Iron Maiden - A matter of life and death 3/5

Reviewed: 11-3-06





Tracklist:

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


Iron Maiden's latest is getting a lot of hype from fans as their "Best since Seventh Son". Not that that's really the highest of praise, but even so I can't quite be as enthusiastic about this CD as many others seem to be. It certainly falls way short of the masterpiece that is 'Seventh son of a seventh son' and all that preceded it in their catalog. The fact is, the 3 Iron Maiden CDs since their reunion with Bruce Dickinson have produced solid material marred by flaws and mistakes the band insists on making CD after CD. This CD practically smacks you in the face with its ridiculous excess.

By far the biggest problem with the 3 reunion CDs has been the vast majority of the songs clock in at well over 6 minutes. Now, I love a good old fashioned classic epic Maiden track as much as anyone, but these songs aren't epics. They are 4 minute songs that are inexplicably stretched to ridiculous lengths by boring, pointless, slow intros and "progressive" middle sections that are generally entertaining but don't really have anything to do with the song they are contained in. This CD is ridiculous with this problem as nearly every track has one of these slow quiet intros and many last for a couple minutes before the song gets going. My favorite track on this CD (by far) is "For the greater good of god" which actually feels like a genuine epic, but even it is marred by Harris simply doodling on his bass for a minute before Dickinson rescues us by singing the first line, thereby allowing the song to start.

I also feel this CD has some lesser material on it. "Different world" is fine as an opener, but its tempo and tone render it almost identical to the opening tracks on the last 2 CDs ("Wicker man" and "Wildest dreams"). "Out of the shadows" sounds like a quiet intro that never really gets going into a song. It also strikes me as a far lesser version of Dickinson's "Man of sorrows" from his (excellent) 'Accident of birth' solo CD (which KILLS all Iron Maiden CDs since '7th son' in my opinion). "The legacy" is my least favorite track. It's supposed to be this CD's big, closing epic. But, sadly we've been listening to seemingly a whole CD of these "epics" and the formula is painfully tedious at this point. "The legacy" doesn't help things by sounding more like a disjointed combination of parts rather than a cohesive song.

Still, there are songs on here I enjoy. "For the greater good of god" is a standout epic, with genuine emotion behind it that leaves a powerful impression. "The pilgrim" actually spares us the quiet intro that is almost mandatory on this CD and feels the most like an honest to goodness Iron Maiden song. "Brighter than a thousand sons" is also a pretty strong track.

So there's really a good amount of solid material on this CD. It just tends to get buried in the flab that Harris and company keep insisting on wrapping all of their songs into. I also feel that since Adrian Smith returned with Dickinson to the band, they have squandered the opportunity for killer 3-part guitar harmonies that they should have now. I still enjoy the band, and this CD is worth owning for die-hard Maiden fans, but the time since Maiden really put out a classic CD is getting longer and longer. I really wish they would just let Roy Z. produce their next CD, since he continues to make superior CDs with Bruce Dickinson.



JOHN




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