Newest Review: ... the British flag on stage. That is something I really look forward to when I see the band in other countries. "Dance of Death" ... more
Maiden on the Road
Death On The Road: Live - Iron Maiden
Member Name: Jarisleif
Death On The Road: Live - Iron Maiden
Advantages: Live Iron Maiden
Disadvantages: A few too many long tracks
"Death on the Road" is a live album produced by Kevin Shirley & Steve Harris and released on EMI in 2005 by British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. The line-up for the album was Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Steve Harris (bass) and Nicko McBrain drums).
This is an album which was recorded at the Westfallenhalle Arena in Dortmund, Germany. It was also released on DVD with the filmed footage but I am concentrating on the CD review here. It comprised of 16 tracks which spanned out over 2 CDs and it had a good blend of old and new Iron Maiden songs. Some of them were surprisingly included and some were strangely missed out. The album reached No.22 on the UK album charts and spawned one single, "The Trooper", which peaked at No.5 in the UK singles charts. Is it any good? Let's find out!
"Wildest Dreams" gets things off to a nervous start. Although it's a fast-paced song with a neat little guitar riff and hook in the pre-chorus, the chorus itself is dull and laborious. The song is catchy enough and is a good rocking number, but it's a little basic if I'm honest. Its one true saviour is a lightning quick solo that smacks of old school Maiden. So I guess the problem I have with it is the lyrics. Everything else sounds really good. Adrian Smith commented, "It's a very immediate, very instant and very in your face song. It's not one of our 9 minute jobs so it fits in well with our older, classic stuff which is why we chose to play it on the Give Me 'Ed festival tour. At the very first show we played, even by the second verse people were trying to sing along to words they'd never even heard before. But by the end of it loads more had learned the chorus and were singing too - for me that's the true sign of a great song."
"Wrathchild" comes in with Steve Harris' noteable chugging bass which leads to some great guitar playing with interesting notes. What I especially like about this song is the chorus. You get the feeling of a band that's out there having fun, and Adrian Smith has played a huge part in that. His guitar playing style is completely different to that of Dave's or Janick's, yet they complement each other really well. Steve Harris says ""Wrathchild" was originally recorded on a compilation album called "Metal For Muthas" along with "Sanctuary". That was before we had a record contract. The album version is pretty different. A lot of people asked us why we didn't put it on the first album. By the time we did "Killers" we weren't happy with that version so we wanted to record it properly. The guitar frills around the vocals were from Adrian. Originally they weren't there but when Adrian joined the band he decided to put them in."
"Can I Play With Madness" is one of Iron Maiden's most well-known songs, and continues the story of the Seventh Son with the father going to see a prophet to find out what his visions mean and what, if anything, he can do about them. The prophet is telling him he really doesn't want to know what he knows but the man needs to know. It's a cheerful song with some great guitar work by Murray and Smith who seem to be on another planet when it comes to recording music, in the sense that they're together in perfect unison. You don't really hear Steve Harris' bass too much on this song, but that's not the be all, end all, because it's a song that doesn't require much bass or drums, and when you've got those guitar attacks backed with Dickinson's amazing voice, the rhythm section is barely noticeable.
"The Trooper" is probably one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs of their entire discography. I like everything about this song from the opening to the galloping guitars with a good dosage of brilliant vocals from Dickinson and wonderful solo playing by Smith & Murray. I especially like the way the two guitarists play the same main riff but with slightly different pitches. It's a song about the Crimean War between 1853-56 and Lord Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade", published in 1854. Steve Harris said "The opening is meant to try and recreate the galloping horses in the charge of the light brigade. It's an atmospheric song." When Maiden play this song live, Dickinson will don a British officer's uniform from that time period and wave the British flag on stage. That is something I really look forward to when I see the band in other countries.
"Dance of Death" is a near 10-minute song that starts off acoustically in a slow build-up that Iron Maiden seems to like on a lot of long tracks. There's nothing wrong with this if you like that sort of thing, but it sounds too much like the same old that we've heard time and time again from Maiden when the songs are long. In fact, it actually sounds like the same intro to "Fear of the Dark", now I come to think of it, but in terms of brilliance, it's nowhere near what its counterpart was. The chorus is excellent, though, with some great guitar playing, especially the hook at the end of the riff. Bruce's vocals are put to the test here and he comes through with flying colours. Janick Gers commented, "The inspiration behind the title track came from a 1950s film called "The Seventh Seal". It's an old black and white Ingmar Bergman film which depicts a knight searching for reasons to live. What struck me was that he was looking around the world for something worth surviving and fighting for, but when the Grim Reaper finally came to claim him, the knight still wanted to survive long enough to find some faith in humanity in this world of plague and wars." Steve Harris also said "I tend to conjure up imagery within my own mind when I write lyrics. A lot of our songs have dark moods and are full of drama and I love all that epic film stuff. When you're searching for inspiration for lyrics, sometimes you do look towards certain sources like films or books and with the type of music that Maiden makes, then the moodier or the darker the subject matter, the better!"
