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4.4 out of 5 stars
Matter of Life & Death
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103 of 120 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon September 5, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Iron Maiden still reign supreme as the absolute Kings of Metal and have since their first disk back in 1980. Now, countless releases later, A Matter of Life and Death shows that the "Colours" are not running in the slightest on the Iron Maiden Flag.

I remember back in 1999 hearing that Bruce and Adrian re-joined the band for Brave New World. That was indeed exciting news. After all, while they were out of the band they teamed up on two of Bruce's solo releases, and one of those releases, Accident of Birth, was as good as Maiden's Number of the Beast or Piece of Mind...I know...Blasphemous!

And what a disk Brave New World was! That too was as good as any of the best Maiden albums ever released. 6 years and another release (Dance of Death) later, the Irons are still way up.

A Matter of Life and Death is an Iron Maiden classic already. It's got the familiar sounds...you know...the ones we all have come to know and love over the past 26 years. The anthem choruses are there. The epic songs are there. The lead guitar duals are there.

The three-guitar onslaught is there. But that's a relatively new sound that's only been around since Brave New World. And that sound is working on all Iron cylinders on A Matter of Life and Death.

The first three tracks ring true to the sound established with Brave New World and Dance of Death. Track 3, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, is an intricately woven together off time rocker that will be amazing to see pulled off live. Track 4 has that classic pre-Blaze years sound.

The disk gets better as you get deeper in. Tracks 8 and 10 are both 9+ minute epics, and perhaps the two best tracks on the album. All the tracks have their own sound. And not one of them should be "judged by its cover"; often times the way a track starts is not indicative of what you get two minutes into it. But that's well known signature style for Maiden.

Iron Maiden will not disappoint the die-hard fans with A Matter of Life and Death and they keep the sound refreshed enough to bring in new fans with every release. These guys are the epitome of Metal and the epitome of Metal done RIGHT.

Don't pass on this one, folks.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 6, 2006
Format: Audio CD
THE BAND: Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Steve Harris (bass & keyboards), Adrian Smith (lead & rhythm guitars), Dave Murray (lead & rhythm guitars), Janick Gers (lead & rhythm guitars), Nicko McBrain (drums & percussion).

THE DISC: (2006) 10 songs clocking in at just over 72 minutes. There are 2 versions of the release... 1. the standard disc, and 2. the "limited edition" release with a short DVD included (the DVD includes a 30 minute behind-the-scenes making of the album; "Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg" video; studio performance footage of "Different World"; and a Maiden photo gallery). Included with the disc is an 18-page booklet containing many band photos, song titles/credits, song lyrics, dates and tour stops on the '06 World Tour (most outside the U.S.), and thank you's. Steve Harris, as usual, had a hand in writing all tracks, and all band members (except McBrain) helped in co-writing duties on all songs. Recorded at Sarm West Studios, London. Cover art NOT by the long used Derek Riggs (but instead Tim Bradstreet & Grant Goleash). Label - Sanctuary.

COMMENTS: "A Matter Of Life And Death" (AMOLAD) starts off in the same fashion as their previous two releases - giving you a short 4 minute burst of in-yer-face metal (i.e. - "The Wicker Man" and "Wildest Dreams" from "Brave New World" and "Dance Of Death"). Track 1 - "Different World" (the 1st hit slated for release) gives you exactly the same feel... but doesn't leave you as exhausted as "The Wicker Man" did at the time. For me, it took 5 or 6 spins to really enjoy this disc. On first listen, the only thought that crossed my mind was... it's not as good as "Brave New World", but it's head and shoulders above "Dance Of Death". Songs/Melodies were better, and sound production was crisper. Most of the song lyrics lean toward war and religion. Most of Dickinson's vocals are trademark Maiden, but at times, I feel he's trying to fit too much in a particular verse. I have not been a fan of Janick Gers for some time (and do they really need 3 guitarists?), however I feel his song writing on this album shines... 2 great songs in "The Pilgrim" and the closer "The Legacy". Several of the songs have that "Somewhere In Time" (1986) progressive feel to them - with Harris' keyboards in the background ("These Colours Don't Run" in particular). Spin after spin, this album gets better the deeper you get into it. The last 4 tracks are the best (all 7 to 9 minutes in length)... the slow and heavy rocker "The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg" (with a mid section reminiscent of "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"), "For The Greater Good Of God" (a Steve Harris penned song featuring some great bass guitar and questioning what is important in life), "Lord Of Light" (a great melody - outstanding guitar solos and I dig McBrain's drumming on this one), and "The Legacy" (a great 3 minute acoustic intro followed by a slow and heavy band entrance... simply a classic 9 minute Maiden epic journey). I rank "AMOLAD" in front "Dance Of Death" or anything else they released with replacement singer Bailey in the 90's. However, as good as this album may be, it's still not on par with any of their classic early 80's metal masterpieces (i.e. - "Number Of The Beast", "Piece Of Mind", "Powerslave"). The DVD is worthy as well for long time fans - showing some of what they went through in the studio - the good and the bad... great to see the band members making the music (and clowning around at the end doing an improvised unplugged version of ZZ Top's "Tush"). Also noted in the DVD is Dickinson and Harris agreeing to disagree - Harris thinks the melody is the key to a song, while Dickinson thinks the lyrics are most important. This album is absolutely essential to your Iron Maiden collection. Look for the limited edition with the bonus disc (4+ stars).
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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Wow. What can I say, Maiden have certainly come out of their shell with this release. I always knew Maiden were capable of bigger / better / and stronger things than "Brave New World" / "Dance Of Death", and here on "A Matter Of Life And Death" they certainly have moved forward in my opinion.....

