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Mettle Of Life & Breath - 96%

MettleAngel, September 20th, 2006

Maiden meticulously triumph once again with another magnum opus of majesty and might for the greater good of All That Is. This band of brothers fly the flag of freedom assuring that these colours don't run to the hilt. The divine dichotomy denotes that the meaning of life is a matter of death. With an incandescent fervor, brighter than a thousand suns, the legacy lives on. Presently, Mankind may dwell in a different world; but, from our noble birth - out of the shadows - unto our death, when we embrace the lord of light - faith endures and the eternal spirit within us all thrives, so that the pilgrim may flower and flourish.

The revolution for the fourteenth Maiden killer studio classic commences with the cry of "Eddie" as my speakers resound the wicker manish melody of a Different World. As Maiden explore the matter of life and death, they act as observers and spectators over a world violently spinning out of control. Concepts concerning war and religion are rife. 'Harry' has returned to his heavier, more pronounced and prominent bass signature. Adrian and Davey re-muster the galloping, gallant guitar riffage, just as Janick continues with his progressive seventies rock restive. The brigand Bruce bruits his alchemical invasion with even more discursive exploration of gnostic nocturnes. Meanwhile, Nicko audaciously hammers his heartbeat into perdition. Kevin surely knows how to produce a Maiden masterpiece.

Yes, war is a reality, as the album artwork intimates and vividly portrays this scenario of crucial conflict. Bruce himself has witnessed the horror epic firsthand. He has seen the grisly barbarism and carnality; yet he is also amazed by Mankind's ability to rise above catastrophic consequence, and thereby prosper. Bruce, born in '58 grew up in the cold war era, when the threat of nuclear attack was imminent. Nowadays, we are forced to be faced with impending terrorism. Bruce delves into these dutiful probabilities on tracks like Brighter Than A Thousand Suns which alludes to the Manhatten Project - a rush to become like God in favor of nuclear technology: "Out of the universe, a strange love is born, unholy union - trinity reformed...acid veils of love and hate - chain letters of Satan... cold fusion and fury..".

Homage is also demonstrated diligently as Maiden honour the war heroes of the D-day Normandy invasion. This is a musical 'Saving Private Ryan' rendition with realistic battle banter felt through Buce's vocal cadence and Mr. McBrain's machine gun drumming. The Longest Day deals with eyewitness accounts told from the perspective of 18 year old men who are willing to die for their cause: "...to turn men from flesh and blood to steel; from paper soldiers to boats on the beach...". With the bellicose covenant of confidence on These Colours Don't Run, Bruce illustrates the warheart patriot ready and willing to die for his flag and country. For him morality is non-negotiable, everyone is a hero as this song is told from the soldiers personal perspective.

Steve Harris has always had infinite, wild dreams of mirrors, mystery, and miracles when viewing the brave new world and celebrating the moribund dance of death. Again spiritual truths are underway for the flight of the navigator sailing the thin line between love and hate. This clairvoyant creatively continues this cautionary tale with the portrayal of the fictive man of mystery in The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg. The Pilgrim is an inward journey juxtaposing Eastern arabesques with alluring antiquities anticipating hermetic causality: "spirit holy, life eternal, raise me up, take me home - pilgrim sunrise pagan - sunset onward journey begun...".

Whether it's Bruce begging our pardon for the fallen angel - The Lord Of Light - whom he feels was served a really raw deal; or his fathoming the mysteries of birth where one is absolutely special and king for a day. Songs such as Out Of The Shadows, with it's career solo careening ghost of continuety, clearly elucidate the known fact that amidst cogent controversy, Maiden prevail. The epic closer, The Legacy lingers with concepts of truth which lies in the genesis of accoustic narration fortold through nursery like rhymes and relevant, rampant reverberation. The sonnet solos and strident strumming suggest spontaneous orchestral organization. This grandiose epic serves as the perfect closure for the climactic CD which initiates the listener from the onset with such thought provoking lyrical litanies.

The stellar standout song which underscores the live, love, and learn mentallity is to be found in the addage 'Ad Maijorem Dei Gloriam' or For The Greater Good Of God. Bruce may ironically sound like Cat Stevens letting the pussy into the cradle of filth and lucre; yet overall his vocal performance is outstanding, as he reaches such octaves as never before attained. The true parousia or second coming for me occured when Bruce rejoined Iron Maiden in 2000. The music of Maiden is so illusive and transcendent, the moral and message is ancient and simply Socratic: "All that I know with absolute certainty is that I know nothing; so to thy own self be true". While meditating and meandering through my inner peace of mind, my soul still searches for wisdom like the nomad knowing how to tame a land.

This is precicesly why I love Iron Maiden and metal is my way of life. There have been no wasted years, only joy. I'm in sanctuary from here to eternity with no fear of the dark or judgement of heaven. I am the journeyman on the edge who endeavours forever and ever to look for the truth; since I'm the educated fool with a future real. I'm the prodigal son purified by my own private purgatory, and I'm the stranger in a strange land ever experiencing deja-vu as a matter of life and death caught somewhere in time, so for now...heaven can wait.

as origianlly posted at www.metalcovenant.com