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“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” is considered by many as the last effort in a streak of experimental, genre-defining and powerful heavy metal releases in the eighties by Iron Maiden. The record received overwhelming reviews from both fans and professional critics and each time the album grows five years older, the rock media are dedicating special contributions to this album. Recently, Iron Maiden got also caught by euphoric nostalgia and went on a new “Maiden England” style tour centered on songs from this record. Almost nobody really seems to disagree that this is a groundbreaking release.
Well, I do. Believe me, as a long-time fan of Iron Maiden it’s quite tough for me to criticize this band for one of its most influential releases. Usually, I agree with both professional experts and fans from all around the world that records like “The Number of the Beast”, “Powerslave” and “Somewhere in Time” are untouchable masterpieces that revolutionized an entire genre but I have to disagree on this one.
Let’s start with the positive things first. The record has somewhat accidentally become a conceptual release. The lyrics have a certain guiding line, include interesting narrative elements and are still open for interpretation. The lyrics work well as a whole but also as single songs. The album has a constantly progressive and smooth atmosphere characterized by a distinctive mellower production, the use of guitar synths and even keyboards and longer tracks with laid-back instrumental parts in form of both introductions and soli. One can really talk about a coherent and focused song writing effort.
There is no doubt that this album also includes a few really outstanding songs. First off, there is the brilliant “Infinite Dreams” which is almost a perfect definition of a melodic progressive metal tune. It has soaring melodies, an emotional yet calm and harmonious vocal performance, meaningful and poetic lyrics, smooth changes of style including both really laid-back melodies and a few faster parts grabbing your attention and it doesn’t include any unnecessary breaks or soli. Objectively said, this is probably one of the very best songs of both its new genre and Iron Maiden in general.
Let me point out another amazing tune that goes in a really different direction. “The Evil That Men Do” is an obvious single choice because of its catchy and melodic chorus but the song offers more than just this. From the first seconds on, the melodic guitar tone builds up a chilling atmosphere. Despite its melancholic touch, the track has a pleasant pace with great riffs, a vividly pumping bass guitar and a tight drumming. The vocals are diversified and performed with passion as they vary from darker verses with narrative parts and a meaner tone to liberating and high-pitched but never annoying parts in the pre-chorus and chorus. The whole song sounds really balanced and focused but is still one of the most diversified and progressive singles ever written by the band.
As I said before, there is also the negative side of this release which sadly dominates over the positive aspects. First of all, the production is too mellow for a metal release in my opinion. It’s surely an interesting and courageous experiment to opt for a different mastering but the final result sometimes lacks dynamics in my opinion. In addition to this, the record is overall too fluffy and really looses my attention in the second half.
Let’s give a few examples that elaborate on my controversial point of view. First off, there is the title track, the epic ten-minute heart and soul of this release. This is one of the major reasons why this album is less spectacular than its two predecessors in my opinion. The song is atmospheric and starts very well but goes downhill from there. The instrumental part at the end of the record is repetitive and unspectacular as it drags on for far too long as if the band had absolutely wanted to include a song near the ten-minute mark on the album. The guitar soli are not really emotional or unique enough to convince and one expects something to come after all the soloing but the song simply ends at a certain point. The circle never closes and the track also fails to end with a bang. It could have also ended three minutes earlier or three minutes later and it wouldn’t have made any difference and that’s why the end of the track sounds redundant to me. I also think that the calmer break of the song tries a little bit too obviously to copy the break in “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which is maybe the most ambitious epic ever written by the band. It's actually the first time the band is directly copying itself which is never a good sign for the creative longevity of a group of artists. Not only that the band has been there before and doesn’t introduce anything new to the listener, the narrative section in this part is a lot less atmospheric than in the original epic that was brilliantly cinematic as the listener could almost feel as if he was on board of a doomed ship. This effect doesn’t work on the title track here as it doesn’t make me feel anything. A last negative point of this song is obviously the chorus of the track. Not only that such a progressive tune wouldn’t have requested a chorus but in this case it simply consists of hectically and repetitively singing the name of the track followed by forced sing along parts to fill the emptiness. I always felt as if the band had run out of ideas for this song after five minutes or so but artificially stretched this track to the double.
Another song I dislike for completely different reasons on the record is the single “Can I Play With Madness” that has neither the atmosphere nor the diversity of “The Evil That Men Do” for example. It’s an exchangeable and forcedly joyous melodic rock tune that aims for commercial success and airplay which simply doesn’t fit to what Iron Maiden has always stood for. The chorus is not only filled with childish melodies but also dull and unimaginative from a lyrical point of view. In this form, it feels like a foreign body on an otherwise elaborated and progressive rock inspired terrain. Even as an outstanding exception, this song doesn’t work because it even fails in what it tries to be. Several other hard rock and heavy metal acts had made similar guitar synth and keyboard driven singles that worked a lot better, for example the British colleagues from Judas Priest.
The closing "Only the Good Die Young" tries to go back to the average opener "Moonchild" which is an interesting idea for a conceptual release. The problem is that both songs sound too similar to stand out on such a short release. Another thing that really bothers me is that this track has by far the mellowest production on the album. The track doesn't develop any pace and sounds like an average AOR song of its time that could also come from Dokken, Foreigner or Whitesnake. The song sounds way too tame and unspectacular to close a heavy metal record with. It's not a great and moving ballad either which would be acceptable. No, it's simply one of the most uninspired songs in the career of this band. Instead of ending the album with emotion or power, the song sounds like a confusing mixture of commercial melodic rock and conceptual progressive rock. This closer is though not unique and catchy enough to convince as melodic rock track and it's not original or profound enough to work as a progressive rock track. This song is caught somewhere in a no-man's-land in between both genres and goes straight nowhere.
The worst thing on this album is though the exchangeable "The Prophecy". I don't know how many times I've listened to this song in my life but it simply fails to stay on my mind. Even the worst fillers from later Iron Maiden records have a certain something that makes them stand out, be it a catchy chorus, a gripping riff or at least a distinctive solo part. This song has none of these elements. It's a very faceless track. It's a useless filler. In my opinion a filler is even worse than a song that really sucks. A bad song manages at least to impress you in a negative way. This faceless filler doesn't even manage to do this. It's completely irrelevant and probably the most unspectacular song ever written by Iron Maiden.
All in all, this release has two really outstanding tracks that save this album, two good average tunes and four songs that vary between mediocre and utterly useless. I may give the band some credit for the courage that they tried to constantly develop the sound from the previous milestone record to an even mellower and slightly commcerial AOR inspired sound. I might also admit that this album has a certain guiding line in form of a slightly interesting intellectual concept. Apart of the shallow title track, Iron Maiden definitely tried to move on and create something completely new and unique at that time. Still, all these humble intentions can't compensate for a really fluffy and mellow execution that makes this release really hard to sit through for me. I didn't like this album at first contact when I first listened to it over nine years ago and it hasn't grown but probably even decreased in my perception since then. This album is not only a constant candidate for my bottom five records of Iron Maiden but also for my bottom five of the most overrated so-called classics in the history of heavy metal music. I can completely understand why this album was the beginning of the end for Iron Maiden as the band started to fall apart after this release and desperately tried to go back to a heavier and darker sound over the next few records because if the band had continued its journey towards even fluffier sounds, they would probably sound worse than Def Leppard today. If you like AOR or worship anything old school metal heads praise since this is a release from the eighties, you can give this release a spin and follow the masses. If you are looking for solid song writing without any lengths, the fierce energy one could usually expect from a legendary heavy metal band or different exciting approaches and ideas connected to a progressive metal release, you should rather go for Queensrÿche's "Operation: Mindcrime" which was released at the same time and which might have a similar concept but which turns out to be much better than this album from an emotional, intellectual, musical and even productional point of view.
