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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Released in 2003, "Dance of Death" is Iron Maiden's second studio album recorded as a six-piece and featuring the mighty, three-pronged guitar attack of Janick Gers, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. As in the case of its predecessor, 2000's "Brave New World", it shares quite a lot with the efforts of progressive metal bands such as Dream Theater and their ilk, while being at the same time rooted in the band's straighter heavy metal past.

The stylish, red-and-black cover and booklet contain some impressive pictures of the black-clad band members, shot at the historic English mansion of Luton Hoo With the sole exception of the two initial tracks, most of the songs are over the 5 minute mark, with epics "Paschendale" and "Dance of Death" clocking at almost 9 minutes. While retaining Maiden's signature rumbling, galloping bass lines and fast, furious riffing, the sound is distinctly mellower and more melodic; the influence of the historic prog bands beloved of both Steve Harris and Bruce Dickinson is also clearly in evidence, especially in the longer tracks, with their complex, string- and keyboard-laden arrangements.

Opener "Wildest Dreams" and the following "Rainmaker" are both dynamic, textbook-Maiden songs with catchy choruses - good, though rather straightforward, classic metal tracks. Then the title-track comes in to prove how the band have continued to develop their trademark, metal-with-brains sound in the proggier direction already shown by the Bayley-era albums. Written by Steve Harris (who took the inspiration from one of his dreams) and guitarist Janick Gers, the song begins with a haunting acoustic melody, over which Dickinson's powerful, impassioned delivery soars; then develops into a majestic cavalcade, powered by dazzling solos by each of the three axemen. "No More Lies" starts in much the same restrained, almost wistful vein, climaxing in a full-blown, energetic romp; while "Montségur", dedicated to the 13th-century massacre of the Cathars in the south of France, is sharply reminiscent of vintage Maiden tunes such as "Run to the Hills".

For those more interested in Maiden's proggy side, the moody, atmospheric, World War I-themed "Paschendale", with its distinctive stop-start structure and a towering vocal performance by Dickinson, is without any doubt the album's pičce de resistance, together with the title-track and surprise closer "Journeyman" - a melancholy, completely acoustic, medieval-influenced ballad, in which Dickinson proves he is equally at ease as a sensitive interpreter of mood pieces as he is as the screamer idolised by millions of heavy metal fans.

Even though not always fully appreciated by Iron Maiden's loyal following, "Dance of Death" is a well-crafted, skilfully performed album by a band at the top of their game. Open-minded prog fans will find a lot to enjoy in this interesting record, which alternates high-energy moments with intricate, sprawling epics that could proudly stand beside the output of many celebrated prog-metal bands.

Report this review (#93630)
Posted Friday, October 6, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Great album with great songs. This album has my all time favorite song, Paschendale, this song is incredible and actually quite progressive. All the other songs are awsome as well. Dance of Death (the song), is a prog through and through. lyrically, musically, and rhythmly. It has a lot of good songs and an extremely good ballad, The Journeyman! Dance of Death is among thier more modern style, but still isn't very disapointing. Dance of the Death was one of the first albums I got from Iron Maiden, and it's always been one of the more frequent ones I listen to next to Brave New World, Powerslave, Piece of Mind, and thier others. I'd have to give it a 5/5 and have to say it's probably some of their best works. Not as good as Brave New World, but still has it's incredible moments, 5/5 for this awsome album, and check out Age of Innocence, that's an incredible song.
Report this review (#94151)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Let me tell you a story to chill the bones..."

Yes, Iron Maiden are back with this stunning album "Dance Of Death". Another effort where every member did put some effort in the songwriting process (yes, even drummer Nicko McBrain). Although there are more fast and heavy songs on this album than on the previous releases, there are still many quiet moments and even a couple progressive songs. And the fast and heavy songs are this time interesting...

The first two songs "Wildest Dreams" and "Rainmaker" are straightforward heavy metal pieces, but this time Iron Maiden managed to open an album with totally catchy songs (they barely did that since "Powerslave"), the second one being my all time live favorite Maiden song. "No More Lies" and "Montségur" are again rocking songs, the latter being again an all time live favorite with the good feeling of the old days back during "Peace of Mind" or "Powerslave". "Dance Of Death" starts with a frightful acoustic intro, a bit like the one on the song "Como Estais Amigos" but with more chilling lyrics, and then becomes a powerful rocking song with top quality melody and vocals. "Gates Of Tomorrow" is probably the only weak track on the album - a bit cheesy with an unmemorable melody. "New Frontier" is another song that is hinted as a leap back to the old days - fast, catchy, rocking (the mid part really sounds like the intro to "Prowler"). "Paschendale" is a song that nobody can forget, probably the best song ever written by the band - totally stunning epic track (just listen to the guitar solo around the 5 minute mark, then the awesome vocals, then the following guitar solo again - unbelievable), as much progressive as it can get. "Face In The Sand" is another of those unforgettable songs - another power ballad in the vein of "Blood Brothers". When you hear the first notes of "Age Of Innocence", you instantly recognize a Murray/Harris type of song - quiet at start, but powerful for the rest of the song - not one of their best, but still a good song. And what a way to close the album with the gorgeous ballad "Journeyman" - an acoustic piece with, for once, gentle vocals by Bruce Dickinson - simply awesome.

Rating: 91/100 (5 stars)

Report this review (#98437)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of Iron Maiden's strongest albums, even if the material isn't really new in terms of style. I guess Iron Maiden recently sticks to what they are best at, releasing safe, yet solid albums. Dance of Death is better than Brave New World, due to the more memorable riffs, more sophisticated songwriting, and better melodies. While the style is similar, the sound of Iron Maiden keeps progressing into "prog" and the music is getting mellower. The 'proggiest' songs are the two epics: the title track and Paschandale.

