A Matter Of Life and Death is a very appropriate from a band so late into their career. A terrible album now would could effectivley tarnish their career, while a phenominal album could bring new to life to their career. Ironically this album does neither of those things, it may win a few a fans who will quickly discover much better albums such as this albums predecessor "Dance Of Death," and as it has already become apparent old fans will probably enjoy it. But anyone expecting a classic or even a great Iron Maiden album might find themselves disapointed. With classic maiden artwork and song titles like "These Colours Don't Run," and "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg," no one can be blamed for expecting a classic album or at least one on par with Dance Of Death.
In a sense the album is classic maiden in that it features riffs that could be identified as "Maiden riffs" almost instantly, as well as the gradual build into a huge bridge that has become a Maiden tradition as seen on BNW's Dream Of Mirrors. So where does the album fall short? Well by the time the album was over I couldn't remember a single chorus, and only about two riffs. I know your probably thinking well "Maybe he didn't pay close enough attention," well I've listened to the album a few times and still only Different World, The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg, and For The Greater Good of God have left any impression in my head. I know your probably wondering why I'm spending time talking about how this album features no catchy choruses. I'm talking about them because that's always been one of my favourite things about Maiden, they can combine great riffs, progressive music, and huge memorable chorus all in one. By the time I was finished Dance Of Death songs like Face In The Sand, No More Lies, Monstegur, Rainmaker, Wildest Dreams, and the title track were all imprinted in my head.
And vocal melodies aside not even very many of the riffs were very memorable, there are some great riffs which can be heard on Different World, and Brighter Than A Thousand Worlds. But for the most part it just sounds like generic Maiden. Hopefully you understand what I mean, it's kind of like AC/DC they have a definitive sound, and there are great songs like "Back In Black" and generic "AC/DC" songs like "Rock Your Heart Out." But being generic Maiden still means that they are better than alot of other bands, which is why I've rated this album no less than a 3. One of the saving graces of this album is that Bruce has one of the best, and most original voices in metal. It's not the singing with nails in your throat voice that has become the norm in metal, instead his voice has more of an opera quality to it.
Instrument-wise everyones playing is excellent. The riffs while not being on the same par with Maidens best riffs are still some of the best riffs in the modern day metal scene. I have always found the drums to be quite above average on most Maiden songs and Nicko McBrain does not disapoint the beats are loud and hard when they need to be, and the fills are excellent throughout. And the bass though usually drowned out by the guitars features some excellent parts, the introduction to For The Greater Good Of God is one of Harris' shining moments. And as mentioned before Bruce's voice is great as usual but if I had to pick my favourite vocal performances I'd probably again go with For The Greater Good Of God as well as The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg. All in all this album proves not to be as extreme as A Matter Of Life and Death, but instead it is a matter of little importance it does nothing to tarnish their reputation, but I don't think it will ever be remembered as fondly as any of their classic albums.
Good review though I dont entirely agree. This album will grow on most people, thats what happened to me on Dream Theater's Octavarium, which at first i would rate a 2.5 though now more like a 4.5. I definitely like this album a whole lot more after listening to it a number of times
It's actually not the same at all. This album is quite different.
The Maiden community will probably hurt you a bit for your score, but good review nonetheless. While I don't think it deserves quite so low (maybe a 4), you did make some points. Maybe it's cause I didn't listen hard enough, or maybe it's because they've released about 13 albums already, but the riffs blend together. There isn't anything standoutish that immediately defines Maiden, such as riffing in The Trooper or Hallowed Be Thy Name. Still, though, for a bunch of guys going on 60, they can still pull out a hell of an album.
Great review. I'd have to completely agree with you that this album is just overrated. While there are several notable tracks (1000 Suns, Colors Don't Run, Good of God to name a few), I just find it way too repetitive in that a lot of these elements were, shall we say, 'recycled' from their previous albums. It's not just the riffs, but the vocals, the drumming, structuring, etc... I'm just constantly reminded of previous works when I listen to this album. But then again, this is coming from a guy who rates BNW as their best album, followed by DoD