This isn't my favorite by Maiden, but it is runner-up. This is one of Maiden's most consistent albums, and therefore is one of my favorites. None of this album is bad, and only a chunk is even average. Obviously, some of this is excellent. All of Side A and the final song are great and necessary. The band performances are as good as they'd ever be, and the music itself is very catchy.
This album is a concept album, and I find it appropriate to start with that aspect. As far as they go, this is done pretty well. It's better than Mindcrime or Nosferatu, and it obliterates Nostradamus. The idea is particularly similar to the last. This is essentially about a seer and his life, it's successes, discoveries, and eventual end. I feel Maiden manages to convey the gravity of all of this, without losing their usual catchiness. The production and atmosphere are quite good as well, and they convey a sense of eeriness throughout. The cover does throw me however. I don't know what it's really going for, and it's not one of my favorite covers by them.
The guitar playing on here is very good. Adrian was pretty much peaking around this time, and Dave was as good as ever. All the soloing is very good and melodic. Admittedly, I often prefer heavier playing, but for a lighter mood, Maiden works great. The rhythm work is good as well, but the bounce in their playing gives it a bit of a hard-rock flavor at times. This isn't really a problem, but it is something to note. This was around the time that they integrated synthesizers into their sound, so the whole sound is very mellow compared to some other bands from this time. This is not heavy playing. Honestly, this is probably a pretty strong influence on more keyboard-driven continental metal. Again, this isn't necessarily a problem, I just feel it needs to be noted. The bass playing isn't as prominent during this time. I feel that this album and the previous are a little more guitar-driven than before. Steve is still very audible, but he's not as dominant as he was on Number or Piece. The drumming is its normal above-average, but no more. Bruce is a great vocalist, and he really Shines on The Evil That Men Do. It's a great song, partially because of his excellent singing. He's obviously still great elsewhere.
As to the quality, the first three songs on Side B aren't as strong as the rest. They aren't bad, but they don't work as well. Prophecy and Clairvoyant are necessary for the story, but musically feel similar to the the first two songs. They're not bad, but they don't work as well as their counterparts. The epic title track isn't bad, it just takes a little too long to get going. The soloing is very good, but it ends up feeling a little like pieces from elsewhere thrown together. I almost never listen to it. The rest of the album is excellent with Evil That Men Do being my favorite. It's not one of their top five, but that just speaks to Maiden's quality.
This album is one of the better early metal albums. This is a bit forward looking, in that it's pretty much a slower version of the keyboard stuff that grew to dominate the Continent a decade later. That will dictate how you will enjoy this album. I'm not huge on that stuff, but I do enjoy a certain amount of European power metal. If you hate power metal, you probably won't enjoy this. The groups I would recommend this to are power, prog, and early metal fans, in that order.
Ah yes, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The last of the great classic era Maiden albums. While many people consider this album to be the culmination of Maiden's classic era and an undeniable masterpiece, it doesn't have quite the same effect on me. Sure, Bruce sounds great along with Steve Harris and Nicko and the guitar work on this album is pretty damn awesome. The performance of the band is not at all what makes this album not a masterpiece to me as they are in absolute top form here.
The real issue here is consistency. Seventh Son continued the experimentation that was begun on Somewhere in Time with more progressive structures and keyboards, but this time the keyboards are much more prominent and I would consider this album as close to a progressive metal album as Iron Maiden ever got. However unlike Somewhere in Time, which is an album that I can listen to from start to finish and my personal favorite Maiden album, this one has some issues that drag the weight of the album down a bit.
The album's title track is by FAR the best song on this album and one of the best Maiden songs ever recorded. I'm not sure if they just put the most focus on this song or what because the rest of the songs aren't even close to it. There's some good songs, (The Evil That Men Do and Moonchild), some pretty good songs, (The Clairvoyant, Infinite Dreams, Only the Good Die Young), and absolute garbage (Can I Play With Madness?). The Prophecy is the only song that I like almost as much as the title track, though it seems to get a lot of hate for whatever reason.
One of my biggest problems with this album is that some songs that would be good songs are ruined by one bad section in the song. The most glaring example is Can I Play With Madness? which is a pretty good song until that god awful chorus starts and ruins the whole song (not that the rest was that good to begin with). The same thing happens in the Clairvoyant but the rest of the song is good enough to save it from being the biggest clunker on the album like Madness is.
If you like Iron Maiden you're more than likely to enjoy this album, and the title track is reason enough to own it. While this album isn't quite the masterpiece its hailed to be, it is the last of the classic Maiden albums so have yourself a listen and pretend that the band didn't release the heaping pile of shit that is No Prayer for the Dying 2 years later...
This is by far the greatest album ever recorded. The production is tight - every instrument has its place in the mix - and the songwriting is top-notch. There are no wasted riffs or shredding solos for the sake of shredding solos (the 5 minute instrumental section of the title track is totally melodic and well-composed...you could probably hum it note for note after 2 or 3 listens).
The most apparent thing about this album is that Maiden went full-bore into Synthland after a dabbling on their previous album (Somewhere In Time, for those whom have never listened to a note of metal...). Moonchild opens with a soft acoustic passage into a guitar synth riff before the guitars come crashing in and own everything in sight.
Infinite Dreams is the most perfect metal ballad ever; emotive verses give way to a crushing middle section. Can I Play With Madness is actually a fun rocker with more prominent synth parts. The Evil That Men Do is the clear winner of Side A with an incredible riff set and one of Adrian Smith's finest solos.
Side B, starting with the title track, is the "concept portion" of the album, with each song going from the birth of the Prophet, his prediction, his being cast out, and his death. The Prophecy is the weakest song on the album, but the classical guitars at the fadeout are an awesome lead in to the bass intro of The Clairvoyant. Only The Good Die Young is the most underrated song from the "classic" era of Maiden (and easily the best song never played live), and is awesome speed metal (with a nifty little bass solo, and one of the greatest Maiden lyrics ever: "So, until the next time, HAVE A GOOD SIN!"), ending with a reprise of the intro to Moonchild.
The title track deserves special mention...it's a masterpiece of heavy metal, and what every prog and power metal band aspires to write. It's heavy, melodic, the keyboard use is perfect, and the overall vibe of the first half is epically foreboding to the rest of the album. The instrumental part is simply amazing. Even the riffs under the solos are incredible! The harmony portion that concludes the song is one of Maiden's finest moments as a band.
This is definitely an album that everyone should own, even if the album cover makes no freakin' sense.
The title to Iron Maiden's 7th album functions on a great many levels. One of these was obvious if you'd been following the band, but it's also a partial concept album which centers on the hereditary mystique of the number seven, in both folklore and theological history. Ever a fan of science fiction and fantasy in their lyrics, it should come as no surprise that the conceptual sequence of tracks here are also drawn from a worthy source, The Tales of Alvin Maker by controversial writer Orson Scott Card (there was a recent debacle within liberal/PC circles over Card's indirect involvement in the video game Shadow Complex...I wonder if, by extension, those same people would suddenly put a boycott up on Maiden album due to Card's active and open opposition to homosexuality.) But I also like to think of the album in a sequential sense. We've already explored The Number of the Beast, 666, (and also a science fiction novel), so why not venture out to visit its nearest mystical neighbor?