This is without question, the best Maiden release in a very long time. Maiden fans new and old should love this!!!...

I wont go into a detailed description of each song, just let me say that "A Matter Of Life And Death" is chock full of some of the best riffs / solos I've heard Maiden come up with since their glory days. No joke, this is probably the most melodic effort they've conjoured up since the late 80's in my opinion....

You can really tell the guys wanted to kick everything up a notch on this release, and I don't think there is one song that I haven't enjoyed. It's been a long time since I've said that about a Maiden album too. None of these songs are too long, they're all perfectly balanced, and combine to make one of the finest Maiden offerings ever, that's right, EVER....

The DVD is also a very cool little bonus. It's shows them in the studio joking around during the making of "A Matter Of Life And Death", and talking about various other things {instruments / recording} which is quite cool. There's a video version for "The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg" {one of the coolest Maiden songs I've ever heard}, and another for "Different World". I enjoyed this very much, Maiden is so awesome.....
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2006
Format: Audio CD
The greatness of this album is not really the songs, although all of them are no doubt high-quality rockers. It's rather the fact that this is serious metal again with no filler, an album you can listen to from beginning to end and fully enjoy it. Although I do believe that Bruce's voice has deteriorated with age, plus there's been a departure from his operatic singing style, on the positive side it's still great to hear a screaming Bruce Dickinson with his voice full of passion, accompanied by heavy riffing, great solos, and a return to using harmonies in songs. There are signs to me that this album is a work of brilliance because of the fact that this album feels almost like a full-blown concept album, simply because often the same melody recurrs in differnt songs under differnt disguises, which is evidence of the fact that the band knew exactly what they were doing this time and were all on the same page. The heavy, dark riffs and an uncompromised devotion to emotion give the whole thing that special magic, the feeling that you had when you first listened to Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Although Bruce's singing is not as operatic as on the classic albums, Kevin Shirley was finally smart enough to put much more echo on the vocals than was the case in the last two releases, so the whole doesn't sound dry and flat and gives it that certain "je ne sais quoi." It's a joy to listen to this output and it doesn't really bother me this time that some of the songs got quite lengthy. Somehow it just all makes sense. Just like the rest of the band, Adrian Smith, too, and maybe the most, seems to have found himself again on this record by going back to the modern Jackson guitars he used on Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and getting heavily involved in the songwriting process again. This is certainly another shining moment of his talent and shows what he means to the band and what the Murray/Gers duo was missing in all those wasted years. If the guys can keep the momentum going, I am 100% positive that the next record will be an absolute and undisputed masterpiece. Not to say that this one isn't. Just listen to it. Then open the booklet and look at the pictures of the band members and how calm and confident they look this time, how they, just like good wine, have ripened, come full circle and found themselves again at a stage in their carreer when everybody believed it was all over and time for them to resign with dignity.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2006
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I've read a lot of dumb reviews for this album. One criticized the fact that many of the songs on here begin with a quiet sort of guitar or bass stumming and concluded that all the songs therefore sound the same (because the reviewer was too dumb to listen to each track for more than fifteen seconds). Another said (and I quote), "After many sub-par albums and the horrors of Bruce's solo career, they're back." Firstly, what kind of idiot thinks sub-par is bad? Anyone who's ever played golf knows that below par is a good thing, not that this has anything to do with music (and also ignoring the inaccuracy of the quote). Secondly, there's not a single Iron Maiden fan alive who will tell you that Bruce's solo career was anything but "great" or "excellent." I seriously think that most of the people dishing out bad reviews are just punks who've heard Number of The Beast and think that makes them true fans. Like the guy who wrote the "So You'd Like To" guide about Iron Maiden. He's all too quick to tell us that the X Factor and Fear of the Dark tanked, but Dance of Death was awesome (anybody who has actually heard these albums knows better).

