Iron Maiden
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son


5.0
classic

Review

by Ed Watson USER (26 Reviews)
December 29th, 2006 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The peak of Maidens achievement, which is only recently being challenged.

In retrospect, this was the end of an era for Maiden. After this seminal release, Adrian Smith left and the 90s loomed. Cue the biggest regression of a band in history, which is only just being rectified in the noughties as we speak. However, what better way to sign off their remarkable decade, than a progressive album combining all the genius of Powerslave and Piece of Mind with the experimental Somewhere in Time?

The thing that stands out most for me about the CD is how tight it is. 8 tracks, 8 killers. A problem I have found with even the most renowned Maiden albums is their liability to contain a few filler tracks. Not on this album. A concept album of epic proportions, it doesn't allow anything that isn't essential to be heard.

The story of the album, from what I can gather from the lyrics, is as follows. Mother saves son despite the Devil's best wishes, or at least has son, who will grow to be insanely powerful due to his being the 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.' Over the course of the album, he is tormented by dreams, realises his power, becomes sickened by humanity as he fights with his brothers and good and evil fight for his soul, and dies/kills himself before he causes the destruction of abolutely everything.

While the plot might sound like a self indulgent fantasy epic, it provides the perfect foil for the epic music. Moonchild is the perfect opener, seemlesly gliding from sublime acoustic ballad into sharp edged rocker. Narrated by te devil, it is surprisingly sinister, and right from the off shows how the synths have been utilised to enhance the music rather than detract.

Of the four top ten singles (a great feat considering this is a concept album from a metal band), the only one potentially annoying is Can I Play With Madness, and this is only due to the upbeat feel caused by its major tonality. The storming riff and iconic solo though make the track a classic. The other three, Infinite Dreams, the Evil That Men Do and The Clairvoyant are at no risk of such quibbles. Magnificently deceptive riffs (just listen to the Evil That Men Do's verse riff) give way to chorus' most bnds would kill for. That every one of them is as welcome live as Hallowed Be Thy Name belies their quality.

And the rest? Well, only the Prophecy feels slightly contrived, but remains a brilliant track, with Bruce's sometimes questionable vocals making the track exquisite. Otherwise, Seventh Son of a Seventh defines epic (try out the orchestral mid) and Only the Good Die Young could quite easily have made the fith single, with its tragic lyrics and pounding chorus rounding off the album perfectly.

The band, to a man, put in the performances of their lives. Exemplary playing from Smith and Murray, who by now might as well be connected at the hip their understanding of each other's playing is so amazing (just listen to the twin guitar melodies and solos), typifies all songs on this album. It is made all the more remarkable by the fact that their playing is not overshadowed by the addition of the synth. In fact, I feel it has never stood out more. Steve Harris meanwhile, in both songwriting and his bass, excels even his god like standards, and his bass fills the mix with a thudding and complete sound.

Nicko and Bruce on the other hand, the only members whose performances have been called into question over the years, are both faultless. Bruce fills the record with charisma, and is pitch perfect. If you want to see how good his vocals are by comparison, all you need to do is listen to the next Maiden record, No Prayer for the Wicked, and wonder how on earth he regressed so much. Nicko keeps the rhythms driving and precise, but not to the extent that it feels like a click track orchestrated the songs.

All the Maiden trademarks are on this album, but it is here that their momentary evolution is best exemplified. It only makes their sudden regression all the more shocking, and this pinnacle of their achievement thus far, all the more special.



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user ratings (1932)
Chart.
4.3
superb
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Motleyguy
December 29th 2006


118 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Decent review. This is my favourite Maiden album, great album.

metallicaman8
December 29th 2006


4677 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice work.

Altmer
December 29th 2006


5652 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Overrated album in their catalogue.

Neoteric
December 29th 2006


3243 Comments


This is probably one of their best I think. I still hate the band though.

Thor
December 29th 2006


10192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really liked the direction Maiden was going in with this album, but I don't think it's a classic. Moonchild owns, though.

nirvana1989_nb
December 29th 2006


98 Comments


This is way over-rated.

John Paul Harrison
December 29th 2006


1014 Comments


Where did you come from, and why are you writing so many good reviews?

northerncomfort
December 29th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Came from Crieff (Scotland). As for good reviews? We scots are very intellectual I'll have you know.

freudianslipknot
December 29th 2006


803 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I bought this the year it came out and I was bored with it almost immediately. I am not saying the melodies are bad, I just have very little desire to listen to this ever. "Can I play with madness" borders on blatant commercialism as do one or two other tracks. In the wake of Slayer's "reign in blood" and "south of heaven" coupled with metallica's "master of puppets" and "and justice for all" (which, to me, represent the really seminal metal albums of the time) this just seemed middle of the road and inconsequential.

TheMisterBungle
December 29th 2006


861 Comments


This looks like Maiden's best. I really want it.

Bfhurricane
December 29th 2006


6197 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^It's not. still a good album though. Can I Play With Madness is way overrated in my opinion.
I highly disagree with your opening paragraph, Maiden's still kicking ass even today! But I see what you mean - though their latest 3 albums are better than this imo.

TojesDolan
December 29th 2006


271 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't like the 80's tone to this album, I feel the synths just killed the vibe it was trying to get, so it's a no no for my taste.

Quiksilver26
December 29th 2006


4 Comments


Good review, I agree. The Clairvoyant seems like more of a stand out track to me though. Also you might wanna change Harris in the 3rd last paragraph to Murray.

northerncomfort
December 29th 2006


106 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Bugger. Thanks for pointing it out, and thanks for positive comments.

Jim
December 30th 2006


5110 Comments


Another positive comment here. Great review! I only wish you would focus on proof-reading more You're choice of words and descriptions are perfect, just let down by occasional spelling mistakes and such.
Great work though. And by the way, if you haven't already seen, you've been nommed for Reviewer of the Month this month.
By me

Tokyochuchu
December 14th 2009


62 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Yeah... Good review, although I believe you used the word 'belie' in a mistaken context.

I love 7th Son... Second only to 'Powerslave' imo.

TheNotrap
August 27th 2011


8071 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

The last Maiden classic and definitely one of the best metal albums ever recorded.
In my opinion all songs here are 5/5 but my favourites are Moonchild, Infinite Dreams, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, The Clairvoyant and specially the awesome epic The Evil That Men Do.

An absolute classic.
UP THE IRONS!!!!!!

Digging: Lago - Tyranny

TheChastonGuy
September 27th 2011


55 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Can I Play With Madness was the song I lost my metal virginity too...

ksoflas
July 23rd 2012


389 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Surely by far maiden's top album.


HitlerIsTheBest
July 23rd 2012


1575 Comments


this and Powerslave are the best imo.



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