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Iron Maiden: A Matter Of Life And Death (Collector's Edition) [CD]
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After a series of reissues on analogue records, it is time to give fans the refreshed sonic studio albums of Iron Maiden. Sixteen heavy metal legend discs appear in chronological series under the common name "The Studio Collection - Remastered" The ...
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Well anyways, along with "Brave New World" and "Dance of Death", Iron Maiden's fourteenth full length release from 2006, "A Matter of Life and Death" is a showcase of the band's shift towards a more progressive metal sound in contrast to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound that Iron Maiden became so well known for in the 80's. This album is just an absolute masterpiece and it's definitely one of Iron Maiden's best albums as well. Every song here is just absolutely mind-blowing and amazingly epic in every sense of the word, and is just chock full of amazingly heavy riffs and incredible solos, awesomely epic melodies, crushing bass lines, powerful drumming, meaningful and intelligent lyricism, anthemic choruses, and mind-blowingly soaring, melodic vocals, I mean seriously, what more could a true metalhead want in an epic work of art like this right here? The production here which was handled by Kevin Shirley (who also produced "Brave New World" and "Dance of Death") is also very good as well. While AMOLAD is not really a concept album, however war and religion are both recurring themes throughout the album, as well as in the cover artwork which I also dig too. With the majority of the songs here clocking in at over seven minutes or even longer, this album truly demonstrates the sheer power and passion, emotion, complexity and technicality for which you can always expect from an amazing band like Maiden. The triple guitar attack of Adrian Smith, Dave Murray and Janick Gers just fires on all cylinders here as the trio just bring forth an amazing abundance of amazingly heavy and powerful riffs, and incredibly mind-blowing and inspiring solos and harmonies, meanwhile bassist Steve Harris just crushes your eardrums with his always incredibly heavy and powerful bass lines, and drummer Nicko McBrain just shines and powers his way through each song with his always impressive and flawlessly powerhouse drumming, but however, it's Bruce Dickinson who tops things off here with his always mind-blowingly soaring and high flying vocal acrobatics. Honestly, what can you really say about Bruce? He is truly one of the greatest metal singers of all time, and he truly does sound just as great on this album here as he did on any 80's-era Maiden release, no questions asked. He can just blast your eardrums with those high notes of his one minute, and then soothe them into dreamland the next minute just like that.
The opening track "Different World" is an awesome energetic, straight-ahead rocker that kicks the album off with a bang and is highlighted by deliciously fantastic riffing throughout including an even more deliciously addicting and inescapable main riff, along with tasty, melodic, soaring soloing, and hefty, solid upbeat, mid-tempo drumming, plus an excellent, catchy chorus, and soaring vocals from Bruce to top it off. Track two, "These Colours Don't Run" is one of my favorites here that starts with a nice, slow opening before transitioning into an amped up, fist-pumping, and powerful pure metal anthem that is highlighted by more of Bruce's amazingly high flying vocal deliveries as well as an amazingly memorable chorus, plus more incredible riffing and soloing, and awesome drumming throughout as well. Next up, we have "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" which is another one of my favorites here, and an incredibly epic prog number that lyrically tells about the Manhattan Project. This song manages to be very melodic yet very heavy at the same time as it boasts yet more high flying, soaring vocal melodies from Bruce, and the guitar work from Adrian, Dave, and Janick are also a huge highlight on this song here as the trio churn out heavily powerful, bone crushing riffs throughout along with more amazingly jaw-dropping solos, and the song also features heavy ear ringing bass lines, plus more powerhouse drum work, and wonderfully rousing choruses as well. Then afterwards, we have track four, "The Pilgrim" which is yet another amazing track that features more outstanding guitar work throughout which includes an awesome opening melodic riff, as well as some deliciously catchy Middle-Eastern flavoured riffs, plus more of Steve's powerful rib-pounding bass work, and energetic, pounding, upbeat drumming from Nicko, and Bruce's powerfully soaring, melodic vocal deliveries as well, and the song also includes a really awesome sounding Egyptian sounding guitar solo too. Track five, "The Longest Day" is yet another epic and powerful, mid-paced progressive number (as well as another one of my favorite songs) that lyrically deals about the D-Day landings during World War II. This song is highlighted by a great galloping bass intro from Harris, plus more of Smith, Murray, and Gers' intensely powerful, yet melodic riffing as well as some of their finest soloing on the entire album, and also features great pounding, mid-paced drumming, and emotionally charged, soaring, melodic singing from Bruce, and a captivating chorus as well. Such a brilliantly epic tune, I love it.
