12 of 12 thought this review was well writtenIron Maiden Discography 1/15 - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Iron Maiden's seventh record, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, is the final album in their string of classic 80's albums. Before opting for a more stripped down approach on their next record, No Prayer for the Dying, on Seventh Son, Maiden took all the best elements of their 80's material and combined them to make an inspired, epic journey of an album, that will take the listener through a mystical land filled with pounding riffs, melodic solos, and spacey synths everywhere you turn. Iron Maiden has certainly pushed their imagination to the limits and created something extraordinary.
This album is a concept album, based on the tale of the Seventh Son, written by Orson Scott Card. It centers around a boy named Alvin who is born with special powers that could potentially change the world. God and Satan are constantly at war to control him, to use him for immense good or immense evil. The album follows the story very loosely; not every song in the album is about a part of the book. It is difficult to make out the story by using only the lyrics in the album and the story is not as clear as it should be. The lyrics themselves are excellent. Bruce Dickinson, who was absent from the writing sessions in Somewhere in Time, is back, adding his unique, mystical touch to the lyrics. The lyrics of each individual song are good, but the concept as a whole is not consistent, which is irksome to me. If you're going to make a concept record, make the whole thing
a concept record, not just half of it. This is a minor downfall, but certainly not one that will stop me from enjoying the record.
Now, onto the music itself. As mentioned earlier, it has pieces of everything done so far, and includes some of the band's first forays into progressive music, especially on the 10-minute long title track, which is far and away the best song on the album. At the same time, though, this is arguably the most radio-friendly Maiden album as of yet. But wait, don't go screaming SELL-OUT yet. Radio-friendly does not necessarily mean "bad". Critics have panned lead single Can I Play With Madness for being pop-metal. My response is this: Pop-metal it may be, but it's a pretty damn good pop-metal song. I want you to look me straight in the eye and tell me that you don't bop your head when that chorus comes around. So, my point is, that while it is the most accessible album by the band, it is one of the easiest to enjoy, and probably the album that I play the most personally.
Every song on the album has something going for it. Opener, Moonchild, starts acoustically and leads into a synth melody, but then explodes into one of the most aggressive Maiden tracks ever. Infinite Dreams is a ballad that manages to be beautiful, while still retaining its heaviness. The lyrics are some of Harris' most introspective to date. Can I Play With Madness and The Evil That Men Do are both singles, and fun songs to listen to. The title track, as mentioned earlier, is a 10-minute orchestral epic, with a lengthy instrumental part at the end. The song is majestic and easily the best epic since Hallowed Be Thy Name. The Prophecy is a good song, but doesn't match the colossus that came before it, but it redeems itself at its outro. The Clairvoyant is another one of the best. It starts with a bass intro and builds up until all hell breaks loose in the chorus. Finally, Only the Good Die Young is a climatic rocker with deeply reflective lyrics that ties in the theme of the album; not taking responsibility for your own life and letting others make choices for you. The album ends acoustically, the way it began.
Instrument-wise, it's all there. Harris and the boys had added synthesizers to their bag of tricks on their last album, Somewhere in Time. Here, they are played on keyboards rather than guitars and basses like SiT. The synths do not make the mistake of drowning the album in them, which is what tends to happen when a band starts incorporating them. Rather, they enhance the album and give it the epic quality the album is famous for. The guitars are wonderful from both Adrian and Dave, and, although they are not as prominent on the album due to the synths, they pull off some great solos. Nicko is a solid drummer as always, and Steve's bass is prominent without being too prominent, like in Somewhere in Time. Finally, Bruce's vocals are one of the biggest highlights of the record. His voice is operatic and theatrical, but contains a certain raspiness to it that really adds to the album and makes it truly special. Finally, the production is clear, and the mix is in a much better balance than its predecessor.
Maiden's seventh offering is not one to look over. It has every element necessary to make a good record and there's nothing wrong with it, but overall doesn't feel as fulfilling as some other Maiden albums, hence a half-a-point off. This is a highly recommended release from the Beast, and one that would be a good choice for new fans of the band to check out.
(ironically all solely written by Harris)
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
Iron Maiden Discography 1/15 - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son