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Having been reviewing some of their later albums recently, I have noticed that the release of the albums since Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith re-joined the band have coincided with big events in my own life! Brave New World 2000, we had just had Borgette and we were getting used to being parents. Dance of Death, 2003, Borgeth had just been born. This 2006 album was released just after my divorce, and I was getting used to life as a divorcee, living alone and all that wonderful (sarcasm) time. Last year's (2010) release coincided with my move from my flat to my house. So... seeing as Iron Maiden appear to release a new studio album every three years, I wonder was 2013 has in store for me.
But enough of that, what of this album, their 14th release which reached number 4 in the UK album charts?
Let's have a quick look at the Tracks:
1. "Different World" (Adrian Smith, Steve Harris) 4:17
2. "These Colours Don't Run" (Bruce Dickinson, Smith, Harris) 6:52
3. "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" (Dickinson, Harris, Smith) 8:44
4. "The Pilgrim" (Janick Gers , Harris) 5:07
5. "The Longest Day" (Dickinson, Smith, Harris) 7:48
6. "Out of the Shadows"( Dickinson, Harris) 5:36
7. "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" (Harris, Murray) 7:22
8. "For the Greater Good of God" (Harris) 9:24
9. "Lord of Light" (Dickinson, Smith, Harris) 7:23
10. "The Legacy" ( Harris, Gers, Harris) 9:22
Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Adrian Smith - Guitar
Steve Harris - Bass
Dave Murray - Guitar
Nicko McBrain - Drums
Janick Gers - Guitar
Different World is a toe-tapping, arse-kicking introduction to this album - fast-paced and full of energy. These Colours Don't Run is a passionate song with an anthem-like chorus. There is also a wonderful instrumental piece in the middle with some fine guitar work. Next up is Brighter than a Thousand Stars: don't be fooled by the gentle opening, things soon heat up with a stonker of a riff and a chaotic, apocalypse-like feel to this epic song.
A drum beat is the intro for the next song, The Pilgrim. This is a satisfactory toe-tapper. Then we have The Longest Day. Like a lot of the songs on this album its theme is that of war. A quiet beginning which slowly erupts. Another long song there is the usual instrumental pieces within. Next up is Out of the Shadows, which begins loudly and then quietens a bit before moving steadily along in a good hard rock manner.
The single from the album The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg is next up. This is one they play regularly on Planet Rock. A strange choice for single as it is quite a long song. A quiet introduction, things soon pick up to form a classic metal anthem. Next we have For the Greater Good of God, not only another long title, but another long song. Things start quietly again and a fine bass-line marches on to be joined with a gentle vocal from Dickinson, followed by several changes in pace and great guitar work. Lord of Light in next, which begins like a ticking clock and an almost hectic but gentle riff. We have some nice quiet guitar work and a great metal riff to liven things up a bit. We end with The Legacy, another epic of a track to round things off.
Overall, this is a great album which is sadly spent too often on my shelf and un-played. We have some truly great moments in this album and some great musicianship. I cannot pinpoint a certain song that sticks with me, unless you count The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, but I think this is an album you have to put on and play in its entirety rather than pick off the odd song here and there.
Still going strong by their fourteenth album, the modern Iron Maiden sound (developed since the return of singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999) has reached its peak by this point, whether fans like it or not. Despite some claims, this isn't up there with the band's classic period that spanned the 1980s and burnt out as soon as the nineties kicked in, but to its credit it doesn't attempt to return to that sound, pushing forward with a distinctive, heavy-going and more consistent sound than the band has displayed for nigh on twenty years.
Many of the songs here are overlong or repetitive, but the album is arranged so well that it really isn't an issue to the patient listener. Even the similar-sounding sections of songs, such as the triplet rhythms, are excusable for tying the whole thing together musically, if not lyrically, and there's a clear sense of direction from the comparatively short pop metal opener 'Different World' through to the darkest recesses of the thrashy 'Lord of Light' and dirgey finale 'The Legacy.' Anyone who enjoyed the darker sound of the band's overlooked 1995 album 'The X Factor' should enjoy the style being applied more consistently and with greater flair here, but those searching for upbeat, cheesy heavy metal in the style of 'Can I Play With Madness' will be greatly disappointed.
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
On first listening I was very wary of this new CD. A hardcore Maiden fan for over 20 years, I had seen them go through many changes in the type of music they'd released. With the returning to the fold of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith 6 years ago. Brave New World was a triumphant return. Dance Of Death was a further reach of that branch. While being of the same avenue but stretching the sound and quality in a more mature and rich direction.
A Matter Of Life And Death, on first listening gave me a few concerns. I could hear no trademark Maidenisms. After a complete listening, I wasn't that impressed. More concerned to be honest. The first few tracks were good, but never lit the touch paper. The next track. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, was available on their website and was an established classic. As was the first single; The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg. All the tracks were slow to begin and seemed reminicent of the mid ninties era with Blaze Bailey, where the tracks were good but looked for more diverse, arty sounds....
Then I realised the problem. The very first time I listened to it. It was on my iPod. Which was on "SHUFFLE". In a mixed up state, the CD made no sense. Everything seemed slow.
Then I put it all in order and had another listen.
From the first notes of Different World to last of The Legacy, this is quite simply the best CD this band have ever produced....
May I say (As a biased Maiden fan) , the best CD I have ever had the privelege to listen to.... EVER....
The whole band has excelled themselves. From Nickos resonating drumbeats to Steve's, as ever, solid bass foundations.
The guitar work from all 3 is just amazing. Everything fits perfectly. For example, as Out Of The Shadows finishes. Which is a nod to a rock ballad type track. The way it finishes perfectly brings in the next track. As do all the tracks.
Bruce's vocals are amazing. The images he makes and the sheer intensity you feel when he sings only solidify the sheer ability of both him and this band.
There are 2 stand out tracks on the CD.
The Longest Day - The vocal work alone gives me goosebumps.
and The Greater Good Of God - This is quite simply one of my favourite tracks ever written by this band.
I can see ALL these tracks live with the typical Maiden live treatment!!!
When the band talk about this being the best thing they've ever made on the DVD in the Special Edition format. They clearly are not lying, nor is it spin for the sake of the press kit....
If you ask any Maiden fan to name his or her favourite track... You'll get more than one answer, even from the same person. Likewise, if you ask the same questions of the CD's they've produced. You'll get the same problem. Multiple answers....
However, while the back catalogue of Iron Maiden is vast and full of classics. You'll be hard pushed to find a CD so complete and worth your money....
Buy it now.....
You won't be disappointed...