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Iron Maiden - Dance of Death CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.58 | 434 ratings

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4 stars "Dance of Death" was Iron Maiden's 2003 follow-up to their successful "Brave New World" album, which saw the band's reunion with vocalist Bruce Dickenson and guitarist Andrian Smith. With much praise heaped upon that triumphant return to Maiden-hood, the band had much to live up to. It only makes sense that the classic 80's line up plus one Janick Gers sharing lead guitar duties with the Smith and Dave Murray would attempt to move ahead. The album sees a few firsts, including the first song-writing credit for drummer Nicko McBrain ("New Frontier"), the first album where all band members receive song-writing credits, and the first fully-acoustic Iron Maiden song ("Journeyman"). It could also be considered to be the first Iron Maiden album to have such hideous artwork that the artist himself allegedly asked not to have his name associated with it. According to the Wiki article on the album, artist David Patchett was not pleased when the band opted to use the unfinished version of his computer- generated artwork. Indeed, when I saw it up close I thought it looked like amateur video game artwork. A further note to mention is that the album was recorded on analogue tape.

Stylistically, the music maintains the traditional sound of Iron Maiden, the one that I feel was established with "Piece of Mind" and altered only with subtle variations over the next three albums, most notably the addition of synthesizers on "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". The synthesizers remain but are used in complement with the heavy guitar sound, creating a symphonic sound at times. Aside from the "fully all-acoustic" track "Journeyman", there are some other tracks that include acoustic guitar in parts, typically in the intro. There are the usual wonderful Maiden chugging riffs, more progressive instrumental sections, and outstanding guitar solos. Someone once mentioned Maiden's propensity to go almost "Celtic" and that certainly shows itself, most notably here on the title track, more than usual.

Song topics remain largely with the historical, socio-political, religious and science fiction, and the title track's lyrics seem to revisit "The Number of the Beast" as Dickenson sings about being out one night and encountering a strange scene. "Montsegur" is of particular interest to me as I read and have on my bookshelf a book about Montsegur and the Cathars. Dickenson still belts out the notes and holds some decent operatic hollers.

For perhaps most people, this album doesn't receive the same degree of praise as "Brave New World"; however, I think it makes for an excellent. Together the two albums make a great pair, the blue and the red as it were, considering the dominant colours of each album cover.

For me, one of the attractions to this album is the progressive side. The first two songs are short rockers, but several others take time to stretch out over six minutes, and you know that's when Iron Maiden really stretch out their composition-writing wings. "Paschedale" is my favourite and has a symphonic quality about it at times. The title track is also interesting for its "dance of death" riff. "Montsegur" has a terrific heavy riff and as a Maiden historical piece, you know there's going to be some great developments in the music. "Face in the Sand" blends synthesizer and another almost folk-inspired guitar riff at the intro. The chorus melody to "Age of Innocence" is one of those catchy Maiden choruses that crop up from time to time like on "Can I Play with Madness" from "Seventh Son".

When I tried to make a selection of "best songs" from the five most recent albums (2000 to 2015), "Dance of Death" shared the highest number of selected songs with "Brave New World". Highly recommended as a companion to "Brave New World" or simply on its own.

FragileKings | 4/5 |


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