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IRON MAIDEN - A Matter Of Life And Death   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Wednesday, 30 August 2006
Every band reaches a point where they stop trying new things, and are simply refining old ideas. The Rolling Stones reached this point just before they wrote their first song. For Iron Maiden, sometime around 1990 they simply stopped, and have been rewriting the same three or four songs ever since.



Hailed by some as a 'return to form', Iron Maiden's umpteenth album "A Matter of Life Of Death" is that most repugnant of concepts : Prog-Metal. Over the course of some 73 minutes, Bruce And The Boyspresent all matter of widdly-woo guitar solos, tempo changes riffarama, and nonsensical lyrics about Something Very Meaningful Indeed, topped off with Brooooce's trademark air raid siren vocals.


All of which makes it difficult and a little bit painful. I've long wanted to be grabbed by the bollocks by a new GOOD Iron Maiden album : truth be told, Maiden have been a great singles band since 1988, and been pumping their albums with mediocre filler ever since then. No doubt the live shows are still fantastic, but overall, "A Matter Of Life Is Death" is the work of perpetual adolescents in a state of arrested development : unlike previous albums, each song seems to mould itself into one amorphous whole, a single, 73 minute song : typically, most songs seem to be about war and have acoustic interludes. With only song under 5 minutes - the untypical balls-out metal of "A Different World", the rest of the album - boasting one-dimensonal titles such as "The Legacy", "The Longest Day", "The Pilgrim" and "These Colours Don't Run" - averages 7 to 9 minutes EACH. Sometimes you can have too much of a mediocre thing.


By the 60th or so minute of soundalike material, most of it frankly, ponderous and forgettable, the Maiden are still rampaging on with songs about mortality, death, war and religion. If they would ever get a natural emotion, they'd probably jump in shock right into the ocean.


I do however hate to be negative : The album has it's good points - Maiden are consistently churning out albums like this with some regularity as well and the quality of songwriting, whilst not exceptional to these ears, is such that no absolute howling stinkers are present. That said, "A Matter Of Life And Death" is perhaps that most useless of things - it is boring in it's lack of invention, the dogged refusal to shift from a 30 year template, a loyal fidelity to a tried and tested formula : in the end, "A Matter Of Life And Death" is just another Iron Maiden album.


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