Seventh Album and one of the best for Iron Maiden.
The progressive metal of Iron Maiden began with “Powerslave” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” takes it to the next level with a full blown conceptual masterpiece, the best Iron Maiden album along with “Brave New World”. The songs are longer on this release with multiple time sig changes, complex arrangements and intricate guitar breaks. There is a great deal of synth passages here giving this a decidedly progressive feel. The lyrics are very much locked into the theme of apocalyptic cataclysm, thematic content of Biblical proportions; the number seven being such a pivotal number in the Bible, yet Maiden were spouting 666 in their early years.
Bruce Dickinson the ‘Air raid siren’ is at the peak of his powers here with some absolutely incredible vocal work such as ‘Moonchild’. This begins with very gentle acoustic and soft vocals until the fiend is unleashed and a breakneck speed riff blitzes along. It is complex and the rhythm is interconnected by lead guitar, McBrain’s pounding drums and a stunning bassline from Harris. The lyrics are interesting; “Seven downward slopes, Seven bloodied hopes, Seven are your burning fires, Seven your desires”. The theme is ingrained from the start.
‘Infinite Dreams’ is a slower song with dark lyrics, “Suffocation waking in a sweat, Scared to fall asleep again, In case the dream begins again, Someone chasing I cannot move, Standing rigid a nightmare's statue, What a dream when will it end, And will it transcend.”
‘Can I Play With Madness’ is one of the big songs that has featured in live performances over the years. The lyrics are as engaging as ever, “Can I play with madness? The prophet stared at his crystal ball, Can I play with madness? There's no vision there at all, Can I play with madness? The prophet looked at me and laughed at me, ha ha, He said: Can I play with madness? He said you're blind, too blind to see.” A very polished sound with pristine production provides an upbeat atmosphere, with harmonies and twin duelling guitars that are bang on note perfect.
‘The Evil That Men Do’ is another melody driven popular track that graces live sets with catchy chorus that every Iron fan knows, “Living on a razor's edge, Balancing on a ledge, Living on a razor's edge you know, you know, the evil that men do lives on and on...” The lead solo passage is virtuosic with fret melting prowess from the legendary Smith and Murray.
‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ is the tour de force of progressive classics that clocks in at virtually 10 minutes. There are a myriad of twists and turns in the musical structure from peaceful chants to majestic flourishes back to blistering pulse racing tempo metal gallops. The lyrics are powerful and epic, “Today is born the seventh one, Born of woman the seventh son, And he in turn of a seventh son, He has the power to heal, He has the gift of the second sight, He is the chosen one, So it shall be written, So it shall be done.” The instrumental break is genius featuring fractured guitar riffing and complicated drum metrical patterns.
‘The Prophecy’ features a trade off between bass and lead that drive it and it is difficult to pin down any particular melody as it is chaotic with an off kilter time sig and ethereal soft passages. The theme of prophecies and good versus evil continues, “I had their lives in my hands, Their fates their fortunes in my visions, No one believed in my true prophecy, And now it's too late.”
‘The Clairvoyant’ is one of the highlights, with a frenetic dynamic riff that begins it that every Maiden fan would instantly recognise. The emotional lyrics from Dickinson are about holding and never giving up no matter what happens, and this is sung at top volume with utter conviction; “There's a time to live and a time to die, When it's time to meet the maker, There's time to live but isn't it strange, That as soon as you're born you're dying.” This became a Maiden anthem for good reason and once again is a live favourite.
‘Only The Good Die Young’ is another popular Maiden track with speed metal licks and powerhouse vocals. It ends the album on a high note and the guitars are as awesome as ever with twin tapping and arpeggios, high string bends and speed picking; Murray and Harris are a force to be reckoned with.
The progressive style is a welcome change on this album leading to more prog metal to come and it was the only direction for Iron Maiden after they showed their versatility on previous albums, such as “Powerslave”, with the ultra brilliant masterpiece ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’, or at least glimpses of their talent such as ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’. On the next few albums the versatility and virtuoso instrumentation is taken to the highest degree. Enjoy the ride, as it does not get much better than this.