I've been dreading writing this review for a really long time, but I can't dodge it any longer. As much as Iron Maiden is one of the CORE bands of my entire existence, saying that BRITISH LION is anything but mediocre to subpar drivel is impossible. Certainly, the guys from Iron Maiden have done projects outside the band before. Bruce Dickinson's solo career is astoundingly good. Adrian Smith's Psycho Motel albums weren't bad either. But this...ugh. It hurts to write, because more than anything else, Steve Harris basically IS Iron Maiden. He's the maestro of their sound, the creative force behind the band. He's the producer. He's just about everything for Maiden. That said, you have to wonder just why he brought NONE of that skillset to this project that has his name on top of it. BRITISH LION is a dull, drab collection of songs with fairly subpar production value (for which Kevin Shirley should be ashamed for taking a check considering the mix of this turd). Listening to this and even remotely comparing this sound to ANYTHING Iron Maiden has released since, say, 1985 leaves you wondering why Harris didn't just scrap this or put more money into it to make it sound better.
To be clear on this, BRITISH LION may say Steve Harris on the top of it, but there is a band behind it. On vocals is Richard Taylor, and he's a major source of the issue with this release. While the guy kind of has a soft Paul Rodgers trait to his voice, he's very dull and uninspired in his presentation. On songs like "Karma Killer", his voice drones on and on as he repeats the over the top repetitive line "come and get it" over and over again. I'm not just why, but there's just something missing here vocally with Taylor. Certainly he has a decent enough voice, but it just doesn't work very well here.
Musically, BRITISH LION does not work well either. The mix is terrible. While I get that Harris is the recognized focal point of this band, the overly loud push of his bass on songs like "Us Against The World" is just too much. In fact, his bass lines on this tune literally drown out Taylor through the chorus. Several drummers play on BRITISH LION as well, and all sound like they were playing on the crates their kits came in instead of the actual drums they were provided. Throughout the entire effort, the performances are just average to below throughout.
I can't say enough though about how disappointing the mix and production is on BRITISH LION. This is so very, very un-Harris-like. Songs like "The Chosen Ones" have a completely different sound than other songs on the disc, like they were recorded and mixed in a different studio and performanced on completely different equipment and captured with completely different recording software. It's hard to explain, but listening from track to track is kind of like listening to different tracks from different eras of your favorite band's music. It's amateurish, which is stunning for a Steve Harris project.
PITRIFF RATING - 31/100 - This is seriously disappointing; arguably one of the most disappointing releases I've received in a long time because I'm such a fan of Harris and the mighty Maiden. Lord knows, I WANTED to like this, but don't. BRITISH LION is a dog. Hopefully, this wasn't much more to Harris than a reason for him to get some friends together, drink a few dozen pints in a studio, and have some fun away from the business of Iron Maiden. Whatever it is, it's not meant for public consumption. This is not a very good release...not good at all.