K. K. Downing
Kenneth "K. K." Downing Jr. is a retired British guitarist and songwriter, co-founder of the heavy metal band Judas Priest, an author. Downing was born in Staffordshire, he was dropped out of school soon afterwards. In the late 1960s, Downing discovered the guitar, he is a self-taught guitarist. "He was influenced by Jimi Hendrix, whom he was'very quick to recognise as the future'". He was influenced by John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers and Eric Clapton. Downing played on every Judas Priest album from Rocka Rolla to A Touch of Evil: Live. Downing started his first band Stagecoach, a pop band, between the age of 17 and 18 with his second cousin Brian Badhams on bass guitar and drummer Martin Philips; the trio "mainly jammed a few Cream songs and a few 12-bar blues". Downing played guitar with the band after winning a coin toss with his cousin Brian "in his bedroom to see who would play guitar or bass". Prior to joining Judas Priest, Downing attended catering college and worked as trainee chef at the Lyttelton Arms in Hagley.
Downing has an aggressive, rock-influenced guitar style featuring solos and dual leads with fellow Judas Priest guitarist Glenn Tipton. His solos remained of this style for most of his career, but he incorporated various techniques into his playing over the years; as opposed to Tipton, his solos tended to incorporate a more raw, rough-edged sound, making use of techniques such as pinch harmonics, dive bombs, tremolo picking, focus on speed, technical accuracy and melody. From Stained Class onward, Tipton came to be dominant in Judas Priest's songwriting on the more commercial tracks while Downing's role in the band started to diminish as the former's songs comprised the vast majority of live setlists after 1980. In 1978, Tipton began to incorporate tapping into his playing. By 1990, both guitarists started to use the complex technique of sweep-picking, which can be notably heard on the title track of their 1990 album Painkiller. Both have continuously used these techniques since. In Judas Priest's early years, Downing made common use of the wah-wah pedal, but began to limit his use of it in the late'70s.
He had abandoned use of it by the mid-'80s, but saved it for live performances of the songs that featured it. The only time since that he renewed use of it was in 1996, when vocalist Tim "Ripper" Owens joined the band, they began to experiment with their music more than before. One of these experimentations was the renewal of wah-wah in Downing's playing, which can be heard on their 1997 album Jugulator; this experimentation was taken further on their next album with Owens, 2001's Demolition, but was once more abandoned when the band's former vocalist, Rob Halford, returned to the band. However, Downing used a wah-wah pedal on his last few tours with the band. Downing left Judas Priest on 20 April 2011. An official press release was issued by the band. In an interview with online music publication Guitarhoo!, Downing spoke about his departure, "There had been an on-going breakdown in working relationships between myself, elements of the band and management for some time." Downing stated that there were at least "21 reasons" why he decided to quit but refused to go into specific detail about them.
In a 2016 interview, Downing elaborated on his decision to leave Judas Priest, saying that he wasn't happy with the band's live performance and thought it could've been better. The band had since continued with Richie Faulkner as Downing's replacement. Downing says that failing relations with the band was the cause for his departure, that Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton's respective solo careers were another factor, which he deemed "a bit disruptive." He spoke about Halford's solo career, saying that Halford released two albums in 2010 and toured with his band, explained that he refused to start writing material for a five-track EP, which led him to leave the band. He doesn't regret his decision to leave Judas Priest, as he feels that "it had kind of run its course as it was" comparing his lifestyle with Tipton's, saying that Tipton was "a bit more rock'n' roll, have some beers, I was there attentive and wanting perfection, every note, every beat. So we kind of drifted apart a little bit that way."
Downing didn't inquire about coming back after Tipton announced his Parkinson's disease diagnosis and his dismissal from touring as Tipton's replacement was announced before Downing knew about it. He said that he would be willing to speak with the band if he was contacted on making his return as their guitarist again. According to Downing, drummer Scott Travis was the only member to contact him following his departure, but was not surprised that Travis contacted him, he was however surprised. He said that he thought that he was friends with all of the other members before his departure, he singled out Ian Hill as the one he was most disappointed in, he explained that Halford and Travis knew of his suffering towards the end of his duties in the band. Downing's decision to leave Judas Priest shocked himself, saying that he made "an awful lot of sacrifices" and not receiving the respect he made in terms of his contributions in the band, recalling the early days in the 1960's, which he described as "tough".
