Review Summary: A pretty fine album from Iron Maiden as always. Catchy, fast and memorable songs. A band back at the top of their game and one of the best ablums of the year.
Iron Maiden! The forty something guys who have been rocking our socks for in excess of two decades are once again back to the waves with their new release, "A matter of life and death” By now you should be aware of the massive success the band has amounted over the years, offering highly acclaimed albums, producing good solid music for almost their entire careers and known as perhaps the greatest live act, ever! Over Iron Maidens lifetime of achievement many fans, or indeed anybody who has listened to more then one of their albums can see the change and progression in their sound. This album here shows just how much they have changed in their sound and in many other aspects of their music and from my early views on the album, I find it an excellent listen, lets us move on.
Iron Maiden is a band that never really fails at creating a great sense of atmosphere, mood and tension, and quite frankly this album showcases this trait better than ever. Rather than just being out and out fast, thrashy, speed metal, with little structure of sense of occasion in their sound, the guys in Maiden go all out to give their songs an epic feel, and a roller coaster of emotion. Slow built up riffs, combine with the bass and drums, building to a climax and a release of tension that is truly inspiring to listen to, and going back to the bands progression over albums, you can see a more prog rock or power metal style coming through that adds well with the heavy tone. All these elements brought on by the instruments flow almost seamlessly between different parts of any song on the album, and when Bruce’s vocals begin, powering through the song, the dark mysterious, but grandeur of the song heightens for a great spectacle. But its not cheesy as you might be expecting, instead its hard, rocking and in some ways awe inspiring to listen to than some power metal bands around.
Individual musicianship of the band is another aspect that impressed me and with the experience each member has, I wasn’t surprised. Having three guitarists in a band is something very few have tried, or pull off even, but where those have failed Iron Maiden have soared and with style. It gives each guitarist a chance to try different things in a song, whilst one may be shredding, another may be soloing and another might be playing simple chord progressions. This freedom allows the guitars to combine forces to blow you away, as on The Pilgrim
where the intro riff is just perfect. The quality of the guitar work is fantastic, with some fantastic riffs from songs like The reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
and The Legacy
where it rips right through you like a thousand knives.
The guitarists are not the only ones getting in on the fun; bassist Steve Harris (legend amongst the bass world) and drummer Nicko Mcbrian stand out and perform once more as they always have done. Steve’s galloping bass lines add to the already monumental sound beefing up all the songs, and give the band am ore rounded feel, especially in The reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
and For the greater good of god
. Nicko behind the kit is a wow, and once more shows us his stuff. He comes through strong, with some thunderous and superb drumming. We all know that he can use that single bass like a double and he certainly doesn’t hold back, powering it away at great skill, precision and volume. Fills in any song are fantastic and roar out in between sections in a song like a gun nut with a high powered rifle. As always, I am pleased with the rhythm section and many fans out there I doubt will complain.
A vital instrument to Iron Maiden’s sound over the years (for most of it) has been Bruce Dickenson. Amongst all the metal vocalists in the business, he is the most recognised and accomplished. Bruce gives Maiden that little extra, that boost, the X factor (not the album) which A Matter of Life and Death
is littered with. With the epic sound the band throws to the table, Bruce puts in his vocals and the sound is complete in a way. But they are certainly not cheesy, this is where Bruce is different from most none screaming or growling metal vocalists in the respect that it doesn’t sound like its been lifted from some geeky video game (not that video games are all geeky but you get the idea) and are so very listenable. Bruce, rather than going for technical ability in his vocals, just goes out there and sings and keeps you interested.
Iron Maiden, having established themselves at the top of the food chain with albums such as Powerslave, and Number of the beast, have once again showed the world they are still at the top and running rampant. Why shouldn’t they? Being in their late forties is not a draw back, the experience they have gathered over the years shows and pays off. Awesome riffs, fantastic solos, excellent bass lines, some of the best drumming ive heard for a while and oh yeah the vocals are ok (just kidding their grand!). Perhaps the only dwnside to the album are the vocals, as some poeple who don't quite worship Bruce, may lose interest or get annoyed even though they are fairly good. Chas’ recommendation is that all Maiden fans go out and buy now, any casual metal listener will enjoy this, and that its one of my albums of the year.
Guitar work is af fine quality
Bassing as good as it always has been
Drumming is also as good as it has been
Well to be picky I guess Bruce's vocals may wear thin on some
These Colours don’t run
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg