Iron Maiden - Dance Of Death
So the time has at last come for a brand new album from Iron Maiden to be released, and the curiousness and expectations are of course set high. Unfortunately it feels like they have lost everything that was their trademark in the glorious years by now: the great hooks, the guitarleads and solos, the refrains with a special touch and the ability to affect the listener. It is just not there anymore, and now everything sounds pretty much the same all over, and the same Harris-composed intros are being used almost to embarresment in song after song. It would be one thing if they would get better by the years, but it is exactly the other way around. Perhaps there is no coincidence that the guitarlead 3 minute and 20 seconds into the titletrack bare strong similarities to the song Stonehenge with Spinal Tap...
Most of the songs on the album are just as non-saying as most of the averagetunes on No Prayer For The Dying or X Factor, and the parts that are in fact good we unfortunatly have heard before a number of times so it kind of takes away the effect. The first three songs are really very average with weak choruses, standard riffs and few or none surprising moments occur. The single Wildest Dreams I would say is a fiasco with a chorus that is under their dignity and Rainmaker is the best of them with a good flow but for the rest it's weak and disappointing.
It gets better with the following Montsegur and Dance Of Death that has some punch behind them but it's not enough. It is obvious that they try their best to continue giving their fans the very best, but it seems like the ideas are over now. There are parts with a galopping rhythm, and some power behind the arrangements and vocallines but they are few and not very convincing. Personally I think that no song on this album come close to for example Ghost Of The Navigator or Out Of The Silent Planet from the last album Brave New World. Just to get you an idea.
Some of the guys in the band have officially stated that they wish to reduce the touring because the many years in the business are starting to take their toll, and you can hear that they are a bit tired. Gates Of Tomorrow is lousy, to be frank, and New Frontier would be classified in the same way if it wasn't for it's chorus which actually is very good and has a good hook and feels fresh. It is far from enough to bare up the whole though, so it falls flat anyway. This would not be good rock even if some other band had made this. Face In The Sand is a slower, more epic song that is nothing special and Age Of Innocence is a song with a decent riff but a too sissy (yet catchy) refrain. The closer Journeyman is a acoustic piece with orchestral elements and a kind of musical/pop refrain that are just... average. Nothing more, nothing less. This type of song does not really fit Maiden.
I have really listened to this many times and tried to embrace it with an open mind but it still seems more obvious than ever that Iron Maiden's prime time ended somewhere around 1989-1990. It feels like Maiden have entered a vicious circle that is slowly dragging them down. I didn't think I would ever say this, but: Do yourself a favour, guys, and quit after this album and keep the amount of dignity you still in fact have and make sure your good name stays intact. Don't risk making another album that might turn out even more tired than this - than it might ruin all you have built up during the years.