Wildest Dreams opens the album with a bang, a totally catchy and energetic opener with good guitar riffs, catchy choruses, and a time change that works very well, giving way to a beautiful guitar lead. Rainmaker is a straightforward and radio-friendly tune. No More Lies is a very good song, but the intro riff and the similar electric riff sound recycled from the instrumental break on their epic "Nomad". They use screams and pounding guitar riffs for the choruses and the instrumental section (climax) does not disappoint. Montsegur is the heaviest song of the album and has an arsenal of great guitar riffs, the best one being the one playing on the verses and the first guitar solo. The double guitar performances recall their classic "The Trooper". The vocalist sounds desperate and almost screaming throughout the song. Gates of Tomorrow and New Frontier are a bit mediocre, as they sound ordinary and do not have any strong hooks. Face in the Sand sounds like the best material from their album X-Factor, only that it has Bruce Dickinson! It has a great dark introduction with excellent bass and atmospheric guitar playing until strings make the song more symphonic. The guitar break in minute 4 is wonderful. Age of Innocence is a powerful and energetic tune, not a highlight though. Journeyman is a different song for Iron Maiden. No electric guitars. Instead, it is acoustic, with strings to set the mood. The vocal performance in this song is some of the best since Bruce returned to the band; I can't help but enjoy his singing a lot during the choruses.

Dance of Death has one of the best introductions of an Iron Maiden song, ever. It is soft and spooky during the first few minutes. "Let me tell you a story to chill the bones". The acoustic riff is very simple but effective, and the short guitar solo in the beginning is beautiful. Then, it changes pace into a more beautiful acoustic theme, then it changes pace into an even more beautiful acoustic chord progression. Before you know it, the chorus plays with nice string arrangements and a mad instrumental break begins, showing you that Iron Maiden is not really following a standard song structure. Then it turns into a heavier section instead of repeating a verse, and plays the crazy riff of the instrumental break again as a main riff. Instead of going to a second chorus, you get a long instrumental break with soloing. After another new theme, the mad riff plays again and leads to the introductory acoustic riff+elegant guitar solo just like the beginning with a good transition.

Paschendale is my favorite Iron Maiden song and truly a progressive metal song, with shifting time signatures, time changes, and unusual song structure. The main theme is especially strange, with soft percussion playing a time signature I can't decipher and a midi-sounding guitar playing a nice and elegant riff. This shifts back and forth with a very heavy guitar-driven passage twice until the song starts. Quite heavy and string-heavy. I really believe the strings help make the music heavier. After the chorus plays, you realize that it is also not following the standard song structure. Suddently, you get a unison riff with 3 guitars and strings under the rhythm of the introduction until a new heavy riff leads the song for a few seconds and you get another new section that sounds like the first verse, but the rhythm is somewhat different. Instead of a chorus, you get the intro theme again, interrupted by another guitar-driven section which contains a virtuosic guitar solo and eventually the chorus hits again and the song ends with the theme played at the beginning. A masterpiece of metal for sure!

I recommend this album for metalheads and proggers alike, It is very intelligent metal that doesnt' sacrifice the power and energy for prog.

Report this review (#106484)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After a definitely brilliant album which featured the return of their legendary front man Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden waited three years to release the successor to BRAVE NEW WORLD.

DANCE OF DEATH, Maiden's 13th album, marked somewhat of a return to ancient formulas. Even though I said that about the preceding album, that actually holds much more true in the case of this record. The Beast still maintains a lot of progressive elements in their music, but, overall, there's a sensation of "going-back", there's a smell that reeks of early 80's and a lost era.

The playing is brilliant as always but the music is not as inspired. There are a few good songs in this album but most of them seem like fillers, which is something that hadn't happened since the days of FEAR OF THE DARK. Let's talk a little bit about the songs:

Wildest Dreams (7/10) Nicko McBrain opens this track counting loud (with a weird old-man voice) before the whole band attacks with power. The usual fast Maiden opener, the chorus is not as inspired and we can say that this is not the best first song an album by The Beast has ever seen. Good, enjoyable, but the singing is just a little bland.

Rainmaker (8.5/10) It's quite unusual that two fast, short tracks start a Maiden album. This one is much better than the preceding song and should've been the opener, the chorus being much more memorable and the music itself better. Not a masterpiece of any kind but almost up to par with older, legendary fast tracks by the Irons.

No More Lies (8/10) The soft, quiet opening by guitars and bass brings us back to the good territories of the three preceding albums. After the good first section (with inspired singing), the song gets faster, though the chorus is more like a declaration of principles, a protest. Good guitar melodies abound. Good song.

Montségur (7/10) Suddenly we go back almost 20 years to the time when Maiden was releasing POWERSLAVE. The typical relentless Maiden rhythm, the chorus is so retro-Maiden, even Dickinson sounds 15 years younger. Good song but not great.

Dance of Death (8/10) A slow start with good singing by Dickinson opens the title track. The texturing work by the guitars is remarkable. Halfway down we get an awkward section with synth helping the guitars set a weird mood, mix of ancient ballroom and heroic Maiden cavalry; the solos and melodies are good, but there's not a catch, a great chorus or a really fantastic tune, and that's a way to describe the album in a few words: tune-less, not completely of course (we're talking Maiden here) but nowehere near the level of the previous releases. Good, very good epic, but not excellent.

