During the horrifying year of 2020, I turned to heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll to cure my anger at the world; it was better than yelling at the TV. Once I started my CD collection, I knew that I needed an Iron Maiden album, so I headed for the Book Off at Pearlridge. I don’t remember the exact details, but I believe there was Piece of Mind (1983), Powerslave (1984), and A Matter of Life and Death (2006). However, the Iron Maiden CDs were expensive (expensive for the Book Off, that is); Powerslave was about $17. So I went for the cheapest CD out of the three, A Matter of Life and Death. I bought the CD for $9 on October 16, 2020.
The album artwork isn’t the greatest, but I’ve seen worse; I love the blended colors and the war background. The last Iron Maiden album review I did was for Brave New World (2000), so if you haven’t already, feel free to check that out! For now, let’s get on with the music for A Matter of Life and Death!
“Different World” starts off the album and it’s classic Maiden! The lyrics do repeat, which I’m not a fan of, but thank goodness the song is only four minutes, as opposed to eight minutes. The band sounds in-sync and it’s a headbanging song that fans can enjoy. “Different World” gets bonus points for having relatable lyrics too: “Tell me what you can hear / And then tell me what you see / Everybody has a different way / To view the world.” I love the chorus for “These Colors Don’t Run” and the focus on war in this track. Although, A Matter of Life in Death isn’t a concept album, a lot of the songs on here are about war and religion; that explains the album cover. Also, how can it be a Maiden track without crazy tempo changes?
“Brighter Than a Thousand Suns” is nothing special, to be honest. I always looked at songs as having the verses build up to the chorus and the bridge adds that extra flavor to the song. This track had no build-up and the energy level was very tame. That was probably the case because the chorus sucks (“Out of the darkness / Brighter than a thousand suns”). “The Pilgrim” starts off good because there’s a nice groove in the beginning, but everything I said about “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns” can be repeated for this track. The lyrics, vibe, chorus, and everything about this track felt meaningless. On the positive side, I can sleep through the band’s instrumental sections in peace.
“The Longest Day” depicts an individual fighting for his life at war, and I love the moody guitars and the build-up to the chorus. Bruce Dickinson captures the emotion of the track by singing softly in the verses and soaring to new heights in the pre-chorus and chorus. “Out of the Shadows” is what I call a slow headbanger and while I’m not happy about the chorus repeating nonstop, I think it’s a good chorus and the lyrics are relatable. But what stands out to me about this track is a stratocaster adding some flavor to the verses.
“The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” is the epic seven minute track about the fictional Benjamin Breeg and according to the biography of the character, he was born in 1939 in London, England and his parents died in 1947, forcing him to be in an orphanage. He began experiencing nightmares when he was 10, which played inspiration for his art, and after leaving the orphanage in 1954, he got a job engraving tombstones at a funeral home. He traveled the world for about 10 years and returned to England in 1971, where he got a job at an institute for Paranormal Investigation; he disappeared on June 18, 1978 and has not been found since. The creepiness in Dickinson’s voice for the intro and first verse prepares the listener for the chaotic, craziness that is sure to come afterwards.
The first time I heard “For the Greater Good of God,” I thought to myself, “how the heck do they remember all of their parts?” There’s so many lyrics and tempo changes, and the guitar parts sound like it was done through improvisation. I watched a live version of this song from 2019 and it’s cool seeing Steve Harris mouth the words to the song and really get into it. But, it’s also funny seeing Janick Gers dancing to the beat of “For the Greater Good of God;” not a very metal thing to do, but oh well!
For a track over seven minutes, I enjoyed “The Lord of Light.” There wasn’t a dull moment in the track, and I love how it starts off soft and moody before the chaos begins. I enjoyed the flavorful guitar solo too. “The Legacy” is a boring track to go out on, but it has its moments. Like “For the Greater Good of God,” there was a lot going on and the instrumental sections made me want to go to sleep; I love the lyrics, though.
I was not jumping out of my seat when I first listened to A Matter of Life and Death, but it has grown on me since; besides, it’s normal to feel attached to the first record you bought from a certain band. Are there songs I’d drop from the album? Yes. However, much like my thoughts on Brave New World, the good tracks outweigh the bad tracks and overall, I think it’s a good record from the band. I’d give A Matter of Life and Death 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Let me know in the comments below what your favorite song is from Iron Maiden’s A Matter of Life and Death album!
Take care and see ya real soon!