar dimensions (42 x 29.7 x 0.4 cm) and weight (358 g) to all previous editions. Despite not having any new Eddies from The Book Of Souls’ Mayan theme, except for the one in its front cover, the selection of exclusive photos from this year’s tour is excellent, with the months of May, September and November making me want to travel back in time to March this year, when I had the indescribable pleasure of witnessing the most awesome band in the world mesmerizing the cities of Montreal and Toronto here in Canada with their unique and flammable Heavy Metal.

There are several physical stores and websites where you can grab your copy of this already traditional calendar, like at the Iron Maiden official webshop, at Danilo.com, at your country’s Amazon website such as the ones in Canada and in the United States, or at the Calendar Club’s UK webstore. The price is very reasonable considering the high quality of the material and of course its content, costing between 6 and 12 US Dollars depending on where you buy it, plus taxes and shipping costs.

iron-maiden-official-2017-calendar-square-global-multilingual

Iron Maiden 2017 Square Global (Multilingual Edition)

One thing I “forgot” to mention in the reviews for the previous editions of the calendar was the existence of the square version of it, but as this year both the regular and the square versions follow the same pattern and theme, I thought it would be a good idea to add it to the review. The Iron Maiden 2017 Square Global (Multilingual Edition) costs a little more than the regular version, being priced at around 15 US Dollars, and it’s just as classy and beautiful as its rectangular sibling. You can find this one for sale at Amazon, at Calendars.com, at the Calendar Club’s Canadian website, among other locations. As The Book Of Souls 2017 World Tour is just around the corner, I’m sure this awesome calendar will be very helpful in keeping all those dates in Germany, England and Scotland (and probably in more cities to be added to the tour) perfectly registered for you while you listen to The Book Of Souls for the millionth time, getting ready for another round of flawless performances provided by Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers and Nicko Mcbrain. Just remember to hang your calendar really high on your wall so you’ll have to “climb like a monkey” every single time you need to change its month.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Year In Review – Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015

“Good day
My name is Necropolis
I am formed of the dead
I am the harvester of the soul meat
And I suck the lives from around my bed
My own two sons I gave them breath
And I filled their living corpses with my bile
What humanity I knew I have long forgotten
For me eternity is nothing
But a short while…” 

– If Eternity Should Fail, by Iron Maiden

Eternity might be nothing but a short while for the harvester of the soul meat, but for us mere mortals it looked like 2015 was never going to reach its end. Well, the year is finally phasing out and 2016 is already knocking on our doors, promising to be a much better (and less tragic) time for mankind. With that said, once again as a tribute to all bands and musicians who kept our hearts warm in the throes of a world crisis, here is The Headbanging Moose’s Top 10 Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Albums of 2015, excluding of course all EP’s, best of’s and live albums. Profitez-en bien!

Iron Maiden_The Book of Souls1. Iron Maiden – The Book of Souls (REVIEW)
As you read through the pages of The Book Of Souls you’ll inevitably realize that Iron Maiden’s gonna get us all, no matter how far.
Best song of the album: The Red and the Black

moonspell_extinct2. Moonspell – Extinct (REVIEW)
While this distinguished Portuguese Dark Metal band is among us, we can rest assured good and meaningful music is far from being extinct.
Best song of the album: Extinct

Stratovarius_Eternal3. Stratovarius – Eternal (REVIEW)
The Finnish masters of Power Metal are back with a beautiful album made to be eternal.
Best song of the album: My Eternal Dream

battle beast_unholy savior4. Battle Beast – Unholy Savior (REVIEW)
Battle Beast want the world and everything in it, and they’re definitely on their way to conquer it all with their brilliant brand new album.
Best song of the album: I Want The World… And Everything In It

My God-Given Right5. Helloween – My God-Given Right (REVIEW)
It’s our God-given right to keep banging our heads to the music by the happiest and most awesome Power Metal band in the world.
Best song of the album: Creatures in Heaven

scorpions_return to forever6. Scorpions – Return to Forever (REVIEW)
This rock may be rolling home after so many years of good service, but it still has A LOT to teach the world on how to make true Hard Rock.
Best song of the album: Rock ‘N’ Roll Band

cover7. Marduk – Frontschwein (REVIEW)
The Babylonian gods of Black Metal return with more of their blasphemous and apocalyptic war-themed music.
Best song of the album: Thousand-Fold Death

