Originally written by Ty Brookman
After 20 plus years and 13 studio albums later the Iron Maiden tour de force return with the follow up to 2000’s epically dominate, Brave New World. An album that cast down onto Maiden fans with great vengeance the return of the mighty Bruce Dickinson manning the helm for a performance of a lifetime and of course the potent Adrian Smith returned to the fold as well. Brave New World is an album so brutefully Maiden in every sense of the word that the shotty works of Virtual XI and The X-Factor were ever so quickly erased from the minds of the Maiden elitists everywhere. Monstrous tours ensued and the return of Iron Maiden was quickly solidified through definitive perseverance and a frenzied fever that hadn’t been witnessed since the 80’s. Good times indeed my friends, Maiden back in the arena where they belong and with them an album filled with fortitude and an overwhelming virtue that was painfully long overdue. I can’t help but sit here while I write this review and reminisce about Maiden’s ultimately powerful career and the impact this band has had on so many people, including me. Let’s face it, a great deal of you wouldn’t even be at this site reading this review if it wasn’t for that one Maiden song that flung you head first into the world of metal so abruptly that within an instant you knew you were home. When it comes to Iron Maiden’s integrity, longevity, vision and overwhelming musicianship this band could take the metallic Pepsi Challenge and easily come out the winner time and time again. Enter, Dance of Death. With such an overwhelming aspiration for Brave New World, would and could Dance of Death live up to Brave New World’s overall exactness? This of course was the question of the hour as the release date drew near. Even though I did anticipate DOD’s release, luckily I was distracted with the 700 other releases I have lying around bludgeoning me to and fro to fall victim to the “over-expectation syndrome” as I now have come to call it. So when the day finally did arrive my listen was not tainted with pompous ears. Personally I would have been fine with a BNW Part 2 and in all actuality I fully expected Dance of Death to be exactly that but to my surprise the Maiden legacy approached this album much differently, with ultimately touching on strengths of the past and present. Now although DOD does embody larger-than-life soon to be legendary Maiden songs, unfortunately there is a bit of filler within that in due course will be its downfall when comparing it to Brave New World. Perfect examples are opening track Wildest Dreams and track 2, Rainmaker. Wildest Dreams is entirely too upbeat and much too standard of a song to even come close to leaving an impact of any sorts. Lyrically even, I can’t find anything worthy to mention. Rainmaker is much of the same but definitely a better song musically, all together finding a better mix of verse to chorus and from a leads standpoint, it has much more to offer than the overall mediocrity of Wildest Dreams, but still very much substandard. Track 3, Mo More Lies is truly where the album kicks in and is exactly what I demand from the Maiden standard. Beginning with a patented Maiden intro of sorts, very calm and collective Bruce chirps smoothness across the somber melody only to dive deep into a monstrous, “No More Lies” screech that I challenge you not to belt out yourself while listening. Straight into a gallop-verse with a bombastic chorus of girth to follow and a highly impressive circulating lead section that fits the song perfectly. No More Lies could easily find a home within Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Opening with a Piece of Mind-esque riff of gallantry, Montsegur is a beefy, riff-laden Maiden of old, thickening the arties, heady vocals, song of passion. Title track an album highlight, Dance of Death could be compared to Hallowed be Thy Name for its grandiose song structuring but at the end of the day crushes it with its overall extent and passion. Lyrically you’re drawn in immediately as the potency of the story unfolds. The music melds dynamically, weaving a web of inspiring malay, and unarguably one of the finest Maiden songs written to date. Track 6, Gates of Tomorrow has a definite rock feel but does pulls together once the verse falls into place and finally the chorus pulls it from the depths of being completely useless. Also the intro has entirely too much of an AC/DC feel and points must be stricken from the board. New Frontier finds us once again in the “filler” side of things, entirely too upbeat and once again way to happy for my own personal liking. Due to the absolute patchiness of New Frontier the one thing it does do is amplify the brilliantness of the following track, Paschendale. Another album highlight and in all actuality from here on out the rest of the album is pure Maiden fucking goodness, defining this album as very much it’s own entity of sentiment. Paschendale embodies Maiden at their absolute trueness, with riffs of steel forging the way for the beast to follow. Songs like Paschendale is exactly why Madien was put on the map in the first place. Complete fervor amplified as pure emotion oozes from the song from beginning to end, absolute chill inducing perfection. Face in the Sand follows suit but is much more akin with the Brave New World delivery. Still very much its own song it stands on its own two feet proudly waving the Maiden integrity. Due to the feel of these last three songs the impact of The Age of Innocence might have been better placed earlier on the album and quite surly could replace any of the lunkers I mentioned above. The driving force of the song is definitely the chunky grinder-riff which without could easily seep over to the dark side of enlightenment when the chorus hits but quickly subdues the sunlight and the murky flow of thing is quickly replaced, just the way I fucking like it. Closing track Journeyman, ends Dance of Death on a rather somber note, although faintly upbeat at times the sadness that lurks throughout the song is a bit disheartening but definitely closes the album with a lasting impression of what Maiden has created with Dance of Death. Even though this album houses a few songs that basically have miniscule inspiration and or fortitude, the songs that meet the mark, reel the listener into a place that outshines any blemish this album may have. Iron Maiden has written a very competent, energetic and passion filled follow up to Brave New World and for that should be commended for their resilience and overall ability to stay relevant after 20 years within the scene.