IRON MAIDEN – A Matter Of Life And Death

IRON MAIDEN - A Matter Of Life And Death


Sanctuary / EMI
Release date: August 28, 2006

User Review
9/10 (1 vote)

Written by Frode Kilvik and Pål Johansen of Maiden Norway for Metal Express Radio

So you’ve heard about Benjamin Breeg, have you? Benjamin Breeg represents undoubtedly the most successful marketing of any Iron Maiden album to date, and has ensured an unusual amount of publicity. Who is he? Where is he from? Who or what has he reincarnated into? These questions were answered August 28th, 2006, as A Matter Of Life And Death, Iron Maiden’s 14th studio effort, was released.

The album kicks off with a classic Maiden opener, ”Different World,” a song written by chief Harris and axeman Smith. A fast rocker with a catchy chorus, this song follows the trail of Maiden openers such as “The Wicker Man” and “Wildest Dreams.” There’s a nice solo, where, of course, the other guitars slam straight through a power chord assault. Without a doubt the best opening track since 1992’s “Be Quick Or Be Dead” from the Fear Of The Dark album.

”These Colours Don’t Run” has a soft intro, then enters into a hard-rocking verse. The chorus is half-tempo, which is the same package as “Brave New World.” There will be jumping at the live shows here. There’s a great mid-section, where there is bound to be a sing-a-long to the guitars, and a blistering solo before going back to the soft sing-a-long theme. After another all right solo, then the song moves into the classic Maiden mode where Dickinson actually sings “Oooh, oooh ooooh” – you’ve heard that before lads … and again it works! A killer tune, and the first war epic on the album.

The third song out is “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns.” The intro is a lot like “Paschendale,” and maybe some Tool in it as well — when the main riff attacks you, you’re stunned. Powerful, dark, and mighty. Again you can hear Tool in it during some of the voice effects when Dickinson starts the verse. At 2:33 the song slows down, only to build up again, and Bruce again shows why he is called the “Air-Raid Siren!” After a beautiful solo, the song enters the lovely Maiden galloping rhythms that everyone all loves. Before entering the main riff, there is a killer part that takes the listeners back to Piece Of Mind. This is one of the strongest tracks on the entire album, and some may even claim this is one of their best songs ever. Classic Maiden for almost nine minutes!

Tee A Gers/Harris song is out next, called “The Pilgrim.” It’s a fast rocker, but the chorus is a bit strange, and may be the weakest chorus on the album. However, the rest of the song is wicked! It’s a Fear Of The Dark-era kind of song, especially during the part after the second to last chorus where it sounds a bit like “Fear Is The Key.”

The fifth track out of this massive album is “The Longest Day.” It has a galloping Harris intro, nice tones from the axemen, and the dark voice of Dickinson sets a great mood, and takes you right back to “To Tame A Land,” a journey that is worth taking. It’s the most entertaining track so far on the album. The pre-chorus is actually far better than the chorus, but together this works out great. After the 4:50 mark, a dark instrumental section enters along with an amazing lead, followed by a harmony that will be sung throughout stadiums later this year.

The legacy from “Wasting Love” continues with track six, “Out Of The Shadows.” There’s a great intro for this song and it’s well sung by Dickinson, resembling more “Tears Of The Dragon” than “Wasting Love,” but it still has a Maiden feel to it. The instrumental section on this track is pure greatness! There’s a bit of Zeppelin in this one, and Harris plays wonderfully on his bass.

The first single of the album, “The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg,” is next. The intro has a “Heaven Can Wait” touch combined with the Somewhere In Time sound. The main riff blows everything else away! The song demands quite a few listens, and after you do that, you’ll probably rate this as one of the best Maiden songs. The main riff is so hard and heavy, and Dickinson’s voice is a match made in heaven! First time listeners will find the solo section in the middle a bit odd, but this Progressive tinge will haunt you… a song that you can’t get out of your head! The chorus is also perfect as an audience can easily follow Dickinson here.

”For The Greater Good Of God” brings with it huge expectations to this Harris epic. Then again, he has created some of the best songs in Metal history, and this will probably follow that trail. With his galloping bass, the thundering drums, and lots of tempo changes, it’s all here for over 9 minutes! The instrumental section is what you expect from Iron Maiden, amazing lead guitars, dark and heavy Progressive riffs, hymn-a-longs with guitars… it is all there in a wonderful mix of Maiden madness! You can’t help but wonder, “where could Maiden go from here?”

”Lord Of Light” has a dark, soft intro like “Fear Of The Dark,” then after about a minute into the song, there’s a couple of guitar tricks that reminds of Tool, and then BANG, it becomes a fast rocker indeed. With a great chorus, “Lord Of Light” is a very special, yet standard, Maiden track. It jumps back and forth from hard and heavy to soft and “sleepy,” but has an embarrassing ending.

The final track off the album is “The Legacy.” The intro is very much Jethro Tull mixed with both AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, the chords from the electric-boosted guitar sends chills through your spine, and when the song after 3+ minutes finally starts (doesn’t matter, cause the building is pure genius) it is all about Zeppelin! A perfect album closer! It doesn’t sound like anything Maiden have done earlier, except from B-sides during No Prayer For The Dying. The chorus is also magnificent! After 5:30 it’s time to bang your head to a wonderful instrumental section … this part you will probably recognize from dozens of other Maiden instrumental segments, but again the wholeness of the song is very exciting. It’s a song written by Janick Gers and Steve Harris, and it has to be the best song Mr. Gers has co-written so far. If Iron Maiden decided to quit now, this would be the perfect song to accompany their departure.

All in all, A Matter Of Life And Death is one of the very best Iron Maiden albums ever, way up there with Powerslave and Seventh Son. This is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated albums this year, and it surely does not disappoint in any way. During several interviews, Bruce Dickinson has expressed his wish to perform the entire album during their 2006 World Tour, and pray to God they will -– that would guarantee another tour as memorable as the World Slavery Tour back in Iron Maiden’s golden years. Of course, they will have to perform a couple of classics like “The Number Of The Beast,” “Iron Maiden,” and “The Trooper” as well, though after this massive performance, nobody would feel like they missed out on something.

This IS Iron Maiden at their best!


  • Frode Kilvik

    Frode Kilvik was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Sotra, an island west of Bergen, Norway. He's been a music lover all his life, and Metal has always been his main passion. He grew up, listening to Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Metallica, etc., and it gave him a hunger and an addiction to explore and find new acts in the world of Metal. Frode picked up the bass guitar when he was about 10 or 11 (Steve Harris was a huge influence) and has played in various Rock and Punk bands ever since. He was the bass player and vocalist for the Stoner Metal band Kraków, and is also playing bass in the Black Metal bands Gaahls WYRD and Aeternus!

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