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IRON MAIDEN - Dance Of Death cover
3.86 | 109 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 2003

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Wildest Dreams (3:52)
2. Rainmaker (3:48)
3. No More Lies (7:21)
4. Montségur (5:50)
5. Dance Of Death (8:36)
6. Gates Of Tomorrow (5:12)
7. New Frontier (5:04)
8. Paschendale (8:28)
9. Face In The Sand (6:31)
10. Age Of Innocence (6:10)
11. Journeyman (7:07)

Total Time 67:59


- Bruce Dickinson / vocals
- Dave Murray / guitar
- Janick Gers / guitar
- Adrian Smith / guitar, vocals
- Steve Harris / bass guitar, vocals, keyboards
- Nicko McBrain / drums

About this release

8 September 2003

Thanks to Stooge, Pekka, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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"Don't judge a book by it's cover."

While the above quote is a terrible cliche, as book cover artwork (or in this case album art) should reflect what's inside, there's a great deal of books and albums that come across as something else with what's shown on the front. I think we all know the story of Iron Maiden's infamous cover art for Dance of Death, the cover artwork is in its unfinished state and for some reason the band wanted it as is. The artist understandably didn't want to be credited for the monstrosity that is Dance of Death's front cover, and it went down in history as one of metal's worst album covers.

Maybe the band was just drinking a few too many beers, but whatever the case, they ended up making the cover of their 2003 album appear to be from an early 2000's power metal band who just discovered Photoshop and MySpace and was trying way too hard to be Helloween. However, despite all the colorful jokes that many a metal fan could shoot at the album cover, there is something about it that does somewhat fit the album. Just like the cover is left in an unfinished state, Dance of Death actually feels like it's a bit of a stripped-down album in a way.

By stripped-down, I don't mean that this is some garage rock album in the vein of The White Stripes, but it's the one modern day Iron Maiden album that feels like it has all the elements and spirit that made the band's classic albums so great. It has the energy of The Number of the Beast and Piece of Mind, as well as the epic heavy metal of Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. There's none of the excess of most of the band's post-1986 albums, what you have here is simply a killer epic heavy metal album, that well represents what the band is all about.

Unlike most of Maiden's modern albums, there's a perfect blend of the band's epic tracks and more energetic and fast-paced pure heavy metal tracks. "Wildest Dreams", "Rainmaker", "New Frontier", and "Montsegur" all get the listener pumped while "No More Lies", "Paschendale", and the title track are all worthy of the band's best classic epics. "Journeyman" is a bit of a unique track for the band, being all acoustic, and actually ranks among the best on the album. "Montsegur" and "Paschendale" are both historically-themed and coincidentally the two best. The former is about the cruel crusades against the Cathars, a dualist sect of Christianity during the middle ages, while the latter is a tale of The Battle of Passchendaele during World War I told in the view of a soldier.

While usually seen as the black sheep of the modern Maiden albums, I find it to be the most memorable and having a great balance between the band's musical elements that isn't really seen in many of the band's post-1986 albums. There's a couple songs that aren't as memorable, but for the most part this is Iron Maiden's modern classic in my book. Hope you found this review helpful, feel free to comment!
"Dance of Death" was Iron Maiden's 2003 follow-up to their successful "Brave New World" album, which saw the band's reunion with vocalist Bruce Dickenson and guitarist Andrian Smith. With much praise heaped upon that triumphant return to Maiden-hood, the band had much to live up to. It only makes sense that the classic 80's line up plus one Janick Gers sharing lead guitar duties with the Smith and Dave Murray would attempt to move ahead. The album sees a few firsts, including the first song-writing credit for drummer Nicko McBrain ("New Frontier"), the first album where all band members receive song-writing credits, and the first fully-acoustic Iron Maiden song ("Journeyman"). It could also be considered to be the first Iron Maiden album to have such hideous artwork that the artist himself allegedly asked not to have his name associated with it. According to the Wiki article on the album, artist David Patchett was not pleased when the band opted to use the unfinished version of his computer-generated artwork. Indeed, when I saw it up close I thought it looked like amateur video game artwork. A further note to mention is that the album was recorded on analogue tape.