CoF_Hammer of the Witches8. Cradle of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches (REVIEW)
The metallic coven instituted by one of the most important Extreme Metal bands of all time keeps haunting our world with their music.
Best song of the album: Onward Christian Soldiers

Survivalist Album Cover9. 4ARM – Survivalist (REVIEW)
A phenomenal heavy music album full of groove, fury and energy by an extremely talented Thrash Metal band from Down Under.
Best song of the album: Poisoned Mind

Slayer_Repentless10. Slayer – Repentless (REVIEW)
Live fast, on high, repentless, and keep listening to Slayer until the day you die.
Best song of the album: Repentless

And here we have the runner-ups, completing the top 20 for the year:

11. Vanden Plas – Chronicles of the Immortals – Netherworld II (REVIEW)
12. Monolith – Against The Wall Of Forever (REVIEW)
13. The Agonist – Eye of Providence (REVIEW)
14. Acrassicauda – Gilgamesh (REVIEW)
15. Vingulmork – Chiaroscuro (REVIEW)
16. Vorna – Ei Valo Minua Seuraa (REVIEW)
17. Dys Inbunden – One With Morbidity, The Opus Misanthropy (REVIEW)
18. Deadly Circus Fire – The Hydra’s Tailor (REVIEW)
19. Tsar Bomb – Exterminans IX:XI (REVIEW)
20. Profane And The Sacred – Chapter 1 : A Long Time Coming (REVIEW)

As this year we had tons of amazing EP’s being released by extremely talented bands from all over the world, why not providing you our Top 10 EP’s of 2015, right? (To be fair, although shorter in duration, some of them are significantly better and more complex than several full-length albums that became available throughout the year.)

1. Goatchrist – The Epic Tragedy Of The Cult Of Enlil (REVIEW)
2. Dö – Den (REVIEW)
3. Chip DiMonick – Uncaged (REVIEW)
4. Omega Diatribe – Abstract Ritual (REVIEW)
5. The Passion Of Our Souls – Soulmates (REVIEW)
6. Velaverante – My Dark Images (REVIEW)
7. Novallo – Novallo II (REVIEW)
8. Meridius – Meridius (REVIEW)
9. Judas Avenger – Judas Avenger (REVIEW)
10. Pergana – The Visit (REVIEW)

One thing that 2015 taught us all is that Heavy Fuckin’ Metal is still alive and on fire, and based on the music by countless independent bands reviewed here (that for different reasons did not make it to our top 10/20), it will keep shining brighter than ever for many years to come. Take a listen at the music by Rifftera and Amanita Virosa (Finland); Reanimator and Fractal Generator (Canada); Sarpentra and The Prophet (Russia); Dzhatinga and Irreversible Mechanism (Belarus); Helligators and Lykaion (Italy); Warmask and Hateful Warfare (Brazil); Morkesagn and Gasoline Guns (Ukraine); Void Creation (Austria); Nachtlieder (Sweden); Fjorsvartnir (Denmark); Broken Rain (Slovakia); Lanthanein (Argentina), among many others, and there you have the future of heavy music. And, obviously, don’t forget to listen to the METAL MOOSE RADIO SHOW every week, and to always HAIL SANTA!

Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! See you in 2016!

And now, last but not least, a Christmas message from Eddie and the boys…

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2016 Calendar

Completely disconnected from The Book Of Souls, the new calendar has a huge feeling of “been there, done that” despite being very classy and well-crafted.

Rating7

00_Iron Maiden Calendar 2016Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden have been on a exciting roll in 2015, starting with Bruce Dickinson beautifully overcoming cancer, followed by the release of a brand new album that’s being considered by most of their fans as their best since Bruce’s return to the band back in 1999, the spectacular The Book Of Souls, which obviously led them to schedule several dates all around the world for their upcoming tour in 2016 (with most of those concerts being sold out already). Add to that the soaring number of merchandise items offered through their official webshop and also available in lots of physical stores everywhere, and you have a flawless 2015 and a promising 2016 for the band and consequently for each of their diehard fans worldwide.

