The first reaction to Iron Maiden’s new single, The Writing On The Wall

Iron Maiden have just released their first new music in six years and it’s not what anyone was expecting. Here is our first reaction to The Writing On The Wall and what it could all mean.

The first reaction to Iron Maiden’s new single, The Writing On The Wall
Nick Ruskell

That was fun, wasn’t it? Ingeniously so. Those Belshazzar's Feast posters at the Download Pilot, the cunning use of Twitter accounts where even the follows were a Maiden nod (The Killers was a good one, We Rate Dogs as a reference to The Number Of The Beast belongs in the Tate), Bruce Dickinson seemingly playing chicken with himself for how much of a clue he could drop without actually giving anything away – it’s been a fun road waiting for Maiden to make their big reveal. Loads of people guessed new music – it’s been six years since we last had any from them – but nobody came close to guessing this, did they?

Things you weren’t expecting: that twangy, American folk-styled intro, or the dramatic main riff. And you definitely weren’t expecting such a packed video. Did you see the references in there? Not all of them, you didn’t. Go back and spot more. Then repeat. And repeat. And you still won’t have them all. A genius way of boosting YouTube numbers by getting everyone to watch it over and over again to catch the bits they missed? That’s cheap: this is just about the art of making genuinely inspired, clever, worthwhile videos.

And how badass is that Eddie? A robot that turns into a Samurai – nobody had that on their Maiden 2021 scorecard. But then, we didn’t have any of this on there.

As a song to break silence with, it’s not the most obvious route one might take. It’s not a fast-paced banger, but a more steady thunderer with space between the notes. But then that ties in with the video, one you watch intently, unpacking it all a little more with each repeat. And as you do, things click into place, and quite how good The Writing On The Wall is reveals itself.

The end of the trail is actually a question mark in itself: what does this all mean? That will surely become clear in time, just as the idea of Belshazzar's Feast slowly came into focus. But right now, what The Writing On The Wall shows – both the song and the video – is that Iron Maiden are still a band with a creative flair and a will to do daring things. And judging by how this whole thing’s gone down in the first place, there’s probably an enormous clue to something else buried in it all that won’t be spotted until the band tell us what it is.

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