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Iron Maiden - No Prayer For The Dying CD (album) cover

NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

2.52 | 251 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well, it had to happen. Eventually, after so many successful albums, Iron Maiden had to fail at least once. They did precisely that with 1990's NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING.

First, the obvious: this is the first album that doesn't feature Adrian Smith on guitars since he joined the band back 1981 for the release of KILLERS. His replacement: long- time Bruce Dickinson collaborator Janick Gers. Though there is a coincidence in the decline of quality in Maiden's music with the departure of Smith (or arrival of Gers), it's just unfair to criticize the new axe-man and blame him for the weak musical results. It's necessary to point out that not one of the tracks in this record is written by Gers (he would start collaborating more in the next album), and also that Smith wasn't really the main composer in the earlier, better releases. The main composer in The Beast has always been Steve Harris, so if there's someone to point our fingers at about the lackluster tracks, it's him. Gers is just as virtuoso as Smith was, and the fingers of the former match the speed of those of the latter.

The main fault with this album is that suddenly it seemed like Maiden wanted to return to the more direct, quick, pure-metal way of the past, but they just failed completely. All the songs in this album are of an average length, not one reaching 6 minutes. That by itself wouldn't be a big deal; after all, many of this band's best tracks don't reach that mark either. But the thing is that in those short minutes we don't get enough variation, enough memorable solos or melodies, enough greatness. Maiden also decided to let the more progressive approach of the preceding albums out of the picture, in favor of simpler structures, simpler rhythms, simple instrumentations.

To add to the weak impression this album leaves in the fan, there's not one memorable song. Even the singles are rather mundane, rather bland. There's not one chorus that makes us want to chant along, not one solo that makes us want to play air-guitar with our fingers. Even the most progressive track, "Mother Russia", lacks a chorus and lacks memorable melodies. Where The Beast was hiding when recording this album, we don't know.

Tailgunner (8/10) One of the best, if not the best track in the album, it starts with concentrated energy ready to explode. The main riff is good, and the chorus is also good, if not incredibly memorable. It gets a little annoying when they go up in key. A good opener, the tradition hasn't been broken even in this weakest of all Maiden's albums. It's not brilliant, though.

Holy Smoke (7/10) One of the most popular tracks in this album, it starts well enough, with a decent melody, but then it turns into a rather monotonous hard rock track, with a chorus that is hardly discernable from the main verse. Not a bad song, but nothing up to the level of the best Maiden songs.

No Prayer For The Dying (9/10) This one begins more auspiciously, with a dialogue between the guitars and the bass, a good melody and good singing by Dickinson. We even have one of those legendary double-guitar melodies after the verse, and a very good performance by Harris whose bass has a predominant place in the mix. The fast section unfolds later, with the usual characteristics: good solos, fast drumming, breathless atmosphere. The song is very good, the best in the album, but it feels so. brief. It's like Maiden wanted to write one of their short epics but then decided to finish it off quickly. It's like a condensed version of other tracks in this style. But the highlight of the album nevertheless.

Public Enema Number One (8/10) Another song that starts with promise. A good melodic riff leads the way for a direct verse. Then the chorus comes in and doesn't disappoint. The thing is that it comes too quickly, and that's one of the issues I have with this album: the structures have been stripped to the bones, no pre- choruses, no longer verses, everything condensed. A good song, nothing incredible. Up to this pint, the album is good, if not really great.

Fates Warning (6.5/10) A slow start with some guitar synth makes us believe we're still in earlier eras. Then the main riff attacks and it's much faster but not bad. Then the chorus is just weak, with no hooks. The whole song seems like a continuous single riff. Iron Maiden wrote many better fast songs. Not awful, just weak. The middle section saves it from a lower rating.

The Assassin (7/10) An interesting start with the same rhythm as in "The Clairvoyant" from SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON but without the instant-classic melody. Good nevertheless, this song is a little awkward, I don't know what to make of it. It has some good things going for it, but then the chorus is not that great and some riffs sound too similar to other riffs in Maiden's and other bands' history. It's too short and near the end it gets almost incoherent. It lacks a good structure, the parts are not that bad but the joining-them-together work wasn't that precise.

Run Silent Run Deep (6.5/10) This may be one of the most mediocre songs by The Beast. It's not really bad, it's just plain, AVERAGE. I can't remember anything interesting about it, I can't even remember a bad thing about it. Maiden-by-the-book, that's what this track is. A formula used again with no added components. One of the riffs sounds very similar to the ending riff in Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers", just before a very good solo brings the rating of this song a little bit higher.

Hooks In You (4/10) This track has the "merit" of being the first track by Maiden that deserves an atrocious adjective by me. It's just awful. There's no melodies, no good solos, no chorus, everything sounds the same, Dickinson sounds extremely annoying, it's just a poor hard-rock song that it manages, by itself, to bring the whole rating of the album down a notch. Maiden can't be allowed to deliver this kind of. thing.

Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter (5.5/10) This is the most famous track in the album, but for me is one of the most boring. A Dickinson-solo original song, I don't know why it was included here, much less why it was chosen as the second single, and even less why it WAS SUCCESSFUL. An average hard-rock track with no Maiden attributes, one of the few where Dickinson actually manages to get in my nerves. Not good, just not good. For Iron Maiden, that is. If this was a any other lesser band, I would maybe enjoy it. It's an Iron Maiden track, so I don't enjoy it almost at all.

Mother Russia (8.5/10) The opening of this track is almost spectacular, there's hope that we would get another classic here. Atmosphere, drama, Russian scent, we're in for a ride. The main riff is good and so is the rhythm. The only problem is that this is all that this song is about. There's no chorus, and such a song needed a chorus, even the subject itself cries for one of those anthemic chants by The Beast. Near the end the instrumental section is very good, though very brief. This track feels like if Maiden couldn't afford the studio much longer, so they had to rush the conclusion. It feels like a 7-8 minute track that was seriously cut due to unknown reasons. It's good, but it could've been really great.

As it's easy to see from the rating I've given to the songs, I don't think this album is incredibly atrocious or anything, just a very average, weak effort. If another band had released this album, I'd have rated it a little higher (of course after analyzing why that hypothetical band tried to plagiarize Iron Maiden so hard), but as an Iron Maiden album, I have to say it's god only for fans and collectors. The average non- completionist Maiden fan has a lot of albums to buy before getting to this one.

Recommended for: Iron Maiden hardcore fans, completionists. And fans of heavy metal that don't mind an album that doesn't sound very original.

.maybe prayer can save this dying album. While not atrocious, this is without doubt the Worst of the Beast.

The T | 2/5 |

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