Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Matter of Life and Death kills the charts worldwide

Or so claims this press release. The album is currently number one worldwide, having sold over a million copies in the first week itself. It has even breached the top 10 in the US and Indian charts, a first for Iron Maiden.

So, is the album really that good? Well, yes and no. Though not a concept album per se, AMoLaD is brilliantly cohesive, with the central theme revolving around futility of war and religious zealotry. Not quite typical Maiden stuff, but very well penned by Harris and Co. It is often easy to get carried away when dealing with topical issues, but the songs on AMoLaD hold their own without taking sides or trivializing the issue. Lyrically, the album does not disappoint.

The high point of the album however is the interplay between the lead guitarists. I've often felt that the triple guitars were a bit underutilized in the last two albums. But here they gel beautifully, giving ample demonstration of what the beast is capable of. Triple leads never sounded so good. Harris' bass and Nicko's drums are reliable as ever, lending the album its distinctive heavy sound. Much heavier, in fact, than any previous Maiden album (with the possible exception of The X Factor).

The only downside of the album (and a major downside at that) is quite surprisingly Bruce Dickinson's vocals. Yes, you read it right. The air raid siren wails no more. Instead he screams in a high-pitched tone that more than belies his forty-eight years. To put it succinctly, he has lost it. And what's worse is that he doesn't seem to have noticed. Or doesn't care. In no song is this more apparent than in the intensely poignant Lord of Light, probably the highpoint in Adrian and Nicko's illustrious careers; ruined by Bruce's shrieks. In the documentary The Making of AMoLaD, Bruce claims that his Man-of-the-match award for this album would go to Nicko. That may well be case. I do not dispute that. But my Rikki-Clarke-of-the-match award would without a doubt go to Bruce.

That the album's done so well despite of Bruce is a testament to its brilliant music and production. If I were to pick a favourite song, it'd have to be The Pilgrim. Though For the Greater Good of God and Benjamin Breeg would run it close.

What's that you say? That's not much of an album review? Would it help if I gave it a rating out of 10? All right then, here it is.

A Matter of Life and Death: 8.5/10.

What's that you say now? The rating's too high? Well, what'd you expect? It is Iron Maiden after all. Jeez.

Note: For other, more objective reviews, please click here.
Highly recommended: Read Maverick's commentary on the album here.

1 Comments:

At September 28, 2006 at 2:45 PM, Blogger Venky said...

hmmm ... maybe i will listen to this one after all.

-venky

 

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