Gates of Tomorrow (9/10) The opening riff reminds us of "Lord of The Flies" in the masterpiece THE X FACTOR; the verse is quite good, with Dickinson -doubled- singing over a similar guitar melody. The chorus, in classical heroic Maiden rhythm, is one of the first very good ones in the album. The song is great, the best so far, even though at times it also sounds retro.

New Frontier (8.5/10) Lack of balance as this track opens just as the last one ended. The verse sounds like straight from THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST era. The pre-chorus and the chorus sound much more contemporary, though, more in power-metal vein (with touches of Queensryche). Another good fast song, the last two have been the best since we started this journey.

Paschendale (7.5/10) Now this track starts nothing like Maiden. While McBrain marks the rhythm with soft touches of hi-hat, Dickinson sings over a high guitar and descending bass. Then the song travels varied territories, with descent melodies, sounding very retro at times, but not one great hook, nothing spectacular. The short-epics in DANCE OF DEATH have disappointed so far; they're good tracks, but nothing like other great anthems by The Beast.

Face in the Sand (7.5/10) A triple rhythm that almost sounds like a metallic waltz opens this song. It starts to get better with great bass and help from synths, which make this feel like the more progressive moment up to this point. Some double bass by McBrain leads to way towards the unusual verse by Maiden. The song as a whole is unusual as the double-bass drum dominates the music. After a great start, the song kind of gets lost in mediocre melodies and uninspired singing by Dickinson. Enjoyable, could've been fantastic.

Age of Innocence (7/10) Queensryche strikes back (as we've said already, that band was so influenced by Maiden that we can only talk of a full-circle here). A good enjoyable song but nothing that stands out from other Maiden tracks. Lacks a good melody. Near the end of the chorus it almost gets cheesy (?!?).

Journeyman (6.5/10) Acoustic guitar opens this last song in good fashion. Many songs in this album have started so well, only to get lost in nonsense. A very slow track, at times feels "poppy" (?!?), it's just not good. A weak closer.

All in all, a step backwards (and a HUGE step at that) from BRAVE NEW WORLD. This albums seems like the "great starts" album, where many songs had excellent beginnings but the band didn't know how to actually make something good out of them. As it contains mostly good songs anyway, it gets 3 stars, as it's superior to Maiden's weakest albums (NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING and PEACE OF MIND), but the right rating would be 2.75. The lack of melody is astounding, specially for a band that had managed the difficult task of writing very tuneful music while still being a metal group first and foremost.

Recommended for: Iron Maiden fans and collectors, fans of good metal who don't mind lack of great melodies or originality.

. yes, it's like Iron Maiden were finally copying themselves. After three great releases, it was time for calming down The Beast.

Report this review (#128047)
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars Another solid release from the 'new' Maiden, one which might actually be there heaviest yet. "Dance of Death" rumbles with a very raw and deep sound courtesy the rhythm section which lays down a dark backdrop to the three guitar's excellent riffing, all of which are recorded with a somewhat coarse quality. As a whole the songs are quite good, featuring songs mostly relating to Bruce's interest in history/war and giving the band plenty of chances to shine-- experimenting with composition and new ways to utilize their instrumentation. The listener can expect to hear plenty of smart solos and get their fists pumping to the melodies... and maybe even feel a few tingles from the really dramatic moments. All in all mandatory buy for Iron Maiden fans, but not quite as much as the previous and more interesting "Brave New World".

Songwriting 4 Instrumental Performances 4 Lyrics/Vocals 4 Style/Emotion/Replay 4

Report this review (#132093)
Posted Monday, August 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Horrible cover! Great music!

Yes, the cover's not great. Right, Eddie doesn't look right, but who cares? It's about the music, this. And the music's great. Maiden carries on the "Brave New World" formula, while bringing in some more proggy elements. Besides, the covers of the two Blaze era albums are much worse.

"Wildest Dreams" is perhaps the second weakest track on the album without being bad. It's obviously a power-opener in the tradition of Iron Maiden, but I think other openers like "Prowler", "Aces High", "Moonchild", "Be Quick or Be Dead", "Wicker Man" and "Different World" work better. But nevermind that. It's still a powerful opener, and it doesn't suck, and that's what counts.

"Rainmaker" is another great short rocker, yet with it's vocally and musically interesting chorus it seems more sophisticated and interesting then "Wildest Dreams". "No More Lies", a seven minute non-epic tune is despite its lenght actually quite simple, but not simplistic, and it generally works very well. "Montségur" is a more classical heavy metal tune, both in terms of the composition and the lyrical theme, but it works very well, and despite it not being super long, it is actually somewhat of an epic in athmosphere. "Gates of Tomorrow", "Age of Innocence" and "Face in the Sand" are typical instances of Maidens post 2000 style, carrying on much in the same vein as the tracks on "Brave New World", combining the catchy with the sophisticated. "New Frontier" falls under this category too, but is noteworthy in that it's the first "proper" Iron Maiden song where the main contribution was made by Nicko McBrain, who wrote the main bass line. The song overall works very well and has a great bridge and a totally catchy chorus. The true outstanding track on the album is "Paschendale", primarily masterminded by Adrian Smith (man, I missed him while he was pursuing his solo career). The song starts out with a solitary guitar tapping pattern accompanied by an iconic hi-hat pattern meant to immitate morse code. The song explodes into a classic metal style verse and then builds up towards truly epic proportions with keyboards, symphonic scores and what not. Great music, and the lyrics are very picturesque - not in the sense of being bueatiful, but in the sense of evoking images of death and destruction and almost provoking the feelings of fear and chaos in the mind of the listener. Following closely is "Dance of Death", and eerie nightmarish piece of music with lyrics telling an equally nightmarish story whose first poetic person perspective reminds one of some of the epic poems of the Romantic era.