There are several other distinctions important to this record. For one, I would consider it the most 'eighties' of their efforts, if only for the increased presence of synthesizers ala Adrian Smith and Steve Harris. It's not as if the concept was completely alien to metal or hard rock bands of the 80s, but here on Seventh Son of a Seventh Son it manifests itself like so many other commercial sounds of 80s rock...bands like Asia, Rush and Foreigner all came to mind as I was listening through the album, though to be fair, the rest of the package is entirely loyal to Maiden's previous (and in my opinion, career crowning) efforts Powerslave and Somewhere in Time. In fact, songs like "Heaven Can Wait" and "Wasted Years" are a good jumping off point for this newer material, because I can't think of a single song on this album that doesn't capitalize on some grand melody.
The increased use of synths creates an interesting dynamic here, for while Harris' bass is as plunky (perhaps too plunky) as ever, the guitars and keys are forced to complement one another within the highly melodic atmosphere. For this reason, I'd consider it one of the 'least heavy' of Maiden's efforts, but that's not really a major issue, since the music generally delivers the goods. Of course, coming after a masterpiece like Somewhere in Time, there is bound to be some disappointment. Here it's just that I felt a few of the songs were lacking, with some less than spectacular, phoned in lead work. But Dickinson compensates with a full force performance, both manic and melodic. Believe it or not though, this is the first album where I can remember feeling that Maiden were becoming 'old'. Not in a bad way, mind ye, but when you had bands like Helloween or Fates Warning taking this newly defined 'power metal' to new speeds and energetic heights unheard of by the originators (Maiden, Priest, Accept, and Dio-era Sabbath), it was growing increasingly hard to think of Maiden on the precipice where they once sat proudly. But with this aging has come acceptance.
"Moonchild" is the first track, and the first in the 'conceptual' sequence of the album (along with "Infinite Dreams", "Infinite Dreams", the title track, "The Prophecy" and "The Clairvoyant"). the track opens with a brief and somber vocal passage, before opening into the full synthesizer spread that half made me feel like I was about to enter a new Boston album. But the verse quickly alters that perception, through its driving bass, and a powerful, graceful and haunting chorus that succeeds not only for the vocal melody, but the guitars that gleam below. "Infinite Dreams" threw me for a loop, with a long sequence of clean, flowing guitars that are played in a pseudo-funk phrasing not unlike some of the more balladic Red Hot Chili Peppers tracks of the early 90s (course, Maiden did it first). However, it does erupt into some slower paced, proggish metal with synthesizers scintillating above the steady chords. "Can I Play With Madness?" made for an obvious first single, due to the unforgettable NWOBHM thunder submerged beneath the verse, and Dickinson's chorus which sails among the eagles. Considering the subject matter here, the song is strangely uplifting... "The Evil That Men Do" was the other obvious single, a little more serious perhaps, but with another of those unforgettable chorus hooks that has never eluded me to this day.
Iron Maiden is of course no stranger to the 'epic' length track, but "Seventh Son...", for all its charm, is unfortunately no "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" or "Alexander the Great". There are a lot of great little jamming hooks dispersed throughout the track, and the actual verse and bad ass chorus elements reminded me of the power of a "Powerslave", but I didn't care for the leads here, and perhaps 2-3 minutes could have been clipped off to positive effect. Not bad, just not entirely consistent to these ears. "The Prophecy" has a beautiful, tranquil intro which erupts into an excellent dual melody which reminds me a little of some of the riffing on Running Wild's Port Royal, a personal favorite from the same year. This is another of the album's better tracks, and I adored the vocals. "The Clairvoyant" has a nice subtle grace to the verse, where the synth and guitars both shine, but outside of this it's not a favorite. "Only the Good Die Young" has a nice "Trooper"-like foundation of pumping bass triplets adorned in harmonic gloss, again it's not one of their best tracks but it works.
Perhaps one might serve up Seventh Son of a Seventh Son as Maiden's most 'progressive' work (at least until the mediocre Dance of Death), and would be difficult to disagree, because there is certainly that atmosphere being painted across its vaulted, melodic spires. This album concludes what I consider to be the Golden Age of Maiden (1982-1988), though I don't really think of it on the same level as any of the previous four records. It's very well written, and several of its tracks have deservedly found their way into the fans' hearts and the band's set list, but it was the first Maiden album that wouldn't make my short list for the years' end. Granted, 1988 was an astounding year for evolution across numerous metal genres, with more breakthroughs than a science fair, but its kind of sombering to find the Irons absent from where they once reigned.
This album came out after a disappointing (at least in my opinion) release. Somewhere in Time was nothing compared to Powerslave; there are, of course, some good songs there, like the title track and the fantastic Alexander the Great, but all the others were just average and even weak. Seventh Son isn't nowhere near the brilliance and quality of Powerlave but is, undoubtedly, a big improvement over its predecessor. Actually, this record probably is the only good album that Maiden released from 1988 to 1999.
First of all, (almost!) every song of the album share the same concept and that really shows the progressive influences of the band, since the composition of concept albums is a common thing within the progressive circles. On one hand, the concept is strange: it apparently speaks about a prophet that tries to warn a village about a disaster that will happen there, in the future. On other hand, some songs don't seem to clearly follow that concept, but one thing is certain: the meaning of life and God are two subjects present on every tune of the record, no exceptions. So, while all the tracks may not follow the concept and the storyline, those two subjects are always present. This was quite a revolutionary step for Iron Maiden, as they've never something similar before.
The songwriting is what shines the most on the album. This english act always crafted fine heavy metal songs and this record is an example of the way they've improved on this field over the years. From the interesting breaks and sections of Infinite Dreams, to the gorgeous solo section of the title track, everything is very well composed and almost every song has an interesting musical/lyrical hook. Harris is the main songwriter of the band, and this album proves it again: he wrote (or co-wrote) every song but Moonchild. That one was penned by Smith and Dickison. Murray has also writing credits on The Prophecy, I think. Another important component of Seventh Son is the stellar drumming. When reviewing an Iron Maiden album, people always say things like “the guitars rule” and “the bass is excellent” and so on. Nicko McBrain doesn't get half of the praise he deserves really. He's not a flashy drummer at all; he doens't play the most technical beats or the fastest fills, but he plays with feeling and his versatility is enormous. Generally, he plays simple beats but he's always adding something new when one isn't expecting; his performance on the title track is an example, with the constant use of the toms. Finally, the use of synth is also worth mentioning, giving a nice touch to the whole atmosphere of the album, especially on the quieter parts (middle section of the title track; Infinite Dreams)
The production is very clean too, there are some people that even said that the production is TOO clean, but I don't agree with that statement. In fact, the production is one thousand times better than the one on Somewhere in Time, so this album shows a vast improvement. The bass is also very audible and that's another reason to give it a high score. Good work, Martin Birch.
The main highlight of the album is obviously the amazing title track, clocking in at around nine minutes. Following the path of Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Alexander, the Great, this song is yet another remarkable example of the progressive rock influences carried by Iron Maiden. While Rime was longer, I can assure you that Seventh Son is much better developed and probably the most progressive song this act ever composed. The first minutes are dominated by the heavy instrumentation and by the strong vocals of Bruce Dickinson (try not to sing along with that hooky chorus!). However, the best part of the song is the last one, hands down. After that somber breakdown (extremely reminiscent of the middle part of Rime, truth must be told), the guitar solos kick in and oh my God, those guys are on fire! Really, those solos are just jaw-dropping, long yet catchy, always accompanied by proper drumming and the atmospheric synth. Infinite Dreams comes next as the second best song, probably being the best ballad ever done by this act. Emotional and complex, excellent stuff!
