Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006)

Iron Maiden - A Matter Of Life And Death

Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006, Sanctuary)

  1. Different World
  2. These Colours Don’t Run
  3. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
  4. The Pilgrim
  5. The Longest Day
  6. Out Of The Shadows
  7. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
  8. For The Greater Good Of God
  9. Lord Of Light
  10. The Legacy

DVD Extra:

  1. The making of The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
  2. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg video
  3. Studio performance footage of Different World
  4. Photo gallery

Total Time – 72:06
DVD Total Time – 46:12 

Band Lineup:
Bruce Dickinson – Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass & Keyboards
Dave Murray – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Janick Gers – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Adrian Smith – Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Nicko McBrain – Drums

Iron Maiden official website

Released on September 5th, A Matter Of Life And Death, the new album by Heavy Metal legends Iron Maiden has caused quite a bit of discussion among fans and critics around the world. The discussion centers around the length of each track, the epic songwriting, and the Progressive vibe the music contains. Many fans and critics are pointing to the length of each track, the writing of epics, as a disappointment. Many people want Maiden to revert back to the early 1980s and write songs that are more straight forward and shorter…, if you will.

Since Iron Maiden re-emerged on the musical landscape in 1999, with vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith back in the fold, the band has gone in a more Progressive Metal direction while retaining it’s signature wall of sound. Previous albums with the reunited “classic” lineup, Brave New World (2000) and Dance Of Death (2003), each contained songs with a more Progressive flavor and an expanded length. Of the ten songs on Brave New World, seven were in excess of 6 minutes long. On Dance of Death, six out of ten were over 6 minutes long with a 7th, ‘Montsegur’ coming close at 5:50. On the current album, seven out of ten songs are in excess of 6 minutes. Obviously, the band has been leaning toward longer, more intricate songs for the last six years, making the length and style a non-issue. If we look back to previous albums, Maiden has crafted some of the best epics of the genre: ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ (1984), ‘Alexander The Great’ (1986), ‘The Clansman’ (1998) to name a few. So this is nothing new and I find it irrelevant. What matters most is the quality of each song.

High quality is what you get on A Matter Of Life And Death. The musicianship, especially the triple guitar attack of Murray/Smith/Gers, is top-notch and Dickinson’s voice sounds as powerful as it did on classic albums of yore. On the first few listens, Bruce’s performance stood out the most, his voice full and rich, able to maintain a healthy range from low to high without a drop in power. I compare it to his brilliant performance on his 1998 solo album, The Chemical Wedding. What else would you expect from a band as highly regarded as Iron Maiden? Each member an expert at their instrument and craft, the execution never an issue.

The first six songs on this new album absolutely smoke! They are by far the strongest on the album, my personal favorites being ‘Different World’, ‘These Colours Don’t Run’, and ‘Out Of The Shadows’. I don’t particularly care for the first single, ‘The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg’. Not sure why really, it’s a good song but it didn’t really grab me like the first six did.

The last four songs, including ‘Benjamin Breeg’, all clock in at over 7 minutes and are all quality epic compositions. If we were still in the vinyl/cassette days, these four songs would comprise Side 2 and I think it would require a more closer listen to absorb all the different aspects of each track. Of the last four songs, my favorite has to be ‘The Legacy’. It starts very slow and calm, and builds into a grand wall of sound. I really enjoy the acoustic guitars and bass in this song, that blend into the wall of electric, yet are always underneath keeping an even flow and contrast. ‘The Legacy’ is one of the strongest tracks on a very powerful album.

Bottom Line:
Iron Maiden has put out another classic album. An album that requires the listener to actually listen closely to take in the full scope of each song. It’s ambitious, grand, and fresh to my ears. It is also a continuation of Iron Maiden’s Progressive Metal direction they have leaned to thoughout their career but have really explored since their resurgence in 1999. At a time when popular music is a “cookie-cutter” industry, and many Metal bands in all genres try too hard to be seen as different, bands like Iron Maiden come in and just create music that is an extension of themselves and the music of their past. A Matter Of Life And Death is superb and will easily be at the top of my Best of 2006 list.

18 comments on “Iron Maiden – A Matter Of Life And Death (2006)

  1. I agree with your review. I like the progressive direction, and I wouldn’t want Maiden to try to recreate the singles from Beast or Powerslave, because they probably wouldn’t do it just the way we might like and it would come off bad. Better that they do what they want–the results speak for themselves.

    — david

  2. Good review. If bands kept regeritating the same old material, things would get boring. A group that has been around as long as Maiden need to grow to stay fresh. And I say good job.


  3. I love the album too. Not sure if I like it as much as I liked Dance of Death, but it is real close. Nice review, I agree about The Legacy. I was never a big fan of Gers, but he wrote a masterpiece with this one.

  4. Interestingly enough, I’ve talked to fans at shows recently about the album and everyone speaks with deference of it. It’s like Maiden is back to their exalted status again and I love it. The younger fans are the ones I’m happiest for, because when I discovered Killers from a cousin-in-law who wanted to erase my top-40 listening habits, I realized that Iron Maiden was the second coming of something…I don’t know what, but they changed my life forever.

    Nicko was jokingly defensive about the epic issue in our interview and I can tell you it’s not going to change should Maiden do further studio records. My initial shock at these epics were that they sounded like a bunch of old Maiden tracks merged into a marathon medley, but I kept listening to it and it’s just such a great album. I feel pretty safe it’ll make my top 10 list come year’s end.

  5. At first, i was disappointed by the songs. i expected at least one song to be “Old School” Maiden, like on the last two albums, Wickerman and Wildest Dreams. Different World comes close, but still not the old style.

    The more I listened to it, the more I began to appreciate it’s inticate details to melodies, harmonies, and the wail of Bruce’s powerful voice.

    I do love this album, but I miss the old style gallops on the bass, the insane solo’s, and the roar of fast paced guitars. Honestly, i just think they got too old to play the old way, so they went in a different direction.

  6. Maiden could try to remake the old stuff over and over again, or simply tour for years on the market strength of the greatest hits package, but they’re actually trying to remain relevant and creative. That’s to be commended. I, too, think that this latest album is very good and I’m surprised at how much I find myself wanting to hear it. It’s great to see Maiden still growing without changing so radically that the changes seem like a desperate gimick. They’re still a great band. God bless ’em!

  7. I’m a huge Maiden fan. This album is awesome. Bruce’s vocals are excellent, and Steve Harris’ bass lines are just as consistent as ever, but the one thing I keep seeing left out is the AWESOME drumming of Nikko on this album. I listened to an interview of Bruce Dickinson, and he praised Nikko as the highlight of this album, and I totally agree…

  8. AMOLAD is in my eyes (and ears) the best maiden has done since seventh son. “for the greater good of god” and Brighter than a thousand suns are definitly the stand out tracks, certainly the most progressive. I’ll hv to say ALBUM OF THE YEAR

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