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Dance of Death

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★★★★☆
(507 Reviews)

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  • I’ve seen Maiden in concert a half dozen times. I own everything they’ve released in about three or four different formats/versions. Remastered and non-remastered. Vinyl and CD. Not to mention DVD.So I bought Dance of Death with great expectations — especially I had just seen Maiden blow away a sold-out audience in Detroit a month prior to its release.Sadly, Dance of Death is only marginally better than Brave New World. And maybe not even better. Maybe just about as good.What disappointed me about Dance of Death was its dearth of originality. Many of the songs reminded me of songs from Brave New World. (I dare any fan to deny that.) Or, worse, Virtual XI and X Factor. There’s still a lot of repetition of verses going on, bad habits from the Blaze Bayley days, I’m afraid.What saves this album, in my opinion (surely not its cheesy cover art — where’s Derek Riggs when you need him?), is the fact that it is, after all, Iron Maiden. And the classic line-up (plus one!) of Iron Maiden at that.Nobody writes music like Iron Maiden. Nobody sounds like Bruce Dickinson. Nobody plays bass like Steve Harris. Nobody showboats like Janick Gers. Nobody has the speed and melody of Dave Murray or Adrian Smith. Even when they seem to parody themselves, Iron Maiden is still light years beyond most bands today.And maybe that’s why I’ve been harder on Dance of Death than I probably should have been. This is Iron Maiden, for Pete’s sake! I’ve heard what they’re capable of. They blow the roof off concert venues when they tour. And their back catalog of music still electrifies me some 15-20 years on.That said, I must confess that “Wildest Dreams” was a blast to see performed live. And “Paschendale” is a fascinating epic of a song. “No More Lies” suffers from Brave New Worldism, sounding too much like an outtake from the previous album. But “Monstesegur” rocks and “Gates of Tomorrow” features a cool intro riff.Every track has something of value in it. It’s just that, taken as a whole, Dance of Death doesn’t surprise and delight like it could have.Still…This is Iron Maiden. So you have to buy it, anyway. It’s required. Eddie says so.

    Posted on March 11, 2010