Release Date: 17th January 2020
Label: Warner Music
Formats: CD, vinyl, DL
Steve Harris puts his day job aside for a while and gets back to basics with his ‘up close and personal’ side project British Lion.
Following up their 2012 eponymous debut album has taken a couple of years work – slotted between the mighty wheels of the Maiden touring organization one would guess. And then, to be fair to ‘Arry and his lads, like Maiden, the Lions have paid their dues by playing the clubs without any sense of entitlement or expectation that the Harris name would automatically open doors for them. In fact, it’s probably quite refreshing for a down to earth bloke like Steve Harris, to get back to basics on a touring scale. Very much the up close and personal experience.
The Burning features 11 new songs where Harris is joined by vocalist Richard Taylor, guitarists David Hawkins and Grahame Leslie, Steve Harris on bass & keyboards and drummer Simon Dawson. The band has even gone back to honing several of the songs in the live arena with a result that sees the likes of the opening cut City Of Fallen Angels and Lightning emerge rough and raw. Even with the Harris hands on the production dials, they’ve managed to retain some of that live energy.
It’s a different and more immediate energy than you’ll find some of the sprawling and ambitious Iron Maiden epics. An emphasis on harder hitting and basically shorter songs. Having said that, the famous galloping bass rhythms surface on the title track where old habits die hard along with brief changes of pace. I guess it’s a case of fan expectation and the old adage that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with a track like Spit Fire that brings some keyboards to the fore and seems all but Maiden in name; the opening roll of bass notes and slow build to a riff that wouldn’t have been out of place (although maybe a little punkier and pacier – we’re talking forty years on after all) on Killers.
On a similar vein, Elysium and Father Lucifer exude a sense of the dramatic, the latter with a vaguely Eastern motif and the gentle opening guitar figure to Last Chance before the band kick in, is another familiar touch and confirmation that Hawkins and Leslie are a choice pick of guitarists who have their own trademarks rather than simply providing what people might expect to hear. Native Son takes up the baton of the token acoustic ballad baton in the same way that Rainmaker did and highlights the melodic core of this outfit that Bible Black and Land Of The Perfect People confirm at the business end of the record. For those of us who may be Maiden fans of long-standing, it’s hard not to make the links but when the chips are down, The Burning is a (choose from) really good/splendid/top-notch rock album.
Watch the video for The Burning from the album here: