Iron Maiden
A Matter of Life and Death


4.5
superb

Review

by northerncomfort USER (26 Reviews)
December 9th, 2006 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Unfortunately let down by a couple of good but not classic songs, this remains an awesome album, maintaining song quality but adding a poilitcal edge to their songs.

Iron Maiden have been oft referred to me as a one note band. And indeed, their trademark gallops, twin guitar attacks and Bruce's air horn vocals may give the band a potentially boring and repetetive sound. However, whilst their sound may be distinctive to say the least, the band are far from a one note band, as showcased by this, their latest release.

Alright, the music may not be a huge departure. Twin Guitars and Bruces vocals remain intact, and even the gallop reappears on Lord of Light after being left behind on Dance of Death. However, it doesn't remain static where Dance of Death left off. The epics are longer and more ambitious, the rockier songs are more anthematic and songs are darker. However, the real departure is in the message delivered.

Maiden haven't really been a politically out spoken band. Indeed, the only song I can really think from their back catalogue whch aspires to comment on the state of the world is Childhoods End. However, this changes on A Matter of Life and Death, with almost all of the canon being a comment on society, technology and war.

This takes them dangerously close to Spinal Tap like ludicrousness. However, they stay just on side, and they do it in style. Opener 'Different Worlds' is superb, with Bruces vocals dead on and the chorus' being one of the best they have delivered. Though they should be running out of twin guitar refrains, they get a cracker for this song, and why it wasn't the first single still confuses me. These Colours Don't Run is even better. Whether the title is a reference to the osbourne incident or whether Bruce's famous tirade came from the title, I know not, but either way, this song is as rousing as any, with a chorus that will make your hair stand on end and a subtlely heavy riff.

The next two songs, whilst still both very strong, let the quality slip a bit. Brighter than a Thousand Suns is extreemly ambitious and the message is hard hitting, but it just doesn't click. the Pilgrim meanwhile is something of a Filler track as far as I can tell. Despite being a strong song, it doesn't stand out and there is little of note here.

The Longest Day however brings it right back up, with some real venom in the vocals and a brilliantly built up verse. The chorus achieves the near impossible feat of showing hope in the midst of the D Day landings, not a small achievement, and still manages to be a great diatribe against the mechanical nature of the army.

One of the amazing things about this album is it feels like an album, rather than a collection of songs. This is best illustrated by The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg. As a single, I was a little dissapointed with it. It didn't seem right. Put in the midst of the rest of the album though, and it works a treat. becoming a near classic. This sense of a complete album means that even with less amazing tracks such as Out of the Shadow, they still seem worth listening to, and is a great departure from the 'write a single and ten fillers' philosophy contaminating the music scene at the moment.

The last three are all good, but one of them stands above all of the other songs on this album. For the Greater Good of God manages to be both the best epic Harris has committed to audio and the most thought provking song by an 80's metal band. The instrumental section is the strongest of the album, harking back to the monumental mid section of Dance of Death (the song), whilst the second chorus must surely be one of the greatest out of all genres, let alone the metal scene. That the last two don't quite top this quality isn't too surprising, but they are by no means let downs. The Legacy in particular is an interesting song in which Janeck Gers gets to show off his songwriting skills.

A Matter of Life and Death is not the perfect album. However, it is an album filled with classic songs, and manages to comment on issues such as opinion, war, technology, militarisation and religion whilst remaining creditable. The solos might not be as iconic as previous albums, but they enhance the songs, and performances from the players are what you'd expect from professionals who have been playing together for almost 30 years. Iron Maiden were never a one note band, but the addition of political comment to their arsenal gives them one extra dimension to their output, which was already among the best in the world.

Footnote.
For anyone interested, benjamin Breeg was actually an insane artist, orphaned as a baby, who's birth date is unknown and who went missing in 1973. Presumed dead. He suffered from syphillis and 'drew what he saw in his head.' Anyone wanting to know what this might be can look inside the Benjamin Breeg single sleeve. Cheers.



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user ratings (2146)
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Altmer
December 9th 2006


5704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This review lacks paragraphing.



Paragraphs are your friends.



So please make new friends.



On the content and rating, I find this to be an enormously overrated album.

Dethtrasher
December 9th 2006


2211 Comments


You need to edit your format big time, at least make some paragraphs.

Bfhurricane
December 9th 2006


6247 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Nice review but a few problems. Bolds and Italics would look nicely. You should edit this and make some paragraphs. Other than that I liked most of what you wrote. And it's not "The Curse of Benjamin Breeg" its "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg."

You should also, for future reference, make more note of individuals in the band. Instead of referring to the "twin guitars" use more of their names like Dave or Janick. Then you got a perfect review :thumb:



aww come on, the Pilgrim might be my favorite track on here!



very interesting footnote too. That's the first I've heard of his real lifeThis Message Edited On 12.09.06

Mikesn
Emeritus
December 9th 2006


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My favourite song here is Brighter Than a Thousand Suns.



But yeah, just divide your reviews into paragraphs. It's a lot easier to read.



And that Benjamin Breeg thing was supposedly created by the band/management to get people into the album.

northerncomfort
December 9th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thakyou very much for comments. Will bear in mind. The Breeg thing I found out about from a request by a faminly member ages ago to find him. I saw it before the album came out, and it bore no relation to the song, but would appear to be the right sort of info.

northerncomfort
December 9th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Sorry, just don't feel the Pilgrim and Thousand Suns quit get it right. This Message Edited On 12.09.06

northerncomfort
December 9th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Edited the review. Any better? (How the hell did I get the song name wrong! My god I'm stupid)

Mikesn
Emeritus
December 9th 2006


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It still looks the same...



Try puting < br/ > between the paragraphs, only wit no spaces. If that doesn't work, then I don't know...



Also, Maiden's done quite a few social commentaries. There are like seven on the Brave New World album.

Atica
December 9th 2006


42 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Your review is quite hard to read.



I like this album.

northerncomfort
December 9th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

On Brave New World, i feel it is more to do with concept rather than modern life. This is an opinion though. I'll try it, if it doesn't work, well maybe I should just write better reviews. Cheers.

Mikesn
Emeritus
December 9th 2006


3708 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Alright it's fixed. Decent review.

Altmer
December 10th 2006


5704 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i still don't get how you guys rate this a 4.5, it's boring

Jondur
December 13th 2006


92 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Get's 3.5 from me. I think it's a good album. Better than DoD anyway which was lacklustre to these ears.



Speaking of which I disagree strongly that Different World has any sort of decent chorus, it;s rubbish. I can't see why they chose it as opener.



But nice review.



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