Paul Di'Anno

Beyond Maiden: The Best of Paul Di'Anno

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As hard as it might be to admit, there is something oddly appealing about '80s heavy metal. Not thrash metal, not hair metal, but the music that fell in between and could only be referred to as heavy metal. There were hundreds of bands like this, from Helloween to Lizzy Borden to Paul Dianno, former singer for Iron Maiden. Making an entirely different kind of metal here, this compilation features Dianno's solo material from the late '80s. Be warned -- there is definitely some bad stuff here. Really bad. The ballads are the worst offenders; tracks like "Searching for You" are unlistenably bad with their mind-numbing lyrics and boring arrangements. Not to mention that Dianno can't hold a tune when he has to sustain his "subtle" voice, so these songs are bad in just about every way possible. And his weird covers of "Play That Funky Music" and "Living in America" are the absolute last things you'd expect when listening to the album, especially when the man who originally sang "Running Free" recommends his listeners to "disco down" and "lay down and boogie." But then songs like "I Ain't Coming Back No More" kick in, and the whole album seems worth it. His hard rocking songs are good in the same way that Arnold Schwarzenegger movies from the '80s are good: they take the simplest elements that entertain their target audience and emphasize those elements beyond everything else. The choruses are big and feature huge choruses of men chanting along, the guitarists are either churning out chugging riffs or flying around the fretboard in a frenzied solo, and the songs are incredibly catchy. It may not be Lou Reed, but it is quite easy to lose yourself in the music and just enjoy it. And Dianno's voice isn't a Dio-esque wail, which prevents the music from aging as poorly as most metal from this period. Most music fans probably won't be able to bring themselves to buy a two-CD set from a metal singer who hasn't been in the mainstream since 1982, but those who do might find themselves surprised by how listenable this music is. It may be stupid, bombastic, and spotty, but Beyond Maiden is still a winner if for nothing else but Dianno's efforts to make pure heavy metal for the '80s crowd.

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