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Iron Maiden - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son CD (album) cover

SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

4.16 | 525 ratings

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Nhorf
4 stars This album came out after a disappointing (at least in my opinion) release. Somewhere in Time was nothing compared to Powerslave; there are, of course, some good songs there, like the title track, but all the others were just average and even weak. Seventh Son isn't nowhere near the brilliance and quality of Powerlave but is, undoubtedly, a big improvement over its predecessor. Actually, this record probably is the only good album that Maiden released from 1988 to 1999.

First of all, all the songs of the album share the same concept and that really shows the progressive influences of the band, since the composition of concept albums is a common thing within the progressive circles. On one hand, the concept is strange: it apparently is about a prophet that tries to warn a village about a disaster that will happen there, in the future. However, there is a song that doesn't talk about the concept at all, which is Can I Play with Madness. In my opinion, it talks about the intolerance that many people have about heavy metal bands (check out the music video) so it is a mystery why Maiden included this tune on the record. On other hand, there are also some songs that talk about death and God, so it's like this record holds two concepts at the same time: the history of the prophet and thoughts about the meaning of life.

The songwriting is what shines the most on the album. From the interesting breaks and sections of Infinite Dreams, to the gorgeous solo section of the title track, everything is very well composed and almost every song has an interesting musical/lyrical hook. Harris is the main songwriter of the band, and this album proves it again: he wrote (or co-wrote) every song but Moonchild. This one was penned by Smith and Dickison. Murray has also writing credits on The Prophecy.

Nicko McBrain really shines on this record too; his performance is very consistent, with good fills and patterns. I especially like the one on the title track, with a constant use of the toms. The guitar work is good too, but not outstanding like the one on Powerslave. However, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray form an awesome team so expect some good riffs and solos on many tunes. Steve Harris and Bruce Dickison also deliver very good performances.

On this record, there is also a use of synth, which is played by Adrian Smith. Thanks to it, some songs have amazing and somber atmospheres, especially the title track. However, the synth sound isn't loud in the mix, so it doesn't reduce the power and heaviness of the other instruments at all.

The production is very clean too, there are some people that even said that the production is TOO clean, but I don't agree with that statement. In fact, the production is one thousand times better than the one on Somewhere in Time, so this album shows a vast improvement. The bass is also very audible and that's another reason to give it a high score. Good work, Martin Birch.

The album begins with a soft acoustic guitar line and Bruce singing two very memorable verses:

Seven deadly sins Seven ways to win Seven holy paths to hell And your trip begins.

Seven downward slopes Seven bloodied hopes Seven are your burning fires, Seven your desires...

In fact, Moonchild follows the path of the other Maiden openers, from Prowler to Aces High: it is a very good speed metal song, with a fantastic use of synth on the beginning and some interesting guitar leads. As a whole, the song is very obscure and somber, thanks to the lyrics, which probably talk about the birth of the protagonist of the story. The chorus is also pretty catchy; well, all the songs have catchy choruses, even the lengthy title track has one.

Infinite Dreams is an outstanding ballad, struggling with Strange World for the status of the best Maiden ballad ever. Again, the lyrics are beautiful, dealing with reincarnation, a theme that is also present on another tune of the record, The Clairvoyant. Dickinson's performance is the highlight of the song; the singer proves that also knows how to sing emotionally and calmly (check the beginning of the song). However, the middle section of it is also worth listening with amazing soloing and riffage.

Can I Play with Madness and The Evil that Men Do follow this tune and both of them scream commerciality. Can I Play is listenable, but The Evil that Men Do is very overrated (why people praise this track as a Maiden classic is beyond me!).

The album returns with the title track, the best song of the album, an epic containing three distinct sections. The first one is mid paced and catchy; the synth work is very good, adding a mystery vibe to the song. The second one is a breakdown (very reminiscent of the one on Rime of the Ancient Mariner) featuring somber bass and guitar lines. The third one contains FANTASTIC solos and I will not describe it, just listen to it - an authentic guitar masterpiece, if you ask me.

The lyrics of The Prophecy deal with the prophet, the protagonist, that tried to warn a village about a disaster but the villagers refused to listen to him. In spite of the chorus being catchy and the acoustic guitar outro sounding great, the track is very forgettable and so is The Clairvoyant, that despite the amazing lyrics and vocal performance, is very poor.

The last track is a good rocker and ends with the same vocal lines that began Moonchild. This also shows the progressive influence of the group, since many progressive bands begin and end albums with the same verses (most notably Jehtro Tull, with Thick as a Brick, or even Genesis, with Selling England by the Pound).

This album is good on its own way, featuring the best lyrics Iron Maiden ever wrote and some good drum and vocal performances. However it isn't the best thing the band has ever done, like many other reviewers said. Variety is a strong point of the album too, since there are some fast tracks, a ballad and some commercial tunes.

Best moments of the CD: -beginning and ending of the record; -beginning of Infinite Dreams; -the whole solo section of the title track.

Nhorf | 4/5 |

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