The truth is that 'A Matter of Life and Death' is Iron Maiden's best album in years, but that's not a direct slam against the band's other recent stuff, it's praise for this particular disc. The fact that the band committed to playing the entire album live during this season's tour is a further testament to the strength of this material. Of the band's last three albums, this is the best, but only because they have finally eschewed that copy and paste chorus construction that flawed BNW. I'm tempted to say that 'A Matter of Life and Death' is Iron Maiden's best album since Somewhere In Time, but, I don't think you'd believe me. Just buy it and listen to the music a few times. Figure that out for yourself. Just don't listen to reviewers who mark a star off their review because they were listening to the album through computer speakers.

Pros: Just as good as and better than anything Iron Maiden has put out since Seventh Son of A Seventh Son. Heavier bass than the previous two albums. Almost every song on 'A Matter of Life and Death' is epic, and there's only like one or two tracks that clock in at less than seven minutes. Better lyric writing than Brave New World and Dance of Death.

Cons: It's no Powerslave Pt 2, if that's what you were expecting. The band has changed their sound since that album and if you're the kind of person who thinks that a band should just recycle the same riffs and song structures over and over again with every album, then you may not 'get' this disc.

Conclusion: Buy this CD if you want proof that Iron Maiden are still great.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 5, 2006
Format: Audio CD
First off, if you are looking for another 'Number of the Beast' or 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son', you may consider either losing that expectation or - if you cannot - stop listening to Maiden altogether because they are not going to repeat what they did in the past (I have learned that the hard way with Metallica and have moved on).

That said, this is one helluvan album! This is the most I've enjoyed since 'Fear of the Dark'. The guitars are higher in the mix than in the past, the solos and breaks are interesting, the drumming and bass are the best in many albums, and the melodies keep you engaged. I was pleased to hear some of the majestic arrangements back in their songs. Although Bruce sometimes sounds like he is straining (which happens more as he gets older), his best performance in years has been captured on this album. Don't let the 'we didn't master this album' factor scare you off. This is a great sounding album! Are there weak songs/spots on the album? Absolutely. I won't share them because what I dislike someone else might love. However, these spots don't diminish the rest of the album (that's what the skip buttons on a cd player are for). It is unrealistic to think that I would like every song or moment on the album.

While this is not my favorite Maiden album, I can safely say that this is their best since Bruce came back into the fold. I liked the previous two albums plenty, but this one is hands-down better. If you didn't like the other two at all, you probably won't like this one. Maybe you can stream a few songs or something to give yourself an idea if this album is for you before spending your money. As for me, I will be listening to this for many years to come.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2006
Format: Audio CD
After (and including) Fear of the Dark, Iron Maiden went through something of a mid-life crisis. The Blaze Bayley era had precious few truly good songs (The Clansmen and Sign of the Cross come to mind), and the last two albums, especially the penultimate Dance of Death, while containing some undeniably great moments, showed the 'classic' line-up at their most ambivalent. Now, happily, Iron Maiden are in top form, releasing an album more grandiose than Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, melodically equal or even superior to their self-titled album, and with an incessantly motive heaviness--a heaviness only emphasised by the acutely and thoughtfully measured sound production.

Each song, as with all great Maiden songs, becomes more enjoyable with repeated listenings. That cannonade of drum rolls that you missed, or that foregounding of Harris's galloping bassline, or a momentary harmony between the three guitars--whatever detail it may be, each song is masterfully layered.

A previous reviewer made the comment that this could not be Iron Maiden's best or even one of their best albums, not because the music is inferior, but because of their age. Something as extrinsic as their age only has a bearing on the quality of the album if it adversely affects the music. In 'A Matter of Life and Death' it certainly does not; were I given all of Iron Maiden's albums blind, I would put this in the same era as Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Bruce Dickinson's voice is as strong as it ever was (though I do agree with yet another above reviewer that his voice could utilise the lower registers a bit more for some relief by contrast); the three guitarists are playing the best they've ever played; Harris's bass is perfectly integrated--and played. Special mention, however, must go to Nicko McBrain's drumwork: it is by far his best and most sophisticated yet.

