A Matter of Life and Death
is the 14th studio album by English heavy metal
band Iron Maiden
. It was released on 25 August 2006
in Italy and in Finland, 28 August
worldwide, and 5 September 2006
in the United States, Canada and Japan. It is the first heavy metal album to debut at #4 in India, and made it to #2 in the Indian charts. It is also one of the few rock/metal albums to go platinum in India.
It is the first album in Iron Maiden's more than 30 year career to enter the U.S. Billboard charts in the top 10, and has seen significant chart success in many other countries.
While the album is not a concept album
are recurring themes in the lyrics throughout the album, as well as in the album's artwork. The title "A Matter of Life and Death" is also linked with the war
theme, as it titles a 1946 movie
whose primary character is a WWII Royal Air Force
A Matter Of Life And Death Tour was the tour supporting the album.
The band, still consisting of the same lineup as their previous two studio albums (making it the second most stable lineup; see Powerslave
), started to write the songs near the end of 2005 after their hugely successful appearances in the U.S.
. By the end of the year, the songs were done and they started rehearsing at Sarm West Studios
At 72 minutes, A Matter of Life and Death is the band's longest album to date (exceeding 1995's The X Factor by approximately one minute) and its average song length (7:12) also makes it the longest Iron Maiden album by song average.
This is the band's fourth studio album that is not named after a specific song on the album, following Piece of Mind, The X Factor and Virtual XI.
The album cover was created by Tim Bradstreet, an American artist, currently best known for his covers on the Punisher comics.
During their North American, Japanese and European tours, they performed the entire album in full.
They announced after the show at Earl's Court, London on December 23rd, 2006, that the album would never be played in its entirety again.
The album was met with positive reviews. Metal Hammer
rated the album 10/10 and stated that "Iron Maiden have utterly surpassed themselves", Kerrang!
rated it 5/5 and said "Another [Iron] Maiden classic... Keeps what longtime fans loved about the band alive."
also awarded it Album of the Year, and the band won an award voted by Classic Rock
readers, for the album. Rolling Stone
gave the album 3 stars out of 5, finding the music and lyrics "relevant." However, the magazine also claims that "the songs now march where they once galloped", implying that the band is "aging gracefully" .
The first single to be released from the album was "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
". It was released on 14 August 2006
. On 10 August 2006
, "Different World" was put on the official website for everyone to hear. The following day "Brighter than a Thousand Suns" was also put on the official site for public streaming.
"Different World" was the second single released from the album. It has already been receiving airplay on many rock radio stations. The song also features an animated video, similar to that of "Wildest Dreams".
In addition to the standard CD release, A Matter of Life and Death
was also released in a limited edition
version which contains a bonus DVD
. The DVD, which has a total runtime of nearly one hour, contains a half-hour documentary, plus videos and photos all shot whilst the band were making the album. The documentary
"The Making of A Matter of Life and Death", directed by Matthew Amos (director of The Early Days
and Death on the Road
DVD documentaries), features candid video footage shot largely by Kevin Shirley
himself during the recording of the album giving a behind-the-scenes look at life in the studio. The bonus DVD also features the full video promo for "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
", and a special intimate filming of the band recording "Different World" in the studio. The album is also available as a limited edition double picture disc
vinyl in gatefold sleeve, and as a digital download.
Bonus track (iTunes store edition)
The album went gold
in Finland in its first week. This gold record became Maiden's 8th from Finland. The album sold over 220,000 copies worldwide on its first day of release and sold over 500,000 copies worldwide in 3 days. By the end of the first week of release, A Matter of Life and Death had sold over a million copies worldwide. It entered at no. 4 in the world album chart, no. 1 in ten countries, no. 4 in the UK charts, no. 2 in Canada, no. 4 in India , and for the first time entered the U.S. top 10 at no. 9 with sales of over 56,000. An update on Iron Maiden's official website states that "In just the first week the new album has shipped over a million copies worldwide and impacted on the charts pretty well everywhere in the world". In doing so it has charted in the top 20 in 34 countries worldwide.
||Brazil Top 100
||Canadian Album Charts
||German Album Charts
||UK Album Charts
||U.S. Billboard 200
||U.S. Billboard Top Rock Albums
The album went 2xPlatinum in India (40,000+), Platinum in Finland (30,000+), and gold in: UK (100,000+), Brazil (50,000+) Sweden (30,000+), Greece (10,000+), Canada (50,000+), Italy (40,000+) and Switzerland (15,000+).