Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death
Somehow I missed this one, and now I am behind in this Maiden series, so let’s give ‘er.
Different World kicks things off (is Nicko asking for Eddie?) with a great rocker. Everything has its place, and while it’s mid-3/4 tempo for these guys, it has all the right elements and just sounds bloody great. These Colours Don’t Run slowly builds. Hey, has Bruce brought back the growl vocals a little? Cool! Neat tempo-switch at the chorus, and the instrumental middle section is creative and engaging. Are Bruce’s vocals a bit low in this mix? Could just be my ears. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, by the time it builds, has this absolutely heavy riff wedged into the guitar line. Damn! In my headphones, the bottom just dropped right out for thse sections. Loved it! Another soaring Bruce chorus. Great guitar solos here. Yeesh, I just looked, this song is almost 9 minutes long! And it’s busy the whole time!
The Pilgrim is another in the same vein, a cool song that only Maiden can do. There is still that note, though, and this song has it. You know the one. Bruce always goes for it in the choruses and somehow he never quite gets there. It’s better than I could do, but the ear wants it and doesn’t quite get it. He actually sounded like he strained a bit with the vocals here, but that could just be me. The Longest Day makes me think that this entire album will be the same sort of thing. Sure, there’s lots of changes, but the main tempos are about the same. Not a whole lot of gallop, just mostly this mid-3/4 speed. It’s good. But it’s a lot of it, so I’m glad they try within the songs to shake things up. If this was all 4 minutes songs, it’d all sound the same.
That’s another thing. I’m looking at my iTunes playlist, and a lot of these songs exceed 7 minutes. Credit to the band for being so ambitious!
Out Of The Shadows finally shakes it up a bit, bringing things down to almost ballad (for Maiden) speed. Acoustic guitars! Cool. This one bashes away on a steady course and is a decent enough track. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg is an oddly-titled song, but it has most of the building blocks of those Maiden epics of old (whether it achieves that stature or not, I don’t know), with wicked soloing over a dirty, chugging and slinky guitar line.
For The Greater Good Of God suffers until Bruce lets the vocals wail. Some clunky lyrics in the intro. This track’s alright, but to me it was a bloody long 9 and a half minutes. I don’t go for overt religious tracks like that. I know I am not in the majority on this point, so it is what it is. Lord Of Light takes a long time to get going, but (finally!) we have a song that has sections that take off! One could be forgiven for thinking that this record wasn’t going to have a song like this on it. Overall, a well-done track. And finally, The Legacy has a pretty, acoustic intro. When it breaks loose, all I could think was: Dio could have rocked the vocals on this one! Don’t ask me why, it’s just what I thought. The song stomps along until well into its minutes, when it winds up and lets rip again, never relenting until the final 30-second acoustic outro, which could have been left off. Not every song needs to be bookended, if you ask me. But you didn’t ask me, so there you go.
This is a good record. Definitely ambitious. Reading the track list, one could wonder if Maiden had made a christian rock record. Maybe they did, I wouldn’t know. On first spin, I don’t really listen to the lyrics. This band has so much going for it, and so much going on, the lyrics aren’t the focus for me. I could have done without the christianity stuff I did notice, but that’s just me. These are strong songs, and they will sound fine in a live setting. I didn’t hear any songs that are instant Maiden Classics, but maybe time will give them a chance.
And now, because you deserve it, here is Mike’s far superior review:
His buddy Meat did a guest review of it, too.