Iron Maiden
A Matter of Life and Death


3.0
good

Review

by Jorn van Schaïk USER (172 Reviews)
January 23rd, 2007 | 57 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


Iron Maiden's latest record, A Matter Of Life And Death, was surrounded by a lot of pre-release hype. What were fans actually anticipating? The best record since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son? A decent record, worthy of the Iron Maiden logo on the front? Or would it be a failure, along the lines of No Prayer For The Dying?

Well the answer is, in my opinion, neither. First of all, I want to say that for me, this album is overhyped. I feel it gets more praise than it deserves overall. For Maiden, I feel that this is an awfully average slab of heavy metal. Maiden have done better in the past. But, to say this is a critical or commercial failure, also doesn't do the album justice, there are definitely highlights and good points to the album. It's just that for Maiden, they are too little and too scattered over the album.

The opener, Different World, already showcases this duality I have about the album. It's definitely Maiden and co, and it definitely has that trademark sound, and it's heavier than ever, but the lyrics are absolute trite. I feel as if I've entered into Bruce's midlife crisis, and I don't know but that's not what I want to hear from the Irons, I feel that the opener despite musically adequate by Maiden standards fails to get me into the album.

These Colours Don't Run is a typical grade A top-notch piece of Maiden work. Maiden have always been one of the best metal bands to roam the earth, and this song proves that they, nearly thirty years into their career, show no signs of relenting, and are still now on the top of their game musically and lyrically. A brilliant war epic, focusing on the nationalism of soldiers fighting for their country, it takes a rather neutral stance, trying to put things more into perspective rather than outspokenly yelling out an opinion without nuancing it. Iron Maiden are a mature band, and that's to be expected at their age.

War and its perspectives are a recurring theme on the album, with Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, describing the atrocious effects of the atomic bomb being a notable highlight. Bruce's soaring vocals are still at high level, although the guy has aged, he can still wail out the notes, definitely still one of metal's top vocalists. The bass lines laid down by old 'Arry are still of superb quality. Musically the band is still on top of their game, and I really think that with their capabilities, it's a miracle that there's only one other song on the disc that I like.

That song is Harris' sole epic, the anthemic For The Greater Good Of God. Taking a stance on religion and the holy wars (yes, again!) is the name of the game, and Iron Maiden remains critical of religious manipulation, that despite the reiteration of the theme in heavy metal since its inception, is still a valid issue today. The introduction bassline is one of the best Harris has ever done, and Bruce again wails out the lines like he means business. Maiden are still up there.

But it's sad, because those three tracks are the only ones that really stand out. The rest is either mediocre, or just awful. The twin ballads, Out of the Shadows, and The Reincarnation Of Benjaming Breeg, are totally bland and boring, and contain no grain of energy. It's like Maiden put them in just because they were playing anyway, and it sounded good to them, but it's just more of the same, dark, brooding, but totally boring. It has nothing that catches the listener, there's just no vibe in it. And Maiden HAS a vibe, which makes it to me all the more disappointing. Lord of Light suffers from the same problem in my opinion, another disastrous track that again fails to convince on every level. It may be long and progressive, breaching the seven minute mark like more songs on the album, but it doesn't do Maiden any good, because Maiden fall into repetitivity during their epics usually. I'm not a big fan of any of their epics, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, and Fear of the Dark aside (and the BNW tracks).

The rest of the tracks are average Maiden tracks, good to keep the flow, but they aren't really out of the wazoo. The Legacy is a decent epic with a cool soft, haunting intro, and the chorus stands out in particular, but other than that, the song is standard Maiden drivel. The Pilgrim uses that Eastern vibe that Maiden sometimes has, like on The Nomad, but it comes over as a rather watered down version of the former. It does have more energy, and Bruce shows again why he is metal's best vocalist in the chorus, but it again misses just that extra ten percent that Maiden can give. The Longest Day has the same problem, it is overshadowed by its fellow war epics, and therefore feels like useless filler on the album. Maybe this album was just one track too long. It's just decent by Maiden standards, but nowhere near their classics.

