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One of the most overrated metal albums ever - 45%

HamburgerBoy, July 8th, 2007

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.