Stylistically, the music maintains the traditional sound of Iron Maiden, the one that I feel was established with "Piece of Mind" and altered only with subtle variations over the next three albums, most notably the addition of synthesizers on "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". The synthesizers remain but are used in complement with the heavy guitar sound, creating a symphonic sound at times. Aside from the "fully all-acoustic" track "Journeyman", there are some other tracks that include acoustic guitar in parts, typically in the intro. There are the usual wonderful Maiden chugging riffs, more progressive instrumental sections, and outstanding guitar solos. Someone once mentioned Maiden's propensity to go almost "Celtic" and that certainly shows itself, most notably here on the title track, more than usual.

Song topics remain largely with the historical, socio-political, religious and science fiction, and the title track's lyrics seem to revisit "The Number of the Beast" as Dickenson sings about being out one night and encountering a strange scene. "Montségur" is of particular interest to me as I read and have on my bookshelf a book about Montségur and the Cathars. Dickenson still belts out the notes and holds some decent operatic hollers.

For perhaps most people, this album doesn't receive the same degree of praise as "Brave New World"; however, I think it makes for an excellent. Together the two albums make a great pair, the blue and the red as it were, considering the dominant colours of each album cover.

For me, one of the attractions to this album is the progressive side. The first two songs are short rockers, but several others take time to stretch out over seven minutes, and you know that's when Iron Maiden really stretch out their composition-writing wings. "Paschedale" is my favourite and has a symphonic quality about it at times. The title track is also interesting for its "dance of death" riff. "Montségur" has a terrific heavy riff and as a Maiden historical piece, you know there's going to be some great developments in the music. "Face in the Sand" blends synthesizer and another almost folk-inspired guitar riff at the intro. The chorus melody to "Age of Innocence" is one of those catchy Maiden choruses that crop up from time to time like on "Can I Play with Madness" from "Seventh Son".

When I tried to make a selection of "best songs" from the five most recent albums (2000 to 2015), "Dance of Death" shared the highest number of selected songs with "Brave New World". Highly recommended as a companion to "Brave New World" or simply on its own.
Dance of Death (2003) is the thirteenth full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The follow-up to Brave New World (2000) is the second release since the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith to the Iron Maiden family and the extension of the band’s line-up to a six piece, three guitarist setup. Brave New World was both a sort of reunion album for Iron Maiden but is also widely held as a return to form after the Blaze Bayley era. Many fans regard it to the same or almost to the level of (and in some cases, better) than the releases from Iron Maiden’s classic period. It’s certainly an album worthy of such high esteem in my opinion too.

Dance of Death on the other hand I rarely see getting the same sort of attention from Iron Maiden fans. Sure, it doesn’t have the advantage of the whole ‘Bruce and Adrian are back!’ wow factor of Brave New World. Sure, it probably has the worst artwork to ever grace an Iron Maiden album cover, but get past that and dig a bit deeper and you find what is, to my ears, one of Iron Maiden’s best releases. As good as the previous album was it’s a real shame that Dance of Death seems to get so overlooked. It shows off both classic sounding heavy metal tracks that are as strong as anything they did in the eighties, such as single Rainmaker, as well as the more progressive based material of later years, such as the title track which is one of my very favourite Iron Maiden songs. On this album Iron Maiden also try some different stuff, the closing song Journeyman being the most obvious example, in which Iron Maiden swap their electrics for an acoustic approach, to great effect. Another favourite I need to give a special mention to is Paschendale. The band are really on form with their longer songs on this album.

At the end of the day Dance of Death is an album which I can’t keep out of my personal top three for the band. Being such a strong act my actual favourite tends to change at times, but sometimes this one gets the honour, depending on my mood. Most often it’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) and sometimes it’s Powerslave (1984), both more common choices for Iron Maiden’s best, but to me Dance of Death falls into the same league as those albums. I’m sure anyone who’s as much as fan of Iron Maiden as I am hasn’t missed out on this one, but it definitely shouldn’t be overlooked by others either. It’s probably the only record they’re done where the term ‘underrated’ truly applies. 5 stars.
With Brave New World marking Iron Maiden's comeback to the world of greatness the band next produced what I feel had become one of the more overlooked albums in their discography, Dance of Death. Even out of the albums from Brave New World onwards it seems to be that this one doesn't get so much as a look in as either it's predessor or successor A Matter of Life and Death. This is something I consider very confusing. I do prefer Brave New World by a small margin, but in Dance of Death Iron Maiden produced an almost as good follow-up.

