IRON MAIDEN REVIEWS:
Iron Maiden (1980)
Album Score: 11
Yeesh, my relationship with heavy metal is pretty embarrassing. I own a fair number of metal CDs, and I appreciate them, but I very seldom ever listen to them. Yeah. It's pretty sad. I should listen to heavy metal more, especially Iron Maiden. Their music is not ugly, it's kinda intelligent and it can really cook when it wants to. Heck, I'll just go out and say it. I like Iron Maiden! I wrote an earlier draft of this review two years prior to posting it on donignacio.com and I'm pretty sure my only previous knowledge of this group came from the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure when the metalhead heroes were excited to be sentenced to the Medieval iron maiden. Today, I know their material a bit better, and I have to say that I really enjoy their albums!
Iron Maiden was released in the golden year of 1980, which was absolutely the first year of '80s heavy metal. Despite the frightening album cover, this stuff is shockingly tame especially considering I grew up with peers addicted to '90s metal who I thought were stupid. This is just guitar-oriented rock music in the spirit of heavy metal of the '70s. They're metal, but they're also accessible.
"The Phantom of the Opera" rules. I've now demoted Andrew Lloyd Webber's song as my favorite song called "The Phantom of the Opera." It's a multi-part, whopping 7-minute metal suite that's actually quite interesting. Furthermore, this band can accomplish this feat while still sounding 100 percent awesome and never, for a moment, getting cheesy or insincere.
Not quite the awesome of songs, but two very noteworthy achievements for this band is the songs "Remember Tomorrow" and "Charlotte the Harlot." Both of those songs metamorphose from heavy metal into (not quite generic) ballads. Even then this band doesn't sound cheesy. And the metamorphosis between the two starkly different styles is flawless. Now, that's worth taking with you! Two other points of interest are "Sanctuary" and "Running Free." "Sanctuary" is a certifiable PUNK song, and "Running Free" can be classified as new wave (though also with strong metal leanings). Very interesting debut, and I must say with much happiness that right away Iron Maiden doesn't fit with the stereotypical view of a heavy metal group.
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Album Score: 10
I'm going to reiterate my biggest fears toward reviewing Iron Maiden: I feel out-of-my-element. That's good, in a way, since reviewing an album is the best possible way for me to get in-my-element. ... But then again, doing that is not going to gain any friends from metal-heads. In other words, all I can do is tell you what I think, and that's from the point of view of a non-metal-head. The best I can do.
Killers is much more along the lines of regular heavy metal, which their debut album was not. I badly miss that diversity, but you gotta expect that Iron Maiden, one of the most famous metal bands ever, will eventually make bona fide metal albums! Well, I can tell ya that this is a good one, full of intelligent ideas, impressive instrumental virtuosity and plenty of exciting moments. It has a number of flaws, though, one of the main ones being that the melodies aren't always too good ... and a few of the tracks don't seem entirely together. But even within my limited expertise, I can say with a strong degree of confidence that in all the world's heavy metal albums, this is one of the better ones. How can I say that? I enjoyed listening to it! That's why! Iron Maiden's claim to fame was that they were a serious metal band, and weren't about to succumb to the trash and cheese that these “hair bands” were giving the world in droves. These guys concentrated on the music, wrote plenty of complicated riffs and played the best that they could possibly play. The one song that this really came together for them and managed to even impress me was “Another Life.” That's an utterly phenomenal work with pounding drums and these beautiful electric guitar duets. That's even an interesting song just to listen hear develop. Textures are changing around constantly, and there's not even one single moment that doesn't seem fresh. Even that bombastic ending, while I've heard that sort of thing before, is great. I love that one.
Surprisingly, “Wrathchild” isn't too far behind that one in sheer quality. You can also hear these duets a little bit there! Those pounding, rolling riffs are the real stars of that show. We can also take a moment and appreciate those wonderfully evil vocals. He can roll them off with an evil growl that only gifted people like Alice Cooper can match. “Killers” is a well-done song with a smart introduction and, after awhile, some really tight and exciting riffs. “Drifter” is the album closer, and it's a fitting one with crisp instrumentation and more exciting riffs. (Did I mention that this album lacks diversity? It could be the fact that I'm admittedly ill-tuned to heavy metal, but ........ I doubt it. This album lacks diversity.)
