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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!