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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.