"Rainmaker" opens up with a killer riff that I absolutely love, and for that alone it quickly became one my favourite songs off the album, "Dance of Death". It's a short song and Bruce's vocals sound the business here as he gives it the beans. The harmony is a little like "Deja-Vu" from the band's 1986 offering, "Somewhere in Time", and I have no problem at all with that because it sounds right to do it. The chorus slightly lets the song down, but not enough to stop me calling it a good track. Dave Murray said "I had a few riffs and some chord progressions all worked out and then Steve added some melodies to it before Bruce wrote the lyrics. I remember Bruce saying in the rehearsal studio one day that the intro riffs inspired him to think of raindrops and that's where the rainmaker concept sprung from. In fact, you could almost see the light bulb going on in his head as he thought about it - it was very inspiring."
"Paschendale" is a song that is based on the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917 during World War I, involving offensive manoeuvres by the British, French and Belgians, and with help by other nations against the German Empire. The content is a lot like what Motörhead did for their 1991 album and title track, "1916", but it obviously sounds a lot different. However, the lyrics just don't quite match the brilliance of the structure of the music. There are power chords-a-plenty here and some monstrous sounds coming from the drums and bass. While Bruce sings it well, the lyrics almost go by unnoticed because there's no poignancy at all, which is a real shame considering the historical significance of the song. Adrian Smith said "The music almost wrote itself and really suggested the theme for the song. While writing I could hear the different parts echoing the differing parts of a battle; a frantic part had to be about the conflict and another more relaxed section would definitely represent the calm before the storm or a lull before a counter attack. It's classic proggy Maiden territory for sure, but it's an area which I hadn't ever really attempted to write before. People usually associate me with our more commercial material like "Wasted Years" and "2 Minutes to Midnight", but I thought I'd have a go at writing a Maiden epic, and five days later I was still there writing it! I remember going to the library to get lyrical ideas and the very first book I saw was on the battle of Paschendale. The title alone just captured my imagination."
"Lord of the Flies" begins with a dirty guitar riff before it enters into the main part of the song. There aren't many songs from the Blaze Bayley era which survive Maiden's set lists, but this seems to be one of them which is used in rotation. It is a song based on the 1954 William Golding book of the same name. There's not much going on here, if I'm honest, apart from a pretty decent chorus and a clean solo from Gers. But then we come to the bridge and outro and everything changes as it starts to pick up a bit of venom. It's a song on which I like to site on the egde with, because I'm always drawn towards it but I'm pushed away at the same time.
"No More Lies" gives us a taste of what Maiden was trying to accomplish in 2000, with a dark and moody song that is quite lengthy. And again, there's something here that I have a problem with and have had a problem with for some time with Iron Maiden. The choruses just aren't good enough as far as lyrics go. It's almost as if the band puts every effort into everything else and then thinks "yeah, let's repeat one line on the chorus over and over. That's what the fans want to hear." Well sorry guys, that's really not what we want to hear. But where it lacks, it makes up in the amazing solo work from the guitarists which has classic Iron Maiden written all over it, and it's pretty easy for the trained ear to tell which guitarist plays which solo. Steve Harris noted, "This sounded amazing even in rehearsals for the album, so I think we all understood that it would be a strong live song - it's quite moody, like me! This isn't something I've mentioned often because people tend to get the wrong idea, but it has a lot to do with the Last Supper. It's also as if Jesus was going to make a comeback tomorrow and what that might have meant for him as an individual. I'm not religious at all but I do believe that people think more about stuff like this than they realise. It's something that's in everybody's lives on a day-to-day basis whether they admit it or not."
"Hallowed be Thy Name" is a monster of a track. Bruce's vocals are delivered with venom and ferocity here, especially when he holds the note for a full 14 seconds when singing the line "the sands of time for me are running low." This truly is a magnificent song, and one that I really enjoy listening to a lot. Some complexly played riffs are present but the song holds itself together well, building up from a slow and broody start through to a fast-paced ending. Steve Harris said "That's one of my favourite songs and still one we play live. We're trying to create a mood with the build-up of the song. The classical guitar-like opening was Dave building the mood, with bells in the background. It's about someone with only a few hours left to live. In concert the end part of this one takes off."
