Admittedly this might change, but I'm gonna go with 9/10.
It's a nice Bruce and Adrian composition that 100% feels more like a solo song than a Maiden song, but it's really quite good. Bruce's vocal performance is fantastic. He achieves the biggest chorus on the album, all grandiose in his British patriotism naff-ness. Adrian's solo is fantastic.
Part of the reason I like this song so much (and WoTW) is that's really necessary on this album. It fulfills a desire to hear something a little different, yet comfortable. It's a strong tune that loses a point for being a tad too long and having too many stupid sea gulls.
We open up disc two of Senjutsu with the sound of the ocean waves lapping against a shoreline, and seagulls flying overhead, as war machines line the beaches of Dunkirk as Adrian's prickly guitar starts filling out the speakers. Love the backing keys too, it's used to great effect throughout this album. Bruce comes in quietly, reverently, yet full of determination as he sings of the retreat that becomes emblematic of Britain's need for strength and unity through their "Darkest Hour".
Churchill is certainly an over-revered figure in history; the good that he did is ultimately overshadowed by how much of a cunt he was in other areas. That said, I really don't mind Bruce focusing on what he admired from the man, because to me this song isn't really about Churchill at all. He's just a symbol of the fight against tyranny that the Allies led against the Axis in WWII. And there's a lot of great lyrical pictures throughout this song, like "Turn the ploughshares into swords," or the opening line "We buried our sons, we turned and fled. No growing old, the glorious dead." It's a paean to the struggle against evil that ultimately was that war.
At the song's heart, though, it's just another good ol' fashioned Bruce ballad with little twists here and there to remind us that we haven't quite heard a Maiden ballad exactly like this. You can see shades of "Coming Home" or "Wasting Love" sure, but there's a rich darkness here that they play with that I quite enjoy. Is it their best ballad? Debatable, but it's certainly up there for me.
What makes the song work is its placement within the album. It comes at just the right time for a mood comedown before the onslaught of the 'Arry epics to follow. A breather, if you will. And the performances are great. Bruce clearly gives it everything he's got, delivering a powerful chorus (which has a subtle shift partway through which always confused me at first) that's about as glorious as what he sets out to do. Nicko keeps the time like a machine (although there's a part in the chorus where it almost feels like he sped up before he should have). The three amigos bring their A-game too. Adrian throws in another lengthy solo which is fantastic, and Janick has some tasteful leads he sneaks in under the final choruses. But Davey is the true star of this song. His solo is shorter than H's, but my god is that an amazing solo. This album shows him really coming back into the fold as a great guitarist after a stretch of him kinda phoning it in. Beating Adrian on the latter's own song? Goddamn.
There's certainly a lot to like about this track, but ultimately it's still just a Maiden ballad that, while working well on the album, is far less exciting than the mammoths it's surrounded by. I like it for sure, but it's the worst song on Senjutsu and not one that I come to all that often outside of the album itself. 7/10
Waves and bird calls call forth a plaintive guitar lead atop a bed of ringing arpeggios. This flows into a melancholy verse reminiscent of Bruce’s “Eternal” which gets more forceful as it recurs. A mellower pre-chorus builds into a strong chorus that borrows a bit from Dokken’s “Alone Again”.
Another round of verse through chorus, then a reprise of the opening plaintive guitar leads into a pair of great emotive solos. A return to the chorus with additional guitar fills eventually gives way to the plaintive guitar bit and more waves and bird calls to end the track.
Another song with some recycled content alongside some great original material that manages to be more than the sum of its parts in the end. I feel comfortable rounding this one up to 8/10 as well.
This song has grown on me quite a bit. It's kinda similar to The Man of Sorrows (the Dickinson solo track) in that it's kind of a plain musical backdrop for Bruce to have more of a vocal showcase, although I think Darkest Hour has a lot more interesting stuff happening outside of the vocals. Adrian's solo is amazing and he has some decent riffs throughout the song as well. It goes a little long and it's never going to be something I come back to outside of the album, but I enjoy it very much for what it is. 6.