Rock In Rio

Iron Maiden

Portrait / Columbia Records, 2002

http://ironmaiden.com

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/27/2004

With a stadium that would put the Hammersmith Odeon to shame, during a festival with tens of thousands of fans, rejuvenated with the return of two old band members, and armed to the teeth with new classics, it was unlikely that Iron Maiden could do any wrong. Headlining the annual "Rock in Rio" festival in Rio de Janeiro, they were able to show both the highs and lows of their long and distinguished career.

The crowds anticipation for the band almost leaks out from your speakers to make a puddle of anxious goo on your floor as you hear the frantic chants followed up with the operatic "Arthur's Farewell," in the background. A perfect song to set the stage for the performance of a band that holds such importance.

When the opening chords to their newest hit, "The Wicker Man," kick in, the crowd's aural blast of pure energy shows just how long many millions of fans have dreamt of such a moment. As the Air Raid Siren himself reaches the microphone and sings the first few bars, we're slightly shocked. His voice sounds like gravel. It is quite disturbing. We all pass it off, thinking it's just him warming up. Thank the powers-that-be that that was the case. Before the song even ends, Bruce has finally slid into his groove, and his pure, melodic voice flows with the crystal clarity that we oh-so crave.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And after that slightly disheartening bump in the road is passed, we're treated to some of the best compositions ever digitally transformed into binary and stored on a shiny circular object.

The band decides to throw in a few twists to their songs. Some are quite obvious, like the brilliant new solo in "Wrathchild" that totally Lazarus-ed the song for me, to the subtle little fills in "Ghost of the Navigator" and "Brave New World" that too increase their quality.

Mixing their newest material off Brave New World with old classics such as "The Trooper" and "The Number of the Beast" was a great idea. Juxtaposing them shows how the band has matured in their twenty-plus years of rocking.

However, there are a few minute aspects of this album that aren't quite satisfying. For one, "Hallowed Be Thy Name" seems to be lacking the oomph that it had on their 1985 live album Live After Death. In fact, many of their older songs seem to sound less great. But to counter this are the newer songs. For example, Bruce tweaks the ending of the second verse on "The Evil That Men Do," and by not screaming it, he greatly improves it.

Unfortunately, only two songs from the Blaze Bayley era make it onto this two-disc set, but they are his two finest: "Sign of the Cross" and "The Clansman." There is a large debate between sides on who did which song better. Without taking a side, I will say that Bruce adequately sings these ones.

The only really big disappointment comes in the latter half of the second disc, where the massive punch to the gut that the album had delivered up 'till then seems to have lost some of its effect. Frankly, none of the tracks sound too astounding. Even the classic "Sanctuary" hits a wrong note with me.

When the album ends, one can't help but compare it to Live After Death. In some aspects, it exceeds its predecessor, while in others it falls short.

In all, this album is a tough call. People who aren't fans of the newer material should stay away (this was recorded during the band's "Brave New World Tour," and has over half of that album in their setlist). Fans should check this one out, but only after hearing Live After Death first.

Rating: B

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© 2004 Riley McDonald and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Portrait / Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.