Monday, November 27, 2006

Iron Maiden-A matter of life and death, 2006

If you are a great band then there tend to be higher expectations. Is that fair? Maybe not, but that's the way we fans can be. Maiden were the best metal band of the 80's with every album being great or almost great. Yet in the 1990's they stumbled as No prayer for the dying just seemed like the band was lost or wore out. Fear of the dark in 1992 was better, but still had several filler tracks and seemed a bit soft at times. Then Bruce left and we got two albums with Blaze Bayley at the helm. These albums just seemed watered down and way off track. Then finally Bruce and Adrian returned and we got Brave new world in 2000. Okay, it was good although not great yet we were just glad they were heading in the right direction. In 2003 they finally got close to being great again with Dance of death. Now here we are three years later with a new album, so what did we get? Well, for my money I got everything I wanted and more. The first thing almost every reviewer talked about first with this album is the length of the songs. Yes, six of the ten tracks are over seven minutes in length. However, they don't seem that long because it's not how long a song is as much as what the band does during the time. Maiden manage to do so much on this album yet make it seem effortless. Too many older bands either repeat their past or try too hard to to reinvent themselves. Iron Maiden have taken the sound they established in the 80's, but built upon it and forged a new direction. We still get similar churning bass lines, the layered guitars (yes, three of them, Nicko's ever changing drum beats and quite honestly Bruce Dickinson sounds more amazing here than he has in say the last 15 years. We get all that yet somehow the band's approach to their songs is a little different. There is much more of a build-up in each song yet it's done in a seamless fashion. To me the tracks here are more emotionally charged than normal. I got chills up my spine during half the tracks to be honest with you. Almost every song starts out very simple and builds up to a boil. They truly are masters at knowing how and when to punctuate parts of songs to get the most from them. At this point in their career, I imagine these guys didn't have problems coming up with enough material, but instead they probably had to narrow down what to use. It was an album that took a few listens for me to really determine what I thought. That's mainly just because there was so much go on during this album. My final word is that I think it is another amazing chapter in Maiden's legacy and maybe their fifth or sixth best album. My only real complaint is that I had to wait three years for it to come out. Here's hoping the next one is out in two years!

12 Comments:

Blogger David Amulet said...

I also enjoyed the last two previous Maiden albums more than I had expected. But I still was surprised with how solid this new one was!

-- david

12:31 AM  
Blogger Ben Heller said...

Mark,

You've encouraged me to get it. Great review. It sounds right up there with the best of their stuff.

BTW I'll be posting less frequently at Will & Ben's, and more at...

www.300treasures.blogspot.com

5:11 AM  
Anonymous fred charles said...

I agree. Great album all around. There were two or three songs that took a bit of time to click with me until I saw them play the whole album live.

Off topic: Have you heard the band Sahg? They sound to me like a band you may be interested in. Check them out on Myspace. There are a few song samples. Very Sabbath-like.

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=19414739

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. This was, IMHO, their best album since Somewhere in Time or even Powerslave.

Those who noted the length of the songs must not been enjoying the album. I didn't really notice the length of the songs, but that's what happens when they're that good.

This is Iron Maiden, not different, but with the benefit of years of experience and retrospect as to where they've been.

When a lot of bands from the 80s have either chosen to get stuck in a rut, or make their music fit today's metal, it doesn't work.

These guys just do what they felt worked for them, and I think that's why this album turned out so well.

A Matter of Life or Death ... an album that proves they're alive, and a long way from death!

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark - spot on review. The album is great. I truly enjoyed the tour this year as well. Good stuff!!

11:33 AM  
Blogger captain corky said...

Thanks for the link Mark, I'm going to add your tonight. I enjoy reading your reviews. Whatever happend to Sebastian Bach? Just kidding.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

David-I was surprised as well.

Ben-Thanks. Hope you enjoy the album. I added your other blog to my links.

Fred-I will check out Sahg.

Earl Capps-It's a good one for sure. It's just so tight all the way around.

T-bone-Thanks. I have still never seen Maiden live.

Captain Corky-You are welcome. I love Star Trek and your blog is really funny.

4:36 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

I loved the new Maiden, but, unlike you, I knew what I thought after about three songs. After Brave New World, I lost interest in new Maiden. It was okay, but really just made me want to go back and listen to Piece of Mind or something. As a result, I never bothered with Dance of Death. When you told me the new album was out, I decided to check it out on Rhapsody. I wasn't expecting much. As a matter of fact, I expected that after a track or two, I'd pull up some old stuff and forget about the new one. Instead, I went out and bought A Matter of Life and Death the next day. It was everything I always enjoyed about Maiden. It was technical without getting bogged down. It has all the energy of straightforward rock n roll without simplicity. I was actually surprised that anyone mentioned the length of the songs, because it never occured to me once that the songs were any longer than an average song. They're just that interesting that they can hold my attention wihtout me looking at my watch. It's clearly their best album since Seventh Son. Now that's not saying that much really as far as Maiden goes. The best thing is that it actually fits more with their 80s prime than it does with their 90s work, both in terms of energy and songwriting.

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Rhodeislandrock said...

I agree as well, probably Maiden's best since Powerslave or Seventh Son. I reviewed this back in September and I still listen to it and am blown away by it. An excellent album.

12:19 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

I will have to give it a listen.

6:16 PM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

It made my top 10 in the magazines, and I copied my review from AMP magazine onto my blog and I remember initially thinking they were recycling a lot of past threads and riffs together into marathon songs, but the more I played it, the more it leveled me and I've listened to it far more times than the previous two, which says a lot! Pretty amazing that they can still cough up magnificent music and Bruce is just unbelievable here...I too got shivers, though I got a deeper one when I made eye contact with him in the photo pit in early October...that already seems like half a year ago!

5:27 PM  
Blogger L-Imżebbel said...

Maiden haven't done anything worth of note since Seventh Son of A Seventh Son.

It's been a long time since tghey rocked and rolled! 20 years man! 20 fucken years!

1:13 AM  

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