Iron Maiden Dance of Death

When Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoined Iron Maiden in 1999, very few expected the band to regain the momentum they had before both originally departed. It was assumed a good reunion tour would occur — this happened with the Ed Hunter tour — and maybe one good comeback record (2001’s Brave New World), but I think it’s fair to say most assumed it would end or at least go downhill from there. Dance of Death proves this wrong. In fact, this album succeeds over Brave New World and is, in all senses, a classic Maiden album. If there was one major complaint about Brave New World, it was that the guitar tones on the album sounded dated. In today's metal world guitars are expected to heavy heavy heavy; Brave New World’s tones bordered on fey. That’s not the case this time about. The guitars have a fuller, rich sound to them — still not up to your typical post-millennium death metal band, but a noted improvement. The songs themselves are also more up-tempo. Apart from one major stinker, the AOR-sounding "Rainmaker,” this is the strongest collection of songs the band has offered since 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Opening track "Wildest Dreams” is a kick off. It has an intensity that’s similar to "The Wickerman” on the last album. The epic "Dance of Death,” clocking in at over eight minutes, is similar to songs like "Fear of the Dark” and "The Clansman” in the way it builds. The synths that follow the guitar lines in the song are a little much, but those into symphonic power metal like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody will absolutely love it. As for old school Maiden fans, will they be satisfied? I think it’s safe to say Dance of Death will be a pleasant surprise to any that aren't embarrassed to say they're still a fan, although it's not going to be an all-time band classic. (EMI)