Great stuff. Recommendable to anyone who likes rock music, and a good introduction to Iron Maiden to those who have yet to be initiated.

Report this review (#142723)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Maiden adopted a new rhythm to release their albums in those new millenium times.

Every three years, they have apparently (?) sufficient material or inspiration to release a new studio album and keep their fans awaken. Still, this album doesn't start as brilliantly as their best ones.

"No More Lies" is interesting in the sense that it mixes slow parts with wild ones (as the band often does with longer pieces). But it is very much predictable. Guitars sound really great and an extreme power is developed. The first song worth of interest is "Montsegur" although it is on the heavy end.

One has to say that there is some kind of routine now in their offering. Of course the impact of the three guitar players is impressive and should please any metal lover. Compositions are still well polished, appealing but if you except some of them like "Dance Of The Dead", the all mighty "Paschendale" there are no so many highlights as one could expect.

Dynamics and power are of course on the list ("Gates Of Tomorrow" or the wild "New Frontier") but this album features too little great songs and it closes as it opened : rather weakly. Maiden produced so many better songs than "Age Of Innocence" and "Journeyman". Just fillers IMO. But for different reasons. While the first one is a dull metal song, the later is a dull rock ballad.

I guess that very few people discovered Maiden thanks to this album. There are probably more than ten better ones before getting interested in "Dance Of Death". I would rate it on the low three stars edge. Don't try to find any progressiveness either here. You would just waste your time. But if you're looking for pure heavy metal, you are well on the good track.

This album also suffers from its length. Of course, the standards are to longer albums now, but almost seventy minutes is a bit too much when creativity is lacking.

Report this review (#156559)
Posted Tuesday, December 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I find joy in having a combined listening of heavy side of music and the light side as what I experience today having enjoyed Gandalf and Steve Hackett, I continued playing The SIGIT (excellent Indonesian classic rock band) and now I am playing Iron Maiden "Dance of Death". What a perfect combination! Having enjoyed peaceful stream of music delivered by Gandalf & Hackett, I switched right away to The SIGIT which has upbeat classic rock style and then the energetic music of Iron Maiden! It's cool man .!

As I have mentioned somewhere in my reviews at this site, I love Iron Maiden "Brave new World" album. By the time I made that statement I did not (yet) take into consideration of this "Dance of Death" because I rarely played the CD due to its "Copy Controlled" technology that made sound quality is terrible. It's useless, actually, that this album has Kevin Shirley as producer because the "Copy Controlled" thing has definitely destroyed the listening pleasure. I personally hate CD with "Copy Controlled" technology because the sound quality is terrible. So is the case with this album which has that technology. I think, music lovers all over the world MUST FIGHT against the use of "Copy Controlled" technology which kills music. I mean it.

Let' put aside the sound quality and focus on the music. I find this album is an excellent one even though in general I prefer "Brave New World" album. With triple guitar, this band ends up with six-piece band. Actually I do not know why the band decided to use triple guitars as the band line up because basically I (and probably other listeners) can not differentiate who play which part and hard to find all three guitars play together at the same time. If it's just two guitars, at least I can differentiate the sounds of rhythm section and the guitar melody. So, making the band with three players: Janick Gers, Dave Murray, and Adrian Smith is kind like waste. Two guitars are enough, actually.

The first two opening tracks "Wildest Dreams" and "Rainmaker" are straight hard rock music in terms of style. These opening tracks are suitable being positioned as opening the album. With "No More lies" the band brings the "Brave New World" style into the music. I like the intro part which showcases Steve Harris bass lines in ambient mode. "Monstegur" makes the album more powerful especially through the combination of string section, groove and guitar solo. My favorite track is the album title track "Dance of Death" which has similar nuance with "Brave New World" album. I like the way the music flows in melodic way starting with an ambient style where string section as well as bass guitar work make major contribution to the music and the music flows beautifully in rock style with powerful Bruce Dickinson vocal. This song is also solid in terms of lyrics. "Paschendale" is also an excellent track. This song has varied styles and nice musical break followed with string section which sounds like a symphonic music. The guitar solo is also stunning.

Overall, I consider this album is an excellent rock music with good melody, tight composition. Fans of Iron Maiden must have this album. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#165749)
Posted Saturday, April 5, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Far beyond the new Frontier

Yes, Iron Maiden is back as a different beast! Well, not entirely, as you may recognize this particular formation of the band form their previous album Brave New World, but as masterful as that album was it seems that they've equaled (or perhaps topped?) themselves with this next output. While some have criticized the band for staying to a formula on their more recent releases it seems to be for one reason: it works!

Short and long songs mixed to give the audience a lot of material to like make this album worth many repeated listens. Heavy and short rockers like the opener Wildest Dreams and the stellar single Rainmaker with its absolutely wonderful triple guitar attack let the heads band and roll while more meditated (and almost progressive) story telling tracks like No More Lies, Dance of Death and Paschendale allow the band to showcase a more complex side of their music, also proving once more that the addition of a third guitar (or rather, not firing Gers when Smith returned from his absence) was something that really helped the band find a sound.

All in all the album has a very fantasy-esque feel, and this is what Maiden has always excelled at. While Brave New World toyed (heavily) with this idea, Dance of Death takes the concept by the horns and rides it to no end. Creepy story telling so familiar to the band's classic era has returned as evident in the album's title track which opens slowly with some smooth guitar playing before giving away to some heavy and very well done parts later. The stories aren't too overblown as well so they're not difficult to keep up with which really helps the album.

