Iron Maiden will release its new studio album on September 5 (their first since 2003's Dance of Death), and SPIN.com got to hear the entire opus at a listening session earlier this week. The 72-minute, 10-track project tackles life and death, reincarnation, ruin, and religion, with wildly theatrical soundscapes, Broadway-ready melodrama, and scale-traipsing vocals. The 7-minute-plus debut single, "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg," introduces the Maiden formula of wandering, haunting intros climbing towards full metal jams.
And there are plenty of elongated guitar riffs and drum solos on A Matter of Life and Death, on tracks like "Lord of Light," which clocks in at 7 minutes, 23 seconds and helps bring back the driving rock vibe after a pair of more morose tracks, and album closer "The Legacy," which runs 9 minutes, 20 seconds and closes the disc with one conclusive solo strum. Elegiac lyrics come in no short order either, as on "For the Greater Good of God," which offers the religious couplet: "Who gave his life for us / He fell upon the cross / He died for all of us / Who didn't mourn his loss."
Maiden and ever-present mascot, Eddie -- the gruesome zombie-like skeleton figure who once got the band in hot water with religious groups who took his image (and the fact that they named their breakthrough album Number of the Beast) to mean the band worshipped Satan -- are plotting a world tour behind the album, with U.S. dates to be announced soon. ALYSSA RASHBAUM
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On the Web: ironmaiden.com