On other hand, there are a couple of not-so-good songs here, unfortunately. The Prophecy is very forgettable and, okay, even boring (I love the acoustic outro, though). Can I Play With Madness? Is one of the most commercial Iron Maiden tunes and while being quite fun to listen to during the first couple of times, it gets old VERY quick. And finally, the last stinker: The Evil that Men Do!! Oh yes, how the hell is this song considered a classic? Whiny lyrics, very poor guitar work, annoying chorus... yes, it's that bad! One of the most overrated heavy metal pieces, really.
So, at the end of the day this is a pretty solid and varied album, but unfortunately there are two or three weak songs that really bring it down. If you want the best Maiden album, go for Powerslave instead of this one. Don't get me wrong though, look at the rating, Seventh Son is still a classic, but Powerslave is much more consistent and sounds better as a whole.
Best moments of the CD:
-beginning of Infinite Dreams;
-the whole solo section of the title track.
Now here’s a Maiden album that is way up there with Powerslave and Number Of The Beast. This album once again was a step forward in terms of production but the lyrics were also a lot better than on the previous “Somewhere in Time” album. On this album Dickinson and Murray provided some material again, making this album slightly more varied than SIT already was.
I will continue this review by immediately pointing out an underrated all time Maiden classic. We’re talking “The Prophecy” here, a Murray-Harris tune. The song has some similarities with the earlier Still Life (Piece Of Mind, 1983) but is an improved version of the concept. The melodies on this song are some of the best on this album and the song as a whole an a pinnacle of heavy metal beauty. This is a song I have always found to be worthy of being in the regular live set and should be on every compilation. Yes, I feel that strong about this song. The best song with Murray in the credits.
Another personal fave (and fortunately also a general fan-fave) is opener “Moonchild” which probably is the heaviest and fastest song Smith and Dickinson wrote together for Maiden. This song is worthy of the Aces High-The Trooper legacy and the ultimate opener on the album.
I had some troubles with “Infinite Dreams” over the years because of the slick guitars on the intro and the feeling this song was too much of a third version of Remember Tomorrow and Revelations. The song however grew on me over the years and has become a timeless classic power ballad because of the brilliant way the vocal lines progress and the easiness of the time changes throughout the song.
The epic master piece, the title track, has a lot of similarities with Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. The song is somewhat slower and darker but also has a lengthy laid back middle section with an eerie atmosphere and spoken words. Apart from that comparison the song is brilliant with an excelling Dickinson on vocals and great use of keyboards without getting cheesy.
“The Evil That Men Do” and “The Clairvoyant” are two singles that are catchy but never cheesy. They are two compact songs from which the first is based more around riffs and the second about on. On both songs Dickinson gives an outstanding performance. “Only the Good Die Young” could have easily have been a single as well, balancing between the speed and heaviness of Moonchild and the catchiness of The Evil That Men Do the song is another hidden gem on the album.
Leaves us with ‘that’ song. The very commercial sounding and over-catchy “Can I Play With Madness”. This song couldn’t have come as a surprise since it only takes the success formula of “Wasted Years” a step further. It is a metalized rock song with catchy chorus and flashy guitars but mostly it is a good Maiden song.
So you see, there are no bad songs here, making this one of the best Maiden albums ever. Also the artwork was sheer beauty (even though it featured Eddie). The colours, the concept. And once again a broader sound.
After the innovative "Somewhere in Time" album, Iron Maiden decided to broaden their sound and replaced the synths with keyboards this time around, and thus created the masterpiece known as "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son"
A significant difference between this album and "Somewhere in Time" is that Maiden returned to their roots, albeit in a different way. Whereas the lyrics to the vast majority of songs on "Somewhere in Time" were based on the concept of time and living your life to the fullest etc., the lyrics to the songs on this album is the kind of lyrics Maiden are most known for; namely mystical things, mythology and almost horror film oriented lyrics
And also, whereas "Somewhere in Time" had quite a light and somewhat "happy" power metal sound, this album's sound is a unique blend of power metal and a light shade of doom metal. This is most noticeable on the opening track "Moonchild" which is fairly dark but at the same time kind of light
The other two changes is the production and the contributions of Bruce Dickinson. The production isn't as 80s sounding as "Somewhere in Time" was. There isn't as much reverb and Nicko's drums has a more natural sound, although I miss his monumental drum sound on "Somewhere in Time"! And the contributions from Bruce really helps this album in gaining a larger diversity than "Somewhere in Time" had
The album starts with "Moonchild", which, as I said before, is a wonderful and unique blend of power metal and doom metal of a lighter shade. The keyboard riff is the younger cousin of the synth riff from "Caught Somewhere in Time", only that the keyboard riff sets the mood a little better, I think. Bruce's vocals range from soft to harsh only to go totally insane in places! Steve's bass is clanky as usual, and Dave Murray and Adrian Smith pump out catchy riffs and kick ass solos as usual
"Infinite Dreams" is the ballad of this album, only that this ballad is darker than most metal ballads. It almost sounds like the guys were on acid (LSD) when they wrote the intro! The song is quite progressive in structure and it contains some twists and turns at places. Of particular notice in this song is Steve's unusually up front bass which has an almost symphonic quality to it. But I guess that's because he used a bass synth. And don't miss the outro sound which almost sounds like a church organ!
"Can I Play with Madness" is the younger cousin of "Wasted Years", and it's one of Maiden's most commercial songs to date. If I had to pick one song from this album that I like less than the others, then this would be that song. But it's still kick ass IMO. The chorus is catchy and Adrian's guitar solo almost sounds like something Led Zeppelin would have done
"The Evil That Men Do" is another quite commercial but still kick ass song. The chorus is once again catchy, as is Adrian's solo
The title track is one of the most epic songs Maiden have done. And just like with "Moonchild", this is another superb blend of power metal and doom metal. With the exception that the doom sound is more prominent and less light this time around. This song could almost be the ceremonial song in a Black Mass congregation! The spoken part only enhances the song, and the instrumental section near the end is brilliant
"The Prophecy" is the album's most depressive song, and the doom element is once again prominent. And exactly as in "Moonchild", Bruce's vocals range from going insane to being quite depressive. Another unique thing about this song is that the chorus has vocal layers, and at times it almost sounds like Bruce is growling! The acoustic flamenco-sounding outro is another highlight! Simply stunning and absolutely beautiful!
"The Clairvoyant" is one of the lighter songs on this album, which might be explained by the fact that it was the third single released from this album. The verses are quite sad whereas the chorus is quite happy, which creates an interesting mix between sadness and happiness. It's sad that Adrian's solo is too short, because it's great IMO
And then the album ends with "Only the Good Die Young". The title of this song is very clever, and you only have to look at history to see that this statement is indeed often correct. This song is another quite depressive song with pessimistic lyrics. The chorus is catchy as hell, not to mention Adrian's solo which sounds like a tribute to the classic piece "Flight of the Bumblebee" (which Joey DeMaio from Manowar also covered...on his bass!)!
The song closes with the same verse that was enounciated in the intro of "Moonchild", and thus closes the circle nicely
This is an album that I definitely recommend to fans of power metal, and also to fans of doom metal. But this album only has light shades of doom, so don't expect something that is "Bewiiiiiitcheeed!"
Iron Maiden is known mostly for their 80's material which produced a range of classic songs from the rocking Killers to the epic Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but for some reason Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is lumped in with the six albums before it despite being neither rocking or epic in even the slightest sense. Most people would consider it a twin to the synth-laden Somewhere in Time, when in reality it's the easy going songs of No Prayer for the Dying or Fear of the Dark with some poor keyboard work tossed onto it. You say one of their best? I say second worst, beaten in level of lameness only by the laughable Virtual XI.