If one was forced to pick the standouts of the album, they would have to be the war-torn story Paschendale which shows Maiden at their story-telling zenith (and they'll pick up on this theme again with their next album) as they revisit a topic they've done so often in songs like The Trooper and Die With Your Boots On except with a better side of harsh reality that keeps the audience grounded to Earth if only for the duration of the song. The extremely emotional performance on Journeyman is also very well worth noting as Bruce showcases the magnitude of his voice in a song that was clearly built for it. Face in the Sand with its creepy, foreboding lyrics is another giant standout in the Maiden cannon - another song that shows incredible maturity from the band.

Of the other shorter songs on the album most (if not all) are geared towards the metal head. Prog fans may not find much to like in songs like Montsegur (although its controversial lyrics may well provide a thought-provoking experience) or Gates Of Tomorrow which are very good symph-metal compositions but not great prog. However, if there's a metal head anywhere in you then you will be blown away by their bombastic delivery on these tracks.

Finally, a note about the sleeve art. It's bad. Really bad. However, don't let it fool you (actually there's some really cool photography on the inside of the booklet which makes one wonder why they didn't use a style more like that), because this album is fantastic and arguably one of Maiden's best.

This is a fine addition to any prog library with many progressive moments to keep any one who likes their prog heavy interested. I award 4 stars to this fine disc.

Report this review (#167229)
Posted Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is really a mixed bag. It contains some of the worst and some of the best songs in Maiden's catologue (or at least that of which I have heard, bearing in mind I am missing four studio albums from my collection). The production is the worst problem here, as it sounds very muddy a lot of the time, which is a surprise compared to the pristine sound of its predecessor, Brave New World. The keyboards used on this album are often used to create string arrangements, which in most cases work and yield some of the best numbers on this album. When this album works, it really is good, but there are some truly terrible songs on this album.

'Wildest Dreams' opens the album terribly. Maiden usually have amazing album openers, but this one sounds very forced and awkward, both lyrically and musically. It's as if they were trying to create one of their traditional high energy openers but tried too hard and fell flat on their face. 'Rainmaker' is average and mediocre. Its inoffensive and listenable, but by no means exciting. 'No More Lies' is better. We finally hear the synthesised strings. The contrast between heavy and soft works very well and genuinely surprised me on my first listen. The chorus is a bit monotonous though. 'Montsegur' is a lot better. It is very heavy and could have easily fit on Powerslave. The brilliantly scathing lyrics bash the old ways of the Catholic church and their wont to slaughter unbelievers. As a Christian (Anglican) I can see the relevance in the lyrics. 'Dance of Death' is likely the best song on the album. The keyboards and guitar work together to once again provide great contrasts while a very strange tale unfolds in the lyrics. There are some truly haunting moments in this uncharacteristically thought-provoking song. 'Gates of tomorrow' is an average Maiden song. Again they are trying to recreate their old style with mixed results. This time it works okay. 'New Frontier' is good, and pretty catchy, and stands among the best non-epics on the album. 'Paschendale' is a song that people tend to rave about, and while being very good, is not the best song on the album. It is very creative though, and a pleasant listen. 'Face in the Sand' doesn't do much for me, although its hardly terrible. 'Age of Innocence' is not that interesting musically, but its lyrics are some of the best in Maiden's catologue. it describes how the (presumably British) justice system works in faovur of the criminal. A mugger for example may get a very short sentence, if any, while their victims are scarred for life. It is bold of the Irons to write such conservative lyrics in our libearal age and I commend for it. Well done. 'Journeyman' finishes things off very nicely as a string led pseudo-ballad. Very good.

This album is recomended to Maiden fans such as myself, but I'm not sure if anyone else would like it. I'd love to give it three stars but will knock a star off for production and the opener. Okay add half a star. 2.5 stars rounded down for this mixed, but interesting effort from Iron Maiden.

Report this review (#178054)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars The second studio album of their much heralded comeback from oblivion (Read: The Blaze Bayley Desert). Brave New World was great. Could they better it ?

Hmmm........ New type of artwork and a new artist. Not a good sign !!! But the songs are long and in the five to nine minutes bracket. Maybe there is hope here ??

The opening song is a typical Iron Maiden opening song. That does not give away anything. ........ And then the album opens up into a world of good classic Iron Maiden songs. Just a bit more prog rock and epic than before. And that is a good sign ! Rainmaker is good. No More Lies and Motsegur is acceptable. The title track on the other hand is superb. A wonderful epic song with more than one reference to Thin Lizzy. Excellent ! Gates Of Tomorrow and New Frontier is good songs too. Then we reach the big, big song on this album. The now fabled and legendary Paschendale. This track is about the charge of the bloody battle at Paschendale during The Great War (World War I). The battle at Paschendale, or Passendale in the local language in Belgium (Flemish/French ?), horrified the general public in Great Britain and it has got an iconic status (as hell on earth) alongside the battle of Somme. The song includes some of the best lyrics Iron Maiden has ever done. Iron Maiden has adapted it for their own world and very successfully too. Bruce Dickinson sings his heart out. The band too is brilliant here. The song structure is like taken out of a YES or KING CRIMSON song. There are some keyboards here which enhances the song. The result is a classic Iron Maiden song and a very fine tribute to the ones who died at Paschendale and in The Great War. Brilliant !! Face In The Sand is a very good song with some double bass drums by Nicko. Bruce Dickinson as his best again and there are some keyboards here too. Age Of Innocence is a modern song and not a classic Iron Maiden tune. But it is not a bad song at all. Just different. The final track Journeyman is a seven minutes long piece with keyboards, acoustic guitars and superb vocals from Bruce Dickinson. It is superb song.

