by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Iron Maiden - Dance Of Death

I kinda regretted giving Brave New World an 8 - it's a 7.5; and I'm not making the same mistake again. I started at 8, and now I'm down to 7.5 after a few plays of this thing. Frustrating being a Maiden fan really. The band is so steadfastly committed to the old school, that they do everything old they can think of, from recording quite live, to power metal story-telling, to those accursed mellow intros, (mostly) Steve tinkling away until the generator behind the amps and ramps heat up their (12!) leg warmers. Then as these songs pick up, well, I have visions of Janick playing live - not a pretty sight. Having said all that, there's much on here to be generally pleased about. Harris and Nicko are still a unique and groovy rhythm section. Bruce is singing quite high and hard and aggressive often, and he's mixed a ways back. There is only one mellow song on the album (conveniently folded at the close - and it's a good one: Celtic meets orchestration back at an old Sabbath ballad). Also, somewhat sweetly and invitingly, there are some really mainstream melodies on here, and others that are sour as a lemon, misguided as In Flames covering Land Of Confusion. Bloody can't stand the title track or the strummy New Frontier (nice bass line, Steve), but Paschendale is a non-obvious epic, Face In The Sand is highly powerful, passionate... a Piece Of Mind-worthy pounder. Best track however, to my mind, is Age Of Innocence which rocks proud with a melody that is part NWOBHM, part Tattooed Millionaire. Cool, unexpected. And that's the thing... little of this album courts the unexpected. If you're a fan of these six distinct guys (each sort of hapless, out-dated, but because of that, human and regular) and the collective they inhabit, Dance Of Death will not disappoint. I just sort of shake my head and play it repeatedly like I'm stunned and incapable of not digesting something smarter, or at least WHEN I'm not capable of digesting something smarter.
Rating 7.5

Destruction - Metal Discharge
(Nuclear Blast)

Germany's most beloved frantic thrashers (there's something somehow dearer and more personable about Destruction versus Kreator or Sodom) are back with their third post-reunion album, and it's a wily, cogent mix between old and new. The old comes with the organic, 24 track, non-ProTools production, the album sounding high-strung and punky - both a positive and negative compared to the steel tones of The Antichrist. As well, Schmier is loopy, hysterical on vocals, bringing back the eccentricity of the neurotic neckbrace material of old, an emotional also caught like barbed wire in the catchy speed riff buttressing Fear Of The Moment. Love Mike's rat's nest of guitar tones though, as well as Reign's manic panic drumming, the band emerging out the end of the frightening fray as one of the only power metal trios capable enough to pack this much artery blockage into ten songs. One feels the vibe of both Death Angel and of early Destruction, and that is a tangle of shredded nerves worth drinking about.
Rating 8

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