Sunday, August 11, 2013

Iron Maiden - Dance of Death (2003)

Seeing Iron Maiden's mascot normally is horrifying itself, but on Maiden's 13th album, Eddie is posing as death himself together with several half naked persons with disturbing masks (and a white hell dog). This is clearly the most disturbing Maiden cover up to date, but luckily it does not show how the sound of the album will be. Yes, "Dance of Death" is not a disturbing experience, it is instead a continuation of the sound that the band showed in the previous release "Brave New World".

The most interesting parts with this album is actually that this album contains the only song where drummer Nicko McBrain has songwriting credit ("New Frontier") and Maiden's first acoustic song ("Journeyman"). "Journeyman" is nothing special, but I like the modern style that "New Frontier" has together with the soft chorus that is easily enjoyable.

The album starts otherwise in a powerful way with the two singles "Wildest Dreams" and "Rainmaker". I can still remember the music video of "Wildest Dreams" where a animated Bruce Dickinson races through the pits of hell and into Eddie's mouth. Definitely one of my favourite music videos of all time. The song itself is a perfect single with its infecting chorus and straight forward attitude, but it does not offer something special to make it fully stand out. "Rainmaker" however does have that little extra something. It may be the shortest song in the album, but the epicness is still great and the sing a long factor is incredibly high. And let us not forget that bitching solo that is just Maiden out to the fingertips.

The epicness continues in "No More Lies", and even though the chorus can be somewhat repetetive, the song still holds a strong power and musicality that is out of this world. The epicness reaches its peak in the title track where it takes you to a camp fire where everyone is dancing round for the reaper. This track definitely holds the same epic standards as "Seventh Son of A Seventh Son" and "Rime of The Ancient Mariner", but it is the speed in the second half that makes it truly stand out.

The last song that stands out is the highly praised "Paschendale". I do not think that "Paschendale" is the strongest piece in the album, but I can see why this song has been so praised with its groovy rhythm and effective right, right, left combination that easily knocks you down. I also think that "Paschendale" represents the album well. "Dance of Death" is powerful, but it still has that epic vein that just makes it pop.

The one weakness with "Dance of Death" is that it is a pretty long album (over one hour) which would be a disadvantage for listeners with short free time. But the biggest weakness is the track "Age of Innocence". It has the Maiden musicality, but it is more or less a pop or soft rock song. That chorus is so cheesy that it is a Packers fan.

Just like "Brave New World", "Dance of Death" shows the best from Maiden's fast and progressive side. The reason why I have rated this album higher is that the overall song standard is higher and that the band found a special sound that was kept through the whole album. The album lacks something really special to make it a masterpiece, but I am sure that the grim reaper is pretty happy that Iron Maiden did such a fine album with him as the main character.

Songs worthy of recognition: Dance of Death, No More Lies, Paschendale, Rainmaker

Rating: 8,5/10 Journeymen

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