Downing revealed another side of his story by saying that he contemplated departing Judas Priest when the touring for Painkiller concluded in 1991, citing internal conflicts within the band. He said that he composed a resignation letter, but ended up waiting towards the end of the tour, "I thought,'I’ll just sit on it, see how I
Brave New World (Iron Maiden album)
Brave New World is the twelfth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 29 May 2000. It was their first studio release since the return of longtime lead singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, as well as the band's first studio recording as a six-piece, as Janick Gers, who replaced Smith in 1990, remained with the band; the album artwork and title song are references to the novel of the same name, written by Aldous Huxley. The upper half of the artwork was created by Derek Riggs, with the bottom half by digital artist Steve Stone; the songs "The Wicker Man" and "Out of the Silent Planet" were both released as singles. "The Wicker Man"'s promotional radio release featured extra vocals in the chorus, not present in any other versions of the song. The Brave New World Tour was the tour in support of the album, during which the show at Rock in Rio was recorded and released as a live album and video. Brave New World peaked at No. 7 in the UK Albums Chart, has since been certified Gold.
In the United States, it debuted at No. 39 on the Billboard 200, registered over 307,000 sales on the Nielsen SoundScan system in 2008. Most of the songs were written before The Ed Hunter Tour and were recorded at Guillaume Tell Studios, Paris, it was the first album the band would record with producer Kevin Shirley, the first that they would record live in the studio. According to an interview with Adrian Smith, "The Nomad", "Dream of Mirrors", "The Mercenary" were written for 1998's Virtual XI, former vocalist Blaze Bayley claimed to have provided some lyrics for "Dream of Mirrors", but was not credited. According to Steve Harris, work had begun on "Blood Brothers" during that period, but it was not completed at the time."Brave New World" was the release's only song to reappear on the Dance of Death World Tour, the next tour in support of a studio release. None of the tracks from the album were played during the A Matter of Life and Death Tour, although many returned throughout The Final Frontier World Tour, with "The Wicker Man", "Ghost of the Navigator", the title track, "Blood Brothers" being played during the 2010 leg.
The song "Blood Brothers", written by Steve Harris for his late father, was dedicated to Ronnie James Dio throughout the 2010 leg of The Final Frontier World Tour, following his death on 16 May. On the 2011 leg of the tour starting in Australia, "Blood Brothers" would be dedicated to the victims and friends and family of the band members and audience who were affected by the 2011 Christchurch earthquake on 22 February; as the tour progressed, the song was dedicated to the victims of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, as well as the revolts in Egypt and Libya and the victims of the 2011 Norway attacks. A live performance of the song from 2012's En Vivo! was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance on 6 December 2012. Reviews for the album were positive. Critics were warm towards the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith to the band compared to the previous two releases which featured Blaze Bayley on vocals. Kerrang! Described it as "truly towering. Majestic. Bombastic.
Titanic. So gloriously in-yer-face you can feel its hot breath up your nostrils." Sputnikmusic described it as "one of the band's top albums. Classic Rock stated that, while "it may not take too many strides forward," it "certainly succeeds in reeling back the years to Iron Maiden's heyday."AllMusic were more critical of the album, describing it as "no Number of the Beast", although going on to say that "as comeback albums go, its excellence was undeniable", giving the album a positive rating. NME were unfavourable towards the release, arguing that the band's past "dismissal of the outside world, which kept them safe all those years, now leaves them looking rather obsolete"; the magazine compared the band to more contemporary acts such as Korn and Slipknot and felt Iron Maiden were "no longer the high priests of the black arts, seem innocent by comparison". Blabbermouth.net were negative, stating that the band sound "tired and uninspired", concluding that " will fail to leave a lasting mark on the face of the current metal scene."
Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes. Iron Maiden Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals Dave Murray – guitar Adrian Smith – guitar Janick Gers – guitar Steve Harris – bass, keyboards, co-producer Nicko McBrain – drumsAdditional personnel Kevin Shirley – producer, mixing Denis Caribaux – second engineer Nicolas Meyer – assistant engineer Rory Romano – assistant engineer Jeff Bova – orchestration on "Blood Brothers" and "The Nomad" George Marino – mastering Derek Riggs – sleeve illustration Steve Stone – sleeve illustration Peacock – sleeve design, sleeve concept Dean Karr – photography Rod Smallwood – management Andy Taylor – management Merck Mercuriadis – management
No Prayer for the Dying
No Prayer for the Dying is the eighth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. It marks their first line-up change since 1982. Smith was replaced by Janick Gers, who had worked with singer Bruce Dickinson on his first solo-album, Tattooed Millionaire, had worked with Ian Gillan, former Marillion singer Fish, new wave of British heavy metal band, White Spirit. Although it received mixed to negative reviews, the album peaked at No. 2 in the UK Albums Chart and contains the band's only UK Singles Chart No. 1, "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter". The album departed from the keyboard- and synthesiser-saturated progressive rock direction of the band's two previous studio outings in favour of a more "stripped down," straightforward style, reminiscent of the band's earlier material, which ushered in a change of vocal style for Bruce Dickinson from the operatic sound of the 1980s to a raspier way of singing; the idea to make a more "street level" release inspired the band to record in a barn on bassist Steve Harris's property in Essex, using the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio.
This means it is the first Iron Maiden album to be recorded in their home country since 1982's The Number of the Beast. Dickinson states that this idea was a mistake, commenting that "It was shit! It was a shit-sounding record, I wished we hadn't done it that way. At the time, I was as guilty as anyone else in going,'Oh great! Look, we're all covered in straw! What a larf!'"The album departed from literary and historical lyrical themes in favour of more political content, with songs focusing on religious exploitation and social concerns. No Prayer for the Dying is the only Iron Maiden studio album to date without a song exceeding six minutes in length and the second one to contain profanity in the lyrics, the debut album being the first to do so, it was the band's first release with Epic Records in the US, after the band left Capitol Records, but was sold through EMI for all territories outside the US. Despite charting well in most countries in the UK where it debuted at No. 2, it would be the band's last album to receive gold certification in the US.
No Prayer for the Dying includes the hit song "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter", which, in spite of a ban by the BBC, remains Iron Maiden's only UK No. 1 single to date. A tongue-in-cheek song written by Dickinson and recorded with his solo band for the A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child film soundtrack, Harris decided that the song would be "great for Maiden" and had the band re-record it. Following Dickinson's departure from Iron Maiden in 1993, songs from No Prayer for the Dying have been ignored at live performances. "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter" was the only song played on a post-1993 setlist, appearing on the band's 2003 summer tour. No Prayer on the Road was the tour in support of the album. No Prayer for the Dying does not follow the continuity of previous album covers, as Eddie no longer exhibits either his lobotomy or cyborg enhancements. Two versions of the cover exist; the original 1990 version has Eddie grabbing a gravedigger by the neck. However, Smallwood disliked the figure and asked artist Derek Riggs to remove him from the cover for the 1998 re-release, although the original artwork is used on the disc itself.
Additionally an inscription was added to the plaque on the tomb, which Riggs had left blank to allow the band to add their own words, reads "After the Daylight, The Night of Pain, That is not Dead, Which Can Rise Again." The picture disc LP shows Eddie firing. It has the original cover on side two; the album received mixed to negative reviews, with AllMusic commenting that "the songwriting wasn't up to snuff when compared to such classics as Killers or Number of the Beast" and "as a whole doesn't measure up to the hits." Sputnikmusic were negative, stating that "No Prayer for the Dying is a plain, listless record that never gets itself going." Production list acquired from AllMusic and from the album liner notes. Iron MaidenBruce Dickinson – vocals Dave Murray – guitars Janick Gers – guitars Steve Harris – bass Nicko McBrain – drumsAdditional musiciansMichael Kenney – keyboardsProductionMartin Birch – producer, mixing Mick McKenna – assistant engineer Les Kingham – assistant engineer Chris Marshall – assistant engineer, mixing engineer Derek Riggs – cover illustration Ross Halfin – photography Rod Smallwood – management Andy Taylor – management Hugh Gilmour – art direction, design Sarah Polglase – project manager
King's X is an American rock band that combines progressive metal and soul with vocal arrangements influenced by gospel and British Invasion rock groups. The band's lyrics are based on the members' struggles with religion and self-acceptance. King's X was ranked No. 83 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Since being signed to Megaforce Records in 1987, King's X has released twelve studio albums, two official live albums, several independent releases; the band's most recent studio album, XV, was released in 2008 on the InsideOut Music label. Since leaving Atlantic Records, following the release of Ear Candy in 1996, King's X has released albums through Metal Blade Records, InsideOut Music and independently; each member of the group has recorded several solo albums and have made numerous guest appearances on other artists' albums, as well as participated in numerous compilation projects. Doug Pinnick and Ty Tabor have many albums released with side bands in which they participate. Throughout their major label career the band secured opening slots on arena tours, including opening for bands like Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Pearl Jam, Cheap Trick, Mötley Crüe as well as the Woodstock'94 festival.