"Fear of the Dark" is another of my favourite songs on the album. In fact, it's probably in the top ten of my all-time favourite Iron Maiden songs - it really is that good. There are not many better feelings at a concert than watching the band play this song when it's an open-air gig and the sky is black. I've witnessed this a few times and it really doesn't get much better than that. This is the song that Dickinson gives it his all in his vocal capacity and it's a real shame that he didn't let go with all guns blazing for most of the others. Bruce Dickinson: "Steve, who wrote it, is really afraid of the dark. It's the story of a man who walks in a park at night and, as it's getting darker, he sees all sorts of worrying things. He becomes totally paranoid because his imagination is working overtime. It's a great track."
Up next is "Iron Maiden". You can absolutely guarantee that every Iron Maiden concert will feature this song. In the studio the song sounds a little watered on the guitar riffs but once you hear it live, it completely comes into its own. Eddie the Head usually makes an appearance in one form or another, too, and although it's difficult to name my favourite 10 Iron Maiden songs, I'm pretty sure this will be in there. Steve Harris said "As long as I can remember, we've closed our set with this song. It's quite simple; the bass line is fairly straightforward as is the drumming, but the guitar is over the top with harmony, and the bass is descending behind it. I think this makes it pretty special."
"Journeyman" is one of those songs that you just know would have sounded better had two or three minutes been cut out of it. For instance, the first minute didn't need to be there as it's just a slow and soft build-up to the beginning of Bruce Dickinson's vocal harmony. The singing of "I know what I want, I say what I want, and no one can take it away" repeated four times for the chorus isn't good at all. I'm beginning to wonder if Maiden should have done away with choruses at some point in the band's career! Bruce Dickinson said "This song started life as a chorus which we initially thought would turn into a big anthem affair. Then when we got our heads around it, we wondered what exactly we were going to do with it. We got quite trippy and dreamy with the verse and it worked. Lyrically, I had images of somebody making decisions with his heart regardless of where it was going to lead him in life, so it's about the journey that you're on and the chances that you have to make your choices and decisions. You can choose to rot away slowly or you can choose to go and do something mad and glorious - it's all up to you."
"The Number of the Beast" begins with actor Barry Clayton reciting a verse from Revelations:
"Woe to you, oh earth and sea,
for the devil sends the beast with wrath
because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
for it is a human number. Its number is six hundred and sixty six."
Steve Harris said "In America, a right-wing political pressure group accused the band of being Devil worshippers and of trying to pervert their kids. It was mad. They completely got the wrong end of the stick and they obviously hadn't read the lyrics. They just wanted to believe all that rubbish about us being Satanists." Musically, it's one of Iron Maiden's most famous songs and no concert the band puts on is without the song in the set list somewhere. Here's the strange thing, though. Don't let the song title fool you for one second because it's almost a happy-go-lucky number but with metal roots. The chorus is very pop-like and you can't help but sing along to it. Even close to the end of the song where Bruce sings, "I'm coming back. I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn", you still get the feeling that it's a joyous song with no evil intent. Ask many fans what their favourite Iron Maiden song is, and a lot will tell you it's this one. Others will say the next one on the album, too.
"Run to the Hills" has one of the most memorable Iron Maiden drum beats to it, and also one of the most recognised main riffs. Steve Harris commented on the song "This song is about the American Indians. It's written from both sides of the picture. The first part is from the side of the Indians and the second part is from the side of the soldiers. I wanted to try and get the feeling of galloping horses. When you play this one, be careful not to let it run away with you." As Steve Harris says, you really do get the feeling of horses at full pelt across the fields in battle with the galloping strums on the guitar strings. This is very easily my all-time favourite Iron Maiden song, partly for the nostalgia of being a kid and buying the single and partly because it's a very good number. In fact, just thinking about the song reminds me of the old red record player I had, loading up vinyl on the holding arm to play next.
In summary, while this is a good album, it is lacking in something. I think that may be because staple classic songs like "Heaven Can Wait", "Revelations" and "Aces High" are missing from the set list but it could also be the fact that some of the songs that were included are just too long. It's not that Maiden's performance isn't good - because it is - but I do like to hear quick fire songs when a band plays live instead of long and drawn out numbers. It feels to me like I get more for my money that way, but others may disagree. All in all, I do like the album but it's not Maiden's best live album by any means.
1. Wildest Dreams
3. Can I Play With Madness
4. The Trooper
5. Dance of Death
7. Brave New World
9. Lord of the Flies
1. No More Lies
2. Hallowed be Thy Name
3. Fear of the Dark
4. Iron Maiden
6. The Number of the Beast
7. Run to the Hills
My rating: 7/10
Summary: It's good, but give me more for my money.