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It was a beautiful summer day in August 2007 when a young Romanian, during one of the happiest periods of his life, walked into a music store in Québec. His eye was caught by a sight in the previously unexplored (by him) Iron Maiden section. That sight was the cover of a relatively recent single, The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg. Curiosity turned to surprise when he noticed that the epitaph written on Benjamin Breeg’s tomb was, in fact, written in Romanian. He read it again once, then twice, in order to make sure that he wasn’t delusional. No. There it was. Translated, it reads: Here lies a man about whom little is known. He knew he had to buy that single no matter what, and he did, despite not previously owning any of Iron Maiden’s music. Thus, because of an epitaph on the cover of a single, began my fascination with the legendary heavy metal band.
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg consists of two tracks: the title track from the then-soon-to-be-released A Matter of Life and Death album and the Radio 1 Legends Session version of the band’s classic epic, Hallowed Be Thy Name. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg is an excellent example of the new, highly epic style performed by Iron Maiden during these last few years and is representative of the AMOLAD album, being neither the longest nor the shortest track from it. It’s quite a slow-paced track, starting off slowly with a very melodic intro and some soft-spoken verses from Bruce before picking up the pace after about 1 minute and 45 seconds with a series of good, instantly recognizable riffs which, despite the generous length of the song, never get boring. This is all the more amazing once one realises the high amount of repetition involved here, especially during the chorus, which, when coupled with the slow pace of the song, could easily drag on annoyingly for the entire seven minutes but in the end the whole thing comes off as being enjoyable. It’s certainly not the best Iron Maiden track, not even the best from the album it’s on, but it still is quite good. The end is a little abrupt though.
The B-side is a new take on the classic Hallowed Be Thy Name, and it’s a surprisingly good version of the classic song from The Number of the Beast. It’s just slightly drier than the original, both from an instrumental point of view and when listening to Bruce’s vocal work. Oddly enough, the remake is also slightly faster than the original. None of these differences are significant though, with both the remake and the original songs being almost equally enjoyable.
The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg is worth getting, if only for its uniquely entertaining and historical cover as well as the good remake of Hallowed Be Thy Name. It will forever hold a special place in my heart as my first ever Iron Maiden acquisition, having prompted me to get the band’s older albums, and as such is one of my most well-chosen purchases.