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Review: "A Matter of Life and Death" by British Heavy Metal Band Iron Maiden

Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The Back of the Album Cover for the Album A Matter of Life and Death

The producer of the album is Kevin Shirley who took over for Martin Birch. Birch retired in 1992 after the release of Fear of the Dark.

The producer of the album is Kevin Shirley who took over for Martin Birch. Birch retired in 1992 after the release of Fear of the Dark.

Track Listing for A Matter of Life and Death

  1. Different World
  2. These Colours Don’t Run
  3. Brighter Than a Thousand Suns
  4. The Pilgrim
  5. The Longest Day
  6. Out of the Shadows
  7. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
  8. For the Greater Good of God
  9. Lord of Light
  10. The Legacy

How is the album A Matter of Life and Death different from the Earlier Iron Maiden Albums?

British heavy metal band Iron Maiden certainly has a habit of releasing some memorable albums through their 40+ year career. In 2006, they released the album called A Matter of Life and Death and it has a more modern feel to it definitely and it is quite an enjoyable album even to my ears. The album has three guitar players in it. In addition to the standard two guitarist lineup of Dave Murray and Janick Gers that heavy metal fans were used to seeing for nine years, the album also has guitarist Adrian Smith.

Different World is an inspiring song and one of the best in this album

Gone is the guitar synth style of the band’s 1980’s albums such as Somewhere in Time and Powerslave. But instead we have melody of a different kind in this album. For instance, the opening song "Different World" has a rock kind of feel to it as the song just kind of builds to tell a story of a man that wakes up in the morning needing some direction, some guidance because he feels lost. He wants to take advantage of what may come his way. Only then will he know what may happen to him. He thought that he had it all figured out without a seed of doubt. But then something he calls a “card” came up and he took that path and now he does not know if that’s what he wants for his life. The song is also trying to send the message that all of us view the world from a totally different perspective. Also, when we take the time to appreciate the simple things that we have, it makes the biggest difference in the quality of our life. This is a great way to open up the album and the band brings up the subject either for thought or to motivate their fans.

Songs Such As These Colours Don't Run Shows the Musical Versatility of Iron Maiden

The next song called "These Colours Don’t Run" is about someone who leaves their loved ones and family to go off to war and fight for their country. Whether he does this act for the passion, glory, memories or the money, the result will be more or less the same. War results in the death of many soldiers but sometimes it can be justified in order to save his country from declining and losing power and influence in an increasingly competitive world. As a small, minor side note the word color in this song is actually written “colour” because Iron Maiden uses the English spelling for the same word that we are used to using in the US but as the word color. These Colours Don’t Run switches to a nice instrumental section as Iron Maiden shows their musical versatility even in 2006.


How is the Rest of the Album A Matter of Life and Death?

"Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" features some guitar work that in style is similar to what fans would have heard in the album Fear of Dark back in 1992. However, in 2006, gone is Bruce’s raspy vocal style and he has shifted back to his normal vocal style if we can even call it that. In the song "The Pilgrim," this writer hears a sort of guitar play that sounds like the song Fear is the Key. The song is about a group of pilgrims that have come to a land that is occupied by evil forces which they will make sure to vanquish and eradicate. We also hear an improved Bruce Dickinson in the vocal department. He does not use the hoarse raspy vocal style that we heard in albums such as Fear of the Dark and No Prayer for the Dying. That will make fans of this band very happy for sure. "Out of the Shadows" features some acoustic guitar that we heard many years ago on the album The Number of the Beast. Does anyone remember the song Hallowed Be Thy Name? Most Iron Maiden fans would more than likely say that the song is one of the best in the band’s career. "For the Greater Good of God" makes reference to Jesus Christ although it does not mention him by name. He did in fact give up his life on the cross so that all of us would be saved and so that we would not suffer. But some people still have a hard time understanding why HE did this. What this writer can say is that GOD has a reason for why HE does certain things. It is said that Jesus was GOD in human form. HE was able to do things the average human could not do. I’m glad the band brought up the subject to show that in fact there is lots of love in this world. A Matter of Life and Death, although a good album cannot even compare to the band’s earlier classics. But for a modern version of Iron Maiden, this one is pretty good!

Favorite song on the album A Matter of Life and Death

This May Be the Best Iron Maiden Album of the 2000's

Listening to this album late in 2019, A Matter of Life and Death may be a better album than “The X-Factor” for instance. Bruce Dickinson has been the best fit vocally for Iron Maiden and even though his voice isn’t the same as it was back in 1988, he deserves to remain with Iron Maiden for the duration of Iron Maiden’s career.

The production on this album is modern, crisp, and heavy and this album is one of the best of Iron Maiden as it pertains to the 2000’s.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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