However, in my opinion there was a huge opportunity missed by the band with one of their new items, which might not make any difference in the life of their occasional fans, but that surely has a significant impact for Maidenmaniacs like myself. I’m talking about the Iron Maiden 2016 Calendar, which despite being a solid compilation of some of Eddie’s most iconic facets, it has that tiresome feeling of “been there, seen that” when compared to all their previous calendars.

Published as usual by Danilo Promotions Limited and displaying very similar dimensions (42.1 x 29.6 x 1 cm) and weight (318 g) to all previous editions, don not expect to see ANY references to The Book Of Souls on the calendar, but just a collection of old school Eddies from Running Free to Different World. Actually, the artwork chosen for the front cover is a slight adaptation from their 1996 “best of” album Best Of The Beast, something beyond my comprehension.

I’m not saying it’s a boring calendar. Quite the opposite, who doesn’t love the Eddies from The Trooper, Aces High or Stranger in a Strange Land? The main issue for me is that, if you think about what they could have done to the calendar by using the unlimited potential from the Mayan theme featured in The Book Of Souls, you’ll realize how lazy and disappointing the 2016 calendar is. It’s still worth the £8 (or 15 Canadian Dollars) you’ll pay for it, but it’s obvious they could have done a lot better than that. Can you imagine how awesome the whole calendar would have been with the same look and feel of the new album, including the Mayan hieroglyphs, the “Eddie Sapiens” and everything else?

Anyway, with a magnificent album like The Book Of Souls in our hands, I guess in the end we cannot complain that much about a simple calendar. You can find it for sale at the Iron Maiden official  webshop, on Amazon.ca (or any other Amazon website), at Danilo.com and at tons of other webshops all over the world such as Calendar Club, from the UK. It might not be the Mayan calendar most of us were expecting, but it will be more than enough for you to count the days until Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, Nicko McBrain and Eddie storm your city with their unparalleled Heavy Metal in 2016.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Collectibles Review – Iron Maiden Clothed 8” Action Figures

This time, Eddie decided to dress up for the party.

Rating1

Maiden-figuresAlthough the new Iron Maiden Clothed 8” Action Figures by NECA (National Entertainment Collectibles Association) were launched in 2014 and the official NECA website states those are now discontinued, I believe they’re worth a review anyway so awesome they are. There are only two versions available, The Trooper and The Mummy, each with their own unique characteristics and accessories and, more important than that, as the description says they’re both clothed, becoming some sort of tribute to the traditional action figures from the 70’s featuring cloth costumes.

650x-14903_Trooper_8inch_Doll

Iron Maiden – 8″ Clothed Action Figure – The Trooper

The first of the two action figures to be launched was The Trooper, back in July 2014, featuring a tattered Union Jack flag and saber accessories. This Eddie is so cool and so well-crafted you will feel like one of those collectors who refuse to take the action figure out of its original box to avoid any type of damage to it. There are other versions of “The Trooper” Eddie available in the market, like the head knocker bobble head, but the fact Eddie now comes with actual clothes turns it into a must-have item for your personal collection of Eddies. This action figure might be discontinued on the official NECA website, but that doesn’t mean you cannot find it on other websites such as Amazon, or even at some physical toy/games stores.

Iron Maiden – 8″ Clothed Action Figure – The Mummy

Iron Maiden – 8″ Clothed Action Figure – The Mummy

It might have taken a few extra months for The Mummy to be released (it was launched only in September 2014), but it was totally worth the wait. Pretty much the same that was said about The Trooper is applied to The Mummy, with the additional fact that it was launched in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Iron Maiden’s unparalleled masterpiece Powerslave,  and of course its corresponding World Slavery Tour 1984-1985. This version of the action figure is just as superb as The Trooper, featuring chains that can be connected to Eddie’s mouth, as well as an alternate head that reveals more of his face. Its clothes are so detailed I wonder if each unit produced wasn’t manually sewn and assembled. Moreover, just like The Trooper, you can find The Mummy at Amazon and maybe at other physical stores in your city.

In short, there’s no reason for you not to buy both The Trooper and The Mummy. I cannot tell which one is my favorite, as both are incredible and look really awesome among my other action figures and bobble heads. And besides, you’ll spend only between 45 and 75 US Dollars with each one, which is not a huge investment if you think of how valuable those items will be in a couple of years. Our good friend Eddie decided to really dress up for the party this time, so do not disappoint him and send him an “invitation” to join you at your own Heavy Metal celebration at your place.

Accessories Review – Iron Maiden 2015 Calendar

If you don’t have the new Iron Maiden calendar embellishing your wall and your house yet, run to the hills!

Rating6

00_Iron Maiden Calendar 2015As another year comes to an end, it’s time to get ready for 2015 in style with the brand new Iron Maiden 2015 Calendar, by Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden. Do not even think about purchasing one of those mellow calendar full of puppies, or that one with boring flowers from who knows where. You don’t want to let “Uncle Eddie” down with that meaningless sensitive attitude not suitable for a true Maidenmaniac, do you?

Once again published by Danilo Promotions Limited, the material, dimensions (42.3 x 29.7 x 1 cm) and weight (322 g) are very similar to all previous editions, but I’m pretty sure you don’t care that much about those minor details, right? What you really want to know is: which Eddies and/or images were selected to make all your months in 2015 a lot more beastly and fun?

First of all, the layout is a slightly different from the superb 2014 edition of the calendar, with Iron Maiden “abandoning” their traditional typography for a more generic style. Although I understand they wanted to freshen up the final product with this move, I believe all Maidenmaniacs around the world will be a little disappointed with that. I mean, this was one of the most unique characteristics of their calendar, so why changing it to something so bland?

In regards to the images chosen for each month, Iron Maiden applied the same idea as for their 2013 edition, which means they mixed some Eddies from their event T-shirts with live pictures taken during their terrific Maiden England Tour 2014. I don’t know if their plan is to do the same stuff every two years, intercalating a calendar with only event T-shirts/images with a calendar with a mix of images and pictures of the band, but for me the ones without those live shots are a lot more interesting. Besides, they can always add their live photos as an extra smaller item to each month if they want to, which is something they already did in the past.

From the 12 months of 2015, my favorite ones are by far July and September, which represent their event T-shirts from their 2014 Nordic events and their epic performances at Hellfest and Main Square Festival in France, respectively. From their live shots, I would say March, April and October are the best ones.

One suggestion I would make to the band regarding the content of the calendar would be very easy to do and something awesome for all their fans: why not adding a simple note (it can be just a couple of words) to the days where Maiden has a song about? For instance, the song The Longest Day is about the D-Day, the Allied invasion of France during World War II that commenced on June 6, 1944, so there could be something like “D-DAY (The Longest Day)” on June 6, as straightforward as that. Or maybe October 25 for The Trooper, July 31 for Paschendale, and so on.

In summary, despite not being a boring calendar, it’s not brilliant either. It’s still worth the investment, especially because it’s cheap compared to many other calendar types available in the market, but it could have been a lot better and not just one more calendar. You can purchase it at the Iron Maiden official  webshop, at Amazon, and many other online or physical stores. If you don’t have it hanging on your wall yet, what are you waiting for to run to the closest store or buy it online? The Iron Maiden 2015 Calendar is gonna get ya, no matter how far. As long as it’s before 2015 actually starts, of course.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Album Review – Iron Maiden / Powerslave (1984)

Exactly 30 years ago, the world would witness the birth of the best Heavy Metal album of all time.

Rating1

Iron Maiden_PowerslaveRecorded from February to June 1984 at the famous Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, and released on September 3, 1984, Powerslave is much more than just a milestone in the Heavy Metal universe. You can disagree with me and start all that blah blah blah about how this or that album from Black Sabbath or Metallica, or even another Iron Maiden album like The Number of the Beast, is better than Powerslave, but I’m sorry, nothing really compares to this album. Powerslave is by far the most complex, complete, exciting and powerful album of all time, and anything I say about it won’t be enough to describe this 50-minute Heavy Metal masterpiece’s grandiosity.

Steve Harris, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray and Nicko McBrain were at the peak of their musical creativity and inspiration, delivering their fans unique songs about the Ancient Egypt, the experiences of a sailor from a famous English poem, the pleasures and honor of a duel, an aircraft battle during the Battle of Britain, and more. All songs have wonderful instrumental parts, together with clever and meaningful lyrics, making them some of the most requested by all Maidenmaniacs around the globe for any live concerts, best of albums, top 100 Heavy Metal songs, weddings, birthday parties, Bar Mitzvahs, funerals, prom nights, or anywhere else good music can be played.

