Comeback albums for veteran bands tend to suck. All the spirit is long-gone, and the only true motivation is money. However, some bands manage to keep their reputation intact through the years. Such a band is Iron Maiden. When Iron Maiden MK5 (with Blaze Bayley) gave way to the long-expected return of MK4 (the formation that had played in 1990"s No Prayer For The Dying
), expectations were high. And the band delivered. Sort of. As good as Brave New World
was, it incurred in too many long-winded and slightly boring moments, that took interest from the album as a whole. So when Dance Of Death
came out, I was extremely doubtful about whether there was some real quality to it. The weird, Eddie-less artwork and the clich"d song lyrics (Rainmaker
, Gates Of Tomorrow
) seemed to indicate otherwise. However, I found this one on discount and decided to give it a go.
As soon as I popped the record into my CD player""wawn, two, a-wawn, two, th"ee, faw!"
Cor blimey! Iron Maiden are alive and kicking! After more than 25 years, the band continues to deliver with the same quality as always! Believe me, I am NOT exaggerating when I say that this is the best damn Maiden album since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
! Iron Maiden seem to be back with a vengeance, and that"s certainly a good thing.
This album bridges the gap between Piece Of Mind
-era Maiden and their more progressive later stages. The two initial tracks, the much-maligned Wildest Dreams
and the excellent Rainmaker
(with shades of Flight Of Icarus
) are representative of the former, while longer tracks such as Paschendale
or New Frontier
are closer to the band"s recent past. However, these moments end up being slightly weaker than the more straightforward ones, constituting somewhat skippable tracks.
Another aspect that immediately comes across is how much better the band got in these five years or so. Bruce"s voice is now much more multi-layered, sometimes approaching Ozzy or James Rivera territory, and the Smith/Murray/Gers triad seems to have added a new, more rollicking dimension to their riffs and soloing. As for Harris"well, Harris is Harris! His technical yet uncomplicated playing remains unaltered since day one. The same can be said of Nicko McBrain"s usual steady beats.
Overall, this album sounds fresh
. It may be surprising, considering how long Maiden have been around, but apparently the band wanted to respond to all those younger bands that so blatantly rip them off. This is why, ever so often, the band comes close to American power metal territory, without ever losing their more than established musical identity.
Sure, all the Maiden clich"s are here: a fast opening track, one with a hand-picked guitar intro (No More Lies
), one that strongly recalls Where Eagles Dare
, which also has a very similar thematic) and so on. But not for once does this sound like a mere re-hashing of past glories. This is an album in its own right, and a good one at that. Gentlemen, you have my sword.
: First three tracks, energy and vigour that the band display, Bruce"s vocals, the fact that the band didn"t sell out yet.
: The occasional dull moment.
No More Lies
Gates Of Tomorrow