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For quite a while, this record annoyed the hell out of me - too repetitive, too constructed, too boring. For every minute that works for me, there's 30 seconds of redundant, put-on crap to follow. It was like a contrast bath between "now this is cool" and "what the f*** were they thinking?". And finally, I did it: I put the songs into an audio-editing program and started cutting.
"Different World" is the only track left untouched. While not a masterpiece, it's the only compact and well-rounded song on AMoLaD. "Colours" lost 1:12, "Thousand Suns" 1:27 (I would have cut even more, but couldn't find the right spots), and so on. The final tracklist looks like this:
01 - Different World 04:18
02 - These Colours Don't Run 05:40
03 - Brighter Than A Thousand Suns 07:19
04 - The Pilgrim 04:48
05 - The Longest Day 06:21
06 - Out Of The Shadows 04:19
07 - The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg 05:08
08 - For The Greater Good Of God 05:59
09 - Lord Of Light 05:45
10 - The Legacy 07:06
Total running time: 56:49
Yes, that's blasphemy. But only because I was forced to do it AFTER the albums release! If a certain Kevin Shirley had done a proper job, he would have saved me the trouble... Anyway: trimmed by more than 16 minutes, the thing gained a lot of flow and became far more enjoyable. Most songs are more to the point, focused on the strong parts while relieved of digressing ballast. In comparison, the original now sounds like a sophisticated, yet unproduced demo.
OK, let's take a step back and take a closer look at the published songs, and why they don't work for me as good as I would like them to. Please be aware that I don't skip tracks or shuffle while listening to an album, and so the "order of appearance" has a big impact on my judgement.
There's not much wrong with "Colours" - it's just a little overstretched, particularly at the beginnig. Also, vocals and bass successfully drown most of the guitars (apart from the solos); sadly, this is not the only song to suffer from this shortcoming in the mix.
The bulky "Thousand Suns" has its strengths: I especially like the galloping part that starts at 4:04. The slow build-up is solid, if (again) overdone. But, reaching the 6-minute-mark, the band has shot all their bolts on this one - the vocal lines weren't that outstanding to begin with, and so the last two and a half minutes of this song offer nothing new or exciting.
"The Pilgrim" always brings a grin to my face - anyone who ever listend to "Revelations" should know why. I guess the band had a big laugh themselves... Anyway: a solid, upbeat track, that could do with a chorus or two less.
"The Longest Day": now THIS would be the perfect title for an outright epic track, 15 minutes or up - but it isn't. Instead, on AMoLaD, its 7:48 only suffice to put it in the middle of the field. Again, the guys get stuck repeating the chorus (!!!) and some of the riffs a few times to often, achieving the song overstays it's welcome.
"Out Of The Shadows" could have been a nice ballad with a big buildup. They manage to TOTALLY ruin the song by playing the "punchline" as an intro, and putting the chorus already in the songs first part (and than repeat it again and again). Did you notice that the ending fades out much to fast? At any other time, they waste minutes on pointless repetition; here, they can't spend a few seconds to let the song breath out decently.
By the time "Reincarnation" comes around, I simply had my share of slow intro-pieces, thank you very much. Save the intro/outro for the "Epic Version" on the single! Just trash the first two minutes and the last 15 seconds of this one, and they would have had a winner.
"Greater Good": cut half of all bridges & choruses, cut half of the middle section - you'll get the idea anyway. Then cut all that noisy guitar-solos, they are simply out of place in ths very melodic song.
"Lord Of Light" has the same problem as "Reincarnation": the intro-stuff is overdone by now. Otherwise, not bad.
Finally, "The Legacy" rivels "The Angel And the Gambler" for the "Worst Song Ever Done By Iron Maiden"-Award, if for very different reasons. This is a complete songwriting-trainwreck! It sounds like "let's put all the stuff we didn't use on any of the other tracks together and see what we will get - the studio is booked for another few days, anyway".
Many reviews praise this piece of crap as a progressive masterpiece. Well: in my opinion, that would require it to develop, mutate, progress (!) from one point / state to another. Instead, it zaps from one weak idea to an even worse one (and at times back) like some bored fellow in front of the TV. The cream on top of this mess is the ugly, evil and retarded twin to the intro-riff of "Phantom of the Opera" they hammered into it... simply repulsive! And what's up with the volume of the intro piece? In my car with the engine running, I hear next to nothing...
Bottom line: next time the Irons walk into a studio, I hope they hire someone with the balls to stand up to Steve Harris' narcism and divide the meat from the fat. They should set themselves a limit of 50 minutes for 10 songs - the best 50 minutes of AMoLaD would have earned them a rating of at least 80%, while the rest drags it down to 65%.