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A perfect way for Maiden to end the 80's - 99%

raZe, January 15th, 2003

After 4 great/perfect albums in a row, who would've thought Maiden could make yet another masterpiece? I don't know. All I know is that "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" is close to perfect. Everybody in the band does an excellent job, and the songs are fantastic. Let's start with the beginning...

'Moonchild' is the opener. It starts with an accoustic guitar, Bruce singing over it. Soon enough the metal kicks in. This is arguably Maiden's strongest opener ever. 'Aces High' from "Powerslave" is probably better, but not by much. There is a lot going on in this song, little details you won't notice 'till you've listened to it at least 10 times, maybe because it's quite fast, and the fastness is what you notice the first few times. The chorus is wonderful, and very catchy. I feel that this album is Maiden's most progressive, along with Brave New World, but unlike Brave New World it's still very aggressive, and this makes for a wonderful combination. 'Infinite Dreams' also begins calm, though with electric guitars. And it stays calm for quite a while. I could say that this is "Seventh Son"'s ballad song, if only for the laidback tempo, but it would still be kind of wrong. Again there's some really impressive guitar playing that you don't notice until you've heard it a lot. The lyrics are questioning whether there is an afterlife or not, interesting stuff. Some three minutes in, the song catches some speed. This section is fucking brilliant, with a great riff, and some damn good lead guitar playing. Later comes a solo, which is ,as usual for Maiden, topnotch. It slows down for the last minute, and ends with a nice Dickinson wail, of the more quiet sort.

'Can I Play With Madness' is one of the hits from the album. It's one of Maiden's shortest songs, only 3:31! It's straight to the point, with a very cool verse, and a VERY catchy chorus. The lyrics are excellent, something about a wizard, and a crystal ball. I can't explain the story, but it's cool nonetheless. 'The Evil That Men Do' is perhaps the biggest hit from "Seventh Son...". I don't remember the chart listings, but I know was popular. Again, a very catchy song all the way through. This is part of what is so great about this album. You get a few songs which are rather easy to get into, and then there's the rest, which is just as good, but takes some time getting to know. It makes for a fine balance, and lengthens the lifespan of the record. Then there is the title track. Sadly, it's the worst song on the album. It's bleedin' 9:53 minutes long, which is fine, but the first four minutes of the song is what bothers me. It's one of Maiden's few cheesy moments. It tries to be grand, but fails. The chorus goes like this: "Seventh son of a seventh son, seventh son of a seventh so-oo-on, seventh son of a seventh son" etc etc., making it too repetitive, at least when the quality of the vocal line is below par, so to speak. Well, that was the four minutes of less than great material on the record, glad to be done with it. Midway throught the song, then, it calms down, and Dickinson speak a prophecy, something about the seventh son, and this section is very cool. Nicko slowly, slowly puts more pressure on the drums, so it kind of builds up again, while the guitars in a very subtle way becomes more aggressive. And then it explodes. This section, and the wild playing that comes next, is metal made perfect! So, obviously, the song redeems itslef for the last 6 minutes.

'The Prophecy' is kind of the anonymous song on the record. It takes a few listens to appreciate its quality. It's a mid-tempo song, with a haunting chorus. While the main part of the song is undeniably great, the best part is the outro (for once!). It has this amazing accoustic guitars, which play a beautiful melody. I think they could'ce used that part to make a new song, it's that solid. But, as things are, it's a most excellent outro. Now for my favourite of them all, 'The Clairvoyant'. One word comes to mind: Godly, heavenly, perfect, fantastic. Well, that was four words, but nonetheless true. This is a really haunting and catchy song, with some excellent guitar play, perfect vocal lines, and a bass that is the be-all end-all of all bassplaying. Not much more to say about it, other than that it's simply perfect. The last song is 'Only the Good Die Young'. From the beginning it feels like it brings closure to the album and its concept, not only because it's the last song, but the way it's written. Really impressive. After people think the song has ended, and the album is done, comes the accoustic part from the beginning of the the first song. This is one of Maiden's most genious ideas ever!

So the minor stuff: The production is perfect, there are indeed synths on the album, but they're so subtle you forget about them, AND, Dickinson, while having a great voice, is beginning to rasp a little, something he would overdo on the next album. There you are. Now go buy.