Iron Maiden Wiki
A Matter of Life and Death
Studio album by Iron Maiden
Released 28 August 2006
Recorded September 2005 - July 2006 at Sarm West Studios, London
Genre Heavy metal
Length 71:54
Label EMI
Producer Kevin Shirley
Iron Maiden chronology
Dance of Death
A Matter of Life and Death
The Final Frontier
Singles from A Matter of Life and Death
  1. "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg"
    Released: 14 August 2006
  2. "Different World"
    Released: 14 November 2006

A Matter of Life and Death is the fourteenth studio album by 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 album in Iron Maiden's career to enter the U.S. Billboard charts in the top 10 and the third album where Steve Harris has had a song writing credit on every track, and has seen significant chart success in many other countries.

While the album is not a concept album, war and religion are recurring themes in the lyrics throughout the album, as well as in the album's artwork. The title is also linked with the war theme, as it shared with a 1946 film whose primary character is a WWII Royal Air Force pilot, though singer Bruce Dickinson has stated that the title and dark lyrical themes came partly from the band members' childhood experiences having grown up in the Cold War era amid common fears of imminent destruction and war.

The A Matter of Life and Death Tour was the tour supporting the album, where the band played the album live in its entirety.


The band, still consisting of the same lineup as their previous two and next three studio albums (making it the most stable lineup), started to write the songs near the end of 2005 after their hugely successful appearances in the U.S. and Europe. By the end of the year, the songs were completed and they began rehearsing at Sarm West Studios in London.

At 72 minutes, A Matter of Life and Death is the band's third longest album, exceeding 1995's The X Factor by approximately one minute, and exceeded by 2010's The Final Frontier by approximately four minutes, and 2015's The Book of Souls by over twenty minutes. A Matter of Life and Death puts emphasis on creating atmospheres befitting the darker lyrical themes and long sprawling epics with changes in tempo and dynamics, in contrast to the riff-driven music of the band's early days. This darker direction of the lyrical viewpoint can even be seen in the shorter songs "Different World" and "The Pilgrim."

In order to provide a more "live" sound, the album was not mastered. Producer Kevin Shirley said, "Spoke to 'Arry (Steve Harris) on Friday, who has decided against mastering the Iron Maiden album... It means that you will get to hear the new album exactly as it sounded in the studio, no added EQ, compression, analogue widening, etc., and I must say, I am pretty happy with the end result."

This is the band's fourth studio album not to share its name with a song, following Piece of Mind, The X Factor and Virtual XI.

The album cover was created by Tim Bradstreet, an American artist, best known for his work on the Hellblazer and Punisher comics.

During their North American, Japanese and European tours, the band performed the entire album in full. They announced after the show at Earl's Court, London on December 23, 2006, that the album would never be played in its entirety again.

The album is the only Iron Maiden album since Iron Maiden where all of the songs have been played live.

Critical response[]

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." Classic Rock 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 "ageing gracefully".

Single details[]

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".

DVD documentary[]

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.

Track listing[]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Different World" Adrian Smith, Steve Harris 4:17
2. "These Colours Don't Run" Smith, Harris, Bruce Dickinson 6:52
3. "Brighter Than a Thousand Suns" Smith, Harris, Dickinson 8:44
4. "The Pilgrim" Janick Gers, Harris 5:07
5. "The Longest Day" Smith, Harris, Dickinson 7:48
6. "Out of the Shadows" Dickinson, Harris 5:36
7. "The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg" Dave Murray, Harris 7:21
8. "For the Greater Good of God" Harris 9:24
9. "Lord of Light" Smith, Harris, Dickinson 7:23
10. "The Legacy" Gers, Harris 9:22
Bonus track (iTunes store edition)
No. Title Writer(s) Length
11. "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (Radio 1 'Legends' Session) Harris 7:11



Chart positions[]

An update on Iron Maiden's official website stated 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". The album marked Iron Maiden's first album to place in the top ten in the Billboard 200, as well as being the highest-charting hard rock album ever in India, debuting at number four. The album went gold in Finland in its first week. This gold record became Maiden's 8th from Finland.