The album opens with Moonchild, one of my least favorites ever released by the band. It all starts with a boring little poem after which comes a horrible keyboard intro, which is just the same few notes repeated over and over with some very out of place heavy guitar parts played over it. Inspired by the intro to Metallica's Battery undoubtedly, but it doesn't carry a hundredth of the power. It's not just the intro that sucks; the bulk of the song manages to be even worse. Bruce is singing much heavier than normal but tries too hard, once again like he wants the song to be a wannabe Battery. You'd expect at least decent some riffage for a song like Moonchild, but all you get is a quiet quasi-acoustic melody played quickly. The song is just completely disjointed and doesn't know what it wants to be. It finishes with the lame keyboard intro played again, only this time with nausea causing screams added on by Bruce.
Thankfully after that shitfest the album takes a positive turn with Infinite Dreams. The intro is very melodic and very captivating and completely holds me for the first couple minutes. What happens next? All of the sudden the verses become anthemic with sugar-sweet keyboards layered on, like Iron Maiden adopted the bastard child of Asia after being raped by Dio. The scream leading to the solos gives a much needed break of heaviness to the song, but it ends with more uninspired keyboard-laden ballady garbage. Can I Play With Madness is next in line, a short power pop rock track that should have been released by an 80's radio band, not Iron Maiden.
The Evil That Men Do is yet another poppy and accessible song, but was probably written to attract the opposite sex and not mainstream success. From the groovy to the sappy loved-up lyrics (I would bleed for her, if I could only see her now) to the melodramatic prechorus this song is groupie bait. Already three out of four songs on the album show clear pop influenced and while that stops with the title track, the pain does not stop. The beginning is just as majestic as you'd expect an Iron Maiden epic to be, with their famous guitar gallop to a great performance by Nicko and Bruce singingly clearly and operatically. Unfortunately any hopes of another classic epic like those before it are crushed with the absolutely horrible chorus. As if repeating a song's title with a title like "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" isn't annoying enough, it's repeated eight times and without any sense of melody at all. The song follows on for a bit longer and up comes a quiet interlude. Unlike the one in Rime of the Ancient Mariner, it serves absolutely no point aside to pad the song into the nine minute region and to tell a little bit more about a vapid story regarding a generic kid who unlocks his true potential, tries to save the world, and such. On an upside the instrumental section at the end does slay, being three minutes of pure metal guitar soloing.
The remaining three songs hardly even deserve special mention, since they aren't really remarkable in any way at all. You are treated to some beautiful melodies courtesy of Dave in The Prophecy, but the self-backing vocals in the chorus are so ridiculous it sounds like it could have been inspired by the "No, no, no! No fucking lies!" from Anthrax's Efilnikufesin. The Clairvoyant gives you a lovely start that builds up perfectly with a great bass intro, then riff, then melody but falls apart when the rest of the song is just more of the same dark melodic garbage, and the same exact thing happens all over again with Only the Good Die Young.
What's really sad is the fact that they chose to close the album with it. When the four previous albums all closed with grandiose epics, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son closed with a four minute second-rate rocker. Then the band decides to wrap it all up with a wanky balls out part. While that works for silly but fun rockers like Die With Your Boots On, it does not when we are talking about closing an entire album, and especially not when you extend it to a ridiculous thirty plus seconds.
Overall what you have is an album that goes in a dozen different directions, a couple of which took the correct path, but most just drove the album straight off a cliff. Dave's guitar work is brilliant here and Nicko is pretty much at the top of his game as well, but the rest of the band was unfocused. Martin Birch could have done better as well; the guitars are too light, the keyboards too prominent, and the album as a whole too soft. Never before has a band taken such a sharp fall from one album to the next.
Iron Maiden was in a very successfull point of their career back in the 80's. Their best works are from that era, with world tours year after year. After that heavy metal bible, "The Number of the Beast", Maiden started to develop a new kind of sound, wich will known in the future as the 'Maiden' sound, a sound that made them unique and the best band of metal music. That sound is very progressive, and also with some power metal ingredients, something like Rainbow. In "Piece of Mind" and "Powerslave" those changes appear, and with "Somewhere in Time" it's clear that Maiden changed their way of making metal. "SIT" and also Judas Priest's "Turbo" were rejected by metalheads back those days, because those records were 'softer', because they used too many synths and keyboards. So everyone was expectant, waiting to hear if Maiden would improve after the 'failure' that "SIT" represented.
The result is "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Every second of this album is perfect. That's the word: perfect. Everything here is right, everything is well done. Even the 'pop' song "Can I Play With Madness" is great. This is the peak of Maiden, a peak that only will be reached with "A Matter of Life and Death". Bruce Dickinson starts to sing great, with a cleaner and versatile voice. Murray's and Smith's guitar playing, as great as always, like the rest of the band, completed by the classic Steve Harris' 'galloping' bass playing, and the great Nicko McBrain's drumplaying. The whole band is great, and the change of a single element changes the sound completely... just listen "No Prayer for the Dying" or "Virtual XI".
Another great point is composition. Harris can write heavy metal anthems so easily that scares. And Smith's hand on composing is also outstanding, Maiden has a different level, a different maturity degree in their music when Adrian is present.
"Moonchild" opens the album. It starts with acoustic guitars and soft singing. Then, a synth part, that cuts dramatically into a fast rhythm, the first show of the 'progressive' elements of the album. The lyrics are good, the 'Lucifer's my name!!!' scream is fucking great. After this track, we have a beautiful ballad, "Infinite Dreams". Again, the rhythm changes are excellent, from soft and slow electric guitars to fast solos. "Can I Play With Madness" is conflictive. Back in the 80's, it was considered as 'pop', but it's very catchy and funny, and nowadays, this song is a classic. "The Evil That Men Do" is the perfect Maiden anthem. It follows the typical structure of a single, and has a goddamn catchy chorus. You just sing 'the evil that men do goes on and oooooon', all day long.
The title track is perfect. As simple as that. Those atmospheres, those rhythm changes, those choruses at the start... and Dickinson saying 'so it shall be written, so it shall be done...' it's another Maiden classic. The solos at the end are great. Next, we have "The Prophecy". The rhytm is catchy, more galloping metal, but a little slowler. Man, those acoustic guitars at the end of the song... I bow down to those guitars, after the loud part, represented by the 'metal' instruments (the electric guitars, the bass guitars and drums) comes that calmed part, closing the song. "The Clairvoyant" is another Maiden classic, featuring more galloping metal, with a great bass intro by Harris. Lyrics again are great, in my opinion, the best lyrics of the album. Finally, "Only the Good Die Young" closes the album, with more catchy choruses and an outstanding ending, with the same formula of "The Prophecy", after the loud ending, the acoustic guitars with soft singing, the same guitars and singing than in the beginning of the album.
This is a mandatory album, as simple as that. You must own it if you consider a true metalhead. Yes, it's progressive, but not the same as Dream Theather, this 'progressive' metal is much better played. Buy this one and bow down to the best Iron Maiden album of all time so far (and probably, the best metal album too).
Following the amazing and still easily accessible "Somewhere in Time", the British quintet that helped usher in the greatest decade for music, known as Iron Maiden, entered the studio to deliver yet another stellar release. We have it all on here: amazing guitar solos, dramatic vocals, atmospheric keyboard lines, complex bass lines, bombastic drum beats, and some of the greatest songs ever put forth by member of the NWOBHM. This is the album that more recent acts such as Avantasia, Iron Savior, Gamma Ray, and Dragonforce look to when trying to create something that transcends the basic formula that defines metal.