They continue to perform live. The spiritual nature of the band's lyrics on their first four albums, has led to them being labeled a Christian rock band, a label the members have rejected; the group traces its beginnings to 1979 in Springfield, when bassist Doug Pinnick and drummer Jerry Gaskill were brought together to take part in a musical project coordinated by Greg X. Volz of the Christian rock band Petra. Within a month of Pinnick's arrival from Illinois, the project folded and he and Gaskill were left without a band, they soon landed a job as rhythm section for guitarist Phil Keaggy's live band. The two toured the country for several months in support of Keaggy's album Ph'lip Side. During the group's show in Springfield, Gaskill was approached by Ty Tabor, a member of the opening band that night; the drummer for Tabor's band had quit the night before the show and Tabor had volunteered to take over on drums for the gig. However, seeing as he had no drums, he was forced to ask Gaskill if he could borrow his kit for the show.
Gaskill obliged and the show went on. When the tour ended and Gaskill returned to Springfield and set about looking for more work. Gaskill landed a job doing demo work for the Tracy Zinn Band that happened to include Ty Tabor on guitar; the two were involved off and on together in different musical projects. In early 1980, Pinnick attended a music show at Evangel College and watched a set by another of Tabor's bands. Pinnick was impressed with Tabor's skills and the two soon began collaborating musically. Gaskill and Tabor decided to pool their talents into a single outlet. Calling themselves "the Edge", they were a four-piece with the inclusion of Dan McCollam on rhythm guitar. McCollam quit after only a brief time and was replaced by Kirk Henderson, a friend of Tabor's from Jackson, Mississippi; the group performed extensively on the Springfield bar and club circuit specializing in classic rock and Top 40 covers at the time. By 1983, Henderson had quit the band and Pinnick and Gaskill decided to continue on as a trio.
They decided to change the name of the band, settled on calling themselves Sneak Preview. The group had been recording many original songs up to this point, they chose ten of these songs to record for an independently released self-titled LP in 1983. After the album's release, the band continued to hone their songwriting skills. By 1985, the group had made connections at Star Song Records based in Houston and were encouraged to move the band there; the first order of business for the three was to become part of a touring band for CCM artist Morgan Cryar. Tabor and Pinnick are credited for co-writing several songs on Cryar's second album Fuel on the Fire in 1986. Tabor performed some guitar parts on the album and both he and Pinnick are credited with background vocals. However, when it came to signing Sneak Preview to a recording contract with Star Song, negotiations broke down and the deal came to a halt. While in Houston, the group met Sam Taylor vice president of ZZ Top's production company. Taylor became interested in the trio and convinced them to change their name to King's X.
He supported and nurtured the group's transition from radio friendly, rock originals to a more experimental and complex songwriting style. Taylor would soon become the group's manager, producer and according to some, the fourth member of the group, he was instrumental in helping the group secure a contract with Megaforce Records in 1987. The group released its debut album as King's X, entitled Out of the Silent Planet, in 1988. Despite being hailed by music critics, the album did not fare well commercially, peaking at No. 144 on the Billboard album charts. The songs "King" and "Shot of Love" failed to garner much attention; the album derives its name from the C. S. Lewis novel Out of the Silent Planet; this appears to be the band's first of multiple references to the British author. In 1989, the band released. Considered by many fans to be their landmark album and most creative period, the album fared only better from a commercial standpoint than Out of the Silent Planet; the band played with a wide variety of acts while touring in support of it, including Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, M.
