Rating:
6.0
Iron Maiden - Dance Of Death
8 September 2003


01. Wildest Dreams
02. Rainmaker
03. No More Lies
04. Montségur
05. Dance Of Death
06. Gates Of Tomorrow
07. New Frontier
08. Paschendale
09. Face In The Sand
10. Age Of Innocence
11. Journeyman


Singer Bruce Dickinson's return to Iron Maiden in 1999 was unsurprisingly met with a great deal of anticipation. Could his return bring the Irons out of the arguable rut into which they had fallen during the Blaze Bailey years? The energy and conviction of 2000's 'Brave New World' suggested that Iron Maiden were very much headed for the top once again. Unfortunately, this momentum was not to be sustained by the 2003 follow-up 'Dance Of Death'.

A shouted "1-2-3-4" intro to the opening track 'Wildest Dreams' gives an impression of the album's artistically relaxed nature, which is furthered by the predictably catchy sing-along chorus, familiar guitar solos and Nicko McBrain's eminently recognisable drumming. Although there is nothing wrong with the opener as such, there is a strong and depressingly ominous sense that it's all been done before. Songs such as 'Rainmaker', 'Montsegur' and 'New Frontier' continue comfortably with this rocking feel; however it is the slower, longer songs that are the key to Dance Of Death.

The first such song is 'No More Lies'. The clean guitar and bass arpeggios of the intro are joined by a typical Dickinson vocal line. Before long, the band kicks it up a notch and launches into a heavy middle section, eventually returning to the opening arpeggio section. The title track (with a clean intro embarrassingly similar to that of 'No More Lies') follows an identical pattern, establishing the clean-heavy-clean song structure as a hugely dominant feature of the album. This more 'mellow' side of Iron Maiden is centred in the unremarkable tail end of the album, the highlight of which is the all-acoustic 'Journeyman'. The desire to explore musical dynamics is admirable, though Harris' tendency to stick to such conventional patterns and chord progressions renders the attempt ultimately useless.

Lyrically, it's the usual Maiden fare - haunting dreams and experiences, the futility of war, self-exploration, etc. Nothing particular groundbreaking, though the lyrics certainly fit the story-telling nature of the album.

Unsurprisingly, performances all-round are competent though forgettable. Gers', Murray's and Smith's guitar solos are generally fast and clean, though lack the sparkle of their earlier work. Steve Harris' bass playing is solid, but profoundly boring and lacking the furious energy present in his earlier playing ('Run To The Hills', anyone?). Although Dickinson's voice has noticeably aged, it suits the extremely warm album production, handled by Kevin Shirley and Steve Harris.

If released at any other stage of Iron Maiden's career, this album would provide a worthy addition to their discography. Unfortunately, the fact that the band has spent over twenty years together and seems to have added little more to their sound than clean arpeggiated guitar intros means that 'Dance Of Death' can only be considered a symptom of a tired band, whose classic material remains utterly unchallenged.

Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 4
Production: 7


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: Dance Of Death


 


written by Hyvaarin | 19.02.2007


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
The Silent Man

Rating:
8.5
Dance Of Death. What a bad title. What a bad cover. What strange titles. Push play: what a banal opening! The single Wildest Dreams is one of the worst songs of this album. Why such a bad choice? Skip track and listen to the others. This album is great. I loved Brave New World but this one seems to be innovative and even better than his predecessor.

Read more ››
published 18.09.2003 | Comments (7)

Staff review by
Pierre Tombale

Rating:
9.0
Iron Maiden's 2003 release was something that by the first listen didn't convince me much. I even went this far thinking to myself Bruce Dickinson should have rather continued with his solo career, but luckily I've waited long enough to change my mind.

Concluding there must be something entirely different to previous releases (which was also true for the Brave New World album) to make a die hard Iron Maiden (incl. Bruce Dickinson) fan shake his had (and I don't mean bang of course). The first thing that disturbed me was the first single ... It sounded rather poor and still does in comparison to the rest of the album. I mean it evokes the right feeling, continuing on paths of Brave New World, but on a much lower level and yes it took me some time to get into B. N. W., too... Anyway the second song' Rainmaker', that is still my favourite on the album, takes the opposite direction, entirely satisfying from the start, somehow something that I expected to be and it came out just right (thinking of nothing in particular though) the result is Rainmaker, an awesome song. Then at first I found other tracks to be rather lame and unsatisfying (for sure, I wouldn't have to state that I changed my mind, would I?). This category was filled by 'Dance Of Death' and the tracks from 'Paschendale' to the last song 'Journeyman'. I simply couldn't find the relation to older what I've heard before, indeed I rather thought, this is not really Maiden, this is some band of old dudes that will retire in the very near future.

Read more ››
published 14.09.2004 | Comments (4)



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Spyroid - 19.06.2007 at 21:04  
I actually think it's very unfair to give a 4 in originality, when you (and everyone else) would certainly complain much more if they did another X Factor instead of sticking to more safe areas. The whole think with rating based on originality is actually pretty strange, because an album that sound exactly like the last release doesn't have to be bad?

You're review is very well-written though, you've evaluated the different aspects very good. But I don't really agree with your conclusions
4look4rd - 07.07.2007 at 06:15  
What a 6? This is not mainden's best album but it still really good, with the exeption of the opening track all the other songs are somewhat good, and a few of them are already classics such as the RainMaker and the Journeyman, also Dance of Death is another amazing song with some really good lyrics
Dandelion - 07.07.2007 at 09:09  
One of the weaker efforts of Maiden although no more lies and dance of death are great songs!the expectations from them are more than a few good tracks and many average ones especially after the fantastic Brave New World!at times i was really bored while listeng to it..maybe they made it too fast...
HELLilac - 15.07.2007 at 17:33  
Sorry I know it's pointless to beat a dead horse but there're something in this review that sound so wrong.