The one attempt they made to write a ballad really fell flat, though, so maybe not being diverse was the best thing for them. “Prodigal Son” lacks a melody when that's what it needed the most. And I get the impression that they weren't too sure what they wanted to accomplish with that. It's too fast-paced to be a real ballad and it's too tame to be good heavy metal. ...The songs I didn't mention are more heavy metal songs, except lesser than the ones mentioned in the previous paragraph. ...And I fear I had a lack of words to properly describe those. To close, I'll repeat once again that I enjoyed listening to this album. Iron Maiden are a respectable band who were masters at their trade. I enjoyed listening to it, so there you go. I'm pretty sure that even many of their fans would tell you this isn't their best work. Let's see what happens when I listen to their other works! (This is an exciting adventure.)
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The Number of the Beast (1982)
Album Score: 11
Iron Maiden is one of the most respected bands of heavy metal, and Number of the Beast is one of their most respected albums. Nobody can touch it or face the wrath of a particularly irate metal-head, and woe to anyone who does! ... I listened to this album several times, in fact, and discovered that *hey* metal guys really have a point here. Iron Maiden continue to make an impression on me not only as instrumentalists (which was always evident since their debut), but now in their third release they're starting to make impressions on me as songwriters, too!
The second song is called “The Children of the Damned” that's obviously based on that '60s horror film that, despite it being a horror movie, I've actually seen it! (Horror films are my least favorite genre by far... but I'm getting better.) That song really makes an impression on me not for its lyrical matter, but it's development! Their guitars are crunching away in an interesting fashion and they wrote a compelling chord progression for it. That bit in the middle with their show-offey electric guitar solos sound neat. ...Yes, I like that song! Even better is the follow-up, “The Prisoner,” which embodies everything that I wrote above except it's much better. That song strikes me for its pomposity (which a good metal song would be nothing without) and its intelligence (which most metal songs are without.) Plus, it's complex and entertaining as hell! ... Could this turn me into a metal fan once and for all? ... It could help. It'll likely come as slowly as my acceptance of horror films, I'm sure...
A funny thing struck me as I was listening closely to “22 Acadia Avenue.” I spent many years in my youth listening to Broadway soundtracks and show tunes, and that song reminded me of them. It has a dark though complex and substantive vocal melody, and a distinctly operatic singing style from new lead singer Bruce Dickinson (after Paul D'Anni was fired for self-destructive drug habits affecting his work). The actual song structure is also done for its dramatic effect, sealing the comparisons! (And don't feel bad that I'm comparing a metal ditty to show tunes; comparing their songwriting talents to Stephen Sondheim is a compliment, after all.) If that song is the reason Number of the Beast is considered one of metal's greatest albums, then I'm willing to step on board!
But we also have to consider the other songs. They open it with “Invaders,” a loud and fast metal song but without an interesting vocal melody or particularly good riffs. A few deviations within it strike me as particularly childish, and I have a difficult time imagining something like that opening a “great” album. “The Number of the Beast” is a silly thing with silly lyrics. It “controversial” upon release from a myth perpetuated by the same knee-jerk religious people. (Anybody who takes Iron Maiden's lyrics seriously are being more seriously themselves.) 'Beast' is kinda dumb musically, too, and it's not nearly as compelling as others. The cover of their “Run to the Hills” single release would have us believe that it was about an epic battle between heaven and hell ... but it's really about an epic battle between white man and Indian. Maybe Iron Maiden were purposefully trying to illicit these responses from religious people! “Gangland” doesn't do much for me at all... I like their chords, but the song's overall effect on me is minimal. And, frankly, despite its showy loudness, it's kinda boring. “Total Eclipse” wasn't included in the original album release, but they sequenced it before “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” so I can't really ignore it. Anyway, that's the least affecting song here. Not only is the vocal melody disengaging, but the chord progressions and development doesn't do much.
As already mentioned, the album closes with the seven-minute epic “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” While it's nowhere near matching those middle three songs that I found so great, it's a wonderfully fitting closer. I like the opening with its chiming bells and quiet and light guitar loops. Its atmosphere strictly reminds me of the Renaissance era, even though I can't think of a good reason I have such an association. (It was strong enough for me to mention it.) The subsequent song, of course, is a much more usual electric guitar parts. These are affecting chords and the melody is good, but I felt like it could have been tightened by a couple minutes since it repeats an awful lot.
