on 5 September 2017
A Matter of Life and Death is Iron Maiden's 14th album, released in 2006. About half a year ago I started listening to Maiden. Of course, i heard some of their more popular tracks like The Trooper or Run To The Hills a lot earlier, but I never really picked them up (except for one track, Hallowed Be Thy Name) until a couple months ago, when I discovered among my fathers gigantic collection of CDs, one of their albums, namely Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. After listening to it for quite some time, and listening to another album of theirs that my father owned, Dance of Death, I was so interested in more of what they had to offer, that I decided to buy ALL their albums. At the end of July I bought 9 of their albums: Iron Maiden, Killers, The Number of the Beast, Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Fear of the Dark, Brave New World, A Matter of Life and Death and The Book of Souls (I will leave the reviews for all the other albums on their respective pages), of which AMoLaD is definitely one of the best. Here is my opinion on each track:
Different World 8/10
A great start to this album. Different World is one of best tracks on it, with the lyrics carrying a message that fits many people in today's world. We're told by everyone around us who to be, what to pursue and how to do things, but everybody has a different outlook on life, with different things that satisfy us, different interests and passions. On top of the positive and relatable message, the song sounds wonderfully, with the solo between 2:20 and 3:00 being its high point. Overall it's a great song, that I like listen to a lot, which is the case for a lot of tracks on this album.
These Colours Don't Run 7/10
In my opinion the weakest parts of this track are the second part of the chorus "Far away from the land of our birth [...] These colours don't run, from cold bloody war" and the solo between 3:52-4:10, with pretty much everything else being quite good, and the part between 4:52-5:32 being the best bit of the song. My big problem with later Iron Maiden releases is Bruce Dickinson's voice, which, when he's singing really loud, becomes unpleasant to listen to, almost as if he was just screaming. This track shows this really well, with most of the lyrics being sung quite loud, but still keeping the melody like the tracks from previous albums, but with the second part of the chorus losing that melody and just becoming a scream; a scream that's unpleasant to listen to for a long time, and the fact that it's repeated 4 times throughout the song doesn't help. Lastly, this song is about war, which is a topic I don't really like in songs I listen to. Although some parts of it are interesting (especially the first part of the chorus), I don't like discussing war-oriented lyrics. Overall, it's a fairly solid track, but not as good as the likes of Different World or For The Greater Good Of God.
Brighter Than A Thousand Suns 5/10
I'm... 95% sure this song is about atom bombs. Anyway, this song is one of the weakest on the album, with very few parts that I actually enjoy. Despite being the 3rd longest track on the album, its 8:46 are filled with forgettable music and one of the weakest performances of Bruce Dickinson I've heard so far. There's really not much more to say, I don't really like this track.
The Pilgrim 6/10
This is quite a decent track! In terms of lyrics, I think it's about Jesus and people who choose to not follow him, with lyrics like "Changing our water into wine," "Raise me up take me home," and "To you we bid farewell, Kingdom of heaven to hell." I think that both in terms of vocals and instrumentals, the second part of the chorus is the weakest part of this song, while the verses have the most pleasant and catchy sound and lyrics. The guitar solo is pretty weak as well.
The Longest Day 8/10
There's very little to criticise this track for. Yes, it's about war just like These Colours Don't Run, which isn't a theme I enjoy, but it's mainly a problem in songs where the lyrics are the main focus, whereas here even if I ignore them, I'm still left with a great song to listen to and enjoy. There aren't any parts that I like or dislike more than others. It's just an overall very good song.
Out Of The Shadows 7/10
Just like The Longest Day, there's little to criticise this track for. I particularly like the large part that the guitar has (I don't know if it's classical or acoustic, I have no knowledge of guitars) throughout the whole song, as well as the calm verses, both in terms of music and vocals. However, it doesn't have that punch that The Longest Day has, and instead is rather mellow, which isn't bad per say, but it's just not as much to my taste compared to some other tracks on this album. I'd rate it a solid 7/10.
The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg 5/10
After a promising intro comes an underwhelming song that's in many ways similar to Brighter Than A Thousand Suns. It's much heavier than tracks such as Different World of Out Of The Shadows, which is not something I particularly enjoy. The melody is very boring and unappealing, which makes this a forgettable piece of music, at least compared to the other tracks on this album. In some ways it actually reminds me of Metallica, which is a band with only a couple gems like Fade to Black or Nothing Else Matters, and majority of whose content (at least the stuff I've heard) is unappealing to me.
For The Greater Good Of God 9.5/10
For The Greater Good Of God is the best song on the album, and also the longest one, standing at 9:25 and beating The Legacy by a whopping 2 seconds. The intro to this song is absolutely beautiful, and while I find the chorus to be the weakest part music-wise, it redeems itself by thought provoking lyrics. This is something I've noticed Iron Maiden do a lot in their more recent albums, starting with Brave New World, where instead of focusing on one particular story or experience, they use their songs as a medium to point out bigger flaws in modern society. The part between 6:57 and 7:25 is absolutely phenomenal, and I can't help but sing "For the greater good of God" along with it. The rest of the song is great as well, with practically nothing to criticize. For The Greater Good Of God is the greatest song on this album and one of the best Iron Maiden songs of all time, and is a piece of music I would gladly recommend to everyone.
Lord of Light 7.5/10
For the most part it's a really freakin' good track! I do not understand what it's about, though. It starts off with a dark, atmospheric introduction, that's followed by a sudden change in pace, turning the song a lot faster and heavier. The first three minutes of this song are almost as good as the entirety of For The Greater Good Of God, but sadly the rest doesn't follow. It's pretty good, yes, but not as good, which is a shame. The chorus is the weakest part of this track. Still, it deserves a good 7.5/10
The Legacy 6.5/10
This last track on the album begins with an interesting intro, similar to the one in Out Of The Shadows. Afterwards comes a break between the intro and the actual song that lasts about 1:30, which I feel is a little too long. The song itself is decent, but the part between 6:29 and 8:25 is where the song shines the most. I really like the parts of Iron Maiden songs where multiple people join Bruce in a kind of choir, especially when it's accompanied by music as good as in this case. Although this track isn't as good as some of the others on this album, it's decent nonetheless, deserving of a 6.5/10.
1. For The Greater Good Of God (9.5/10)
2. Different World (8/10)
3. The Longest Day (8/10)
4. Lord Of Light (7.5/10)
5. These Colours Don’t Run (7/10)
6. Out Of The Shadows (7/10)
7. The Legacy (6.5/10)
8. The Pilgrim (6/10)
9. Brighter Than A Thousand Suns (5/10)
10. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg (5/10)
Final score: 69,5 pts./100 pts or 69,5%
Despite the final score being 69,5%, or around 70%, which in Stars would be 3,5 stars, I gave this album a 5, because Amazon defines 4 stars as "I like it" and 5 stars as "I love it," and I do indeed love it.