Reviewed: October 2003
Released: 2003, EMI Music
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com Staff
Intro By EvilG
Since a lot of us here at Metal-Rules.com are quite fond of Iron Maiden, we discussed how we would approach reviewing their new CD. We decided rather than having 5 different reviews, we’d have one big one where we’d each give our opinion on the albums overall while picking out a few examples rather then everyone talking about every song on here. The rating you see above is the average score, calculated from each writers own rating as seen below.
Reviewer: EvilG | Rating: 4.5/5
Iron Maiden, arguably the best metal band ever, has returned with DANCE OF DEATH. We all saw the album cover for this and prayed that the music contained within would not be anything like the horrible cover art. We also heard the Internet released track “Wildest Dreams” and mostly thought, “yeah it’s ok, but it’s not very heavy and it had better be the worst song on the album”. Well perhaps you were not all as critical as I was, but that’s the way I approached DANCE OF DEATH. I also have to state one other bias up front: I don’t think Maiden will ever top POWERSLAVE, PIECE OF MIND, or NUMBER OF THE BEAST. Other albums came damn close. Even BRAVE NEW WORLD from 2000 is respectable when listened to alongside their past catalog. If you liked BNW, then you will like DOD. IF you liked FEAR OF THE DARK, you will also like DOD. In some ways it’s a cross between those albums with some of the rock feel of NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING in a few songs. There are a couple of tracks on here that are filler when compared to the rest of the album (and when compared to the Maiden classics). Tracks like “Age Of Innocence” and “Journeyman” are not something to lose your mind over. Both are decent and have grown on me, but they are clearly not what makes this album great.
On my first listen to the album one song stood out from all the rest. That song is “Paschendale”. When I first heard this one, it ripped my head off and I was thinking of classic Iron Maiden. Lyrically, Iron Maiden is a band that have taken historical events and turned them into divine grand epic songs. Such is the case with “Paschendale” which is a WWI tale that lyrically matches the powerful Motörhead song “1916″. The second monster of a song on here is easily “Montségur”. One thing I wanted more of on BRAVE NEW WORLD was more layers of guitars and more guitar harmonies to take advantage of having three excellent guitarists in the band. I think they must of realized the same thing, because with these two songs and also with the albums’ title track the songs are loaded with lots of guitar goodies.
The only thing keeping me from pushing this rating higher is the rock elements and some of the more filler moments on the CD. However, don’t think for a second that I’m disappointed. This album is one of the best from 2003. I just wish Maiden would put out a new album every year!! Considering how long the band has been together, they don’t have as many albums as you’d think because they’ve always been a touring band. Maybe as they get older, they will spend less time on the road, and more time writing and recording? I can dream….
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland | Rating: 3.5/5
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.
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen | Rating: 4.5/5
First off, I was one of those lucky bastards that got a chance to hear 4 songs from the forth-coming Iron Maiden album titled DANCE OF DEATH in advance. When Iron Maiden was touring here in Europe this summer in order to promote their new album, and stopped by here in Helsinki, they had this album’s pre-listening bus with them on the tour and a bunch of us journalists got this extraordinary yet very cool opportunity to hear the first 4 songs from the album in advance. Even then I was thinking why on earth they had included songs like “Wildest Dreams” and “Rainmaker” to this new album? I honestly wasn´t too impressed by any of these two songs at all, but was still happy with the two other songs “No More Lies” and “Montségur” that came after these ´a bit little disappointing´ Maiden songs. In my secret hopes I wanted the rest of the album be like that way – and all my prayers have been answered!! Since DANCE OF DEATH hit stores everywhere in the world, I made sure that I could get it the same day it was for sale here in Finland.
So I did and was listening to one of Maiden’s finest albums more than a week in a row, becoming a very thrilled with the whole album over and over again. The more carefully and analytically I was diving into the songs, the more I liked it. And yes, it needs to be spit out… this is a fuckin’ great album. They have done it again after all and surely haven’t let their fans down at all. I even started to learn to like “Rainmaker” a bit more and I am pleased to announce that I’m glad they recorded the song for this particular album. Hell yes, I really am…
“Montségur”, “Dance of Death”, “Paschendale” and “Face in the Sand” are some of the greatest and most focused songs that Iron Maiden has penned down for ages. It could be said the band has stayed on the right path and are hopefully able to make great music for many more years to come…
Reviewer: Engyma | Rating: 4.5/5
Maiden\’s 13th studio album is definitely a lucky 13. The music is in many ways a continuation of BRAVE NEW WORLD but many of the songs have more punch and more identity (something that the previous album lacked). For me, the stand-out track is \”Paschendale\”, one of several 7+ minute epics on the album. It is a track dealing with historical subject matter, as we have come to expect from Maiden (think \”Alexander The Great\”, \”Aces High\”, etc). Paschendale (also known, for obvious reasons, as Passiondale) was the site of the first ever victims of chemical warfare, during the First World War, and the song is a touching tribute to the victims, survivors and legacy of the tragedy (and very relevant today!). The song starts with an infectious guitar melody, which becomes the theme of the whole song. During some of the lead breaks, the band shows that they have finally figured out that if you have three guitarists on the payroll, you might as well put the lot of them to work on triple guitar harmonies. \”Dance of Death\” is easily the best album Iron Maiden has released since \”Seventh Son\”, and proves that these guys aren\’t quite ready to be put to pasture yet.
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