I'm not going to contest Number of the Beast's heavy-weight champion title as “One of the Greatest Metal Albums,” because I think it probably is! Right now, my experience with metal is too limited to really offer better alternatives. It is a great album, but with so many weak tracks that I can't follow suit and award it a higher rating. Sorry. If that hurts your feeling, I'll let you take comfort calling me an “idiot” and with the knowledge that I'm a non-metal fan.
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Piece of Mind (1983)
Album Score: 10
When I reviewed Iron Maiden's previous album, Number of the Beast, I had to listen to each track repeatedly to make sure that I could get everything out of them as possible. There was so much contained in a single track that I had trouble sorting everything out! Best of all, the more I listened to each track, the better they seemed to get. Their follow-up, Piece of Mind, was much easier for me to get my mind around. Furthermore, many of these tracks just weren't entertaining enough for me to want to sit through them multiple times. So I didn't feel the compelling need to listen to them so much.
But on that note I do have to be careful. When I originally scored the track reviews, I noticed that I was giving C's to songs that, compared to most other metal bands, are still pretty good. Iron Maiden continues to prove that they were a professional band, above all else, and they were capable of writing complex and tasteful metal songs in a field dominated by campy inspirations for Spinal Tap. They already showed us those capabilites with flying colors on Number of the Beast, and they wanted to show us that again with this follow-up even to the extent that this was done in exactly the same style. Unfortunately, they don't completely manage to recapture that excitement. But there are a number of good highlights here.
They open with the exciting “Where Eagles Dare,” a thrashy piece that gives us a number of catchy and interesting riffs. A few of the sequences are more interesting than others, but the ones that are great make the overall experience quite a memorable one. The big problem I have with it, however, is they don't really change the mood throughout the track. You could say they were going for a wartime atmosphere that required constantly bombarding us with bullets, but I'd like some room to breathe! It would surely enhance the wartime sequences whenever it pops up! “Revelations” does strike me as a boring song even though the subject matter is thoroughly evil. Musically, plenty of the ideas are solid and it's a pleasant experience especially for something that extends nearly seven minutes. But it should have been uncomfortably evil. I don't want to feel complacent about a song based on Alistair Crowley writings! I also struggle to find anything too interesting with “Flight With Icarius” and “Die With Your Boots.” They're strictly run-of-the-mill metal songs, though they're both fitfully entertaining.
“The Trooper” is a real highlight, though. Not only is the pace riveting, for once, but I like the harmonies! (Especially considering this is one of those metal songs without such a compelling vocal melodies, beefy harmonies make up for that in spades.) That's inarguably my favorite song of the album not because I like its artistic pretenses (which isn't as elaborate as many of the others), but because it's so freaking entertaining! Luckily, they decide to close the album with two good ones. “Sun and Steel” is a flashy thrash-metal song with tons of entertainment value. “To Tame a Lad” is a Dune tribute. While I would have preferred something a little more melodic, I appreciate the varied moods and atmospheres they craft there. It's easily the album's finest example of “art-metal.”
While I wasn't utterly impressed with Piece of Mind (or at least as much as I was with Number of the Beast), it's still an excellent heavy metal album, and a definite must for anyone who likes good old, classic heavy metal music. Even though some of it isn't as exciting as I would have preferred, it is nonetheless a tasteful and well-crafted work.
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Album Score: 12
Hark! What is this coolness that is making contact with my ear drums? Tight riffage, good melodies, intricate textures and complex song development! Sure, it's heavy-metal business as usual, but consistently good with few weak spots. Unmarried Mineral Woman has never sounded this good!! I liked a number of their previous works, but now I can say that I *love* it. (Even the album cover is better ... one of the few Maiden covers to not feature that disgusting zombie character. Icing on the cake, I say.)
The merriment begins with “Aces High.” Right away, you can tell they haven't abandon their policy of creating professional heavy metal without resorting to cheesiness. But they go beyond that and actually gives us interesting things to listen to! The riffs are catchy, the textures are evolving and pace is butt-whomping! I can listen to that song forever!! Even better is “2 Minutes to Midnight.” The guitar tone is noticeably different than their usual stuff ... it's a bit more flat. But that turned out to be an awesome idea, because I can hear those intricate, beautiful textures even better. I might have just been high on paint fumes (I'm in the middle of painting the hallway and I'm taking a break), but I had a revelation that this heavy metal is a fine art as much as anything. LISTEN TO THE TEXTURES, WHY DON'T YOU?!?! You won't be sorry.
