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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!"