So, overall, why do I give this album a rating of 3/5 when I seem to have so much trouble with digesting it? It's mainly because despite the fact that some tracks fall flat rather obviously, and prove to be huge landmines for the band, it's that there really are some plus songs on the album, and that after all these years, their musical focus to do different things every album and their ability to chase after that dream with their immense skills is still present, albeit somewhat suppressed on some of the songs. I just feel, that while the Irons are a really good band, they are just not making use of their talent well enough. It's there, and it shows during moments, flickering like a star in the night sky, yet it's not consistent enough for a truly epic record. If you're a Maiden fan, you'll like this record, though. I'd recommend not getting this however if you are new to Maiden, you're better off with the older discs instead. This will take more time to digest, and may disappoint you in the end. However, Maiden are still aging with a grace that most other bands haven't been given, so overall we can say this is just another piece of the Maiden legacy.

Therefore I can, and will, with hope that their next record will be just as consistent as their glory days (yet not necessarily having the same sound), and end this review with the unabashedly cheesy: UP THE IRONS!



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user ratings (1556)
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3.8
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    Vanwarp (4)
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    Mike Stagno EMERITUS (5)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Inflames
January 23rd 2007


635 Comments


Good review. Maiden hasn't been the same since the mid-eighty's if you ask me.

Hatshepsut
January 23rd 2007


1997 Comments


I deleted my rating for this when I realized I didn't listen to it all that much.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 23rd 2007


2710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This review is way better than your System review. Good work :thumb:
btw, when you said this:

the lyrics are absolute trite

did you mean tripe? If not, my bad.

wakeupdead
January 23rd 2007


2208 Comments


Very nice review! Your opinions were backed up nicely, and thoroughly. I agree that they have better stuff than this, and that Bruce is metal's best vocalist. Awesome. :chug:

Altmer
January 23rd 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Trite and tripe are both the same in meaning in that sentence, it just means horrible.

JumpTheF**kUp
January 23rd 2007


2710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think for it to make sense it would have to say absolutely trite, but that's just me nit-picking.
And you don't like Hallowed Be Thy Name?

Altmer
January 23rd 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I do, I mentioned these songs as an exception to the rule.

"I don't like maiden epics, songs x, y, and z aside."

JumpTheF**kUp
January 23rd 2007


2710 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh right.

/is dyslexic

south_of_heaven 11
January 23rd 2007


5436 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

[quote=reviewer]The Longest Day has the same problem, it is overshadowed by its fellow war epics, and therefore feels like useless filler on the album.[/quote]
That's like, my 2nd favorite song here :angry:

The twin ballads, Out of the Shadows, and The Reincarnation Of Benjaming Breeg, are totally bland and boring, and contain no grain of energy.

I really wouldn't call TROBB a ballad, but I would for OOFTS (which I adore), but TROBB is alright.
Solid review though.

Blindguardian
January 23rd 2007


186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree that this album is nowhere near the level to which Maiden has climbed, however I feel like mediocre maiden is better than 90 percent of other bands so I'd still give this a higher rating

3.5 within Maiden's discography, a strong 4 outside

nice review

Intransit
January 23rd 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know just about nothing about what this album sounds like from your review. You just sort of allude or mention a song being good or bad. Sorry, but you need detail on how the music sounds, badly.

This album is pretty awesome.

kolzig33189
January 23rd 2007


335 Comments


decent review i disagree with some of the stuff but you did an ok job of backing up your ideas. but "reincarnation..." isnt a ballad. and you say the song has no energy. sounds like you havent even listened to the whole song cuz only the beginning has that soft, quiet feel.

Mikesn
Emeritus
January 23rd 2007


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Okay review, basically what Canyoneer said.

This is their best album in 20 years, imo.

Digging: Grimes - Visions

Altmer
January 23rd 2007


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i find that the whole song conveys no energy, and i have listened to the song, i just find it boring and lethargic, the message of the rest of the song is not conveyed to me

and it's a power ballad in my opinion

Intransit
January 23rd 2007


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you want ballads (power ballads or what have you), go listen to like half of the Sonata Arctica discography. DragonForce generally has a power ballad on each album too. It's silly to say those are ballads in comparison. They are definitely more midpaced.

Danath
January 23rd 2007


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the first Iron Maiden album that I enjoy. It is worth your attention...even if you don't like their older stuff

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2007


17920 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

album sucks tbh

Danath
January 23rd 2007


13 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is the first Iron Maiden album that I enjoy. It is worth your attention...even if you don't like their older stuff

Bfhurricane
January 23rd 2007


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Great review, though I disagree greatly. I think Reincarnation has tremendous energy in it. You hit the 3 good songs on the album real well though in your description. Different World and The Pilgrim are awesome tracks

Apocalyptic Raids
January 24th 2007


810 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

album sucks tbh

chan speaks truths



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