Just how many people have Iron Maiden inspired to start buying music, learn an instrument, form a band, watch more movies, read more books or write some of their own? Plenty of new kids will hear 'The Final Frontier' through an older brother or sister, the recommendation of a musical hero or sheer luck and that adventure will start for them. Don't feel bad about being jealous.

Those of us who've grown up with Messrs Dickinson, Gers, Harris, McBrain, Murray and Smith will once again punch the air on discovering that, even in their fifties, Maiden are still determined to out-epic their previous epics and go at it with the same hunger as those striped trouser-wearing young fellas of three decades ago. They mightn't play as fast as often as they used to, but, unlike many elder statesmen, they're still pushing themselves and, as 'The Alchemist' shows, they can still get a move on when they need to.

The solos, the galloping ride cymbal, that bass rumble... Everything is where it should be here, but apart from the class of the songwriting (something music snobs rarely give the sextet enough credit for) what's most startling about 'The Final Frontier' is just how memorable it is at 76 minutes. Days can be spent wandering through 'Isle of Avalon' and 'When the Wild Wind Blows' and finding new things - just like an explorer from a Maiden lyric.

This is a thrilling listen and a reason to feel good about music again amidst all the doom and gloom. Having scaled another Metal Everest, it would be fascinating now to hear Maiden go back to a short, punchy album of around 30 minutes or get the acoustic guitars out for a record of old folk (the intro to 'The Talisman' proves it would work) and reworked classics. Whatever they decide to do next, 'The Final Frontier' has given them a lot to live up to.

Harry Guerin