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© Katy Winn/Corbis
From here on in, the songs get longer, trippier, more zonked-out and full of surprises. In this regard, Isle Of Avalon is opulent.
A 32nd-note hi-hat pattern chatters underneath a spooky bass and effects-loaded guitar riff as Dickinson all but whispers the first verse. After an extended, unsettling interlude, the band takes off into wild zigzags of prog rock passages - it’s almost like free-form Maiden, jazz-fusion Maiden. Everybody’s going for it, and the musical telepathy that exists between the players on such unconventional time changes is astonishing.
A scorching lead guitar break is vaguely reminiscent, in tone and attack, of the extended solo section from Megadeth’s Hangar 18, but there’s sparks of invention and vitality here that ultimately distinguish it as unique.
A corker of a final chorus is broken by bursts of guitar lines, and just to hammer things home, McBrain batters the hell out of his floor toms. Stunning.