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The elements are all there. The sound, the voice, the guitar harmonies, the rhythmic hooks… And still it´s not! Iron Maiden has a problem! They´re trying so hard to be Iron Maiden that it just turns against them!
“A Matter Of Life And Death” is Maidens 1X album, which of course has to be considered a magnificent achievement for any band. Anyone should be forgiven if they after almost 30 years cease to have fresh ideas, but the answer to that is not to write even longer and bigger songs using the old ideas. Of the ten songs on the album only the opening track “Different World” is under five minutes long, with six songs over seven minutes and with two of them almost nine and a half minutes long. It´s like the band is trying to build the perfect and greatest Maiden anthem of every song.
Especially after the “Early Years” tour last year, this album is a disappointment, as that tour reminded us of what a super rocking band Iron Maiden are at their best. With that in mind “A Matter Of Life And Death” is just too pompous and stale to be interesting. Maybe it´s not fare to compare 25 year old classics to what the band is doing now but, quite frankly, none of the songs on this album would have made it to any of those albums. The rhythm changes have become more of a must, rather than being there to support the song, and the melodies, may it be vocal or guitar, just aren´t catchy enough to make you humming along or even remember them after the song is over. It´s just plain boring!
It´s albums like this that turn old giants into dinosaurs. With a fan-base such as theirs I´m sure Iron Maidens story is nowhere near it´s end but unfortunately even they can´t afford too many mediocre albums such as this. But, then again, Maiden has always been one to prove their critics wrong…