Empire Of The Clouds

How good is Empire of the Clouds on a scale of 1-10?


  • Total voters
    115
  • Poll closed .

Josh

Ancient Mariner
It's intentionally expansive. To be fair, there is always a group of people who find such music boring. It's nothing against either the song or the fan; it's just a fact that longer songs are more likely to eventually becoming boring to someone. That's how the human brain works.

For instance, "Echoes" by Pink Floyd gets a lot of praise, but I find most of it boring. I love "Supper's Ready" by Genesis, but the recent war of epics showed that many here find it boring. Likewise, "Empire of the Clouds" is long enough that, no matter how good it is, some people will find it boring.

I think the key is really paying attention to the lyrics. The music is indeed repetitive at times, but the lyrics paint a vivid picture. This song is like a painting, with a distinct background (music) and foreground (lyrics), more so than any other Maiden song.

I will admit I'm one of those people that just can't get into it. I don't know if it is out of being bored or lack of patience or that I feel it's a little too much for a Maiden record. It's a very unusual thing for them to do and I honestly don't know how I feel about it.

Now, having said that, in no way does it make me feel different about the album overall. It's killer. And I at least appreciate that they were ambitious enough to record EOTC.
 
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Chained Prometheus

The Spiral King
It's strange, because I honestly find this song far more engaging than The Red and the Black, despite Empire being more musically repetitive and considerably lengthier. Empire just feels far more 'put together' than TRatB does to me. More naturally cohesive, if you will. Not surprising, since Bruce apparently spent a huge amount of his time working out the song off on his own while Adrian, Dave and Janick were off working with Steve on their songs.
 

Naty

Educated Fool
Masterpiece! To me there's no other word to describe it. The only thing I need is the lyrics to fully experience the journey that this song can takes you on.
 

Severian

Have a good time, all the time!
Masterpiece! To me there's no other word to describe it. The only thing I need is the lyrics to fully experience the journey that this song can takes you on.

@UpTheIrons posted the lyrics earlier in this thread
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Sara

Not even Wensleydale?
It's strange, because I honestly find this song far more engaging than The Red and the Black, despite Empire being more musically repetitive and considerably lengthier. Empire just feels far more 'put together' than TRatB does to me. More naturally cohesive, if you will. Not surprising, since Bruce apparently spent a huge amount of his time working out the song off on his own while Adrian, Dave and Janick were off working with Steve on their songs.

Couldn't agree more. I do not find Empire in any way a chore to get through, yet I do find getting through TRATB a chore, despite the latter song being 5 minutes shorter. The reason for this, is Empire feels like a solid, cohesive piece of work. TRATB on the other hand, feels like a lot of different ideas were put together at random, and for it's own sake, particularly in the 2nd half of the song. It meanders, and doesn't flow well at all. Empire feels like a shorter song, even though it is longer, which is because it does flow well.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Many of you might not be familiar with disaster ballads, but SMX and I were talking about this the other day. Where I am from, Nova Scotia, a great percentage of our local musical lore is based on disaster ballads:



What Bruce has done here is made the first proper heavy metal disaster ballad, and it's a hell of a piece of work.
 

Natalie

Insect of Terror
Staff member
Ok, I gotta admit the piano at the beginning really had me surprised. It just sounded so weird to actually hear a piano in a Maiden song. And then when the violin chimed in it hit me that this was it. I really liked the 'easy' melody and the way Bruce tells the story. Like others have said before it really feels well formed, put-together, composed, whatever you wanna call it. Actually, for me, it's reminiscent of Hallowed and Rime in the way that it's captivating from start to finish. Also, I keep hearing nods to AMOLAD everywhere and in this one as well. The use of orchestra also adds to the experience. It's a real treat to hear, ear candy to the last, when Bruce comes in with the main melody again it really sent shivers down my spine.
 

Chained Prometheus

The Spiral King
Ok, I gotta admit the piano at the beginning really had me surprised. It just sounded so weird to actually hear a piano in a Maiden song. And then when the violin chimed in it hit me that this was it. I really liked the 'easy' melody and the way Bruce tells the story. Like others have said before it really feels well formed, put-together, composed, whatever you wanna call it. Actually, for me, it's reminiscent of Hallowed and Rime in the way that it's captivating from start to finish. Also, I keep hearing nods to AMOLAD everywhere and in this one as well. The use of orchestra also adds to the experience. It's a real treat to hear, ear candy to the last, when Bruce comes in with the main melody again it really sent shivers down my spine.

The piano is definitely different for Maiden, but it works perfectly.

I always feel chills near the end when Bruce sings "The dream lives on." It's not his most demanding line in the song, by any means, but it's just so well delivered.
 

Adrian's Revenge

Climbing like a monkey out of hell
After listening to this song a handful of times, I can honestly say it's beautiful in every sense of the world. My problem, though, is that Empire isn't an Iron Maiden song. It feels out of place next to the 75 minutes of raucous heavy metal that precede it.

But I love it anyway. It took Bruce a lot of guts to write something this massive and complex. It took even more guts for Steve to agree to put this on the album.