Moving on, we have the sixth track, "Out of the Shadows" which is a beautifully written ballad-style number that features all-around beautifully melodic guitar work throughout that includes some wonderful electro acoustic sections, and there's also plenty of fantastic melodic lead work, and the song also features yet more amazingly melodic vocal work from Bruce, as well as an awesomely heavy and soaring, melodic sung chorus which tops things off. Next, we have my second favorite song in track seven, "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" which is another incredibly epic and powerful song, and it also has risen to be one of my favorite Iron Maiden songs as well. The song begins with a nicely soft 2 minute melodious intro that features some slow, haunting melodious guitars and bass, and soft sung vocals before transitioning into heavy territory with addictingly heavy, crushing, and blood pumping riffs, pounding bass and drums, and amazingly majestic, soaring melodic vocals, and the song is also highlighted by more excellent harmonies and solos as well. Then following that is the 9 minute plus epic and my absolute favorite song here, "For the Greater Good of God", and like the majority of the songs on here, it again starts off slow with a fantastic, full-on, and emotive bass intro from Harris, and then slowly builds into an epic metal tour de force. Bruce's vocals on this song are just absolutely downright incredible and breathtaking throughout this epic monster of a song. The way he just belts and blasts out those high notes will just leave you absolutely speechless. The song also features some incredibly addicting sing-a-long bridges and choruses that will definitely stay stuck inside your brain for days. The guitar work on this song is also spectacular as well as Smith, Murray, and Gers all compliment each other so perfectly. The song is just filled with amazing riffs, epic, breathtaking harmonies, and spectacular solos. Sure doesn't get any better than that, let me tell ya. Next, we move on to track nine, "Lord of Light" which is yet another spectacular and all-around great song that again features another slow and dark, melodious intro that features soft sung vocals from Bruce, and then it suddenly transitions into an awesome riff heavy rocker anchored by heavy, aggressive, energetic riffing and catchy galloping sections as well, along with heavy, pounding bass and adrenaline pumping drum beats, and more flawlessly amazing solos to boot. The album then finally closes things out in grand fashion with "The Legacy", another epic 9 minute plus gem, and another one of my favorites that starts off slow with a lengthy and hauntingly beautiful and melodic acoustic opening which also features again some soft sung vocals, and then a steady yet mid-paced military march-like drum beat kicks in later around the 3:10 mark, and is immediately joined by more powerful and monumental riffing, and Bruce's mighty, aggressive, soaring vocals soon join in the fray as well. The song is also further highlighted by yet more amazingly soaring, ripping solo flights and deliciously addicting harmonies and melodies, and more aggressive yet soaring vocals from Bruce, and the song also ends with some nice closing acoustics as well.
Well there you have it. All in all, "A Matter of Life and Death" is just an absolutely epic, and incredibly mind-blowing metal masterpiece that is like a pure musical journey of epic proportions and it never loses one single ounce of spark at all. This album is truly one of the absolute best albums in Iron Maiden's legendary discography, and is also a true classic in it's own right as well. As a true music fan, I have always admired the fact that a band like Iron Maiden have proven time after time and continue to do so today is that they care so much about making pure quality music, and they also show that talent, skill, heart and soul are all what really matter most when it comes to making great quality music, and this album here shows that exactly. I was also very fortunate enough to see Maiden live back in 2012 at Rock Fest down in Cadott, and it was an incredible experience that I will always cherish and treasure for the rest of my life. Well anyways, if you're a fan of Iron Maiden, or if you just enjoy great quality music in general, then by all means, you must definitely buy this album without any further delay. This is a classic album that is truly worth every single penny...UP THE IRONS!!! \m/ \m/
When the opening track is your least favorite that's a good sign (and it's a very good song). Most bands have "filler songs" on their albums and even as good as Maiden is they've done the same (I'm glaring at you Quest for Fire!). Not on AMOLAD, however. This album is top-shelf from open to close. Probably why they did the entire album - in order - during that tour.
If you're an old time Maiden fan (Iron Maiden - Seventh Son) do yourself a favor and pick up this album. It will exceed your expectations. I am of the opinion that their finest song is on this album - For the Great Good of God.
"The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" is a very good song, but it was probably a poor choice for a single off this album. "These Colours Don't Run" and "For the Greater Good of God" are amazing. "A Different World" and "The Longest Day" are other standouts for me.
Kevin "Caveman" Shirley produced and mixed this album and 2015's "The Book of Souls". As is typical of many of the albums he works on, the vocals are down low in the mix and the sound can be muddy. The overall mix is decent on "The Book of Souls", but here Bruce's vocals are buried beneath the guitars at times and that is the primary reason for 4 stars instead of more.