O. D. Living Colour, Billy Squier and Blue Murder; the album contains many fan favorites such as "Summerland", "Mission", "The Burning Down". The song "The Difference (In the Garden of St. Anne'
Shred guitar or shredding is a virtuoso lead guitar solo playing style for the guitar, based on various advanced and complex playing techniques rapid passages and advanced performance effects. Music critics have stated that shred guitar is associated with "fast alternate picking, sweep-picked arpeggios and harmonic scales, finger-tapping and whammy-bar abuse", while others contend that it is a subjective cultural term used by guitarists and enthusiasts of guitar music, it is used with reference to heavy metal guitar playing, where it is associated with rapid tapping solos, fast scale and arpeggio runs and special effects such as whammy bar "dive bombs". Metal guitarists playing in a "shred" style use the electric guitar with a guitar amplifier and a range of electronic effects such as distortion, which create a more sustained guitar tone and facilitate guitar feedback effects; the term is sometimes used with reference to virtuoso playing by instrumentalists other than guitarists, as well. The term "shred" is used outside the metal idiom in bluegrass musicians and jazz-rock fusion electric guitarists.
Ritchie Blackmore, best known as the guitarist of Deep Purple and Rainbow, was an early shredder. He founded Deep Purple in 1968 and combined elements of blues and classical into his high speed, virtuostic rock guitar playing. Songs like'Highway Star' or'Burn' from Deep Purple and'Gates of Babylon' from Rainbow are great examples of early shred. Blackmore separated himself from the pack with his use of complex arpeggios and harmonic minor scales, his influence on Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen was definitive for the evolution of the genre. In 1969, guitarist Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin composed'Heartbreaker'. Page included excerpts of classical music in the solo. Steve Vai commented about it in a September 1998 Guitar World interview: This one'Heartbreaker' had the biggest impact on me as a youth, it was defiant and edgier than hell. It is the definitive rock guitar solo. In 1974, the German band Scorpions used their new guitarist Ulrich Roth for their album Fly to the Rainbow, for which the title track features Roth performing "... one of the most menacing and powerful whammy-bar dive bombs recorded".
A year Roth's solo guitar playing for the album In Trance "... would become the prototype for shred guitar. Everything associated with the genre can be found on this brilliant collection of songs—sweep-picked arpeggios, harmonic minor scales, finger-tapping and... jaw-dropping whammy-bar abuse". In 1979, Roth left Scorpions to begin his own power trio, named "Electric Sun", his debut album Earthquake contained "... heaps of spellbinding fret gymnastics... and nimble-fingered classical workouts." In 1978, a "heretofore unknown guitarist named Eddie Van Halen" from Los Angeles released "'Eruption', a blistering aural assault of solo electric guitar" which featured rapid "tapping", which "had been heard in a rock context before". Chris Yancik argues that it is this "record, above any other, that spawned the genre of Shred."Guitar Player's article "Blast Into Hyperspace With The Otherworldly Power Of Shred" reviews the book Shred! and states that the pioneers were "Ritchie Blackmore, jazz fusion player Al Di Meola and Eddie Van Halen".
Randy Rhoads and Yngwie Malmsteen advanced this style further with the infusion of Neo-classical elements. Progressive rock, heavy metal, hard rock, jazz fusion have all made use of and adapted the style over the years. In general, the phrase "shred guitar" has been traditionally associated with instrumental rock and heavy metal guitarists; this association has become less common now that modern forms of metal have adopted shredding as well. In the 1990s, its mainstream appeal diminished with the rise of grunge and nu metal, both of which eschewed flashy lead guitar solos. Lesser known guitarists like Shawn Lane and Buckethead continued to develop the genre further in the 90s. In an interview in March 2011, Steve Vai described'shred' as: The terminology used for someone who can play an instrument, has such a tremendous amount of technique that what they do just seems effortless and absurd. It's like this burst of energy that just comes out in fast tearing kind of playing where the notes connect.