I don't think it's fair to give the album a 4 on it's originality since every Maiden album that sounds like Maiden is a sign of originallity by itself.

Moreover, you seem to emphasis on the lack of progression and risk-taking in their sound and yet you fail to mention how songs like Paschendale, Ace of innocence and New Frontier sound somewhat different to what you'd heard from the other Maiden's records. Of course it'd be a big contradiction to your review if you did. And if you do think the band didn't add anything new to this album apart from 'clean arpeggiated guitar intros' then you need to give this album a few more listen.

Though I do agree that Wildest Dreams is such a weak openner and even if you didn't mention it this album suffers from inconsistency.

The symptom of a tired band??? So many things from The blatant proggy approach on Pascendale and the title track, the earthshakingly heavy opening riff from Montsegur to the first all acoustic 'Journeyman' suggest otherwise.

I'd give it a big 8.
Ellrohir - 05.02.2008 at 19:33  
dont agree with the mark...this album is very good one and i like it
Duy Hung - 05.02.2008 at 20:48  
After all it's still a good album, 6 is a bit too low, i agree. This album, however, is not as good as Brave New World and of course cannot be compared to Maiden's classics like Number Of The Beast or 7th Son Of The 7th Son
Hyvaarin - 06.02.2008 at 13:13  
Written by HELLilac on 15.07.2007 at 17:33

Sorry I know it's pointless to beat a dead horse but there're something in this review that sound so wrong.

I don't think it's fair to give the album a 4 on it's originality since every Maiden album that sounds like Maiden is a sign of originallity by itself.

Moreover, you seem to emphasis on the lack of progression and risk-taking in their sound and yet you fail to mention how songs like Paschendale, Ace of innocence and New Frontier sound somewhat different to what you'd heard from the other Maiden's records. Of course it'd be a big contradiction to your review if you did. And if you do think the band didn't add anything new to this album apart from 'clean arpeggiated guitar intros' then you need to give this album a few more listen.

Though I do agree that Wildest Dreams is such a weak openner and even if you didn't mention it this album suffers from inconsistency.

The symptom of a tired band??? So many things from The blatant proggy approach on Pascendale and the title track, the earthshakingly heavy opening riff from Montsegur to the first all acoustic 'Journeyman' suggest otherwise.

I'd give it a big 8.

I still disagree and stand by my rating. Some things are a bit different, but none of it is really significant - it just seems that certain things (speed, heaviness, song length, etc.) have just been turned up/down, I really can't detect any meaningful change of attitude or feeling. Ahh well.
Ellrohir - 06.02.2008 at 14:43  
i think the thing is, that i like this "new" style of Iron Maiden much more than this preferred "80ies style" like Powerslave or Number Of The Beast...yes, those albums are good, but i am not so much into them like to half of the tracks on Dance Of Death...but it is clear, that many people has different opinion like u, so i respect your mark...but i dont agree
JohnDoe - 06.02.2008 at 20:43  
Written by HELLilac on 15.07.2007 at 17:33

Sorry I know it's pointless to beat a dead horse but there're something in this review that sound so wrong.

I don't think it's fair to give the album a 4 on it's originality since every Maiden album that sounds like Maiden is a sign of originallity by itself.

Moreover, you seem to emphasis on the lack of progression and risk-taking in their sound and yet you fail to mention how songs like Paschendale, Ace of innocence and New Frontier sound somewhat different to what you'd heard from the other Maiden's records. Of course it'd be a big contradiction to your review if you did. And if you do think the band didn't add anything new to this album apart from 'clean arpeggiated guitar intros' then you need to give this album a few more listen.

Though I do agree that Wildest Dreams is such a weak openner and even if you didn't mention it this album suffers from inconsistency.

The symptom of a tired band??? So many things from The blatant proggy approach on Pascendale and the title track, the earthshakingly heavy opening riff from Montsegur to the first all acoustic 'Journeyman' suggest otherwise.

I'd give it a big 8.


i agree with your opinion; and 8 for DoD is OK; not my favourite IM album, but I like it a lot - the weaker songs for me are the title track - good song but a bit repetitive, No More lies - also repetitive, especially the chorus, and Montsegur - still too repetitive. As for the rest, they satisfy me - Pashendale is one of the best song IM ever wrote.
Nicko's Nose - 23.10.2008 at 04:34  
Originality: 4? Its Maiden's most original album since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son!

Its one of Maiden's best albums IMO! Its so epic and catchy!
Powerslavex - 28.11.2008 at 12:38  
I think 6 is a bit unfair i think this album is great
AngelOfDisease - 05.03.2009 at 00:28  
:O Someone that gave less than a 7 to a Dickinson-era Maiden album?!?!?!?!??!
haha xDDDD... anyway I haven't heard this album because it doesn't draw too much of my attention.
Deadmeat - 17.05.2009 at 13:17  
This album is very good. it has some great songs. you cannot give it only 6... the review is not that bad but the rating is..
I_Die_Often - 09.03.2010 at 02:56  
I'm not a fan of this album. I will be playing it again soon to see if I just missed something... but I gave it a 4 myself
Ellrohir - 09.03.2010 at 09:42  
If nothing more, Paschendale is one of the most epic songs ever...and Montsegur is quite close behind in that matter .)

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