Speed and warmth are the hallmarks of "The Final Frontier," Iron Maiden's 15th studio album. The British metal sextet recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas -- returning to the spot where the group had previously recorded between 1983-86.
"We breezed through the album, really," guitarist Dave Murray tells Billboard.com. "We actually finished it in six weeks. We were getting down a track a day -- all playing together as a band, Bruce (Dickinson) singing, all in the same room, so there's a very live-in-the-studio feel to it. Once we finished a track we'd jump straight into doing some extra guitar bits. It was very quick for us."
Murray says the 10-track set, produced by Kevin Shirley, mixes "straight-ahead, uptempo rock songs with good grooves with some other tracks that are kind of longer and more complex." One, the politically-tinged "El Dorado," is currently available for fans to download. Another highlight is the album-closing "When the Wild Wind Blows," an 11-minute track that's one of the longest songs Iron Maiden has ever recorded. "The rhythm's a little bit different from what we've done before, and there's lots of melodies," Murray reports. "It's a big song. We learned it in sections just because it was such a complex arrangement, but it sounds quite natural (on the record)."
"The Final Frontier" is Iron Maiden's first set of new material since 2006's "A Matter of Life and Death," the group's longest gap ever between studio albums. But Murray says that thanks to other projects -- including 2009's platinum-selling, award-winning documentary "Flight 666" -- the group didn't feel the time pass. "There was still a lot of stuff coming out from the band, so it doesn't feel like four years," he says. "I guess time flies when you're having fun."
The Iron Maiden gang is getting its kicks again on the road, atypically touring before a new album's release. The group -- which wraps its North American trek on July 20 and kicks off in Europe 10 days later -- is playing "El Dorado" amongst established favorites such as "The Number of the Beast," "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Iron Maiden," but Murray says it's looking forward to bringing more of the new material to the stage in the future.
"It's summer so we just wanted to go out and enjoy ourselves and play a lot of old material are fans are going to know," he explains. "We'll definitely be out again -- We're not sure when, but we'll definitely be playing more songs from the new album. But at the moment it's nice because you're always planning ahead and what you're going to be doing in five years, and sometimes it's nice to just live in the moment."