Shred has to have a particular kind of'tide' to it, I think, that gives you that'blow away' factor that makes it impressive, to a certain degree." Shredding includes "sweep and tremolo picking. Shred guitarists use two- or three-octave scales, triads, or modes, played ascending and descending at a fast tempo; such runs are arranged in the form of an intricate sequential pattern, creating a more complex feel. Guitarists refer to a prepared sequence of notes as a'lick', which may be incorporated into an otherwise improvised solo, or used for practising. Guitarists often'trade licks' with each other; the lick can be played by multiple-picking notes, or picking just the first or second note of a string followed by a rapid succession of hammer-ons and/or pull-offs. Rhythmically, a shredder may include precise usage of syncopation and polyrhythms. Sweep picking is used to play rapid arpeggios across the fretboard; the tapping technique is used to play rapid flourishes of notes or to play arpeggios or scalar patterns using pure legato with no picking.
Various techniques are used to perform passages with wide intervals, to create a flowing legato sound. S
Janick Robert Gers is an English musician and one of the three guitarists in Iron Maiden. He was previously a member of the bands Gillan and White Spirit. Janick Gers began his career as the lead guitarist of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal band White Spirit, before joining Gillan, a group formed by then-former Deep Purple vocalist Ian Gillan. After Gillan disbanded, Gers undertook a Humanities degree before joining Gogmagog, which included former Iron Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno and drummer Clive Burr; the project came to nothing. The project expanded into an album, Tattooed Millionaire, during its recording Gers was asked to join Iron Maiden in place of Adrian Smith, he has remained with the band since after Smith rejoined the band in 1999, contributing to a total of nine studio albums. Gers' main influences are Jeff Beck and Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher, he is noted for his energetic stage presence, which involves performing tricks with his guitar, such as throwing it into the air and catching it.
He is left-handed although he plays guitar right-handed. He has two children with his wife Sandra and Dylan Gers, lives in Yarm, Teesside, his father, Bolesław, was an officer of the Polish Navy and served on ORP Burza and ORP Blyskawica on which he came to England and joined the Royal Navy. Gers has relatives in the Bydgoszcz area and Sosno village in Poland and visited them as a teenager until 1977. Janick Gers bought his first guitar during one of those visits, in a music store in Zlotów close to Pila Gers met his Polish family again after 34 years at a 2011 concert in Warsaw Gers is a fan of Hartlepool United and used to stand in the Millhouse Terrace at Victoria Park on match-days. Gers is a graduate of the English Martyrs Sixth Form College. Gers had an uncredited part in the BBC drama The Paradise Club in 1990, appearing as the lead guitarist of a band called Fraud Squad, he appeared in the 2010 fan-made Iron Maiden documentary Maiden Heaven. Gers is a long-time proponent of the Fender Stratocaster.
His guitars are black or white with rosewood fingerboards and Seymour Duncan JB Jr. and Hot Rails pick-ups. His favourite guitar over the years has been a black Stratocaster, equipped with JB Jr. pick-ups, given to him by Ian Gillan. Gers uses four different Fender Stratocasters, as well as a Gibson Chet Atkins semi-acoustic model for songs such as "Dance of Death". Gers is endorsed by Sandberg Guitars, he uses a California ST-S tobacco hc-aged and a California ST-S creme hc-aged model on stage. Like his bandmates, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, Gers uses the Marshall JMP-1 preamp through a Marshall 9200 power amp. Preferring not to use foot-switches while playing, Gers' roadie operates his MIDI Foot Controller offstage. Favouring cables, Gers only uses a Shure UR4D wireless system, he uses Ernie Ball Regular Slinky Nickel-wound guitar strings, although he does not use the B string. Iron Maiden's official website Janick Gers on IMDb Janick Gers at AllMusic Gers' 2000 Iron Maiden Guitar Rig. GuitarGeek.com
Dance of Death (album)
Dance of Death is the thirteenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released first in Japan on 2 September and 8 September 2003 in the rest of the world excluding North America. The album was recorded on magnetic tape, their second studio release since the return of vocalist Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith in 1999, the album features the band's first-ever acoustic track, "Journeyman", as well as "New Frontier", their only song co-written by drummer Nicko McBrain. As with Brave New World, its predecessor in 2000, the record was produced by Kevin Shirley, who has worked with Iron Maiden on all subsequent releases; the band first confirmed that they would be working on a follow-up to 2000's Brave New World with producer Kevin Shirley on 27 November 2002, announced alongside a small set of European tour dates for the following year. On 6 January 2003, Shirley confirmed via his website that the band would begin recording that month, followed by the announcement that the basic tracks had been completed on 5 February and that the release was to be mixed in April.