I consider this one of the more varied Iron Maiden releases. Even within their current progressively minded methods they have stuck with their own distinctive sound and that's still true here. But on Dance of Death they do everything they're good at and more. Short catchy songs like single Rainmaker, longer epic's including the theatrical title track and they even close the album with an unplugged track, Journeyman, which I consider one of the most surprising and successful experiments the band has ever done. All in all, Dance of Death has the makings of the definitive Iron Maiden album and the only reason it fails to crack my top three from the band is that I think the song No More Lies could have used a little trimming down.

Despite bearing what might be Iron Maiden's worst cover for a studio album, Dance of Death continues the high standard set by Brave New World. Bringing classical and acoustic influences to the fore on the title track and continuing to offer up epic song structures influenced by progressive rock, the band prove that Brave New World was no temporary return to form, but the beginning of a new flourishing of the band's creative talent. No More Lies, in particular is one of the most defiantly anthemic numbers the band have composed for years.

Just don't look closely at that horrible cover and you should be fine.
Probably the worst cover art of all the MAIDEN studio albums but at least the music impresses. They continue along the same path as the comeback album "Brave New World" but this just isn't nearly as good in my opinion. "Wildest Dreams" doesn't exactly start off on the right foot considering it's my least favourite track but it's still good. "Rainmaker" has some killer groundwork as the bass and drums impress and Bruce sings his heart out. "No More Lies" starts off pastoral before building. Great 2 minute instrumental section before it ends as it began. "Montsegur" is about a civilization from the Middle Ages. Holy crap this is heavey to start. Thunderous rhythm section here. The title track is the longest at over 8 1/2 minutes. This is my favourite tune with Bruce telling us a story. "Gates Of Tomorrow" opens with some cool sounding guitar before everyone eventually joins in. "New Frontier" is such a good hard hitting track while "Paschendale" reminds me of that classic MAIDEN sound. Killer tune about a WWI battle. "Face In The Sand" builds until we get some ground shaking drums and bass. Check out the blistering guitar later. "The Age Of Innocence" is beautiful to start before it kicks in around a minute. Nice. "Journeyman" doesn't even sound like them with the orchestral bits and lighter sound. Interesting though. So an excellent album that's well worth 4 stars in my books.
Conor Fynes
'Dance Of Death' - Iron Maiden (7/10)

'Dance Of Death' marks the second chapter in Iron Maiden's six-piece lineup. Although changes within the ranks and the addition of a third guitarist would normally be something only fans would be interested in, it did mark a musical shift for the band. Starting with 'Brave New World'- an album that's been since considered one of the greatest metal albums of the new millennium- Iron Maiden brought their distinctive style back to the forefront, and haven't looked back since. Most notably, singer Bruce Dickinson was back with them, but there is also a progressive edge to the songwriting that makes this period in Iron Maiden's history arguably their most exciting. 'Dance Of Death' balances out between their classic style and more intricate composition, and despite the relatively weak album art, Maiden makes it clear that they are far from exhausting their artistic spirit.

There will certainly be those who argue that Iron Maiden have 'barely' changed their sound over the decades, but comparing their early, punk-infused energy to the symphonic grandeur of the title track on 'Death Of Death', it's undeniable that Iron Maiden have picked up some new tricks. Perhaps moreso than 'Brave New World', Iron Maiden balances two distinct approaches on this album. The first is their classic brand of songwriting, one that often uses the signature 'guitar gallop', biting solos and choruses that could get a stadium's worth of metalheads singing along. 'Rainmaker' stands out particularly in this regard, with a futuristic main riff and pleasant vocal leads from Dickinson. 'Montsegur' is arguably the most traditional Maiden track here, a song somewhat reminiscent of 'The Trooper' that could have snuck onto an earlier Maiden album without arousing much suspicion.

