Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CD: Iron Maiden - A Matter Of Life And Death

This album, released about two weeks ago, has reinvigorated my interest in Iron Maiden and it has given me hope that old metal bands can age with some class and intelligence. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other metal band, save for the reunited Judas Priest, who have been around for so long and yet have produced such a satisfying, mature album. And yes, this is, to me, better than Priest's "comeback" album, "Angel of Restitution." While that album had some solid songs that were overshadowed by the easy to digest roaring rockers, it showed that Priest still were a viable band with new material as relevant and as strong as some of their best material. Iron Maiden have actually put together an even more solid album, in my humble opinion. It's filled with long epics, time changes and guitars, guitars, guitars...even some nice acoustic playing.

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This album is meaty enough to have me want to listen to it several times before attempting to write my thoughts down. It's not the type of album that you can easily digest in one sitting, and thank goodness for that.

The opening track, "Different World," has what sounds like some of the band members joining lead singer Bruce Dickinson for the friendly sing-a-long chorus in it. It's an uplifting way to begin the album. No one sings metal quite like Dickinson who injects his so much passion into his stylings that you believe you are being told an important tale by a seasoned storyteller. You can hear him not quite hitting heights that he used to, but then again, he is 48 years-old, having joined Maiden when he was 24-ish.

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You don't hear Maiden gallop a whole lot on A Matter Of Life And Death, but they do so in the superb third track, Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, which references "Robert", which is most certainly Robert Oppenheimer, widely known as "the father of the atomic bomb." The music varies from solemn quietness to the sound of a freight train barrelling down at you.

I've listened to this album a fair bit now and in my humble opinion, there are no really weak tracks among its ten songs. The album clocks in at about 72 minutes.

During the first day it went on sale, the CD was priced at $9.99 Canadian. I ended up opting for the limited edition, which has a 45 minute DVD, including a 30 minute making of documentary.

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The album, their 14th studio disc, has been one of thier most succesful ever and has charted in the top 20 in several countries.

# 1 Germany, Sweden, Italy, Finland, Greece, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Brazil
#2 Canada, Switzerland, Norway, Hungary, Columbia
#3 Chile
#4 UK, Austria, Spain, India
#5 France, Ireland, Arabia
#6 Iceland, Belgium
#7 Holland
#8 Denmark
#9 USA
#10 Mexico
#11 Portugal, Japan
#12 Australia
#15 Hong Kong
#16 New Zealand

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