Like many individual tracks off of previous albums, Maiden has crafted a concept album based off of a famous work of literature. I myself am not familiar with the novel myself, but the storyline depicted in the lyrics is easy to follow, and mostly deals with a character who possesses unique powers due to the nature of his birth. Historically there are certain places in Europe where people believed that a seventh son of a seventh son would be born a vampire, and that could well have been the inspiration for the original story. The character tries to utilize his gifts for the good of the world, despite the inner conflicts depicted in several songs, but ultimately comes into conflict with the people he's trying to save.
Musically this album is fairly far removed from anything Maiden has ever done before and would later do in subsequent releases. It contains the dense atmosphere the dominates all of the newer albums both with Blaze Bayley and with Bruce back in the fold, as well as the hard edged sound that is found on the earlier releases with Bruce leading the charge. It also contains some rather interesting studio effects, such as the dialogue-like interplay between vocal tracks on "The Prophecy", and the echoing sound of the guitars in the quiet section of the title track.
Adrian Smith and Dave Murray both shine consistently throughout this album as songwriters and players. Murray's rather inspired compositional collaboration with Steve Harris, "The Prophecy", is loaded with catchy yet highly varied themes and contrasting sections. The syllabic and charming acoustic outro to the song is highly reminiscent of the one found on Black Sabbath's classic song "Heaven and Hell". "The Evil that Men Do" is easily the most accessible and well known Maiden track on this album, and highlights Adrian Smith's unrelenting ability to pump out classic tracks that standout amongst other, equally gripping songs. As far as lead work goes, "Moonchild" and "Infinite Dreams" are loaded with excellent solos, but the true magnum opus in this department is the title track. It is interesting to note that the song structure of "Hanger 18" by MegaDeth is highly similar to this song, both in terms of guitar solo sections and overall feel.
Steve Harris has the lion's share of compositional duties on this album, as has always been the case, but on this album his talents are a bit more focused as he is writing songs for a single concept. "Moonchild", "Infinite Dreams", the title track, "The Clairvoyant" and "Only the Good Die Young" all contain a common spirit that links them together, yet individually they stand quite well. As far as bass duties go, his work on "Infinite Dreams" and "The Clairvoyant" are noteworthy, though his best technical display is the brief bass solo in the middle section of "Only the Good Die Young".
Bruce Dickinson's voice is amazing on here, although at times it is a tiny bit overdone, particularly on certain parts of "Moonchild" and "Infinite Dreams". But his overall performance is highly dynamic, ranging from straight-forward operatic singing, to a spoken narrative on the title track. If I had to pick a stand out vocal performance on here, it would be a toss up between "The Clairyovant" and the title track.
There is only one actual flaw on this album, and it is to be found on the one song that I have yet to mention, "Can I Play with Madness". Although it is a decent song that could be described as a shorter version of "Heaven Can Wait", the chorus is a tiny bit weak and redundant. The guitar solo and musical interludes at the song's center, in addition to some decent guitar and drum work, almost make up for this but it is still something that can not escape notice.
In conclusion, this album came about in the late 80s, at the end of Maidens high point in it's history. Sadly it would be the last album for more than 10 years without Adrian Smith, and his influence gave the band a good deal of it's strength. The sub-par "No Prayer for the Dying" underscores the impact that his playing and songwriting had on the band, and most of the better songs that have since been recorded with the fully reformed Maiden in recent years have his name on them. It comes highly recommended to fans of Power Metal, Progressive Metal, and Traditional 80s Metal. But in my personal opinion, no one who claims to be a follower of metal, in any of it's sub-genres, should make excuses for not owning it.
This is and still remains the only album to which I'd graduate a 100%. When I first heard 7th Son, I was floored by the excellence shown here. This release stands above all; it is the pinnacle of music itself. Yes, it is a concept album – although the concept is rather loosely connected. The release itself is what ‘Somewhere In Time’ could have been if you removed the accessible overtone and the cheesiness and toughened the entire thing up. In short, this album is where all loose ends in Maiden’s style were addressed – this is the perfection that Maiden were always hinting at.
The entire band delivers their best performances together on here. The synths have been pushed a bit to the background here unlike Somewhere In Time where it was in the fore. Here synths are used for atmospheric purposes. Dave and Adrian really deliver excellent solos on ‘Moonchild’ or ‘Infinite Dreams’. The solos are amazing to the core, they are very expressive and atmospheric – despite the title track having a five minute plus instrumental passage, there’s absolutely no overdone soloing here unlike the several prog bands out there beating away at their instruments without making much sense. Bruce is absolutely amazing on ‘Infinite Dreams’ and delivers outstanding performances on the rest of the album as well, truly sounding desperate on ‘The Clairvoyant’ or determined and defiant on ‘Can I Play With Madness’ or vengeful on ‘Only The Good Die Young’. He delivers a variety of emotions coinciding with the concept all through the album. Nicko does his best job so far on drums, providing excellent backing to the guitars. Harris does a great job on bass here (esp. on the intro of The Calirvoyant) and played a key role in the writing of this album.
‘Moonchild’ starts off the album excellently. This I believe is a commentary of Lucifer on the birth of the prophet. It starts off with a soft acoustic intro which repeats itself at the end of the album. Right away, one is floored by the atmosphere, the pure emotion and the musical value shown here. ‘Infinite Dreams’ is undoubtedly the best ballad ever. Bruce delivers an excellent performance mirroring the insecurity and desperation of the prophet at this stage. Some mind-blowing guitar too to be found on this track. ‘Can I Play With Madness’ is a rather controversial one. People generally hate it because it was a hit. Not every hit sucks and Maiden have sufficiently proved that with a string of hits such as ‘Stranger In A Strange Land’ and ‘The Number Of The Beast’. Also, the song is goddamned catchy with an up-beat defiant and altogether stunning vocal performance by Bruce. Its bluesy solo is just 3 seconds long and still manages to rule. As such, people who call it ‘Can I Play with Shittiness’ are nothing but retards of the worst order. ‘The Evil That Men Do’ is probably Maiden’s catchiest song ever, it totally stomps over with an amazing vocal performance by Bruce and an anthemic pre-chorus and overwhelmingly excellent chorus along with that excellent, expressive solo thrown in midway. It deserves its place of recognition among Maiden fans. The title track follows and is the longest track on the album with a massive 5 minute plus instrumental passage thrown in. The entire thing bleeds atmosphere and artistic expression. This one qualifies as Maiden’s best title track, even better than ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and ‘Powerslave’ which is an amazing feat. No overkill on soloing in the five minute passage either, this is one of those qualities which makes a band like Maiden so damned great. ‘The Prophecy’ starts off with an amazing intro and an excellent rather off-beat riff follows it. The most noticeable thing here is Bruce’s vocal performance, which is nearly paranoid. The fadeout close too is awesome. Then, we get to ‘The Clairvoyant’ which ahs an amazing bass intro. Bruce really gives an amazing vocal performance here mirroring the desperation of the Prophet at the time. The solo too is damned amazing. The lyrics are powerful, very powerful. The atmosphere around the thing and the aforementioned factors make this a strong contender for the best song on this album (which is a bloody tough feat). Who can deny the amazing lyrical quality of lines like – ‘There’s a time to live, and a time to die. A time to meet the maker. There’s a time to live, but isn’t it strange? As soon as you’re born – you’re dying!’ or ‘But for all his power, couldn’t forsee his own demise!’. Excellent stuff, the stuff that separates Maiden from the rest of the other legendary metal bands out there and puts them at the top. ‘Only The Good Die Young’ is an addictive end to the album. The chorus is absolutely legendary in its excellence. The lyrics here are vengeful and excellent. Excellent lines like – ‘Only the good die young – all the evil seems to live forever’ are littered through the thing. Bruce delivers an excellent vocal performance here. The soloing and melodies here too, are very tasteful. The song closes with a frenzy of guitaring and drumming while the album closes with the acoustic passage that began it. And thus ends, metals best album ever.
