Friday, February 19, 2010

Iron Maiden - Death on the Road (2005)

Death on the Road is yet another Iron Maiden live recording, and one of the more recent to get a commercial release (along with the Flight 666 soundtrack). The CD & LP audio releases have 2 discs each, and in 2006 a 3 DVD set was then released, which probably represents the penultimate version of the concert in spectacular sound. While I have yet to actually watch the performance, I can only imagine that skipping out on the audio only would be the preferred route to take here, because Death on the Road is really nothing special. It's nice that the set featured on the discs includes some newer material...but a little less impressive when you realize that you'll be dealing with some of the band's mediocre material that was recent at the time of the Dance of Death tour.

The live was filmed and recorded in November, 2003 in Westfalenhalle, Dortmund, Germany and as far as the mix goes, it's ample enough that it doesn't give a dull impression (like the Real Live Dead One albums). The material seems to cover a great deal of their career, but as I mentioned, individual tracks here could have well been replaced with other, more exciting pieces for a better overall experience. There are fully six tracks from the Dance of Death album: "Wildest Dreams", "Dance of Death", "Rainmaker", "Paschendale", "No More Lies" and "Journeyman", very few of which I could personally care about. Since this is the normal "Paschendale" without the orchestra, I wasn't so excited, and of this litter, I'd have to say "Wildest Dreams" and "Rainmaker" came across the best in the setting. Some of the other songs are too long to justify listening for just a few brief segments of interest, but it's the same criticism I'd give to the studio editions. As for the rest of the new material, Virtual XI is thankfully ignored, and there is but one track, "Lord of the Flies" from the X Factor. And frankly, it's not that bad with Bruce doing the vocals in place of Blaze. I'm honestly surprised that there was no "Wicker Man" here, but Maiden were probably thinking of the best interests of fans like myself who openly break into tears whenever they hear it (the good kind of cry). Instead, they've included the title track to that album, "Brave New World", which is more or less successful.

Heading back through time from this point, we've got the title track off Fear of the Dark, which the audience lovingly howls along to. "Can I Play With Madness?" is an obvious crowd pleaser, and this is one of the better live versions I've heard of it, outside of actually being at gigs where they performed it. The band's two best albums Somewhere in Time and Powerslave are sadly ignored for the selection on the live album, which to me seems rather insane... But then, all those songs are so fucking great that the band must have been sick of them, or thought the fans who picked up the CDs would be sick of them. However, each of the first four albums is represented. The band's namesake from the debut is here, "Wrathchild" off of Killers, and "The Trooper" from Piece of Mind. The Number of the Beast actually gets three entries here: the title track, "Hallowed Be Thy Name", and "Run to the Hills". Of all the older material, I'll have to run with "Wrathchild" and "The Trooper" as the best of the lot here, their energy is simply too timeless to ignore.

When all is said and done, Death on the Road is not the best of Maiden's live offerings, but it does at least sound up to the task, with one of the better soundboard reproductions they've yet minted for the fans at large. If you're the type to purchase everything with the band's logo on it, must be nice. If not, you may wish to rent or purchase the DVD set, so you can actually SEE the live performance and get the added bonus features, which include some documentary pieces about the Dance of Death album, recording, and setting up the tour. There's not much reason to have both that and this audio version, and Gods know we already have enough live Maiden to last us a life over.

Verdict: Indifference [5.5/10]

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