The verdict ? One of Iron Maiden's best albums. The music is superb and the lyrics too really make you take notice. This is an album most prog rock fans will really love and it more than justify Iron Maiden's inclusion in Prog Archives. The small piece of my heart dedicated to this band is burning with pride and I give my heart 40 more years and the album 4 stars.

Report this review (#187963)
Posted Tuesday, November 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Not as good as the masterful "Brave New World" in my opinion, but there's little to complain about here. The cover art though is probably the worst i've seen for a MAIDEN album. The music here is far from bad though, in fact the rhythm section especially shines here with some thundering groundwork.

"Wildest Dreams" is my least favourite track even though it's a good little rocker. Some ripping guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. I like when it settles right after the solo. "Rainmaker" and the rest of the songs are pretty incredible.This is classic MAIDEN with that uptempo rhythm and Bruce singing his heart out. Nice guitar solo after 2 minutes. "No More Lies" opens with that familiar sounding guitar which is done so tastefully here. Reserved vocals after a minute. It kicks in on the chorus before 2 1/2 minutes, then the tempo picks up. Bruce stops singing before 4 minutes as we get an instrumental assault for 2 minutes. It ends as it began. "Montsegur" features killer bass lines from Harris as Nicko pounds away. Love the vocals a minute in which are so passionate and powerful. This one cooks !

"Dance Of Death" is my favourite as we hear this story which begins in a laid back manner. Before 3 minutes the vocals rise up and the music kicks in and starts to gallop 3 1/2 minutes in.The guitars are ripping it up before 5 minutes. Great sound 8 minutes in when it calms down. "Gates Of Tomorrow" opens with some wild sounding guitar as heavy bass and drums join in. A full sound a minute in and vocals follow. Scorching guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. "New Frontier" is a hard hitting tune and I love the guitar after 3 minutes as he lights it up. Great song ! "Paschendale" is another classic MAIDEN track with the reserved vocals and mellow sound that are interupted by explosions of sound until it stays kicked in before 1 1/2 minutes. Check out the guitar before 5 minutes ! It's very powerful 6 1/2 minutes in. It ends as it began.

"Face In The Sand" builds until we get some ground shaking bass. Vocals 2 minutes in. Blistering guitar after 4 1/2 minutes. "Age Of Innocence" features this gorgeous intro as vocals come in.It kicks in around a minute. Nice heavy rhythm here with some monster bass from Harris. "Journeyman" is perhaps the most interesting track because it doesn't sound like them, it's pretty light with orchestral sounds. It sounds better 2 minutes on the chorus.

Probably would have been close to 5 stars if the first and last song were omitted. Again it's hard to really complain about this album, it's incredible !

Report this review (#201180)
Posted Friday, January 30, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars The last Iron Maiden album I bought was Brave New World. I bought it only to discover how crappy it was. But I didn't sell my copy. I want to have evidence. But do I need two evidences? Definitely no. I borrowed this album from my friend, listened to it twice only to make sure if it is something worth of attention. It's not. If I was surprised somewhow I'd probably give this album another chance. Otherwise it's just a waste of time. This album sounds a bit better than previous one but songs are same lame. Of course if you discovered metal yesterday you may find this release interesting. But it simply hurts my ears. Not giving it 1 star becasue it's still solid metal. Just sensless.
Report this review (#217781)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Iron Maiden by the numbers

After the very impressive Brave New World came the disappointing Dance Of Death. It is still a good album that holds up reasonably well compared to some earlier albums, but it pales in comparison with most of the band's classic 80's albums and the excellent Brave New World. While listening to this album I often get the feeling that I've heard it all before. It sounds a bit formulaic and archetypal. The first song has a raw, almost garage type sound to it. This is emphasised by the spoken 1-2-3-introduction.

Dance Of Death is pretty much Iron Maiden by the numbers. Rainmaker is a much better song with a stronger melody and a much better sound. It is almost as if the different tracks were given different production. No More Lies sounds like something we have heard before. The title-track sounds lyrically and musically naive and somehow lacks substance.

The songs on Dance Of Death are generally shorter than those on the previous album, but they often run out of steam before they are through. It is also the case that this album often sounds rushed, underdeveloped and the production is sometimes muddled. It is certainly not of the sonic quality of Brave New World or Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.

Dance Of Death is also significantly less progressive and more straightforward compared to the very progressive Brave New World. Paschendale is the only truly progressive song here. But it certainly would not have been good enough to fit in on Brave New World.

Face In The Sand is significantly heavier than the other tracks which adds a nice diversity, but the melody is basically the same as on Blood Brothers from Brave New World (not the chorus).

Journeyman is an acoustic song with strings, which is very unusual and surprising for this band. This might also be the best song from Dance Of Death. But, again, the melody sounds familiar somehow and while it is clearly something new within the context of this group it is certainly nothing adventurous in a general sense.

Good, but not more than just that.

Report this review (#218925)
Posted Friday, May 29, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dance of Death is the fourteenth full-length studio album and the second by British heavy metal act Iron Maiden after lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith returned to the fold. Their previous album Brave New World (2000) saw Iron Maiden regaining some of the ground they had lost in the years with lead vocalist Blaze Bayley and the two below average releases The X-Factor (1995) and Virtual X (1998). Best examplified by the fact that when they played ( my country) Denmark on the Fear Of The Dark tour in 1992, which was the last tour with Bruce Dickinson before he left the group, they played to a sold out venue called Valby Hallen, Copenhagen where the capacity is 5000 people. On the tour for Virtual X in 1998 they played to a capacity crowd of 1500 people at a venue called Vega in Copenhagen. Now that´s a significant decrease in popularity.

