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Articles Home » 2003 Articles » Iron Maiden - 2003 Dance Of Death
Iron Maiden - 2003 Dance Of Death

ARTIST: Iron Maiden
ALBUM: Dance Of Death
LABEL: EMI (UK), Columbia (USA)
SERIAL: 593 0102, CK 89061
YEAR: 2003


LINEUP: Bruce Dickinson - vocals * Dave Murray - guitars * Janick Gers - guitars * Adrian Smith - guitars * Steve Harris - bass * Nicko McBrain - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Wildest Dreams * 02 Rainmaker * 03 No More Lies * 04 Montsegur * 05 Dance Of Death * 06 Gates Of Tomorrow * 07 New Frontier * 08 Paschendale * 09 Face In The Sound * 10 Age Of Innocence * 11 Journeyman


It's hard to blame Maiden fans for being skeptical of anything new put out by the band. After all, it's been thirteen years since they last sounded vital and energetic, like they had something to say. There's a nagging thought even at this relatively late stage of their career, that Maiden can pull another 'Piece Of Mind' out of their collective selves, even if it doesn't resemble it musically. 2000's 'Brave New World' wasn't it, but 'Dance Of Death' nears the mark considerably. Working with producer Kevin Shirley once again, the effects of 'Dance' are more immediate than its predecessor, which tended to wander aimlessly before getting to the point. Clocking in at sixty eight minutes, it's another long haul, with nine of the eleven tracks running over five minutes, but the wait is worth it, as there is always the impression that something is about to happen, and you shouldn't turn away.

The Songs
The two three minute tracks are the opening pair, which makes sense as there would be little point spreading them out among such a glut of lengthy selections. 'Wildest Dreams' is the first single and an obvious choice, an exuberant, catchy rocker with all the charm of the 'Somewhere In Time' era. A song that improves with each listen. 'Rainmaker' adopts a more serious tone, very contemporary sounding, a perfect fit for modern rock radio almost. When it suits them, Maiden update their guitar sound to reflect the current day and age, without coming off as forced. The first epic 'No More Lies' is a fine piece of songwriting by Harris, usual slow intro, followed by some heavier parts, but this time more moody and focused, without procrastinating. Dickinson it must be noted is in fine voice. Traditional metal is well represented by the familiar Maiden gallop that pervades 'Montsegur', something that would fit any Maiden album past and present. For once you can actually hear the power of the guitar trio, as they combine for some titanic riffing, highly satisfying. The title track could be the finest moment, at eight minutes plus taking twists and turns many bands could only dream of, with heavy use of orchestration adding to the mix.

'Gates Of Tomorrow' and 'New Frontier' are both spirited upfront crunchers, McBrain's name added to the credits for the first time on the latter. Quite stunning is 'Paschendale' a monstrous war epic, with a fine sense of imagery in the lyrics. The guitar trio takes over as always halfway through, all getting playing time, with the orchestration adding to the drama. The same string and keyboard effects dilute the power of 'Face In The Sound' somewhat, overshadowing McBrain's constant double bass kick. The backbone behind 'Age Of Innocence' is undeniable, gritty riffs to the forefront, but how about that unusual hookline? Very melodic and again, ultra modern. What's more it works, proof of the talent existing in this band. 'Journeyman' is a sombre ending, with huge shadings of early 70's progressive rock. Acoustic guitars blend with massive symphonic overtones, to provide tremendous atmosphere. One could almost be fooled into thinking they were listening to King Crimson.

In Summary
The direction Maiden have opted for is clearly one they refuse to dispense with. The broad use of epic compositions, with the slow, fast, slow structure, is one they have toyed with for almost a decade, but has been fully realised here. With age Maiden have evolved into a progressive metal act, with elements of their past fully intact. It's still hard to accept on occasions, but this is who they are. 'Dance Of Death' has something for everyone who has ever followed the band, and it is far from disappointing. The inclusion of new melodic aspects also reflect a band unwilling to stand still in the past. Still there is a need in the back of my head which requires just one more thirty-minute 'hell bent for leather' metal affair. It seems unlikely now, a fact I can accept, as the musicianship on offer here is almost unmatchable.

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#1 | george_the_jack on June 28 2008 17:12:43
Mediocre songwriting and absence of inspiration..Only 'Rainmaker' refers to the old good maiden days..Ok, include 'Montsegur' and 'No more Lies'. I've never understood and agreed on the 'panic' that created 'Journeyman'. Even today I cannot figure out why this song shook the whole world.Anyway.
#2 | dangerzone on November 04 2008 06:53:29
In all honesty I'd say I haven't listened to this album since 2004. Sadly I don't see that changing.i give up
#3 | jeffduran on November 11 2008 18:08:42
Absolute rubbish!
#4 | george_the_jack on March 17 2009 13:05:54
It's quite enjoyable seeing Jeff stating "absolute rubbish", under the sharp glare of its avatar's carnivore. Grin
#5 | dangerzone on December 13 2013 00:00:57
I still haven't listened to this since 2004. What a load of bollocks this dud was and still is.
#6 | gdazegod on December 13 2013 00:07:21
Not as bad as the 'En Vivo' one, which is still being referred to in great numbers according to the amount of hits that article is getting. You sure know how to stir up the Iron's fan club Alun! lol!
#7 | dangerzone on December 13 2013 00:24:12
Maiden fans have to be the most sensitive rejects in metal history. They refuse to accept that they've made some shocking albums over the years. I recall getting death threats from these losers when I used to write for Kicked in the Face back in 2004!
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