I'm less impressed with the instrumental that follows. “Losfer Words (Big 'Orra).” Iron Maiden doesn't perform that many instrumentals, and I was hoping it would have been treated as another excellent showcase for more intricate textures to blow my paint-fume-influenced mind, but ... nah. I don't even care for that wailing guitar melody they're giving me. I do still think it's entertaining and professional, though. It throughly earns a B+, but it's one of the album's weaker moments. “The Duelists” is arguably the most boring song here ... I would have hoped with a title like that, they would've found time to give us a Mahavishnu-Orchestra-quality violent guitar duet! But no. I grow a little tired of it by the end ... and six-minute running length seemed too much.
But the album's true highlight is yet to come ... and it's called “Powerslave.” Its wickedly catchy riff is forever stuck in my mind! The guitars are freaking excellent, and they always seem to find something interesting and fresh to play! Just as notable is Dickinson's operatic vocal chops, which are in really top flight. I never remember them sounding this growlingly EVILLLLLLLL. Is Dickinson my new hero? ... Possibly. Fantastic work, that.
They end the album with a 13-minute epic called “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” It starts out fantastically with more tight riffs and intricate, evolving textures. This section lasts for five minutes, and it's worthy of nothing less than an A+. After that, it stops and they deliver a quieter bit featuring ship noises and an 19th century poem. They're oft criticized for that, but I like it. (At the very least, it spices things up for anyone who was starting to grow weary of all this riffage!) I love the atmosphere they produce ... it's really effective for the story telling aspect. My only complaint is the textures grow monotonous after awhile. There's a third section, a new heavy metal bit. It's good but just isn't butt-whomping enough!!! Errrr???
While there are notable flaws in Powerslave, they're not glaring enough to make this album any less exciting! This is a wonderful metal album... and I think listening to this might just have turned me into a fan. Let me get the paint fumes out of my system first.
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Live After Death (1985)
Album Score: 13
Iron Maiden already had five classic studio albums under their belt, which was more than enough to warrant finally releasing a live album! To make up for lost time, they make it a double album, and ......... holy crap, this thing rules. I'd say that I don't enjoy half of the albums I review, but this one provided me with endless amounts of entertainment. (I've been listening to it off and on over the course of two months...) For the most part, this is where Iron Maiden is at their mightiest. Like so many other bands of this sort, they thrive in the live arena. They must be able to channel all the energy they get from all those screaming fans, or something.
Their back catalogue certainly wasn't perfect, but they had more than enough material to fill up a double album. And, lucky me, they cover most of my favorite songs from the studio albums. They cover “2 Minutes to Midnight” early on in this album, which earns unqualified status as my favorite song here. The guitar crunches are some of the best and most thrilling that I've ever heard. Furthermore, just like the studio incarnation, it's a melodically rich song. It's not just an aimless, cocky show of metal riffs and solos. Even when they do undergo those solos, they're usually melodic and engaging to the ear. They know that not all of us are impressed that they can move their fingers up and down the strings of the instrument. They actually wanted to make them vibrant! They even find time to work out some intricate textures in their work. “2 Minutes to Midnight” is a constantly evolving piece ... and they way it does so makes it some of the most exciting six minutes, I'm sure, in all heavy metal.
Other greats from their back catalogue include exciting renditions of “Aces High,” “The Trooper,” “Powerslave,” “22 Acacia Avenue” and “Phantom of the Opera.” What makes this album so essential is their treatment of the not-so-great songs in their studio albums. I don't remember “Revelations” from Piece of Mind being that entertaining. But here in Live After Death, it's much more energetic and vibrant. I remember “Flight of Icarus” to be positively boring in the studio version, but here, it's nearly brilliant. Those guitar crunches are thunderous! Bruce Dickinson's operatic metal vocals are great throughout this album, but it's particularly notable here. It's as though the guy is singing about the apocalypse as the world is going down. Isn't that what this loud '80s heavy metal stuff was supposed to do?
