You’d have to have lived under a rock for the last thirty years to be unaware of British Heavy Metal stalwarts Iron Maiden. Still, Iron Maiden have a sparse existence in mainstream media, so metal novices could be forgiven for struggling to name even a handful of their songs. Having sold over 80 million records worldwide since their East London beginnings in 1975, there seems to be no sign of letting up with The Final Frontier as their fifteenth studio album.

The opening number is every bit as wilfully theatrical as you’d expect. After a two and a half minute instrumental introduction, ‘Satellite 15...The Final Frontier’ flashes into a crescendo that lives up to the billing of the title track. ‘I try to call the Earth's command/desperation in my voice/I'm drifting way off course now/with very little choice.’

For those who are unfamiliar with Iron Maiden, their slight but methodical versatility is what has sustained them for so long, and stood them a head above their heavy metal peers such as Venom, Saxon, and the ultra popular Motorhead - all of whom formed in the late 70s and helped pioneer the new wave of British heavy metal.

‘Mother of Mercy’ and ‘Coming Home’ provide a surprising pace to the album with a slow brooding climb to more archetypal songs such as ‘The Alchemist’ and ‘Isle of Avalon’ which will jolt you right back to the stage show that is The Final Frontier.

Bassist and founder Steve Harris has said in interviews that the 2010 release is as complex a record as any they’ve made – and it shows. The longer songs such as ‘The Talisman’ and ‘When the Wild Wind Blows’ can sound tedious, but taking the time to listen carefully pays off. All the intricate melodies and layers show that Iron Maiden are, and always have been, true masters of their art.

It’s been said that classical music is timeless because it was not made for a market; meaning there were no deadlines, no sales targets, and no pressure. We can imagine the same applied to the making of The Final Frontier in a perverse way, as it oozes its own brand of rock-sophistication. This is a very precise and measured record that compromises nothing, and lets each song stem organically.