Review Summary: One of Iron Maiden's greatest albums thus far - an album which proves that Maiden, although older than they were, can still play every bit as well as they used to.2 of 2 thought this review was well written
I do not need to introduce Iron Maiden. They are one of the most famous bands in history. They are known for making heavy metal much more popular with their third studio effort, The Number of the Beast.
If you were to ask a typical (I use this term broadly - typical constituting casual fans as well as hardcore fans) Maiden fan what their favourite Maiden album is, I can guarantee most will name either The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, or Seventh Son. While I do think that these are all wonderful albums (I don't have any particular favourite Maiden album - I have several), I feel that modern Iron Maiden is often overlooked by both new and old fans alike.
A Matter of Life and Death, Iron Maiden's 14th studio album, is one of my favourite Iron Maiden albums. It is much more progressive than any of their previous efforts, and this is clear from the beginning. Perhaps I shouldn't say beginning - Different World is similar to a typical Iron Maiden song. After that, however, we are introduced to a much more technical Maiden than we had known before.
Knowing that the album is more progressive than other Maiden albums, one must approach it with an open mind. Iron Maiden's style is splashed all over throughout the album, but the songs are much longer than usual (like this review, for example).
What I enjoyed about the album:
There was not a song on this album I did not enjoy. All of the songs are memorable, and have well-written lyrics. This is not a concept album, but most of the songs are about war. In this album, Iron Maiden takes a much more intelligent, mature view on war, as opposed to their former approach to war songs (think The Trooper).
Bruce's voice has changed over the years, but I do not find it less enjoyable than his old voice - just different. On songs like Lord of Light and The Legacy, Bruce demonstrates that he still has a lot of power in terms of vocals.
The riffs are creative and memorable here. I can recall the riffs to all of the songs. The bass is great (as usual) and the drumming goes well with the music. The production is better than the last two releases; this album was not mastered, so it sounds more organic - and the bass is more audible than in those two albums.
What I didn't enjoy:
The songs do get repetitive. Some of them seem like they could be much shorter (Brighter than a Thousand Suns). There is potential for some to grow bored when the music gets repetitive.
The choruses are repeated a LOT. This might bother some people, although I'm not irked by it.
This is one of my all time favourite albums. It's a definite classic. I wouldn't call it flawless - there are issues with repetition and song length - but it is another spectacular effort by Iron Maiden.