As many of Maiden's fans might agree however, the highlight of Iron Maiden's recent work lies in the 'epic' songs they have been focusing on. Although they flirted with longer song structures as far back as their debut album, 'Dance Of Death' truly indicates their recent preference for involving, progressive composition. Without the slightest doubt, the two highlights on 'Dance Of Death' are the occult-themed title track, and the cinematic 'Paschendale'. The first of these sees Iron Maiden going down a familiar route of storytelling, about a man abducted and taken to an undead ritual. 'Paschendale' is a tribute to the eponymous battle in WWI, attempting to give the same sense of grim reality that 'The Trooper' gave the Crimean War. Musically, both tracks represent some of the most powerful songwriting I've ever heard Iron Maiden do, opening gracefully, and dramatically building to something powerful and even symphonic. As has become the standard for Maiden, the lyrics are handled with sophistication, generally falling upon history or philosophy for inspiration.

'Dance Of Death's weakness comes in the form of songs that come close to being called 'filler'. 'No More Lies', 'Gates Of Tomorrow' and 'New Frontier' are all pleasant enough Maiden tracks, but even after giving 'Dance Of Death' many enjoyed listens, I found nothing stirring about them. Thankfully, the is more excellence than disappoint on 'Dance Of Death', and while I could have asked for a greater consistency and flow, Iron Maiden's progressive material here is some of the best work I've heard them play.
Time Signature
New frontier...

Genre: heavy metal

Yes, the cover's not great. Right, Eddie doesn't look right, but who cares? It's about the music, this. And the music's great. Maiden carries on the "Brave New World" formula, while bringing in some more proggy elements. Besides, the covers of the two Blaze era albums are much worse (as it happens, I've started to appreciate the roughness of the "Dance of Death" cover recently, and compared to the new Space-Eddie, this Grim-Reaper-Eddie certainly looks right!).

"Wildest Dreams" is perhaps the second weakest track on the album without being bad. It's obviously a power-opener in the tradition of Iron Maiden, but I think other openers like "Prowler", "Aces High", "Moonchild", "Be Quick or Be Dead", "Wicker Man" and "Different World" work better (of course, the band has abandoned this tradition on "The Final Frontier"). But never mind that. It's still a powerful opener, and it doesn't suck, and that's what counts.

"Rainmaker" is another great short rocker; yet with its vocally and musically interesting chorus it seems more sophisticated and interesting than "Wildest Dreams". "No More Lies", a seven minute non-epic tune is despite its length actually quite simple, but not simplistic, and it generally works very well. "Montségur" is a more classical heavy metal tune, both in terms of the composition and the lyrical theme, but it works very well, and despite it not being super long, it is actually somewhat of an epic in atmosphere. "Gates of Tomorrow", "Age of Innocence" and "Face in the Sand" are typical instances of Maidens post 2000 style, carrying on much in the same vein as the tracks on "Brave New World", combining the catchy with the sophisticated. "New Frontier" falls under this category too, but is noteworthy in that it's the first "proper" Iron Maiden song where the main contribution was made by Nicko McBrain, who wrote the main bass line. The song overall works very well and has a great bridge and a totally catchy chorus. The true outstanding track on the album is "Paschendale", primarily masterminded by Adrian Smith (man, I missed him while he was pursuing his solo career). The song starts out with a solitary guitar tapping pattern accompanied by an iconic hi-hat pattern meant to imitate morse code. The song explodes into a classic metal style verse and then builds up towards truly epic proportions with keyboards, symphonic scores and what not. Great music, and the lyrics are very picturesque - not in the sense of being beautiful, but in the sense of evoking images of death and destruction and almost provoking the feelings of fear and chaos in the mind of the listener. Following closely is "Dance of Death", and eerie nightmarish piece of music with lyrics telling an equally nightmarish story whose first poetic person perspective reminds one of some of the epic poems of the Romantic era.

Great stuff. Recommendable to anyone who likes rock music, and a good introduction to Iron Maiden to those who have yet to be initiated.
Hahaha! A really weird and brilliant joke! Please, it is a joke, right? What the...? These are the thoughts of every single Iron Maiden fan from the moment the new album cover was exposed to the moment the album was really released. That embarrassing mess of crooked necks, dislocated arms, shiny plastic bald girls, toy dogs and levitating babies was really the cover to an album by Iron Maiden, a band that has always put so much effort into their visual appearance. This is metal's equivalent to Love Beach in its sheer stupendous awkwardness.