On the whole, really what can be said? The thing has to be heard for it to be believed. The scope of the thing is immense and the entire album just bleeds atmosphere in its purest form. Never have I heard any album so tasteful, so atmospheric, with such emotion as is tailored to the concept, with such expressive guitars….with such perfection. Maiden have accomplished something that is an impossible feat for the rest. This is the best metal album ever and in all probability, it cannot be surpassed. How unfortunate that after this pinnacle Maiden was to discontinue this sound and change their style to a bland, watered down Killers style on ‘No Prayer For The Dying’. But then again, after the peak – there remain only slopes. Maiden, sadly slid down the slope rather fast!
I know I may have given all my Maiden reviews 100% before (which is why I think my last one was rejected) but I really think that if only 1 Maiden album could get 100% it would without any doubt at all be Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. An absolute masterpiece from beginning to end, I will go through all the tracks and my opinions of them in order.
Moonchild: An amazing introduction song, and my favourite on the album, the "7 deadly sins..." part followed by the synth intro is a great indication of the great song and album to follow.The lyrics are based on the "Liber Samekh" ritual supposedly used by The Beast to attain knowledge for it's holy guardian, a very fitting subject for the band that wrote Number Of The Beast! Moonchild is a great indication that the Bruce\ Adrian team that wrote 2 Minutes To Midnight didn't just stop there.
Infinite Dreams: Continuing the mystical theme of prophecies and visions of the album, Infinite Dreams is about a person who is trapped inside tormenting dreams every time they fall asleep, and is now afraid to fall asleep at all. There is also the question of what happens after death, and the possibility of reincarnation. The last single to be released, Infinite Dreams reached number 6 in the charts, at the same time as Maiden England was released at number 1.
Can I Play With Madness: A short song, and the debut single from the album, it is one of the least popular on the album, but strangely enough had the highest chart position, at number 3. It sounds very optimistic, like the later song Wildest Dreams, but the lyrics are about someone who goes to a prophet to learn the future, and finds that his "souls gonna burn in a lake of fire" which doesn't really fit with the optimism the music conveys. A video was also released, featuring a teacher, who after offending Eddie by confiscating a Maiden magazine from a pupil, is trapped in a labyrinth full of strange artifacts, and at the end of the song, presumably dies.
The Evil That Men Do: The 2nd single from 7th Son,reaching number 5, this is a classic Maiden song about a guy who is dismayed at slaughtering the innocence of his girlfriend, believes he is evil and is committing all sorts of rituals to try and redeem himself. A firm favourite with many, the song is classic Maiden at it's most typical.
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son:An absolute epic masterpiece, this is based on a book called 7th Son, by Orson Scott Card, and is about the abilities of prophecy supposed to be controlled by someone in the position of the title. The song also talks of the struggle between good and evil to control him (as in Moonchild, "Moonchild, you'll be mine soon child, Moonchild, take my hand tonight"), and the part his brothers play in shaping his destiny. An excellent song, this is an epic to rival Hallowed Be Thy Name and Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. Full of atmosphere as well, this is the highlight of the album.
The Prophecy: Following on from the title track, this is about what happens when the seventh son is grown up, and prophecises the destruction of his village by dark forces, but he is ignored by the villagers, who then blame him when the disaster happens. A short song, The Prophecy finishes with a fading out acoustic riff.
The Clairvoyant: Starting with a bass riff that seems to pick up from the end of The Prophecy, the Clairvoyant was the 3rd single, reaching number 6. It is a song relating to Doris Stokes, wondering if she can foresee her own death, as shown in the lines, "couldn't foresee his own demise", obviously replacing Doris Stokes with a male character but retaining the principle. The favourite song from the album live, this is still a great favourite, like Die With Your Boots On or Heaven Can Wait, as was shown on the Give Me Ed Till I'm Dead tour.
Only The Good Die Young: Concluding the album, this tells of how corrupt and sinful people are, and is given in the form of a sort of lecture, as from an angel, finishing with the lines:"So I think I'll leave you, with your visions and your guilt, and until the next time have a good sin", giving the impression that the deliverer of the speech doesn't expect the guilt to last long. Another great song with a great solo and a catchy chorus, Only The Good Die Young finishes off the album nicely, featuring the "7 deadly sins..." part again at the end, only replacing "and your trip begins" with a sinister little laugh from Bruce, indicating that you've already gone down the sinful route to hell.
An amazing album all in all, 7th Son Of A Seventh Son reached number 1, the first album to do so since, Number Of The Beast, and showed the successfulness of Maidens' experimentation with synthesisers. All the songs that weren't singles tell the story of the 7th son, and the singles are related diversions, enclosed between 2 "7 deadly sins..." parts in Moonchild and Only The Good Die Young, this album is one of Maiden's best accomplishments, as was shown by the band's invitation to Donington and the subsequent video from Birmingham NEC Maiden England.
UP THE IRONS!!!
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son seems to be the most popular of the Maiden albums. But while it certainly is a great album, I don't really feel it deserves the endless praise it gets. There are several lower points obvious on the album, although as a whole it's another Maiden classic.
The sound and songwriting continues where Somewhere in Time left off, using lots of keyboards and synthesizers, but now pretty much only for atmospheric background effects and they don't use synthesizer guitars, like they did on Somewhere in Time.
This, along with the general tone on the guitars and also Bruce's vocal performance, gives the album a somewhat sharper and heavier edge, which still blends in perfectly with the mesmerizing melodies and memorable leads that are Maiden's trademark.
The overall atmosphere is in the classic vein, mixing together epic feelings with the intensity of classic, straightforward heavy metal in a flawless combination, only this puts even more focus on the epic side on most songs, another quality comparable to Somewhere in Time.
And the songwriting is, for the most part, top-notch. We begin with one hell of a ride, as the classic acoustic intro to Moonchild starts playing. "Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win, seven holy paths to hell and your trip begins..."
Then we are led into an atmospheric, almost spacey keyboard melody before kicking into the tumbling main riff, and from there it just rocks. Catchy and memorable vocals, classic melodies, very solid bass and guitarwork, and a crazy solo.
Infinite Dreams is the first weaker point of the album in my opinion, even though most people love it. It starts as a pretty soft ballad, and then speeds up into the solo section- and the speeded up part is really good, featuring some killer soloing and leadwork. But the balladic part is just really boring. Bruce's vocals manage to suck quite badly; he just doesn't fit for that softer material. His voice has got loads of power, and here it just seems like he's trying really hard to hold back all that power, and it just doesn't work.
Can I Play With Madness is a fun, catchy and straightforward rocker which is just solid all through- except for that godawful chorus. It's just so incredibly cheesy that it makes me sick. Nonetheless, it's a pretty decent song, though nothing spectacular.
The album's real masterpiece is The Evil That Men Do. We begin with that immortal melodic intro-lead, before the intensity and power is cranked up to a 110%. Bruce's vocals shine especially much on this track, where he sounds really sinister during the verses and then he just explodes with all of his power into one of Maiden's best choruses ever.
And musically, as well, this just screams heavy fucking metal. The riffwork is awesome, blending Maiden's heavy and melodic qualities perfectly, and the lead and solo section is absolutely divine. This is by far the best song on the album...
...although the title track is no slouch either. It kicks off with a huge keyboard intro before going into the midpaced verses, which is some of the most powerful stuff the band has ever written. The chorus is somewhat repetitive, but hey, when it's this great then who's complaining?
