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Saying goodbye may be hard to do, but sooner rather than later, it just may be time for metal legends Iron Maiden of London England. However, before we all start whimpering, I'd like to state that the end doesn't come with this album- the band's 23rd- but the warning lights come on all over the place here nonetheless.
First of all, through all the album's greatness, the songs do feel way too similar to each other. Doesn't mean that they're not good at all- "Paschendale", for example, details an interesting battle (supposedly about the World War I battle), while "Face Down" has a rather pessimistic Bruce Dickinson lamenting that "everyone's (in the world) nightmares will come true". War On Terrorism reference? Maybe. Yet, as strong as the songs may be, they don't do enough to really differentiate themselves from each other and stand out on their own, either as a concept album or as a regular one, except for the final track, "Journeyman". In that one, you get a sharp turn from the band- the previous eleven songs were all about pain and suffering in some form and how Dickinson just can't handle it, but here, Dickinson stammers confidently that he's not going to let any of that get to him. "I know what I want/And say what I want/And no one can take it away" he stammers with confidence, being the album's only real eye-opener.
Second of all, this album feels too tame compared to other metal releases. Sure, it's not produced to the same extent as say, KoRn, but compare it to the likes of Cynic or Danzig and the music just doesn't feel raw or loud enough. However, my biggest complaint is their sound is- ulp- starting to get a little dated. "Dance Of Death", oftentimes, sounds almost like a Led Zeppelin tribute album than an Iron Maiden album- not that there's anything wrong with Zeppelin, mind you, it's just a little unsettling, that's all.
Again, it's not like Maiden don't have anything left- their musicianship is, once again, top notch and very anthemic, producing some grand guitarwork and nearly as encompassing drumming complimenting Dickinson's Roger Plant-like powerful delivery. Songs like "Gates Of Tommorow" and "New Frontier" show just how far behind imitators like HammerFall are from matching the greatness that is Maiden, as they're filled with considerably more profound material and grander musicianship than any of them could ever pull off. It's just that "Dance Of Death" feels like a band that's just getting too old- maybe not at the irrelevant stage like, say, The Rolling Stones, but dangerously close. That said, "Dance Of Death" shows that the band just may pull off another classic down the road, but as much as I'd like to say otherwise, after hearing this album, the band just seems closer and closer to retirement- after twenty plus years, mind you. It's a sad development, yes, but that's just where they seem to be headed right now, and who knows if they'll ever come back.