A re-vitalized band now with three guitarists conquered the world once again on the tour for Brave New World. It all seemed like a new beginning for the band.

Dance of Death follows down much the same path as it´s predecessor. A few fast heavy metal tracks and most of the rest are epic slow to mid-paced heavy metal songs. This is what we expect from Iron Maiden and I´m sure no one would like it any different. So when the style is basically the same as always it´s of course the quality of the compositions, the production and the musicianship that´s of interest.

The compositions are generally some of the better Iron Maiden have done since Seventh Son of A Seventh Son (1988) and there´s actually a kind of retro-feel in some of the songs that I greatly enjoy. All songs are above average but a few stand out IMO. Montségur is simply one of the heaviest Iron Maiden songs I have ever heard. Just listen to the beginning of that song. Pure heavy metal joy. The title track is also worth a mention for the frantic and quite folky riff in the middle. I enjoy that very much. But Paschendale is without a doubt my favorite here. It´s such a dark and epic song yet never losing it´s heavy edge.

The musicianship is outstanding as ever. Lots of great and melodic guitar soloes, the most heavy sounding rythm section in a while and Bruce Dickinson in fine form. What more can you ask for?

The production is excellent. Maybe the heaviest production ever on an Iron Maiden album. It´s perfect in my world.

Dance of Death is a brilliant album by Iron Maiden and one all fans need in their collection. The epic atmosphere in some of the songs might attract a few progressive metal fans too but remember that Iron Maiden is first and foremost heavy metal. Up the Irons! And a fully deserved 4 star rating.

Report this review (#232222)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
3 stars Iron Maiden - Dance of Death (2003)

I liked the gathering of Maiden's best musicians during the Brave New World period and expectations were high at the time of the release of this album. Dance of Death is a good album, but some new problems appeared when Maiden tried to enter the world of 'modern' metal recordings and digital artwork. The latter is by far the worst released since the existence of the band. The recording is very bad, with annoying drum-sounds and an unfinished sound as if it was recorded in a rush. Producing their own album is one of the few talents Iron Maiden clearly does not have. Furthermore the length of the album, also a modern feature, makes the second phase of it uninteresting at times.

Having that said, there are also some very good features on this new Iron Maiden album. First of all, there are some very innovative and progressive songs here! Montségur shows Iron Maiden doing something totally different with a sometimes folky approach and cynical lyrics about slaughter for faith. Dance of Death, the title-track uses some world-music influences and has an elegant style. The epical structure, the beautiful acoustic guitars in the beginning and the amazing metal- parts in the middle section make this a fresh Maiden epic. Paschendale is an epic with a modern punchy riff, a sensitive intro and some nice symphonic elements. The bombastic moments of the song are great an the lyrics about this historical battle are intensive. The song is a bit fragmentarily in the beginning, but progresses quite a lot and has a lot to offer. Journeyman is an entirely acoustic song with an adventurous sound and good vocals by Dickinson. This is the sensitive side of Iron Maiden and their second entirely rock-less track of their career, with Strange world from their debut being the first. Some slightly symphonic sounds make the song work very well, though it's a bit too long. Great track and a very original approach.

The other tracks all have good elements but aren't as good as those I've just mentioned. Wildest dream is a happy opener and Rainmaker an emotional song that could have been recorded way better. No More Lies is my least favorite part of the album because it's to simple and recycles way to much of their earlier tracks. Gates of Tomorrow, New Frontier, Face in the Sand and Age of Innocence are acceptable metal-track with often some catchy parts, but a bit un-asked for IMHO. Not everything to original here.

Conclusion. This is an Iron Maiden album with some very interesting progressions and some great ideas. To bad the recording isn't good enough (for the first time in their career..). The album is to long and three songs should have been excluded. This album has at least 45 minutes of great material! This album is recommended to fans of the band and metal- fans in general. Proggers who aren't audiophiles will also find some very nice progress here and a fine album of one of the best bands of the world. Three stars, good but not essential.

Report this review (#284564)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
5 stars Haha, wow i dont think anyone was really prepared fro this album, this being the bands darkest and at times there most 'symphonic' album to date. So much so that the bands live show featured costumes, theatrics and a lot of extra helping hands (as documented on the live DVD) As far as the album itself goes, this is a real knockout of a release, also a real high point of there experimentation as ir features more strings/keys and even features the bands first ever full acoustic song. The lead single WILDEST DREAMS really starting the album off to real knock out effect the title track kinda reminding me of a Jetro Tull song (these no flutes or anything) it just has a folky vibe to it and the epic PASCHENDALE is just awsome, the only bad- ish song i can tell is maybe GATES OF TOMORROW and even then its quite decent, so to sum up yet another epic/classic modern Maiden album;

Wildest Dreams - 9/10 Rainmaker - 9/10 No More Lies - 8/10 Montségur - 8/10 Dance of Death - 10/10 Gates of Tomorrow - 7/10 New Frontier - 7/10 Paschendale - 10/10 Face in the Sand - 8/10 Age of Innocence - 9/10 Journeyman - 10/10

CONCLUSION; yet another great album, big recommendation

Report this review (#305617)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Dance Of Death' - Iron Maiden (7/10)

'Dance Of Death' marks the second chapter in Iron Maiden's six-piece lineup. Although changes within the ranks and the addition of a third guitarist would normally be something only fans would be interested in, it did mark a musical shift for the band. Starting with 'Brave New World'- an album that's been since considered one of the greatest metal albums of the new millennium- Iron Maiden brought their distinctive style back to the forefront, and haven't looked back since. Most notably, singer Bruce Dickinson was back with them, but there is also a progressive edge to the songwriting that makes this period in Iron Maiden's history arguably their most exciting. 'Dance Of Death' balances out between their classic style and more intricate composition, and despite the relatively weak album art, Maiden makes it clear that they are far from exhausting their artistic spirit.