Well, the album kicks off with my favorite song of all time in any music genre, Aces High, which still gives me the chills every time I listen to it. “Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die / Run, live to fly, fly to live, Aces High”, sings Bruce perfectly while Steve Harris “gallops” his bass like a wild beast. Not only that, you can feel the battle going on in the air with the lyrics, and the solos are among the best the band has ever produced thanks to majestic performances by Adrian and Dave. Do I need to say it sounds even more splendid live?

There’s no better way to continue the album than with another all-time classic, 2 Minutes to Midnight, a song that has an unparalleled starting riff that even a newborn baby can easily recognize, and amazing lyrics that make reference to the Doomsday Clock. Then comes Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), one of the few instrumental songs the band has ever produced, with total highlight to the beautiful job done by Steve and Nicko. Flash of the Blade keeps the bar high with its outstanding riffs and speed, while The Duellists is in every fan’s dreams of seeing it being played live by the band in any of their world tours. This is another one of my top Maiden tracks of all time, especially due to its incredible rhythm led by Steve and Nicko. Iron Maiden even tried to replicate this type of sonority with more contemporary songs like “Fallen Angel” and “Montsegur”, but it seems the fans didn’t like the new songs that much. Then we have Back in the Village, another song with amazing riffs, although it’s considered the least favorite of the album by many fans.

Iron Maiden 1984The last part of the album is simply awesome: Powerslave is one of those cases of a song that should be turned into a movie due to its excellence in telling the Ancient Egyptian history during its 7 minutes of pure Heavy Metal. Its initial drums are superb, the lyrics are perfect, the chorus is wonderful (“Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave / I don’t wanna die, I’m a God, / Why can’t I live on?”), as well as every other part of the song. Seeing Maiden playing this song live is an unforgettable experience in the life of any person. And last but not least, we have another Heavy Metal masterpiece, the one and only Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Inspired by the amazing poem from British poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge called “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, this 13-minute song has one of the most elaborate lyrics in the world of music, different tempos, a beautiful narration in the middle taken directly from the original poem, and all musicians showing us why “Iron Maiden’s gonna get ya, no matter how far”. As I mentioned before, nothing I say will be enough to describe the magnitude of this song or the entire album.

“One after one by the star dogged moon,
too quick for groan or sigh
Each turned his face with a ghastly pang
and cursed me with his eye
Four times fifty living men
(and I heard nor sigh nor groan),
With heavy thump, a lifeless lump,
they dropped down one by one.” 

SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834)

Iron Maiden World Slavery Tour

World Slavery Tour 1984-1985

If you think that’s all, you’re completely wrong. Iron Maiden is not a regular band, as they add a lot more than just the music to their work. Powerslave follows its predecessors with another unmatched front cover showing the band’s most celebrated “member”, Eddie the Head, this time inspired by the Ancient Egypt and perfectly representing the content of the album, designed by master Derek Riggs. It’s impossible not to fall in love for it, don’t you agree? And if you get the 1995 reissue, you’ll also enjoy the songs from the bonus disc, especially their cool  version for Beckett’s Rainbow’s Gold.

Finally, right after the release of Powerslave the band went on their longest and most memorable tour of all, The World Slavery Tour, which began in Warsaw, Poland on August 9, 1984 and ended only in Irvine, U.S. on July 5, 1985 (187 shows in total), culminating with the launch of another masterpiece, the live album Live After Death. I have no idea of how many bands have been influenced by Powerslave or by Iron Maiden’s entire career, but I know that none has ever been able to deliver something so mighty and unique as Steve, Bruce & Co. did with Powerslave. UP THE IRONS!

Best moments of the album: Aces High, The Duellists, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Worst moments of the album: None. Powerslave is perfect.

Released in 1984 EMI

Track listing
1. Aces High 4:29
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight 6:00
3. Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra) (Instrumental) 4:13
4. Flash of the Blade 4:03
5. The Duellists 6:06
6. Back in the Village 5:03
7. Powerslave 7:12
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner 13:42

1995 Reissue Bonus Disc
1. Rainbow’s Gold (Beckett cover) 4:57
2. Mission From ‘Arry 6:42
3. King of Twilight (Nektar cover) 4:53
4. The Number of the Beast (live) 4:57

Band members
Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Steve Harris – bass guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums