Monday, February 16, 2009
Iron Maiden: Dance of Death
One night I decided to look through iTunes to see if I could find some Maiden b-sides, and I came across this album, the most recent one at the time. Out of a curiosity I hadn't felt in a while, I looked up Dance of Death on Wikipedia and discovered that Bruce Dickinson was back. Adrian Smith, too. And I decided to take a chance and purchase a few songs. What the hell, I thought, it might be worth a few bucks just to see what the band is up to these days. This is the first Iron Maiden album I actually gave a chance to since No Prayer for the Dying, and I'm glad I did.
But first, the cover art: What a piece of crap. The all-knowing Wikipedia indicates that this was actually a computer generated draft that got green-lighted against the artist's intent, and I hope that's what it was -- a mistake. I shudder to think that this was actually what was meant to be on the cover.
Besides this sad art, the music on the album is strong, and the band turns in a fine performance. The first song I downloaded was "Montségur," a decent tune about a stronghold of the Cathars, and then I checked out "Paschendale," a great song about a major battle in World War I. "Paschendale" is eight-and-a-half minutes long, but it's well worth the time to take a listen to if you are a fan of Iron Maiden, heavy metal, or WWI history.
Next is the very good "No More Lies," and then the excellent "Rainmaker." I love the guitar work that opens and closes this song, and the chorus is catchy and easy to sing along with.
After that is "Journeyman," one of Maiden's few ballad-type songs. Full of acoustic guitars and sweetened by luxuriant strings, "Journeyman" seems almost out of character for Maiden, but it works. It's a great song, and I'm glad I ran across it.
Next is "Face in the Sand," another good song that features Nicko McBrain's apparent efforts to get in the Guiness Book of World Records for the longest continuous stretch of double-bass pumping by a heavy metal drummer. And then I finished my downloads with the title track, which is a decent song but not as good as others on this album.
Dance of Death turned out to be a good reintroduction to Iron Maiden for me, and I thank the band for fully embracing iTunes. Now, if they could just make some b-sides available for download ...
UPDATE: Here is a sampling of "Rainmaker."