While 1992's Fear of the Dark was definitely more of a return to form for Iron Maiden, it still wasn't quite on par with their exceptional work from the '80s. Easily an improvement over 1990's lackluster No Prayer for the Dying (both musically and sonically), the album debuted on the U.K. charts at number one. The opening "Be Quick or Be Dead" proved Maiden could easily hold their own with younger thrash metal bands, "From Here to Eternity" contained lyrics that seem better fitted for Mötley Crüe, while the expected epic album-closing title track would become a concert staple (all three tracks were released as U.K. singles). While Maiden records of the past would contain an album's worth of first-rate material, Fear of the Dark is again weighed down with too many drab compositions -- "Childhood's End," "Chains of Misery," "Judas Be My Guide," and more. The serene "Wasting Love" proves to be one of Maiden's better ballads of the '90s, while the rockers "Fear Is the Key" and "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" are also standouts. Fear of the Dark would be singer Bruce Dickinson's final studio album with the band (until their late-'90s reunion), as he publicly voiced that he felt the band had run its course.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato