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Iron Maiden - Dance Of Death

Label: Columbia Records
Format: CD
Released: 2003
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

With “Brave New World”, the first record to feature returning classic lineup members (that being from the "Number of the Beast album through "Seventh Son") Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith, the Maidens got back 25% of their much needed writing team and spark to their music. “Dance of Death” sees the band following a similar path to their past while adding a few new additions to the formula. “Dance” in delivery has the talked about more spontaneous vibe that was spoke of while they worked in the studio as well as a much more progressive influence heard throughout the album.
Opener “Wildest Dreams”, and the first single, is a high spirited 70’s feeling rocker. “Montesegur” has more bite to the riffs and Bruce’s soaring vocals. The title track begins in the traditional manner established around the time of “Fear of the Dark”, with mellow acoustic bass and guitars, the orchestra later providing accompaniment to the dueling guitars, sounding rather cool I might add. Lyrically the track is about the masquerade on the cover, with mascot Eddie welcoming us with open arms and scythe in hand.

“Rainmaker” was co-written by Dave Murray making his first of two appearances. Over the years Dave has co-written some great songs that I think unfortunately get overlooked (“Still Life” and “Dejà vu”) and I hope “Rainmaker” will get the live treatment. “New Frontier” is a traditional fast paced galloper seeing co-writing credit to Nicko McBrain along with Smith/Dickinson (who together and individually have written some of their best tunes).

Ahh… the old epic, the tracks I really love (“Ancient Mariner”, “Alexander the Great”), “Paschendale” is tride and true with orchestrals a major factor to it’s feel, again the guitars and orchestra providing some solid dramatics. For something different, closer “Journeyman” is laid back and acoustic, a side rarely seen especially through an entire song. A nice dynamic expanding to what is usually expected of them, adding maybe a new rim to their metal machine.

Maiden have made an album doing what they do best without reinventing the wheel. I don’t think there was a time when my first listen to the brand new Iron Maiden required me to skip a track. Though I like everything on “Dance of Death”, not too many tracks grabbed me upon first listen, I am still getting used to this disc. Not sure why.
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