One from the later era...
I have quite a few good memories about this album, first and foremost being fortunate enough to interview Nicko McBrain, who was a complete trip. Then my 2.5 hour road jaunt into Camden, New Jersey to photograph Maiden front and center stage. The only sour moment of that experience was the venue screwing me and the other photographers out of our show tickets, though we were escorted to the front of the stage for three songs. Rage fest for a moment there, but my photos from this tour are amongst my personal treasures since Maiden played three long epics from A Matter of Life and Death for nearly half an hour. In retrospect, I have no complaints, only fabulous live pics of the greatest metal band of all time from right beneath them. I bought a shirt with this cover at the show despite the venue's disgraceful hiccup to show I kept the blame where it belonged--even if the original release of A Matter of Life and Death came with a t-shirt anyway. Mine has tour dates, baby! You fellow knuckleheads of metal probably remember how important it was back in the day to have the all-important tour shirt with dates to show the world what a rockin' cool mofo you are.
Anyway, let's get to the real part of this post, the artwork.
With no attempt at hiding their feelings on the U.S./Iraqi conflict shared by Britain, it should be no surprise the ultimate evil, Iron Eddie, was cast a ghoulish Sgt. Rock leading his skeleton crew (pun intended) into the throes of war. Personally, I think the dead private jerking on a ciggie upstages Eddie on this cover. Riot!
Eddie's Heroes grinding the slaughtered into the war-torn grime sends the message home for its time in 2006: Bush and Blair released the hounds, and they came back with the turret pointed back at them. Very much like the Masters of Horror episode "Homecoming," in which slain American soldiers return home in their caskets, only to rise from the dead and demand recompense from a government using them as pawns in a bullshit cause.
Tim Bradstreet took over for Derek Riggs for what became Iron Maiden's most alluring, detailed and provoking album cover in years. Considering the offbeat nano-ersatz decorating Dance of Death and the not bad hanker-down stare of Eddie's Voldemort-like death eater peer upon a technologically-advanced city in Brave New World, this painting is a return to form of the eye candy aesthetics regaling Iron Maiden's glory years.
And what is that red mass in Eddie's resting paw? A bleeding heart?