Dance Of Death

Iron Maiden

Columbia Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/30/2004

For me, I don't think there was a release I was looking forward to more last year than Maiden's newest album. Even with the horrendous cover, I was determined to be one of the first to own it. So concentrated on my quest was I, that I blatantly refused to hear the pirated version of the album that some of my friends had managed to get their hands on a few days before it was released. I even went to the record store to pick it up six days before it came out. Finally, on September 9, my wish came true, and I strolled out of the HMV a happy, happy man.

Once again, I have to call the band on this cover. Why?! Derek Riggs' works were several strokes of genius, and even the later stuff was pretty cool. But this was just weird and just plain bad. Fortunately, it doesn't reflect the album in any way.

The opening track, and first single (also the only song the band played on the "Give Me Ed…Til I'm Dead" tour, which was before the album came out) called "Wildest Dreams," is a little tepid and uninteresting. Bruce's singing is really the only thing that saves it from being a total waste of time.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Everything is redeemed with the next song though, "Rainmaker" which has one of the best guitar riffs EVER and one of the greatest melodic choruses. I found myself continually repeating this song just to take in more of its wondrous nectar.

"No More Lies" is considered to be the record's defining hit, and I'll admit that it's a great tune, but not as good as some of the others. "Montsegur" apparently reminds everyone of the band's classic Piece Of Mind album. I can't quite make the connection, but it's excellent nonetheless.

However, the album doesn't hit its second crest until the title track. "Dance of Death" is an epic, orchestral, marvellous work. From the hauntingly ominous intro, to the not-quite over-the-top bridge, the song is perfect. Unfortunately, it precedes the weakest track, "Gates of Tomorrow." Great name, I know, but the actual song itself is happy, upbeat, and really doesn't fit in with the rest of the album.

"New Frontier," written by Dickinson, Smith, and-what?! McBrain?! That's right. It'd been about twenty years since the mad drummer had been with the band, but he finally wrote his own song. And what a song it is. It has in-your-face, pounding guitar, great drumming (as always), and a brilliant chorus.

Arguably, the album's best, and one of the band's greatest epics is "Paschendale," an eight-minute gargantuan recounting one of the bloodiest battles that took place in WWI. The intro, which begins with Nicko lightly tapping the cymbals, sounding almost like morse code, explodes into one of the most ferocious riffs ever. By the second verse, it becomes obvious how much feeling and emotion they put forth.

Ending the album is a second first for the band: an all-acoustic track. Called "Journeyman," the guitar is quite beautiful in it, and the verses are very elegantly sung. The chorus is a tad weak, but the song as a whole is very successful.

Overall, Dance Of Death cannot really be placed up at the zenith of Iron Maiden albums, like Piece Of Mind, Somewhere In Time, and Live After Death, though it is definitely not at the bottom either. It is an above-average release that's always good for a listen, but just falls short of groundbreaking.

Rating: B+

User Rating: D+


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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 Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.