Death On The Road

Iron Maiden

Placing Iron Maiden among the royalty of heavy metal is fraught with obligation. After Sabbath, Priest, and the Scorpions, they are unquestionably one of most endurable bands of the genre. Today, the classic lineup — bassist Steve Harris, vocalist Bruce Dickenson, drummer Nicko McBrain, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, along with third guitarist and newest member, Janick Gers — are reclaiming the throne with some of their most intense and moving music of their career. Their legendary concerts continue to implement theatrical elements and eye candy to sway audience members into an hypnotic state of fear and exhilaration.War, mayhem, death — these are some of the images that tastefully and effectively a Maiden concert. Maiden's latest live DVD, Death on the Road, finally released in the U.S. after being available as an import only, accurately illustrates that point to a tee. Filmed at the Westenfalenhalle Arena in Dortmund, Germany, Death On The Road was edited by Steve Harris. In the end, we get a letter-perfect band tackling a scattered stretch of textures and moods to suit a vast and grand presentation.

The show blows right out the doors with “Wildest Dreams,” an energetic barnstormer from 2003’s Dance of Death. The momentum stays intact for a stirring “Wrathchild,” followed by “Can I Play With Madness” and “The Trooper.” By this time, the band has the audience wedged against the stage, grasping for air, echoing every chorus, and pumping their fists skyward.Dickenson introduces “Dance Of Death” and disappears. There's an opening dialogue, then the acoustic guitars stew like a medieval trance. Dickenson reappears, wearing a cape and a pair of Phoenician masques. He morphs into an animated court jester, imbuing each verse with a lick and a wink. A frenzied Irish jig ensues, setting the arena ablaze as the singer does a series of dervish-like twirls about the stage. For “Paschendale,” it’s another flash of the lights with a spoken-word introduction followed by the sounds of falling bombs. Smith threads a lovely guitar line together while Murray and Gers lock in for a crashing set of rock 'em, sock 'em power chords. Dickenson slips into the guise of a warrior, donning a combat helmet and military coat to finish the number. “No More Lies” gets the crowd chanting, trotting through a field of daisies before imploding into mass hysteria. “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” “Fear Of The Dark” and “Journeyman” take similar, breezier turns before erupting into headbangng madness. But it takes “Iron Maiden,” along with the one-two punch of “The Number Of The Beast” and “Run To The Hills,” to deliver the final blows.

The entire concert is available on two separate discs — one with full traditional stereo soundtrack and the other with a 5.1 mix by Kevin 'Caveman' Shirley. This is pitched as a way to get the highest quality, although there are plenty of well-received music DVDs with both audio options embedded onto a single disc. Fortunately, the extra disc isn’t factored into the costs. A third disc includes gobs of special features including an extensive 70-minute Death On The Road documentary, promo videos from the album, background interviews with members of the production crew and fans during the tour, artwork, design sketches, and photo galleries. Since the taping of Death On The Road, Iron Maiden has released A Matter of Life And Death, the group’s highest charting U.S. album ever – hitting #9 on the Billboard charts. There is little doubt Maiden is on their way to conquering the metal world all over again. Their varied repertoire has emboldened their range and extended their status. One can only wonder what lies over the horizon for this torrent of vintage heavy metal.

~ Shawn Perry

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