On previous albums, war has been a common theme--equally common has been its somewhat naive and belligerent depiction. In 'A Matter of Life and Death' the writing has matured, and a cynicism about war, a concern for its human effects, and the role that religion plays take salience. I would hesistate in calling it particularly new or sophisticated, but there is certainly here a noble message.

Now I will give the obligatory track-by-track run-down:

The opener, 'Different World', is the weakest track on the album--on almost any other album by almost any other band, however, it would almost certainly be a flagship. Fast, cannonading, and with a strong riff, it is a good, if rather standard, opener.

The second track, 'These Colours Don't Run'--while being a reference to Sharon Osbourne's egg-attack on the band some years ago--starts with a classic Maiden build-up, from singular guitar melody to the simultaneous introduction of Bruce's operatic vocals and the rhythm section. While a good song, this is still rather pedestrian for Maiden.

Number three is the already famous 'Brighter than a Thousand Suns', which purports to present the details of a nuclear detonation. The guitars and the back-up vocals are put to fantastic use here, especially the rhythm guitar. The images are vivid--unusually vivid for Iron Maiden, whose lyrics usually tip into self-parody (though precious few listen to Maiden for the quality of the lyrics).

Next up is one of my favourites: 'The Pilgrim'. The drum and guitar dominant introduction is reminiscent of a Slavic dance--incredibly melodic and punctuated with powerful drum work. It is similar in tone to 'Mother Russia'. McBrain distinguishes himself here.

As Harris does in the next track, 'The Longest Day', with a downplayed and galloping bass complementing, but not overbearing or being overborne by, a distant and resonant guitar. Bruce lets loose on the vocals here--soaring and, I'll say it again, melodic.

The next track, 'Out of the Shadows', reminds me (perhaps unjustifiedly) of 'Strange World' from their self-titled release. Beautifully done.

And then there's 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg'. None of the tracks so far I would call classic, but this one will last--and if it doesn't, it is an indictment of modern muscial taste rather than of the quality of the track. A long, melodious, and rather haunting opening; the lyrics are now foregrounded, as they are first and foremost telling a story rather than being subservient complements to a riff or grind; and then something extraordinary happens: the neck of one of the guitars is almost flayed of its strings as the song falls into its most heavy section. Bruce's vocals here are in a lower register (though still rather high, as they are wont to be), which is refreshing. Fantastic song, and one I cannot recomment highly enough.

As is the next one--it is perhaps even superior, I can't quite decide. 'For the Greater Good of God' has a classic Harris opening--a full and emotive bassline. My review is becoming longwinded so I'll truncate it from here on. The song is (arguably) the most epic on the album, with some fantastic guitar work--the three men complement each other perfectly. Retaining Janick Gers was a great idea, it seems.

The final two tracks, 'Lord of Light' and 'The Legacy' maintain the quality of the album so far--the latter imbibed with a deathly and unsettling tone; the former being a classicly elevated hard-rocker.

Though some of the tracks are slightly overlong ('For the Greater Good of God' and 'The Legacy' could have a minute shaved off each) it is hardly to the detriment of the album. 'A Matter of Life and Death' is equal to Maiden's very best and, given time, may even supersede their 'Golden Years' efforts, rendering the former years quite silver and the following gold. How unusual it is for a band, after almost three decades, to release one of their best albums. It gives me hopes for Metallica's redemption--though not that much hope.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2006
Format: Audio CD
this album is a supreme metal outfit. the progressivness shown is amazing with heavy riffs and solos, this may be one of maiden's greatest album yet. (The epic track "The reincarnation of Benjamin breeg" will blow your brains out). Of course, there are some down points. one would be the length of some songs. which may not be a problem with all of you, but for people like me, who are used to 5- 7 minute songs usually (for i always listen to piece of mind and number of the beast), it gets tedious. But with soon to be classic epics like "Lord of light" and "the legacy", i won't complain that much. Oh and if you think that "reincarnation" is an epic, you really won't believe the 9+ minute song, "For the greater good of god". Simply mind blowing. the drum fills and complex basslines played, are really mind boggoling. Of course there are some tracks that are hard to remember like Out of the shadows, and the pilgrim. and while i'm talking about these 2, i'd like to say that "out of the shadows" is one HEAVY BALLAD!! The pilgrim also has a great riff to it, and is one of the true classics that i thank janick for. And don't think that i forgot about the strong opener, "different world" (litterally out of this world!), the 8 minute epic, "brighter than a thousand suns (a great song about a nuclear bomb), and "these colours don't run" ( i think that this song is either an anti war song or about sharon osbourne at ozzfest).

