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Iron Maiden - Dance of Death CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.58 | 433 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
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.

The T | 3/5 |


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