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I don't know for the Benjamin Breeg's enigmatic identity but I do clearly hear The Reincarnation of Iron Maiden, over the planetary zenith, once again breaking their own status quo into the most serious, atmospheric LP to date since the record just wipes out most 90's material, making them instantly prepared and reinitiated for the 21st century, Iron Maiden.
This is the 2006 Iron Maiden's expose of revolutionized sound, theatrical epicness, ambience and astonishingly well translated war-like pre-apocalyptic atmosphere of despair, fear, tragedy, hope, victory - making this record capable in general for the delivery of some of the richest atmospherical, emotional and progressional experiences ever produced by the band in one, I'd say most mature LP, again, to this date.
Steve Harris' songwriting skills clearly can not deteriorate. His inspiration will with over the +90% probability result in a successful aspiration of the spirited, creatively hungry listener. "A Matter Of Life And Death" is the opus that lyrically and musically evolves around religious, with sometimes occult thematics, war-like and pacifistic ideals & sentiments making you question the circus that world has become with all the political clowns and pawns. Who are we and where is the religion in this interactive occurrences between god and the mortal one (soldier, guardian of justice etc.), what are the actual meanings and goals that war pandemonium elevates upon nations and their citizens's freedoms & national sovereignty. In short the thematic concept will creatively expand you even beyond the lyrics, making your synaptic connections and subconscious refreshed and enriched with questions and ideas, deeper meanings of the political and social realms we are now very linearly drowning ourselves in, globally, not only in the US of A, if you listen this record with more prosperous goals than with just for the purpose of listening to another record of the legendary NWOBHM trademark band.
Bruce Dickinson again delivers the vocal performance of his life continuously expanding over his own boundaries. We can clearly hear more dedicated operatic and theatric performance that very convincingly compensates over the written tabs and harmonies then melodies, great moody emotional anthems like the initiating track, "Different World". Well done transitions in "For The Greater Good Of God", "The Legacy" etc. it's just astonishingly done and man again reinforced my own reasons for considering him as an absolute icon of heavy metal along with several other names. Melodies are performed with strong emotional transitions and fast - dynamic intervals, of the progressive label worthy.
Nicko's gallops' are greatly placed, his rhythmical sense and the unstoppable percussions still hold his trademark but in a slightly more incremented way in terms of quality drumming (progressive needs). 3 guitar section of Smith, Murray and Gers again accomplishes the interaction, and the sense for melody and interchanges quite masterfully. Solos are fantastic and I just wonder how they pick who performs them, since they are just energetically abundant and powerful, maybe the most serious guitar work ever defined by this band's guitar trio.
Arrangements and mixing were accomplished very well by the producer Kevin Shirley and Maiden definitely found their subject for all the future endeavors, no doubt. Sound is very precise, pure and sonic, making it provenly as a great engineering move since the record was derived directly from the masters, and this is the exact atmosphere and conceptual environment where the quality of the record should be given that character of production.
In an outro of this review, I'd just like to highlight the fact that except the standard audio CD, there is the so called 'special edition' featuring "Making of" short movie that I'd highly recommend for the true fans and zealots alike so that they could then identify the band in a new creative environment by watching the creative process in footage and how naturally they are setting new standards for themselves. This album was a pure Iron Maiden record for the modern ears, with more audible complexity (that's why it's harder to grasp to the standard, "give me The Trooper" fan), progressive dynamic, time interval changes without fill-ins, obviously longer track duration, excellent lyrics and completely spot on theme of the pseudo-concept.
Iron Maiden has done what few could, they transcended and the implicit answer is that they chose the right path in their focus, their work and followers, in a matter of life for the life.