Heavy metal is steeped in iconography, with larger-than-life imagery and album covers a natural pair to the glorious, conquering sounds within. Throughout all of metaldom, there’s none more iconic than Iron Maiden’s signature “Eddie,” the withered ghoul that graces everything the band touches; essentially an action figure for the group, constantly camouflaging to suit the band’s sound and substance. After a dull stretch in the 1990s in which Iron Maiden fell victim to a grunge-induced market crisis, the exact same that befell nearly every major ‘80s metal band, the group got back on track in the new millennium. Reuniting with operatic belter Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden released Brave New World and Dance Of Death , lifting the band out of its sonic murk and bringing back the galloping bravado that made the group so exciting in the first place. It wasn’t until 2006’s A Matter Of Life And Death , however, that they truly seemed to reembrace that essential part of Maiden’s identity that even just 10 years prior might had seemed too passé to celebrate. On an illustrated album cover that harkens back to those of Iron Maiden’s ‘80s classics, Eddie is everywhere to be found: atop of tank in the middle of a battlefield fantasy, his likeness gracing battle flags and helmets galore. There’s no way to construe it as anything other than a statement of purpose, and the music itself is just as uncompromising. A Matter Of Life And Death is one of the proggiest and knottiest Maiden albums since Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son , as its complex arrangements, epic length, and byzantine song construction will attest to. In fact, it’s almost as if the nearly 20 year gap between the two albums never happened, with the band as emboldened as they’ve ever been, touring with 3 lead guitarists and gleefully expounding on their triumphant prog metal, excess be damned. Life And Death might be the moment, at least on record, where Iron Maiden fully realized that they are and always will be Iron Maiden , an institution; a brand. Free to traverse any flight of fancy, they’ve never looked back, and just like the band themselves, Eddie is here to stay.