|Iron Maiden A Matter Of Life And Death||EMI|
Good album - much better effort than the last one and an improvement in sonic quality also. In this case I have handed over the review to Mick Ward, whose metal reviews are occasionally featured here. He is a massive Maiden, fan, so who better to analyze this release. Over to Mick:|
Review By Mick Ward.
'For the passion, for the glory, For the memories, for the money, You're a soldier, for your country, What's the difference, all the same…These colours don't run, from cold bloody war.'
Once typical barnstorming opener Different Worlds makes way for These Colours Don't Run it becomes quite clear that Maiden are out for blood. These veterans haven't sounded so bold, angry and dark, nor as energetic since in their 80's heyday. A Matter of Life and Death is a chaotic album of exceptional proportions, epic ambitious and brimming with certainty. It muscles its way in with such controlled aggression even repeated listens don't ease the burden of selecting the better tracks. A Matter of Life and Death is certainly the most consistent and convincing Maiden has sounded for a very, very long time!
The album mostly focuses on the chaos of war, but I can't remember when Iron Maiden has sounded so lyrically compelling. Not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, the band has delivered a stirring, thought-provoking album, one that never sounds forced. If the lyrics above for These Colours Don't Run didn't convince you, for credentials look no further than Steve Harris' For the Greater Good of God.
'Are you man of peace or man of holy war, Too many sides to you, Don't know which anymore'.
Or its closing lyrics…
'He gave his life for us he fell upon the cross, To die for all of those who never mourn his loss, It wasn't meant for us to feel the pain again, Tell me why…'
The progressive leanings on A Matter of Life and Death are out front and almost every song contorts and ascends into something that, while typical of Maiden, also manages to remain stimulating and unique.
Some may be disheartened by the longer than lengthy songs on offer here, but when considering the depth of each of these tunes, it can be appreciated why this is. Whilst The Pilgrim is a storming number reminiscent of the Powerlsave era that clocks in just over five minutes, at the other end of the scale The Legacy for example cracks the nine minute mark. Yet The Legacy is crammed with such impressive progression and brilliance it is worth its every second.
Song-wise the only possible glitch is the inclusion of the Dickinson solo sounding track Out of the Shadows. With its sly wink back to his very own Tears of a Dragon amongst others, the tune is slightly alienated from the rest of the album due to nothing more than sounding like you've heard it before. Other than that, it's a fine song. To put it simply each song on A Matter of Life and Death is worthy of mention and dissection but I don't have anywhere near the space here to do the songs the justice they truly deserve.
Take it as a given that each and every composition is magnificent and shows Maiden are finally moving forward while at the same time ensuring to respect their history.
The idea not to mix the album was wise. In doing so the album doesn't come across as over produced and remains raw and live, helping the band to sound tight and like a unit. And if on occasion Dickinson sounds like he is straining then that's good because he sounds real and better for it! He hasn't sounded this good, so cutting, so insane and brilliant in years.
The packaging is top notch (make sure to grab your limited edition with DVD bonus!) and it is quite fitting that while the album boasts some fantastic artwork typical of an Iron Maiden album cover, the band are photographed in normal attire in an everyday setting, no window dressing, just letting the music speak for itself.
Oh, and on that subject matter of war… Here then stand the victors!
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