There will certainly be those who argue that Iron Maiden have 'barely' changed their sound over the decades, but comparing their early, punk-infused energy to the symphonic grandeur of the title track on 'Death Of Death', it's undeniable that Iron Maiden have picked up some new tricks. Perhaps moreso than 'Brave New World', Iron Maiden balances two distinct approaches on this album. The first is their classic brand of songwriting, one that often uses the signature 'guitar gallop', biting solos and choruses that could get a stadium's worth of metalheads singing along. 'Rainmaker' stands out particularly in this regard, with a futuristic main riff and pleasant vocal leads from Dickinson. 'Montsegur' is arguably the most traditional Maiden track here, a song somewhat reminiscent of 'The Trooper' that could have snuck onto an earlier Maiden album without arousing much suspicion.

As many of Maiden's fans might agree however, the highlight of Iron Maiden's recent work lies in the 'epic' songs they have been focusing on. Although they flirted with longer song structures as far back as their debut album, 'Dance Of Death' truly indicates their recent preference for involving, progressive composition. Without the slightest doubt, the two highlights on 'Dance Of Death' are the occult-themed title track, and the cinematic 'Paschendale'. The first of these sees Iron Maiden going down a familiar route of storytelling, about a man abducted and taken to an undead ritual. 'Paschendale' is a tribute to the eponymous battle in WWI, attempting to give the same sense of grim reality that 'The Trooper' gave the Crimean War. Musically, both tracks represent some of the most powerful songwriting I've ever heard Iron Maiden do, opening gracefully, and dramatically building to something powerful and even symphonic. As has become the standard for Maiden, the lyrics are handled with sophistication, generally falling upon history or philosophy for inspiration.

'Dance Of Death's weakness comes in the form of songs that come close to being called 'filler'. 'No More Lies', 'Gates Of Tomorrow' and 'New Frontier' are all pleasant enough Maiden tracks, but even after giving 'Dance Of Death' many enjoyed listens, I found nothing stirring about them. Thankfully, the is more excellence than disappoint on 'Dance Of Death', and while I could have asked for a greater consistency and flow, Iron Maiden's progressive material here is some of the best work I've heard them play.

Report this review (#622729)
Posted Sunday, January 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Despite bearing what might be Iron Maiden's worst cover for a studio album, Dance of Death continues the high standard set by Brave New World. Bringing classical and acoustic influences to the fore on the title track and continuing to offer up epic song structures influenced by progressive rock, the band prove that Brave New World was no temporary return to form, but the beginning of a new flourishing of the band's creative talent. No More Lies, in particular is one of the most defiantly anthemic numbers the band have composed for years.

Just don't look closely at that horrible cover and you should be fine.

Report this review (#974604)
Posted Sunday, June 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1484710)
Posted Tuesday, November 10, 2015 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Don't judge a book by it's cover."

While the above quote is a terrible cliche, as book cover artwork (or in this case album art) should reflect what's inside, there's a great deal of books and albums that come across as something else with what's shown on the front. I think we all know the story of Iron Maiden's infamous cover art for Dance of Death, the cover artwork is in its unfinished state and for some reason the band wanted it as is. The artist understandably didn't want to be credited for the monstrosity that is Dance of Death's front cover, and it went down in history as one of metal's worst album covers.

Maybe the band was just drinking a few too many beers, but whatever the case, they ended up making the cover of their 2003 album appear to be from an early 2000's power metal band who just discovered Photoshop and MySpace and was trying way too hard to be Helloween. However, despite all the colorful jokes that a comedic metalhead could shoot at the album cover, there is something about it that does somewhat fit the album. Just like the cover is left in an unfinished state, Dance of Death actually feels like it's a bit of a stripped-down album in a way.

By stripped-down, I don't mean that this is some garage rock album in the vein of The White Stripes, but it's the one modern day Iron Maiden album that feels like it has all the elements and spirit that made the band's classic albums so great. It has the energy of The Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind, as well as the epic heavy metal of Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. There's none of the excess of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son or The X Factor, what you have here is simply a killer epic heavy metal album, that well represents what the band is all about.

Unlike most of Maiden's modern albums, there's a perfect blend of the band's epic tracks and more energetic and fast-paced pure heavy metal tracks. "Wildest Dreams", "Rainmaker", "New Frontier", and "Montsegur" all get the listener pumped while "No More Lies", "Paschendale", and the title track are all worthy of the band's best classic epics. "Journeyman" is a bit of a unique track for the band, being all acoustic, and actually ranks among the best on the album. "Montsegur" and "Paschendale" are both historically-themed and coincidentally the two best. The former is about the cruel crusades against the Cathars, a dualist sect of Christianity during the middle ages, while the latter is a tale of The Battle of Passchendaele during World War I told in the view of a soldier.

While usually seen as the black sheep of the modern Maiden albums, I find it to be the most memorable and having a great balance between the band's musical elements that isn't really seen in many of the band's post-1986 albums. There's a couple songs that aren't as memorable, but for the most part this is Iron Maiden's modern classic in my book. 4.5 Rounded to 5.

Written on MMA (MetalMusicArchives) See review here:

Report this review (#1534982)
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016 | Review Permalink

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