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Iron Maiden - "A Matter of Life and Death" (CD)

Iron Maiden - "A Matter of Life and Death" CD cover image

"A Matter of Life and Death" track listing:

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

Reviewed by on February 6, 2009

"intelligent, thoughtful lyrics run rampant alongside well-orchestrated music that fans have come to love from Iron Maiden."

Unlike many aging bands, Iron Maiden doesn't rest solely on material from their heyday.

With the release of "A Matter of Life and Death" in 2006, Iron Maiden proved they can still rock as hard as the newer metal bands that no doubt found inspiration from the heavy metal institution of the 1980s.

Also apparent is Iron Maiden's ability to accept and even embrace Bruce Dickinson's gritty, aged voice. The album is still laden with Dickinson's perpetual energy, but the deep concepts of religion and war found in songs such as "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" and "The Legacy" are better suited for Dickinson's coarse vocals.

On the other hand, fans might shy away from the fact that the band is missing the clear, bone-chilling voice that rattled metal listeners through the 1980s and earned Dickinson the nickname "Air Raid Siren." If fans can accept that Iron Maiden isn't the same band they were in the early days, then they will enjoy this album.

The resounding, complex sound for which Iron Maiden is known still holds true. Being one of the few bands that can support three guitarists, Adrian Smith, Janick Gers, and Dave Murray generate harmonizing guitars that continue to astound. Steve Harris remains an iconic bassist, creating bellowing bass lines for every song on the album, perfectly accented by Nicko McBrain’s energetic drums.

From the up-tempo, opening song "Different World" to the dark and religious "Lord of Light," intelligent, thoughtful lyrics run rampant alongside well-orchestrated music that fans have come to love from Iron Maiden.

"These Colours Don't Run" stands out as an impressive war epic, starting off slow and simple before building a hefty crescendo throughout the song, although it doesn't live up to battle anthems like "The Trooper" or "Aces High." Harmonized guitars and powerful drums make "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" reminiscent of "Powerslave."

"The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" grabs your attention and holds on tight every time you listen to this album. With a meandering intro, the song builds into a heavy, hard-hitting tale of sin, hell, and begging forgiveness that brings Iron Maiden to a level of heavy metal beyond "The Number of the Beast."

If you're a true fan of Iron Maiden or you love gritty, heavy metal, pick up "A Matter of Life and Death." Just don't expect them to sound exactly like the spandex-clad group you've always known.

Highs: A solid album with a matured sound, and "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" brings out the heavy metal for which Iron Maiden is known

Lows: Bruce Dickinson's obviously aging voice

Bottom line: A great choice for those who long for heavy metal from the 1980s

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)