The second half of the song is an instrumental part with the exception for a very cool spoken part. And like pretty much any instrumental section written by Iron Maiden themselves, this is some good stuff. But the fact remains that it really doesn't get anywhere for about 7 minutes into the song, which is a slight problem. But when it does get going, it's completely awesome.
The Prophecy follows it up, and it is the weakest song on the album. The opening guitar melodies try to be emotional, but fails to capture any actual emotion.
The riffwork of the song feels really watered out, and it just leaves you very unimpressed. The vocal lines as well don't do much at all for me. Overall, despite a very cool solo it stands out as one of the weakest tracks of the classic Maiden era.
But we get right back on track with The Clairvoyant. We start with a subtle yet solid bass intro, the simple but effective riff kick in, a nice melody comes, and then Nicko McBrain gets things going.
The song is very nicely constructed, with the bass, one guitar and Nicko's drumming building a solid base, and Bruce's vocals remain on top together with the second guitar throwing out a couple of cool melodic licks here and there. It's overall less straightforward and more atmospheric, yet still goes on at a quite efficient pace, and also manages to be another of my personal favourite tracks on the album.
The closing track is another fast and catchy, melodic asskicker in the vein of Moonchild or The Evil That Men Do. With galloping riffs, infectious melodies and dark, powerful and atmospheric vocal lines, Only The Good Die Young rages on, closing the album in a majestic manner with the same acoustic lines that opened it.
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is no doubt another essential record, but as several quite major flaws are evident throughout the album, it feels like it's not quite as good as it could be. Infinite Dreams, Can I Play With Madness and especially The Prophecy stand out as average or below average, and the weak spots on the album.
But otherwise, there's nothing but asskickers to be found here, with The Evil That Men Do and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son standing out as the very best ones.
After 4 great/perfect albums in a row, who would've thought Maiden could make yet another masterpiece? I don't know. All I know is that "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" is close to perfect. Everybody in the band does an excellent job, and the songs are fantastic. Let's start with the beginning...
'Moonchild' is the opener. It starts with an accoustic guitar, Bruce singing over it. Soon enough the metal kicks in. This is arguably Maiden's strongest opener ever. 'Aces High' from "Powerslave" is probably better, but not by much. There is a lot going on in this song, little details you won't notice 'till you've listened to it at least 10 times, maybe because it's quite fast, and the fastness is what you notice the first few times. The chorus is wonderful, and very catchy. I feel that this album is Maiden's most progressive, along with Brave New World, but unlike Brave New World it's still very aggressive, and this makes for a wonderful combination. 'Infinite Dreams' also begins calm, though with electric guitars. And it stays calm for quite a while. I could say that this is "Seventh Son"'s ballad song, if only for the laidback tempo, but it would still be kind of wrong. Again there's some really impressive guitar playing that you don't notice until you've heard it a lot. The lyrics are questioning whether there is an afterlife or not, interesting stuff. Some three minutes in, the song catches some speed. This section is fucking brilliant, with a great riff, and some damn good lead guitar playing. Later comes a solo, which is ,as usual for Maiden, topnotch. It slows down for the last minute, and ends with a nice Dickinson wail, of the more quiet sort.
'Can I Play With Madness' is one of the hits from the album. It's one of Maiden's shortest songs, only 3:31! It's straight to the point, with a very cool verse, and a VERY catchy chorus. The lyrics are excellent, something about a wizard, and a crystal ball. I can't explain the story, but it's cool nonetheless. 'The Evil That Men Do' is perhaps the biggest hit from "Seventh Son...". I don't remember the chart listings, but I know was popular. Again, a very catchy song all the way through. This is part of what is so great about this album. You get a few songs which are rather easy to get into, and then there's the rest, which is just as good, but takes some time getting to know. It makes for a fine balance, and lengthens the lifespan of the record. Then there is the title track. Sadly, it's the worst song on the album. It's bleedin' 9:53 minutes long, which is fine, but the first four minutes of the song is what bothers me. It's one of Maiden's few cheesy moments. It tries to be grand, but fails. The chorus goes like this: "Seventh son of a seventh son, seventh son of a seventh so-oo-on, seventh son of a seventh son" etc etc., making it too repetitive, at least when the quality of the vocal line is below par, so to speak. Well, that was the four minutes of less than great material on the record, glad to be done with it. Midway throught the song, then, it calms down, and Dickinson speak a prophecy, something about the seventh son, and this section is very cool. Nicko slowly, slowly puts more pressure on the drums, so it kind of builds up again, while the guitars in a very subtle way becomes more aggressive. And then it explodes. This section, and the wild playing that comes next, is metal made perfect! So, obviously, the song redeems itslef for the last 6 minutes.
'The Prophecy' is kind of the anonymous song on the record. It takes a few listens to appreciate its quality. It's a mid-tempo song, with a haunting chorus. While the main part of the song is undeniably great, the best part is the outro (for once!). It has this amazing accoustic guitars, which play a beautiful melody. I think they could'ce used that part to make a new song, it's that solid. But, as things are, it's a most excellent outro. Now for my favourite of them all, 'The Clairvoyant'. One word comes to mind: Godly, heavenly, perfect, fantastic. Well, that was four words, but nonetheless true. This is a really haunting and catchy song, with some excellent guitar play, perfect vocal lines, and a bass that is the be-all end-all of all bassplaying. Not much more to say about it, other than that it's simply perfect. The last song is 'Only the Good Die Young'. From the beginning it feels like it brings closure to the album and its concept, not only because it's the last song, but the way it's written. Really impressive. After people think the song has ended, and the album is done, comes the accoustic part from the beginning of the the first song. This is one of Maiden's most genious ideas ever!
So the minor stuff: The production is perfect, there are indeed synths on the album, but they're so subtle you forget about them, AND, Dickinson, while having a great voice, is beginning to rasp a little, something he would overdo on the next album. There you are. Now go buy.
This is what power metal is supposed to sound like. When you actually accent the guitar in the production, put the keyboards to tasteful use, and actually write songs instead of running off at 452 beats per minute with over-amplified double bass, just because you can.
Iron Maiden had had an amazing streak of having their shit together before this album. Piece of Mind, Powerslave, Live After Death, and Somewhere in Time are classics in their own right, but somehow on this album they managed to exceed even that.
The opening track, Moonchild, begins with a bit of an acoustic intro, which will actually be paralleled at the end of the album to kinda wrap things up. It's a concept album, you're allowed to do things like that. The song then blasts into full speed with some nicely done riffs, adding a few great solos in there. The lead guitar on this album is frankly mind-blowing. No wankery to be found here, everything has its proper place, and even the five and one half minute (!) instrumental passage in the title track is completely memorable and not at all overdone - if you hear it four or five times, you will remember it note for note.
The other highlights of this album include the awesome "Infinite Dreams", which has to be the standard by which all ballads are judged. It starts off soft, picks up in the middle, and has a great solo. Ding, we have a winner. Also, the last track, "Only the Good Die Young" is great especially for that bass intro.
But, the best song on here has to be "The Clairvoyant", just for one line.... "but for all his power, could not foresee his own demise!!!" - there's a live version out there that's a B-side on one of the singles, and is very much worth tracking down. In fact, the entire 8/20/88 Live in Donington show, or the 11/27/88 Birmingham show (which is available on the "Maiden England" video) are both worth finding, because these songs come off live absolutely fantastically.
There are no weak spots on this album - not even the controversial "Can I play with Madness", which yes, could have been a radio hit in 1988. All that means is that radio didn't completely blow donkey balls in 1988. So there. They used to play good stuff. Remember that the next time you hear "War Pigs" on your classic rock station.
The album is flawless, it is one of the best metal albums ever. Iron Maiden never had a finer moment.