You can hear Dickinson playing around with the audience in “Running Free,” which is the only song here that significantly differs from the studio incarnation. (Not only is its running length increased significantly, but it no longer sounds so much like Adam Ant.) That's the part where Dickinson riles up the audience, inciting cheering contests among sections of the crowd. I was never cared much for audience participation moments in live albums especially because you sort of have to be there to get the full effect. And I'm not even watching it ... I'm listening to it. But Dickinson's personality is so vibrant, that he made me laugh a few times. So, I guess even that part was successful. (As an aside note, I'm a little surprised that Iron Maiden would do cheering contests ... Before listening to them, I would have guessed that they would try to get the audience to raise demons or something.)
This album is more than 90 minutes long and entertaining from beginning to end. The only part where it drags a little bit is the middle of “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” They keep that song exactly like the studio version, which included the poetry reading in the middle. Of course, that's sandwiched between two exciting pieces of metal, so ... you know.
Lastly, the CD release of this album might be different depending on which edition you buy. I have the 1998 edition with “Wrathchild,” “22 Acacia Avenue,” “Children of the Damned,” “Die With Your Boots On” and “Phantom of the Opera.” A 1995 edition has “Losfer Words,” “Sanctuary” and “Murders in the Rue Morge” instead. I haven't heard these three songs, but I'm betting the version I reviewed is better... (Why couldn't they have just put all these songs together? ... Oh well.)
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Somewhere in Time (1986)
Album Score: 10
And this is where Iron Maiden write a concept album based on that Christopher Reeve romance movie about that closet necrophiliac..........Or not. It seems I should listen to the album before writing the opening sentence. This is an Iron Maiden album, for sure, but they have changed their style a little bit since Powerslave. Now, there are synthesizers, pop melodies and a number of dreamy sequences that's reminiscent of Dire Straits.
DIRE STRAITS???!?!?!? HOW DARE YOU BETRAY THE FANS!!!!!!!!!!!! OK, I don't think that evoked that strong of a reaction. I'm pretty sure Maiden fans bought this album and probably liked it. But even as someone who claims to be a non-fan of heavy metal, I can sense at least a slight amount of disappointment. I mean, Iron Maiden are the lords of '80s heavy metal, right? But in 1986, they were starting to favor more simple, straightforward patterns. This is a band that frequently dazzles me with with their intricate and brilliant song structures and utterly mind-bending electric guitar patterns! Rest assured, they still do that here, but not quite as much.
I'd imagine that Iron Maiden were feeling a little bit tired. It happens to everyone! And besides, I enjoyed listening to Somewhere in Time very much! I like the melodies throughout the album, and this continues to be a far cry away from ordinary pop-metal. You can catch the new synthesizers right at the beginning of the opening song, “Caught Somewhere in Time.” The intro is rather slow but somehow tremendously epic. When the more typically rapid electric guitars quickly pipe up, it's exciting! What I said about the guitars generally sounding cleaner and less complicated still stands ... but it's hard to deny that a certain level of intense craftsmanship went into it.
“Wasted Years” is even better with one of the catchiest melodies they've ever done! In fact, this thing is so mainstream sounding that it wouldn't have seemed that out of place on the '80s pop radio. (Lucky, Iron Maiden hadn't fallen into the same traps that murdered most '80s bands ... there are no stadium drums. And while there are synthesizers, they blend in with the guitars, and they're far from those horribly dated “Final Countdown” synths.) So, despite the change-ups “Wasted Years” turns out to be one of the most entertaining songs they've ever done. However, I like “Sea of Madness” even better, and I count that as my favorite track here! Why? Because the atmosphere is darker, and the melody is still very catchy! I'd imagine that most Maiden fans like that the most since that's the most clearly tied to their earlier albums.
The album gets a bit worse in the second half. Notably, “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” opens with an atmospheric section that could be confused for the Alan Parsons Project! That's not to say it's bad or anything, but it's unexciting. Naturally, the main section is much louder, faster and thrashier, but they didn't seem fully tuned in that one. I don't get quite the same high that I've gotten from their other works. “Stranger in a Strange Land” is an improvement even though that's a pop song through and through. I know of a few later period PiL songs that sounding a lot like it. (OK, no complaints... you know, I love PiL.) Plus, the melody is catchy! And there's nothing better than a catchy melody.
