Thursday, February 19, 2009

Iron Maiden: A Matter of Life and Death

This is the most recent album from Iron Maiden, and it's also one of the band's best. At a time in their careers when other bands are struggling to remain relevant or striving to make a comeback, the members of Maiden keep cranking out good songs and adding to the repertoire of heavy metal. They have held up well over the years, and their sound is still solid.

The cover: Eddie is in the army, and he is leading a band of soldiers with skulls for heads (contrast this with the body on the ground in front of the tank, which has a human head atop a skeleton). This is an apt illustration for the album, which has five songs dedicated to the subject of war. Religion is also a major theme on the album, and it is tied in with war on a couple of the songs.

Note: I found one thing interesting about the logo the artist created for Eddie's army. Take a look at it and see if you can find what looks funny (besides Eddie's face, of course).

Look at the placement of the magazines. I don't think those firearms could be functional. And if they could, I doubt they would be practical. Granted, this is a work of art, and the artist (Tim Bradstreet) was playing off the Jolly Roger theme by using Eddie's head as the skull and the crossed guns instead of bones or swords. He probably moved the magazines further up the barrels because he thought it looked better, but that's not a good place to put your cartridges. That's pretty far away from the firing pin, don't you think?

Anyway, on to the songs.

Opening the album is "Different World," a catchy tune that seems to advocate carpe diem, taking life as it comes. This is followed by "These Colours Don't Run," the first war song on the album. The song basically honors the sacrifices made by military service members, no matter what country they serve. After that is my favorite song off the album, "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns." This is another war song, specifically about the development of the atomic bomb. I like the way the whole thing is put together, and it features some great guitar and drum work. And you've just gotta love a song that manages to work in "E=mc2" as a verse in the lyrics.

Next up is "The Pilgrim," one of the religion-themed songs. Great tune. Sounds like it came off of Powerslave. Then comes "The Longest Day," another war song about Operation Overlord. Very good. "Out of the Shadows" is next, which is another favorite of mine on the album. Following that is "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg," which is another religion song about -- you guessed it -- reincarnation.

Then comes a song specifically about religious war, "For the Greater Good of God." Excellent song. After that is another great tune about religion called "Lord of Light." And then the album closes out with the nine-minute-twenty-second long anthemic "The Legacy," which is, surprisingly enough, a war song with elements of religion running through it.

In all, a great album, and a testament to Iron Maiden's staying power over the past quarter century or so. I'm glad I own it.

Well, that's it. That's all the Maiden albums I own. I never bought any of the live albums, and I missed a few studio recordings along the way, but I may try to remedy that. A commenter on a previous post recommended Brave New World highly, and I just may pick that up sometime soon. If I do, I will post about it. Until then, Up the Irons!

UPDATE: Here's a bit from "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns."

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