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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.