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Iron Maiden
Dance of Death
October 2003
Released: 2003, EMI Records
Rating: 4.4/5
Reviewer: Night of the Realm

“Let me tell you a story to chill the bones...”



What a piece of shit the album cover is. Nothing like shitty early 90s CGI appearing on the cover of metal’s biggest (and best) band.



It almost seems silly for me to review DANCE OF DEATH for several reasons. For one, this is THE IRON MAIDEN, and you either own this album already, or have no intentions whatsoever of picking it up, and secondly, I’m a total Maiden fanboy. I’ve loved every release that Iron Maiden have ever put out, and it would be impossible for me to not praise each album (Yes, even VIRTUAL XI has its awesome moments).



BRAVE NEW WORLD was only a warm-up album. It’s time to dance with the dead.



That said, DANCE OF DEATH is perhaps Iron Maiden’s finest work since FEAR OF THE DARK, hell, maybe as high as my 5th favourite Maiden album (Behind PoM, PS, SsoaSS, and NotB, of course). Time will tell as DANCE OF DEATH settles into a comfortable rotation among my Iron Maiden CDs.



“They summoned me over to join in with them...”



The first single from the album “Wildest Dreams” is what we’ve all been hearing for months now: a fast opener from the same school that brought you “Aces High,” “Be Quick or Be Dead,” and “The Wickerman.” All in all, enjoyable, but actually, I find this one to be among my least favourite songs on the album. “Rainmaker” flows along nicely; in addition to the aquatic motif of title and lyrics, the guitar tone on this song is very fluid-like and complimentary to the overall theme of the song. The instrumental middle part, starting around the 2:00 mark is as awesome as any classic Maiden lines.



“No More Lies” falls squarely into BNW territory in sound and style. This one is an epic with a slow build for about 2 minutes until kick in full force. Unfortunately, the BNW repetition creeps in with a bland chorus, and a somewhat weighty 7-minute length. “Montsegur” totally blows the album wide open. HOLY MOTHER OF FUCK! The riffage is some of Maiden’s heaviest, and though the song is not even six minutes in length, it’s presence is so awesomely huge that it’s like a 13-minute epic compressed into 5:50. Did somebody sneak POWERSLAVE into the stereo while I was occupied in a massive headbanging fest? This is awesome! The sped-up chorus sounds almost awkward at first, but really stands out.



Just when I think the album can not get any better, here comes the title track. Another slow build (much like “Brave New World”) goes for about 3 minutes before the symphonic guitar assault begins. The triplicate guitar attack is simply overpowering, and overall, this has a “Fear of the Dark” kind of feel to it. Clocking in at well over 8 minutes, this one seems to breeze along.



“And I danced, and I pranced and I sang with them...”



Don’t worry, the album doesn’t run out of power here. “Gates of Tomorrow” is Nicko McBrain’s first songwriting credit, and what a fine job he does, too with this “Out of the Silent Planet”-esque power metal burner. “New Frontier” is much the same style of catchy, heavy power metal. You can almost hear a sort of “reverse influence” here, as this one totally captures the US Power Metal sound. What a happy song this is; I love it!



“As I danced with the dead my spirit was laughing and howling down at me...”



“Paschendale” is the masterpiece of the album. This is Mature Maiden here (Get off MR and go to the MILF site, you dirty-minded fuckers! LOL!) Seriously, though. Totally progged out, “Paschendale” is a beautiful nine-minute epic that has all of the awesomeness and none of the bloat and repetition that too many songs on BNW suffered. Yet another slow intro leads us to “Age of Innocence.” The song is heavy, and Steve Harris’ bass is dominating throughout, but the chorus seems a little too light and almost out of place.



“When you’re lying in your sleep, when you’re lying in your bed, and you wake from your dreams to go dancing with the dead...”



