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Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death CD (album) cover

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.68 | 308 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With satisfaction I start to write my last review in my series of Iron Maiden's albums. I've covered all records since THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST and maybe one day, when I have enough money to throw away in cd's I already know I'll very rarely hear, I'll get the two first, Paul D'Anno-fronted albums and give my opinions on them. For now, let's rest.

DANCE OF DEATH was not a great album. After three great consecutive releases, the Irons couldn't keep on track and delivered a so-so record that lacked in melodies, good choruses or memorable instrumental sections. Though the music was still OK, it was a huge step down from the glories of BRAVE NEW WORLD. Even Dickinson sounded a little bit uninspired in the 2003 album, repeating himself, as did the whole band.

A MATTER OF LIFE AN DEATH is a return to form of sorts for Iron Maiden. It's not as brilliant as the earlier albums, but it's much better than it's predecessor. From a progressive standpoint, it may be one of their most progressive albums to date, picking up where they left at in BRAVE NEW WORLD. The retro-sounds of DANCE OF DEATH have all but disappeared and we're once again in the company of a band playing music that looks into the future. Let's talk about the songs.

Different World (9.5/10) Now we're talking! Pure energy, pure vitality, this is the kind of opener I've always come to expect from my Maiden. A great riff, full speed but with melody, and an unusual chorus sung by all the voice in a low key, not typical of Maiden, more melodic than heroic, but very good nevertheless. Yes, what happened in the previous album was just the exception to the rule. A great first track. The Beast has risen again.

These Colours Don't Run (8.5/10) The guitars and the bass open this track in a haunting mood. A melodic start that can stick on our mind. When the main verse starts, it's the same melody but with full force. Dickinson's back on track again, sounding as the powerhouse that he's usually been. The chorus is slower and while not fantastic, is good, better than the forgettable choruses in DANCE OF DEATH. The middle section with a relentless rhythm and synth help enhance this track and make it feel more epic, even more so when the traditional Maiden chants appear near the end.

Brighter Than a Thousand Suns (9.5/10) An atmospheric start leads the way towards a very Queensryche-like main riff. The verse is more metallic than anything Maiden has done as of late, sounding more like progressive-metal than the typical Iron Maiden heavy-metal with prog elements. The second section that precedes the chorus is sung by Dickinson at the top of his lungs. After a repeat of both sections, we get the chorus; it kicks off very quietly, but grows into a powerful, desperate cry from Dickinson sounding as good as ever. A fantastic song.

The Pilgrim (8.5/10) Drums kick off this track. The main verse is very fast, then the chorus is, like the one in the first song, sung in a low register and volume, but very good anyway. A few eastern-flavored melodies serve as bridge between sections. Another success.

The Longest Day (8/10) An atmospheric start that reminds us of THE X-FACTOR. The opening lines could've been sung by Bayley, though we can't say the same about what unfolds, where only the powerful chest of Dickinson could live up to the energy and demands of the Iron machinery. The chorus is a little odd, good but not brilliant. A good song, somewhat in the same level as the epics in DANCE OF DEATH: enjoyable but not memorable.

Out of the Shadows (7.5/10) This song starts quietly, Dickinson singing very melodically. The beginning is the best part of the song, as it gets lost just like many of the tracks in the previous album did. Good.

The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg (7/10) Another start that could've sung by Bayley, very quiet and in a low register. The difference is how Dickinson can actually sing a different melody than what the guitars are playing. The main riff is, again, very prog-metal, a la Queensryche (as I said a million times, Maiden revisits its own music, it's full-circle influence here). The tracks is not memorable, but a good listen. Only the middle section makes it stand out somewhat.

For the Greater Good of God (9/10) A somber beginning; Maiden continues to travel progressive waters. Then Dickinson appears and sings a great melody, this doesn't sound retro at all. Everything grows more restless and then the epic chorus attacks; the guitars help make this feel rather heroic. After a few average songs, The Beast gives us another excellent short-epic.

Lord of Light (7.5/10) After the melodic, pensive beginning, the music gets rather typical for Maiden, though nobody could accuse Dickinson of uninspired singing. Great playing by all the musicians, the track is not remarkable but enjoyable.

The Legacy (9.5/10) The opening acoustic lines are great, with Dickinson marvelously flowering over them. A very progressive start. After a brief pause, we hear doubt, the guitar doesn't know whether to attack or to play a tuneful melody. A fantastic opening that stands out from almost any other in this album. The synth dominates the sound, this is almost full-blown prog-metal. The chorus is sung over acoustic guitars, synth, very atmospheric, and with the voices following the descending riff from the guitars. Very, very good. Halfway down Maiden interrupts all this progressiveness with a 100% Iron Maiden moment that takes us back to the POWERSLAVE years. "The Legacy" is, as of today, a great legacy that the Beast has left us, chessy pun intended.

My final word: a great album, with some weaker tracks that bring the rating down a notch, but full of great moments and, specially, very progressive in nature. A great comeback after the slightly-above-average DANCE OF DEATH.

Recommended for: Iron Maiden fans, fans of Progressive metal, fans of good metal and good hard rock in general.

. this makes me wait anxiously for the next album. Until then, this series has been a pleasure to review. We'll wait for the 15th of The Beast.

The T | 4/5 |

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