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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 | 315 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another reincarnation of Iron Maiden

This album follows it's predecessors like Dance Of Death and Brave New World with it's sound. The songs are longer, better put together, and all in all have a better sound. Really, the band has simply continued the sound they seemed to have put on hiatus after their Seventh Son... album. This new Maiden is more up with the times without appealing to the mainstream. Even the first single was deemed to long to make charts, but still scored big with the fans.

We start with a sheer rocker, Different World. While it does sound awfully familiar to the openers of the last albums (Wildest Dreams, Wicker Man), it is still a good song to bang your head to. The guitar hasn't been better and Bruce even pulls a fast one on us by having an oddly melodic chorus instead of a chaotic one familiar to us maiden fans.

The next song starts the main theme of the album (which is, of course, war). These Colours Don't Run can be compared to Ghost of the Navigator from the Brave New World album, in structure anyways. This song is a bit harder to get into, and at some points makes the audience feel like it shouldn't be able to get into it.

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns is much the same, hard to get into. Clocking at over 8 minutes with heavy riffs, fairly repetitive choruses, this song is fairly menacing. But what Maiden music isn't? After you're able to see the direction the band was taken on tracks like this you're better able to listen to this song, making it very very well done.

The Pilgrim is another short rocker, giving us a small break from the almost overwhelming previous two tracks. It's not as well put together as the last tracks, but this is mainly because it's shorter in length, and short songs are often hard to make as good as their longer counterparts. All in all, however, another enjoyable heavy song.

The Longest Day is one of the standouts of the album. It, like most other songs on this album, starts slow and finishes fast, while keeping a fairly mid paced air about it. This song again refers to the album's main theme, and once again, is not very approachable, albeit, this one more so than the last. This one's more catchy than the rest, whether this is a strength or a weakness I suppose is up to you.

Every album needs a low point, and I suppose Out Of The Shadows is this album's. It is the most approachable song on this album, but that is only because it is very repetitive, very basic, core rock. Yes, it is a good track, but to me it doesn't fit in with the complexities of the rest of it's brother songs. This track sounds too commercial in some senses, but that's not it's biggest downfall in the end.

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg was a strange choice for a lead single, being as long as "uncatchy" as it is. in the end, that's what makes this song. It starts eerily, leads into a long rock segment and ends eerily. What's so appealing about this track is that it's more experimental than other Maiden singles (2 Minutes To Midnight, for example). Really, it was a strange choice as a single, but it is probably one of the strongest tracks the album has to offer.

If there was a title track to the album this would be it. For The Greater Good Of God is a hard hitting song that states the underlying premise of the album and throws the theme right back at you again. It's structure is near perfect, and though it's the longest song on the album you'd never know it after you get lost in the sonic barrage that is this song. Another very strong track.

The Lord Of Light always seemed short to me, being between two 9 minute songs. It is, of course, long than Reincarnation..., but I guess we tend to forget these things. Anyways, this is a song reminiscent of the Dance of Death album, both in story and sound. A nice revisit to the past if you're a fan of that album. (I for one am.)

The coda of the album is probably the strongest Maiden track ever recorded. The Legacy is probably what landed Maiden on this website, as it is very proggy. Looking for a prog track, you found it. With powerful vocals, lyrics and instrumentation alike this could be Maiden's crowning glory. But I guess you'll have to listen for yourself.

All in all a strong offering. In some cases, yes, this album is very hard to get into. The sound is unapproachable, as I've said many times, but once you're in, you're in. One thing maiden could have done better on this album would have been to leave in their avant gard song writing and story telling as they've had on albums such as Dance of Death, Virtual XI, Seventh Son..., and Somewhere In Time. One thing that pulls me away from labeling it as maiden's absolute best is the fact that the album almost gets lost in it's theme, and doesn't give us any of that fantasy maiden goodness. This album is very very down to earth. Which, ultimately, is good and bad. Still an excellent addition to your collection. 4 stars!

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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