Iron Maiden have reached a second pinnacle in their careers. Already leaving a 25 year legacy, Iron Maiden dares to go further with DANCE OF DEATH. The band has learned from the faults of BRAVE NEW WORLD, namely repetition and songwriting issues, corrected them, and released a monster of an album. Iron Maiden fans ought to own this one already. It’s that damn good.
Track Listing

1. Wildest Dreams
2. Rainmaker
3. No More Lies
4. Montsegur
5. Dance Of Death
6. Gates Of Tomorrow
7. New Frontier
8. Paschendale
9. Face In The Sand
10. Age Of Innocence
11. Journeyman

Lineup

Bruce Dickinson – vocals
Steve Harris – bass
Dave Murray – guitar
Adrian Smith – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums


Next review: » Iron Maiden - Dance of Death
Previous review: » Iron Maiden - Dance of Death

Iron Maiden
Dance of Death
October 2003
Released: 2003, EMI
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

I really liked Iron Maiden’s last album, BRAVE NEW WORLD. In fact, I would put it among my top 5 Maiden albums EVER, so DANCE OF DEATH had a tough act to follow for me. On the new album, the band has presented us with a fresh, modern sound while still maintaining that classic, instantly recognizable Maiden sound. It did take me several listens to really get into the album, though. It didn’t grab me right away and I actually didn’t care for it at all on my first listen. There are only two songs under five minutes in length on the album, which may have left a bad taste in my mouth but overall, I just feel that DANCE OF DEATH is not an especially memorable album.



Iron Maiden are still able to write a catchy song and the first single, “Wildest Dreams” as well as “New Frontier” (featuring the first ever writing credit on an Iron Maiden album for Nicko McBrain) are perfect examples of this. Both songs stick in your head long after listening to the album with their great choruses. No Maiden album would be complete without a didactic epic from Steve Harris. On DANCE OF DEATH, we are treated to 2 songs: “Montsegur” and “Paschendale”. “Montsegur” tells of a religious massacre and has an excellent vocal performance from Bruce Dickinson. This is a great song! Instead of relying on traditional keyboards, “Paschendale” opens with a midi track coupled with a drum machine that leads into the expected bombast and melodrama only to come full circle and close on the same simplistic note. There are a lot of tempo changes in this song and it seems destined to be among the great Maiden epics with “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. “No More Lies” is easily the worst song on this album. It starts out well, but Bruce’s bellowing chorus is awful. The title track is another long song but it has a cool guitar solo and some impressive production. There is a string section and parts of it strike me as something that would not be out of place on a Blind Guardian album. “Gates of Tomorrow” has a cool intro and is one of my favorite tracks. “Face in the Sand” has an intro VERY similar to “Blood Brothers” from 2000’s BRAVE NEW WORLD album. “Age of Innocence” has a very catchy chorus but the album’s closer, “Journeyman”, left me disappointed.



The cover art is also not quite up to snuff with most Iron Maiden albums. It is eye-catching but not in the same way that albums like SOMEWHERE IN TIME or even BRAVE NEW WORLD are. It is like something out of the orgy scene in the Stanley Kubrick film, EYES WIDE SHUT, with half-dressed people frolicking about in masks.



Another negative for DANCE OF DEATH is the revolutionary “copy controlled” format they have chosen. The CD freezes up my computer after the first 7 seconds of every song when played in Windows Media Player, Winamp or Real Player! It works fine on my home system and in the car but it’s a little frustrating trying to type a CD review when the CD itself regularly locks up my system!



DANCE OF DEATH didn’t exactly rattle my cage. As with any huge release, I couldn’t help but be slightly disappointed since my expectations were raised so high. This won’t be anyone’s favorite Iron Maiden album but people won’t hate it either. It will be one of those albums like 1992’s FEAR OF THE DARK that just kind of exists in the band’s catalogue. The band has given us an album of new songs that for the most part do not offer anything interesting. There are some excellent tracks here but nothing to get overly excited about.
Track Listing

1. Wildest Dreams
2. Rainmaker
3. No More Lies
4. Montsegur
5. Dance of Death
6. Gates of Tomorrow
7. New Frontier
8. Paschendale
9. Face In The Sand
10. Age of Innocence
11. Journeyman

Lineup

Bruce Dickinson—Vocals
Dave Murray—Guitars
Adrian Smith—Guitars
Jannick Gers—Guitars
Steve Harris—Bass
Nicko McBrain—Drums


Next review: » Iron Maiden - Ed Hunter
Previous review: » Iron Maiden - Dance of Death





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