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One thing I have noticed on A Matter of Life and Death:

Discussion in 'A Matter Of Life And Death' started by Dr. Eddies Wingman, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. Dr. Eddies Wingman

    Dr. Eddies Wingman Brighter than thousand_suns

    Before you read on; this is most likely not interesting to those who do not know simple music theory (chord names and such things). I guess many forum members play an instrument, so they would know what I'm talking about and even be able to correct me - I'm by no means an expert in music theory myself).

    Many say this album is the best Maiden album since the 80's - to which I agree, it is a very solid album. But what makes people see it as an improvement from the two previous albums? Well, more consistent songwriting, perhaps - or better performance from individual band members?

    I think one point is that on AMOLAD the band used some new musical ideas. More use of odd-time signatures, more use of acoustic guitar, and some songs contain a chord progression I haven't heard from Maiden earlier - and this is where I come to the point.

    In "Brighter than a thousand suns", we first hear it during the "Out of the universe ..." - it starts with E5-C5-A5 and usually I would expect to hear a D5 next. (The E-C-A-D an E-C-G-D progressions are very common in Maiden songs). Instead, they use the F5 chord which came as a surprise to me when I first heard the song. When one has heard most Maiden songs plenty of times, one is used to their standard chord progressions. As an example of a Maiden song using loads of typical progressions, listen to "No more lies".

    Now, introducing an unusual chord progression in one part of one song isn't much of a "twist". But throughout the song, variants are used several times - the clean guitar line under the "out of the darkness ..." lines plays EmAdd9-Cmaj7-AmAdd9-Fmaj7b5 (correct me if I'm wrong) and the heavy middle part also uses the E5-C5-A5-F5 combination.

    The same progression or "derivations" of it are used in two other songs as well:

    In the middle of "Lord of light", where the lyrics go like "Others wait the time their lives were meant to last", the clean guitar plays EmAdd9-Cmaj7-EmAdd9-Cmaj7 and then AmAdd9-Fmaj7b5-AmAdd9-Fmaj7b5.

    In the last half of "The Legacy" the rhythm guitar alternates between the E-C-A-F progression and the more typical (for Maiden, that is) E-C-D-G-F#.

    I think the use of these chord sequences (they are not the most common in rock/heavy metal) add a nice variation to the album, it is good to see that the band aren't completely locked to old ideas.

    (For those who want to check if I'm right on these Maj and add9 things, I include how I play it on guitar (left hand only). I use standard tab format - the deepest E string at the bottom and x means the string in question is not played).



    Moderator squad: If you think this belongs on the musicians forum, I understand that - but I thought this might be interesting for those who don't use that forum as well.
    eddienephwrack likes this.
  2. SinisterMinisterX

    SinisterMinisterX Illuminatus Staff Member

    First, take a look at your tab. Note how the top 2 strings remain open throughout; this serves as a simple pedal point. So I wouldn't include the B note in the F chord; that note is serving a different function. Which means it's just Fmaj7.

    Now that we've made that adjustment, you'll note that it's the same chord progression. They play it in the key of E minor, then switch to the key of A minor.

    So this particular instance is not as complex as the others you noted.
  3. Dr. Eddies Wingman

    Dr. Eddies Wingman Brighter than thousand_suns

    You're right on that - it is the same progression. As for this pedal point - I guess having a pedal point in the upper register, instead of in the bass line (like in the pre-chorus of 2 Minutes to Midnight), isn't that common?

    My main point was, however, that this introduces a new sound to the songs compared to earlier work by Maiden - I think that on the latest albums (VXI, BNW, DOD) it sounded like some ideas were recycled too much and that A Matter of Life and Death showed hints of the creativity of the 80s returning.

    On the other hand, as someone pointed out in another thread in the AMOLAD board - when it comes to guitar solos, the three amigos seem to repeat themselves a bit - H to a lesser extent than the other two. (But he has, in my opinion, always been the more creative soloist of the three, he also has my favourite guitar solo on the album - the second one in These Colours Don't Run).
  4. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    I definitely agree with that!

    I disagree with that, or at least I have missed any clear repetition, which is possible of course.

    Especially Dave doesn't really repeat himself in his solos, I believe. Janick repeats sometimes (parts of) his solos but he did this especially in the nineties. E.g., I see comparisons between his solos in Wasting Love, 2 A.M. & Como Estais Amigos. I can't find much of this on AMOLAD.[hr][/hr]
    On a sidenote, have you noticed that H plays this solo differently live (without the intervals?). I suspect him of having changed it for a live situation, because he couldn't deliver it as well as in the studio.
  5. Powergirl81

    Powergirl81 Trooper

    I read something about the solos that H had the more creative ones and that Dave and Janick "ran out of ideas" or something. To me, a few of Janick's aren't that great (especially BTATS, cuz H's is so sweeet!)

    Dave shines on Out Of the Shadows. His solo in TCDR (thought it was Janick till I read otherwise!) is so-so, and his in LOL isn't too bad, but he makes up for it in Benjamin Breeg.

    As a whole on this album, H has the sweeter solos. to me. But a few of Dave's are nice too. Jan's one in The Pilgrim is OK, and The Legacy.

    But to me, it's always H and Dave. They do the harmoniesĀ  :D
  6. Dr. Eddies Wingman

    Dr. Eddies Wingman Brighter than thousand_suns

    Well, I agree Dave is great on "Out of the Shadows", and his solos in "The Longest Day" and "The Reincarnation ..." are sweet. Actually, on the first few spins of the record, it was Dave's solo in "The Longest Day" which was my favourite moment. Janick's solos in The Pilgrim and The Legacy are both among his best, together with some from Brave New World.

    Perhaps I sounded more negative than I actually am. It's just that in my taste, Dave's solos from the earlier albums are generally fresher and more fun to listen to. For Janick, I actually think he makes better solos nowadays than on his first albums. My favourite Janick solo has to be on Dream of Mirrors. But I think Dave and Janick sound more similar now than they did earlier, in fact. I guess mutual influence is a key word. H's soloing style is so different from the other two that I assume it is harder for him to influence and be influenced.

    I feel this is running away a bit, when I posted the topic I was actually mainly thinking about the fact that on AMOLAD Maiden used an unusual chord progression in some songsĀ  :)
  7. Zare

    Zare Dream of broken citadels

    Regarding solos, there's one thing you forgot;

    Dave played only in Maiden for the last 30 years. Janick, last 17 years. Adrian was in Maiden 10 years, then he played in four different bands, all playing different style of music. His Psycho Motel project was more progressive than Maiden, and his work with Bruce dictated more heavy, darker style of soloing.

    75% of Dave's solos go the by the same style. That's the case with Janick too. With Adrian, he played rockish solos from 1981-1985, on SIT and SSOASS he delivered more virtuosic work, ASAP, Psycho Motel, and Dickinson band delivered different stuff.

    I think that both him and Dave are world-class players, Dave has an unique style and he's best at those smooth legato runs. However, Adrian can nowadays play basically everything in every technique there is.
    Forostar likes this.
  8. taduran

    taduran Prowler

    This chord sequence is very mysterious. Not very used, which make it very special. You can find some tracks in metal music were this progression is present:

    Brutal Planet - Alice Cooper
    Fear of a Blank Planet - Porcupine Tree
    Trust - Megadeth


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