in the end, this album will eventually climb to the top of the iron maiden heap. a True 5 star album with long epics, heavy riffs, incredible solos, excelent drumfills, complex basslines, and Bruces amazing voice! Get this album if you liked "seventh son of a seventh son", "brave new world" "the x factor" (similar dark material shown here), and....well actually you just have to be an iron maiden fan to enjoy this. Up the irons. Rock On iron maiden rock on.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2008
Format: Audio CD
IRON MAIDEN STOPPED USING THEIR SIGNATURE 80's STYLE A LOOOOOOOONG TIME AGO!!!!!!

I expect you people to have figured it out with the release of their past 2 albums, Dance of Death and Brave New World, but no, you guys are dumb and uninformed as always. Maiden aren't gonna release another Powerslave, so get over yourselves people. This is one of Maiden's best.

With 10 solid tracks, you can never go wrong. Starting off the album is "Different World" a catchy song, reminiscent of Wildest Dreams and ending is the song that Maiden's all about, The Legacy. There are lots of songs on here I could tell will be considered classics once in a while, especially The Longest Day.

My favorite track is definitely Brighter Than A Thousand Suns, an 8-minute epic about The Manhattan Project. Also soaring in are the beautiful ballad Out of the Shadows, the beautiful song The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, and Lord of Light.

So if you can get past the fact that Maiden will never release an album like Powerslave or Somewhere in Time again, You're bound to enjoy this one. I've loved this album from Day 1 that I heard it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2006
Format: Audio CD
First off, I can't believe what the previous reviewer A. Stutheit said in their review, because I wholeheartedly disagree. But everyone's entitled to their own opinion, so to each his/her own. It'd be pretty lame if we all blindly said "it's new Maiden, so automatically we love it!"

I don't agree that Iron Maiden is making the same mistake thrice by writing longer, more epic songs on this album. I feel that Iron Maiden is only continuing to get better at doing what they do best with epic songs. I do agree that DOD was not their best effort out of the past 3 albums, but like Bruce Dickinson said in an interview for AMOLAD, Dance of Death in retrospect was more of a stepping stone to get to the sound that is this new album.

Ahhh, the sound of this new album! Sounds very fresh to me--- very upfront and crisp. Steve Harris mentioned that they did not "master" this album-- not sure what that does to the final product, but I'm assuming that it sort of polishes the edges on the mix a bit. Kudos to Maiden for going against the grain and not doing this.

The production is very good. I feel that Kevin Shirley is great at capturing Maiden and their sound. True, someone like Andy Sneap may have been a better choice to get a more modern metal sound, and that may have turned out quite interestingly. But I think back to Bob Rock's production of Our Lady Peace's "Gravity" album, and can't help but think he sucked all the "Our Lady Peace"-ness out of OLP! I'd hate for Iron Maiden to get homogenized on this album to sound like any one of a number of other metal bands out there today. I don't like alot of metal that's out there today, so it's no surprise that I don't want Maiden to sound like any of it. I'd rather they keep their own sound.

Songs that are really growing on me fast are "The Longest Day", "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" and "The Pilgrim". And "Benjamin Breeg' is great to listen to-- get's the blood pumping. If there was a weak link on the album, it's the opener "Different World". It's not quite up to the caliber of "The Wicker Man", the opener from Brave New World. More in the league of "Wildest Dreams" from DOD. It's not bad, per se, it's just that the rest of the album is much stronger. But that's sort of the point of putting the "odd man out" early, so that it gets you prepared for the rest of the album's stronger songs while still giving you a taste of the overall vibe of the album.

Another great album from Maiden all in all. I easily like it as much as Brave New World, and like it alot more than Dance of Death. There's a darkness to the lyrics that sounds very "X-Factor" meets "Tyranny of Souls". It's not "classic Maiden" (i.e. in the vein of Powerslave, Somewhere In Time, Peace of Mind), but part of a newer, more mature (and equally powerful) era for Iron Maiden.

UP THE IRONS!
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