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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Iron Maiden

Death on the Road

Review by Gary Hill

There seems to be a disease going around bands these days. I'm not sure what it's called, but I can tell you that the main symptom is releasing live album after live album. Iron Maiden is not the only band to have caught it, by a long shot, but they definitely have it. I think they must have about seven live albums out now, including this one. The truth of the matter is, it might be overkill, but the disc, ignoring that fact, is a very solid one. The performances are all fairly solid (although it seems as though Bruce Dickinson might have had better gigs as he seems to be a bit off his game at a few points) and the song selection is good. There are quite a few tracks that haven't appeared on other Maiden live releases, but then again, there are plenty that are on nearly all of them. This is not their best live disc, but it's also definitely not their worst. For my money the presence of the title track to Dance of Death alone makes it well worth the price of admission, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Wildest Dreams
Powerful symphonic orchestral choral music serves as an introduction. As it winds through the boys kick it in hard and catchy. The audience sings along with the chorus on this one. This stomper works quite well in this live rendition.
Wrathchild
The bass thunders this one in, joined in quick succession by the rest of the band. While Bruce Dickinson's voice is definitely stronger than Paul DiAnno's, I think I prefer Paul's style on this cut. Still, the audience sings the chorus anyway and the band is purely on fire here. Both of those things contribute to making this a killer.
Can I Play With Madness
Never a favorite of mine, they put in a solid rendition of this cut, but it's just a little too stripped down and lacking in oomph for me. The keyboards get a bit over the top here, too. This is one for the skip button.
The Trooper
You don't get much more classic than this track, and the band eats it alive here. This scorcher is another high point of the album, although Dickinson seems to slip up a bit on occasion. The fiery performance of the rest of the guys more than makes up for it, though.
Dance of Death
A spoken recitation (think "Number of the Beast") begins this. The band come in with an acoustic guitar mode, the audience clapping out a rhythm to accompany. The song builds slowly in its epic texture with a bit of a Celtic leaning. As it shifts into its second movement layers of guitars accompany the climbing story line. When this stomps out fully it's a classic Maiden powerhouse. This is purely incredible. It is so close to progressive rock, but still total heavy metal that it's amazing. It drops back to the mellow as the outro kicks in. This is my favorite song from the album that bears its title, and this version if anything is stronger than the studio one.
Rainmaker
Suitably the sounds of a rainstorm start this and the band's trademark angular lines take it. This is a pretty typical Maiden cruncher, strong, but not a total standout.
Brave New World
A progressive rock styled intro starts this one in slow fashion. A dramatic verse comes in atop this bouncy backdrop. After a time this bursts up in a swirling metallic stomp. The audience nearly out sings Dickinson on the chorus in terms of volume - but that's what anthemic choruses are for, right? This is another killer number and a great live performance.
Paschendale
The sounds of combat start this and run for quite some time until another recitation enters to carry it forward. Guitar chimes in to gradually start this and Dickinson begins a Jim Morrison like verse. The band stomps in at the end of that, but their fury quickly gives way to the sounds that they replaced for the next verse. The band screams back in and serve up a metal backdrop for the next vocal segment of the track. This one is another epic type piece that rocks out quite well. As can be imagined, this one gets the crowd singing along on the choruses. They move this into a new dramatic jam that works quite well. While not my favorite of this type of Maiden song, this is solid and well presented here.
Lord of the Flies
This one has a slightly odd texture at times, but rocks out well nonetheless.
Disc 2
No More Lies
The whole audience sings the musical themes that start this in mellow and pretty melodic fashion. The band carry on after a time with the audience just clapping out the time. They move the themes forward here and then Dickinson's voice comes in to bring the powerful vocal line. As this finally hits the chorus it's in a classic Iron Maiden metallic anthem style. As the chorus ends they turn this metal for the ensuing verse. This one is a pretty typical song for the band - not bad, just not great. The audience definitely carries a lot of this. They even sing the swirling guitar solo. The extended instrumental jam is quite powerful.
Hallowed Be Thy Name
Now this is one of my all time favorite Maiden cuts. The sound of chiming bells begins this and as the odd musical backdrop carries the cut, Dickinson sings the opening verse - accompanied here by all those in attendance. Bruce lays down the "the sands of for me are running low" and seemingly turns the "low" into a new hobby. The band use this excuse to launch into the fast paced stomping segment. They run through several changes and simply scorch this classic. Dickinson seems to come up empty a few times on this one, though.
Fear of the Dark
There's definitely nothing like an Iron Maiden crowd for singing along. As this one opens they carry the backing vocal line through the extended intro. This cut has never been a favorite of mine, but it is a rather cool one, and is made more special by the audience participation.
Iron Maiden
This screamer is raw and potent. Dickinson fares better here than he did on "Wrathchild." There are other early cuts they could have chosen, but this, with its raw energy and punky texture works well.
Journeyman
The audience puts in another strong performance on the opening segment here and the cut moves through a haunting balladic structure with them as a huge choir. They fall back for the verse, but at points on the chorus nearly over power Dickinson. This is not one of my favorite songs from the band, but the anthemic chorus is strong.
The Number of the Beast
If you've heard Iron Maiden, it's a pretty safe bet you've heard this song. It starts with the recorded recitation. If you listen carefully you can even hear the band speaking along with it at points. As the pounding, but stripped down verse enters they come along for the ride there, too. The band puts in a stomping rendition here and the audience certainly adds to it.
Run to the Hills
I've never been overly crazy about this one, but that's probably partly due to the endless repetition of playing it in a cover band. Still, it's an aggressive and powerful metal stomper. It's also a Maiden classic and they put in a solid performance here.
 
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