On 31 May, the band announced that the album, recorded at Sarm West Studios, would be entitled Dance of Death, after which the release date was issued on 17 June. The band undertook the Dance of Death World Tour in support of the album, which included many theatrical elements inspired by the record's songs. During "Dance of Death", Bruce Dickinson would wear theatrical masks and a cape while moving around the stage. During "Paschendale", Dickinson would wear a traditional British Infantryman trench coat and helmet, as worn during World War I, the set would be decorated with barbed wire; the tour led to a live album and DVD, entitled Death on the Road, released in 2005 and 2006. The computer-generated cover art was provided by David Patchett, who asked for his name to be removed from the album's credits after the band decided to use an unfinished version, received negatively. Dickinson called the cover "embarrassing"; the album was released as a DVD-Audio disc including 5.1 mixes of each song.
Dance of Death is the only Iron Maiden album to date in which drummer Nicko McBrain has a songwriting credit, having co-written "New Frontier". As a born-again Christian, the track expresses his concerns with human cloning, stating, "I believe that God created man and it's only God's right to create a human being because only He can give you a soul; when man attempts to make man it's a monster in a test tube." This makes it the only Iron Maiden album to date in which every member of the band receives a songwriting credit. "Montségur" was based on the fall of the Cathar stronghold of the same name, which fell in the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade in 1244. Dickinson, who wrote the song's lyrics, states, "There is so much great stuff and so many great stories throughout history that you can make parallels with the modern day – when history repeats itself as as it does – that it makes for some colourful subject matter.""Paschendale" is about the Battle of Passchendaele which took place during the First World War.
It was written by Adrian Smith, who contributes to the band's shorter, more commercial-sounding songs, but decided to write what he describes as "a traditional Maiden epic". It features strong progressive rock elements, including its length, detailed structure, multiple tempo changes throughout the song. Dickinson comments, "the beauty of'Paschendale' isn't in the epic-ness of the song – although you have to admit it is a powerful and stirring body of music – but the detail." In live performances, Dickinson introduces the song with a passage from Wilfred Owen's "Anthem for Doomed Youth". According to guitarist Janick Gers, the album's title track was inspired by the final scene of Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, at the end of which "these figures on the horizon start doing a little jig, the dance of death". Gers wrote most of the music and explained the concept to Steve Harris, who wrote the lyrics and most of the melodies."Face in the Sand" is based on the media coverage surrounding the Iraq War, taking place as the album was being recorded.
Dickinson explains, "I remember thinking about the desert sands as an image and how it moves and shifts with time. What I was thinking was that whatever empires you tend to build – whether they are British, Iraqi or whatever, they'll all crumble and fade away into something else. So, to my mind at least, the best thing you can hope for, if you were to leave anything behind, is just an imprint in the sand." The song is notable for being the first and only Iron Maiden track in which McBrain uses a double bass pedal. The final track, "Journeyman", is Iron Maiden's first and only acoustic song. According to Dickinson on the Death on the Road live album, it is about "the whole process of writing and being a musician", although Mick Wall describes it as "a wistful tale of carpe diem"; the song was recorded with electric instruments, however, as Dickinson states, "after all the battering that we've given the listener over the last hour of music it just seemed right to play out with something unexpected and left field."
The original version appears on the No More Lies EP. Reviews for the album were positive with Kerrang! Describing it as "stupendous stuff and concrete proof that Maiden are as electrifying and important as they have been in a long time". Sputnikmusic were positive about the album, giving special mention to "Paschendale", described as "quite the ultimate Maiden masterpiece". Alt