I haven't cried while listening to it yet, but I've been choked up. I don't think it's necessarily coincidence that this song is about a British airship crashing in France, and Maiden chose to record Book of Souls in Paris. The same studio where they ruinited fifteen years ago.

Despite the recent interview with Bruce where he said they wanted to continue making music, I think this song signifies the end. To me, that's heartbreaking. This is by far my favorite band. I understand all good things end, and after forty magnificent years these guys have earned a rest. But it's still sad.

I hope this song doesn't get played on the tour. It's too melancholy, too arduous a journey during what's supposed to be a happy event. While forty thousand crying eyes in MSG might be quite a sight, it's not something I choose to witness. By the time the tour starts, I think we'll have a decent idea whether this actually is the end. I hope to hell it's not.
 

matic22

Ancient Mariner
After listening to this song a handful of times, I can honestly say it's beautiful in every sense of the world. My problem, though, is that Empire isn't an Iron Maiden song. It feels out of place next to the 75 minutes of raucous heavy metal that precede it.

But I love it anyway. It took Bruce a lot of guts to write something this massive and complex. It took even more guts for Steve to agree to put this on the album.

I haven't cried while listening to it yet, but I've been choked up. I don't think it's necessarily coincidence that this song is about a British airship crashing in France, and Maiden chose to record Book of Souls in Paris. The same studio where they ruinited fifteen years ago.

Despite the recent interview with Bruce where he said they wanted to continue making music, I think this song signifies the end. To me, that's heartbreaking. This is by far my favorite band. I understand all good things end, and after forty magnificent years these guys have earned a rest. But it's still sad.

I hope this song doesn't get played on the tour. It's too melancholy, too arduous a journey during what's supposed to be a happy event. While forty thousand crying eyes in MSG might be quite a sight, it's not something I choose to witness. By the time the tour starts, I think we'll have a decent idea whether this actually is the end. I hope to hell it's not.

I believe it didn't take much to convince Steve, because one of his favourite songs is Love To Love by UFO, to which this song is quite close (piano, changing tempos,...). Also Steve stated that it is a masterpiece in some interviews. I also think that Adrian had a lot to do with guitar arangments and transcribing piano parts to guitar, because he plays almost all of the melodies in the song as did Nicko with rythm arrangmets (credited by Bruce). I really hope they play that song live even if that demands a guest pianist and a string quartet (which could work really well on some of the other new and old songs).
 
I found this song amazing at first listen, and honestly, it grows each time. It just keeps getting even better.
With risk of sounding cliche this song really touches the heart. It is just a really beautiful piece of art and you can hear the passion put into it.
I'm loving it. I really hope they play it live, even if I see it as unlikely.

I hope they play the whole album live, like they did AMOLAD. Then they would pretty much not have time for anything else. That would be nice, especially if they made this public before the tour, so that the "play teh classics!"-crowd would be scared off. Hah, a man can dream.
 

matic22

Ancient Mariner
EOTC is a classic with one error. It wasn't written in the 80's. :D
But that's an error that only PlayClassics! type of fans would point out...
 
Like many others have said, this track is not just a normal song, it's a soundtrack to a tale narrated by Bruce. The imagery in the song is so strong, it's almost impossible to view it as a mini-movie in one's mind's eye.

At 2:40, I can see crowds of people ("Royals, dignitaries, brandy and cigars") standing at an airbase surrounding the airship awaiting its launch on its maiden flight. Cameras flashing, people chatting, and passengers being ushered on board. Then, at 5:50, the ship is released, and I can imagine the crowds of people cheering, and passengers waving from the windows above. The flight is airborne when guitar riff comes in at 7:20, flying higher and higher above the clouds as the notes ascend.

The R101 reaches its maximum height and flys on triumphantly, and the music reflects this with the soaring guitar solos by Dave and Adrian. But at 11:05, the horns signal an imminent threat to the airship. The music becomes more dramatic to represent the ship flying into an oncoming storm cloud. The guitar solo at 12:04 represents the turbulence that the ship is facing, it flys through rain, hail and perilous wind.

When Bruce comes back in, his voice is apparent panic and distress, which could represent the feelings of the passengers onboard, knowing that the airship is in trouble.

At 14:24, a fast paced piano comes in to represent the ship losing the fight against the storm and is rapidly losing altitude as the ship's nose plummets. When Bruce's vocals come in after this, he sings to confirm the ship is "falling from the sky" and will crash. The somber, melancholy tone to the final section of the song, tells the listener of the large loss of life.

I should stop, I'm sounding like an other enthusiastic English teacher.

Empire of the Clouds really is an opus, and should be regarded as one of Maiden's best ever songs that they have ever recorded. We all knew Bruce could write good songs, but did we know he write them this good?

If the band decides to call it quits and declare that The Book of Souls is their final album, then EOTC will stand as their last song - But what a song it is.


At the part around 14:30, I see 1930s era film footage of the ship going down.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
How big is Empire of the Clouds? It's already a song that, among Maidenfans, we can call with a single word from the title and not be misunderstood. Others: Hallowed, Rime, Fear - and the last one is iffy.
 
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