But enough of the wrapping, once that cd hit the player the feelings were soothed. This was the first new Iron Maiden album I heard on the day of the release, and at the time I couldn't get enough of it as I was hitting the peak of my intense fanboy days. But soon I started comparing it to their other releases and saw that there are lots of albums this one can't match, but it's still quite an excellent piece of work.

Iron Maiden have a habit of omitting a certain portion of every album when doing the tour promoting it, and never returning to them afterwards. Montségur is one such song that I'm still waiting for them to play live some day, one of the definite highlights of the album with its heavy riffs, an amusing contrast between a happy chorus melody line and lyrics about a massacre, and a brilliant instrumental section. Other such songs include the first and so far last ever Nicko McBrain writing contribution New Frontier, a clear winner in the competition of Maiden drummers as songwriters which has some of Bruce Dickinson's best singing on this album, Face in the Sand which is mostly notable for being the only Iron Maiden track ever to contain double bass drumming and the very good Gates of Tomorrow, the guitar intro of which is very reminiscent of Lord of the Flies.

They are in no way deserving of such treatment, as they are every bit as good as the opening duo of Wildest Dreams, which despite its good upbeat rocking feel battles with Tail Gunner and Different World for the spot of the least convincing Maiden album opener, and Rainmaker, a fast melodic heavy metal track that for some reason failed to take off properly when played live. The first epic of the album, No More Lies, feels like The Clansman part 2, taking the same aesthetic to good results, but the remaining two epics outshine that one badly. Dance of Death is a masterpiece of slow moody beginning and very catchy folk melodies and Paschendale is a monumental war song with proper heaviness, an effective composition that goes perfectly with the theme of the lyrics, and a great string arrangement in places. And for the first time ever Maiden digs out the acoustic instruments not only for an intro, but an entire song. Journeyman is one of their finest closers ever in its intimate feel.

Far from their best, far from their worst. A respectable album in every sense, if you remember to close your eyes when taking the case out of your cd shelf.

Members reviews

Iron Maiden - Dance of Death (2003)

I liked the gathering of Maiden's best musicians during the Brave New World period and expectations were high at the time of the release of this album. Dance of Death is a good album, but some new problems appeared when Maiden tried to enter the world of 'modern' metal recordings and digital artwork. The latter is by far the worst released since the existence of the band. The recording is very bad, with annoying drum-sounds and an unfinished sound as if it was recorded in a rush. Producing their own album is one of the few talents Iron Maiden clearly does not have. Furthermore the length of the album, also a modern feature, makes the second phase of it uninteresting at times.

Having that said, there are also some very good features on this new Iron Maiden album. First of all, there are some very innovative and progressive songs here! Montségur shows Iron Maiden doing something totally different with a sometimes folky approach and cynical lyrics about slaughter for faith. Dance of Death, the title-track uses some world-music influences and has an elegant style. The epical structure, the beautiful acoustic guitars in the beginning and the amazing metal- parts in the middle section make this a fresh Maiden epic. Paschendale is an epic with a modern punchy riff, a sensitive intro and some nice symphonic elements. The bombastic moments of the song are great an the lyrics about this historical battle are intensive. The song is a bit fragmentarily in the beginning, but progresses quite a lot and has a lot to offer. Journeyman is an entirely acoustic song with an adventurous sound and good vocals by Dickinson. This is the sensitive side of Iron Maiden and their second entirely rock-less track of their career, with Strange world from their debut being the first. Some slightly symphonic sounds make the song work very well, though it's a bit too long. Great track and a very original approach.

The other tracks all have good elements but aren't as good as those I've just mentioned. Wildest dream is a happy opener and Rainmaker an emotional song that could have been recorded way better. No More Lies is my least favorite part of the album because it's to simple and recycles way to much of their earlier tracks. Gates of Tomorrow, New Frontier, Face in the Sand and Age of Innocence are acceptable metal-track with often some catchy parts, but a bit un-asked for IMHO. Not everything to original here.

Conclusion. This is an Iron Maiden album with some very interesting progressions and some great ideas. To bad the recording isn't good enough (for the first time in their career..). The album is to long and three songs should have been excluded. This album has at least 45 minutes of great material! This album is recommended to fans of the band and metal- fans in general. Proggers who aren't audiophiles will also find some very nice progress here and a fine album of one of the best bands of the world. Three stars, good but not essential.

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