IRON MAIDEN — Dance Of Death (review)

IRON MAIDEN — Dance Of Death album cover Album · 2003 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Unitron
"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!
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more than 2 years ago
Paschendale is my number one favourite Maiden tune. Absolutely perfect!
Warthur wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Out of that weird phase in the late 1990s/mid 2000s phase where bad CGI kept showing up on metal and prog album covers and people seemed to think that was remotely commercially or creatively acceptable, this cover has to be one of the worst. Which is a shame, because I totally agree with you that this is one of the great late-period Maiden albums.

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