The final two songs are the worst ones. Although both continue to be entertaining. “Deja-Vu” opens with an atmospheric Dire Straits noodle, and the more typical main section sometimes seemed like they turned on the autopilot button. As usual, the centerpiece of the song is the guitar performances, but they're woefully simplistic and predictable. “Alexander the Great” is OK... It was a fun idea for a historical narrative! Though, that song seemed overextended at nine minutes, and my experience listening to it has been rather dead.
The tone of this review had been rather negative, and I should point out that I'm still giving it a high rating. I enjoyed it very much! And, when it comes down to it, I think some of the melodies and more varied ideas made Somewhere in Time equally as entertaining as their more classic albums like Piece of Mind, for instance. But at the same time, it is a considerable drop off from Powerslave and Live After Death. I lost a lot of socks listening to those!
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Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
Album Score: 11
I thought this would be my favorite Maiden album, because this was my absolute first exposure to them! Back in my dark past (I think 2003), I listened to this album a few times and thought it was cool. But after absorbing their earlier albums, which had me proclaiming to be a mild fan of theirs, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son seems so disappointingly tame. And this is coming from someone who overwhelmingly prefers listening to Wings and ABBA music over heavy metal to begin with! I mean, it seems like someone shot them with a tranquilizer gun!
OK, it's not that bad. They still know how to rock out, and this album is well constructed. More than half of the songs are firmly in the A-range, so I really don't know what I'm complaining so strongly about! I suppose most of my complaints can be attributed to their change of sound rather than laziness. We already know that they decided to introduce synthesizers into their sound, and they're certainly more prominent here. But also, it can't go unnoticed that they polished up those electric guitar sounds as well. This isn't even close to achieving that rawer, rough sound of those early days! However, whatever they lose for roughness, they gain for slickness... I guess I'd rather have roughness, thanks!
They open up the album with “Moonchild,” with an intro reminiscent of a Medieval ballad... Some calculator synthesizers come in followed by some power chords. Pretty soon, the more typical metal song comes in. It has a semi-bland melody, but it works fine. Dickinson's loud, operatic bellow is probably the highlight there, and the guitarists seeming a little bit like they were on autopilot. Naturally, it's still a fun song, with more than enough to keep me entertained. The first minute of “Infinite Dreams” is a tame (and rather dull ballad) until it transforms into the more typical heavy metal rocker. There are a few inventive rhythm and chord changes that generally keep it fresh, but all in all, I get the feeling that it could have been cut by about two minutes without losing any substance. “Can I Play With Madness” is a sort of dumb arena anthem, but it's a tad more memorable than the songs that preceded it, and in a good way. I can't really blame them for wanting to appeal more to a mainstream crowd, and they don't sacrifice much of their instrumental prowess to accomplish this feat.
The album doesn't really start to shine until “The Evil That Men Do.” It's a lot like the other songs except it's more exciting, more inventive, more memorable and more succinct. It's what all these songs should have been! ..... That is, except for the title track, which is that semi-obligatory 9-minute epic. It's really like three songs in one, which makes it OK, and it really does come off as “epic.” The first half of it is pretty awesome with good use of those dramatic “aah” synth-vocals, and a verrrrrrrry memorable guitar riff in the chorus. It goes downhill in the middle when they deliver a bit of poetry... and without quite as interesting of an atmosphere as when they did that on “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” The final third is a heavy metal instrumental... and surprisingly not too exciting.
“The Prophecy” is arguably the weakest song of the album. While it's not a bad song in any respect, and I'm fairly entertained listening to it, it's not very memorable unfortunately. “The Clairvoyant” is a major boost for the album, though (and one that forced me to up the grade to a highly respectable albeit weak 11 rather than a less-enthused 10 like the album was panning out to be). Just like “The Evil That Men Do,” it's not that different than the other songs, except it's more memorable, more succinct and (most importantly) more butt-whomping! It closes with another nice metal song called “Only the Good Die Young.” It sounds a little tamer than “The Clairvoyant,” but its melody is memorable and again there are a few good chord changes there. They know how to keep these songs sounding fresh!
Despite my overall non-praiseworthy take on Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, this still ranks as a very good album. Die-hard Maiden fans were probably upset over its relative tameness, and I feel a little bit of that as I listen to it. But they do know their craft, and they execute a number of highly memorable melodies and sequences. It's not the best metal album to ever exist, but it's a respectable one ... and one that I'm sure no true metal fan can do without.
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