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A Matter of Life and Death by Iron Maiden

By CrpnDeth, Staff Photographer/Writer
Sunday, September 3, 2006 @ 12:37 AM

Being released on Sept. 5!

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While it might be out in Europe already, those of us in the west have to wait until the first week of September before we can lay our hands on the new Iron Maiden release, A Matter of Life and Death. Let me tell you what you're in for.

Here is the song lineup:

    01. Different World
    02. These Colours Don't Run
    03. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns
    04. The Pilgrim
    05. The Longest Day
    06. Out Of The Shadows
    07. The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
    08. For The Greater Good Of God
    09. Lord Of Light
    10. The Legacy

It's always hard writing a review of a new disc from a group such as Iron Maiden when their career and music aspirations span almost 30 years. There are fans out there who want another Killers, or another Powerslave or maybe even another Brave New World. Is the same person going to want all three? Highly unlikely. Hell, most people can't grasp the change in musical orientation as a whole over a span this long.

At first listen, I didn't really get in to this CD. Almost every song starts off mellow/acoustically, several songs are 7 minutes plus. But upon going back and digging in, this CD has grown on me. Its not my favorite, and its not Iron Maiden's best, but it is an extremely solid release.

Different World starts the CD off on a promising note. Energetic, catchy and memorable chorus, dueling leads - good way to start.

    Tell me what you can hear / And then tell me what you see
    Everybody has a different way / to view the world
    I would like you to know / when you see the simple things
    To appreciate this life it's not too late to learn
These Colours Don't Run continues on the same path, and throws in time changes and intricate solos. The story of the life of a solider in any time, in any war.

    There is no one that will save you / going down in flames
    No surrender certain death you look in the eye
    On the shores of tyranny you crashed a human wave
    Paying for my freedom with your lonely unmarked graves
    For the passion, for the glory, for the memories, for the money
    You're a soldier, for your country / what's the difference, all the same
    Far away from the land of our birth / We fly a flag in some foreign earth
    We sailed away like our fathers before / These colours don't run, from cold bloody war
Starting mellow and hitting a time just over 8 and a half minutes, Brighter Than a Thousand Suns presents more intricate solos and time changes, but also seems to be just a little too long.

    Bombers launched with no recall / Minute warning of the missile fall
    Take a look at your last sky / Guessing you wont have the time to cry
    Out of the the universe, a strange love was born
    Unholy union, trinity reformed
    Out of the darkness, brighter than a thousands suns
The opening riffs of The Pilgrim are reminiscent of the melodic dual hooks Maiden is known for. The song picks up pace a little bit during its 5 minute duration. Another song seemingly dealing with the subject of holy wars.

    Quelling the devils might /And ready for eternal fight
    Aching limbs and fainting soul / Holy battles take their toll
    Liberty and hope divine / Changing the water into wine
    So to you we bid farewell / Kingdom of heaven to hell
    Spirit holy life eternal / Raise me up take me home
    Pilgrim sunrise pagan sunset / Onward journey begun
Looking through the eyes of a soldier and seeing what he is thinking is the basis for The Longest Day, an 8 minute, time changing behemoth. Starting out in a lingering intro, the band finally kicks in once Bruce Dickinson has your attention after listening to the first a couple verses.

    The world's alight, the cliffs erupt in flame / No escape, remorseless shrapnel rains
    Drowning men no chance for a warrior's fate / A choking death enter hell's gate
    Sliding we go, only fear on our side / To the edge of the wire, and we rush with the tide
    Oh the water is red / with the blood of the dead
    But I'm still alive, pray to God I survive
    How long on this longest day
    Til we finally make it through
Out of the Shadows is probably the closest thing Maiden has done to a power ballad. The intro starts off resonant of Revelations and quickly slows. Not a bad song, I'm just not a ballad person.

Out of the Shadow and into the sun / Dreams of the past as the old ways are done
Oh there is beauty and surely there is pain / But we must endure it to live again
The opening solos to The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg definitely has that mystic old school sound to them. When the song kicks in its undeniably Maiden. Not a total headbanger, but very solid nonetheless.

    Demons are trapped all inside my head,/ My hopes have gone, I reach for heaven from hell,
    My sins are many, my guilt is too heavy, / The pressure of knowing of having what I know
    I'm able to see things, things I don't want to see, / The lives of a thousand souls weigh heavy down on me
    I know they're crying for help reaching out / The burden of them will take me down as well
    The sin of a thousand souls not died in vain / Reincarnates to let me live again
For the Greater Good of God is a musical monster that clocks in at almost 9 and a half minutes. Multiple time changes, very impressive, very flowing. Throughout the song, the underlying question seems to be "Why do we keep going to war?" For you war mongers out there who think the answer is simple, wait to reply until you have been able to read the lyrics to this song.

    More pain and misery in the history of mankind
    Sometimes it seems more like / The blind leading the blind
    It brings upon us more famine, death and war
    You know religion has a lot to answer for
    Please tell me now what life is / Please tell me now what love is
    Well tell me now what war is / Again tell me what life is
    And as they search to find the bodies in the sand
    They find its ashes that are Scattered across the land
    And as the spirits seem to whistle on the wind
    A shot is fired somewhere / another war begins
An eerie recollection of Still Life came to mind with the opening of the disc's next song, the 7 and a half minute Lord of Light. This song swings back and forth on tempo, and as you listen to the lyrics, its surprising how fast the story ends for a song of this length.

    Spiral path leads through the maze
    Down into the fiery underworld below
    Fire breathing lead the way / Lucifer was just an angel led astray We are cast out by our bloody father's hand
    We are strangers in this lonely promised land
    We are the shadows of the one unholy ghost
    In our nightmare world the only one we trust
Finishing out the disc is the nine and a half minute The Legacy. Even with its length, this is where the musicianship shines for Maiden. Its safe to say every disc they put out they just get better and better.

    Tell tale of the men / All dressed in black
    That most of them / Not coming back
    Sent off to the war / To play little games
    And on their return / Can't name no names
    Some strange yellow gas / Has played with their minds
    Has reddened their eyes / Removed all the lies
    And strange as it sounds / Death knows no bounds
    How many get well / Only time will tell
* * *

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