Iron Maiden knows how to make up for lost time. Four years after "A Matter of Life or Death"-the longest wait for a new album in the British metal heroes' 35-year history-the sextet delivers its longest outing yet (more than 76 minutes), a loosely thematic 10-song opus that features some of Maiden's most ambitious and intricate work. Recorded at Compass Point Studios in the Bahamas, where the group also made some early favorites, its latest set, "The Final Frontier," boasts just one track that runs less than five minutes and five that weigh in at more than eight. Those include the suite-like bookends "Satellite 15 . . . The Final Frontier" and the epic album closer "When the Wild Wind Blows," based on an apocalyptic graphic novel by Raymond Briggs. The delicately crafted "Coming Home" is Maiden's most effective power ballad ever, while "The Man Who Would Be King" delivers a slice of medieval mayhem. And the jam section during the cut "Isle of Avalon" suggests a metal take on the Grateful Dead. With all that, "The Final Frontier" boldly goes where few metal bands have gone before.
Merry Melodies: Play the 100 Most Popular Holiday Songs