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Iconic metal gods Iron Maiden return with A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH, the group’s 14th studio album. Maiden may be grizzled and getting on in years, but none of that showed up on this 10-track tour de force. Instead, the fans are treated to the tried and true formula of majestic guitars, epic songwriting, and Bruce Dickinson’s signature wail roaring with the regal metallic firepower this band single-handedly damn near invented. “These Colours Don’t Run” employs the trademark Maiden time signatures and choir vocal mid-section with grace and precision, while “The Pilgrim” sounds like something from the POWERSLAVE era with its galloping guitars and swashbuckling sway firmly in tow. These songs are long (the shortest tracks in at 4:17, the longest at 9:24) yet aren’t weighed down, thanks to capturing the raw sounds of a live Maiden performance by recording live in the studio as opposed to previous offerings, a nuance that assists the overall flow and keeps the intensity meter on full-tilt throughout. Dispersing a bit more complex feel, tracks like “The Longest Day” combine the unit’s pomp and circumstance with a way darker atmosphere, while “For the Greater Good of God” juxtaposes that same ominous aura with some of Maiden’s staple devices (booming bass, virtuoso guitar work, dynamic time shifts) taking precedence and stealing the show. See what happens when you throw eggs at Maiden, Sharon? You get another classic album in the form of A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH that satisfies old fans, stuns new fans, and clamors for many more years of “Up the Irons” chants globally.
- Mike SOS