After Maiden uniteD's biggest achievement to date; their performance in the national theatre of Carre in Amsterdam and the following release of the EP Empire Of The Clouds. An album that holds both the studio version of the epic track that Iron Maiden never will play live, as well as the combined version as it could be heard on that magnificent evening, Maiden uniteD's initiator Joey Bruers was questioning himself about the next step for the band. The answer lays in this new release; The Barrel House Tapes.
The album's title combines the reference to Iron Maiden's The Soundhouse Tapes and one of their favourite and most generous venues locations they played; The Barrel House on Cyprus. Joey Bruers again chose for a fine list of guest musicians, so as vocalist we have Doogie White, known from Rainbow, Michael Schenker and more, Frank Beck of Gamma Ray and Red Raven. But also Silent Chambers and The Dust Connection vocalist Jeroen Voogd, who actually was the very first vocalist for maiden uniteD and Bruers partner in crime for Up The Irons, Jos Severens. As a female voice Eszter Anna Bauman as added. Guitar players are former Iron Maiden guitarist Dennis Stratton, Textures' Bart Hennephof, producer and live guitarist Daan Janzing and Martijn Balsters, who is, like Jeroen part of the initial band and The Dust Connection and Silent Chambers. Polle Van Genechten plays the piano and Leon Den Engelsen adds his Hammond organ. Drummers are long-time member Dirk Bruinenberg, who can be heard for the first time on a Maiden uniteD album and Up The Irons drummer Tom Heijnen. As a very special guest jazz trumpeter, Eric Vloeimans can be heard on three tracks.
Listening to the album, you notice Maiden uniteD succeeded in remaining loyal to the core; the Iron Maiden songs, but on the other hand the band with this new album has something new to offer. Where the previous albums had an “English” feel, The Barrel House Tapes overall feel is more “American” and the band even reached back to the pre world war II era for their musical feel. Listen to The Number Of The Beast and you know what I mean. Sometimes the songs have been stripped to the minimum and are left to the pure essence of the song. Alexander The Great and the wonderful Powerslave are examples of this pure minimalism. The latter also holds the addition of Eric Vloeimans trumpet, adding another dimension to the composition; amazing. I love Doogie White's voice and he absolutely excels on Wasting Love and Stanger In A Strange Land, but my personal favourite on the album has to be the Frank Beck led Phantom Of The Opera. A wonderfully arranged version of a classic Maiden song. Again the addition of Vloeimans makes this an extraordinary achievement. The album's final track Caught Somewhere In Time sees three vocalists; Eszter Anna, Doogie and Jos harmonizing beautifully to the end.
It's a bold move to add new musical influences and atmospheres to your new album. Your average fan tends to hold on to what they know and like. But Joey's choice to embrace those other musical spheres turned out to be a great one. The different styles of vocalists give each of the songs their own feeling and the addition of a none metal instrument, like the jazz trumpet even lifts those tracks to another level.
****+ Thomas Reymer (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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