Randalf said:Iron Maiden: 8
Killers: around 7.5
The Number of the Beast: around 8
Piece of Mind: around 9 or even above?
Powerslave: Another 9, maybe
Somewhere in Time: 9 (A BLASPHEMY?)
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son: 10
No Prayer for the Dying: 6.5
Oh, one of the first "worst Maiden songs" candidates I could name when I was discovering the discography for the first time. Over time, I've learned to appreciate the idea just a tad bit more, but... eh. No. While the earlier "experiments" were quite ok, even if not really that great, this one just falls very flat. It's cool that they tried different things, but it all feels more forced than organically creative on this album. 3? 4? Who cares, I just don't really like it.
my satisfaction is immeasurable and my day is savedThe Apparition
HUGE step up from Chains of Misery - now we're REALLY COOKING again. I can only describe the stop-start riffs as full of SWAGGER and attitude. I've often imagined Bruce sitting with me towards the back of a pub, relating the tale to me as we through dice and reminisce on tales both fanciful and down to Earth. Rarely mentioned in discussions of this controversial Maiden track are the lead breaks - exhilarating and unexpected/surprising are adjectives that come to mind.
Torridly underrated - there's been many times where I place the FOTD CD into my player and listen to The Apparition by itself (I've also turned at least 3 people onto Iron Maiden with this track - fans of pop music and even R&B will find lots to love here - and I was a fan of both as a boy in the 1980's. I hope to cover The Apparition with my own band someday. 10/10
Nice review. I enjoy FITK though.IRON MAIDEN - FEAR OF THE DARK (re-listening 2020)
1- Be Quick Or Be Dead: When this single came out I was absolutely blown away. This proto thrash furious track penned by Mr. Gers and Mr. Dickinson is a breeze of fresh air on Maiden's kinda self contained previous record and man did it sound exciting! The guitar riffs sounded powerful and angry as hell, with Bruce's siren scream making its presence from the get go and presenting an even raspier approach than the one the harnessed in the previous album that truly combines with the aggressive nature of the song. The pre-chorus is simply wicked and while the refrain is quite simple we're immediately thrown into a great bridge. To wrap things up a couple of roller coaster like guitar solos and by the end of the song all I was thinking was "Man! If the rest of the album is on this quality level this is going to be huge!". Little I knew how dead wrong I was as I was about to discover by the day the album came out. Nevertheless it's still a monster of a track that simply takes no prisoners. And although I still love it kinda fell a tiny bit in my rank. Still an undeniably great and relentless song. 9/10
2- From Here To Eternity: Starting with a cool bass line complemented with some heavy bluesy guitar lines, the start of this track looks ok. But as the verses start flowing I find myself listening to one of British metals' finest bands ever, a legend of an institution, playing some American sleazy cheap FM hard rock. Are you kidding me? The harsh vocals that made wonders for the opening track sound absolutely awful here and even the lyrics are ridiculous. Charlotte's adventures third part - or fourth if you count with Hooks In You - deserved more than a "she was hitchhiking and the devil came with his big bad bike that ensorceled the chick who immediately fell in love with it and they roamed to hell and lived happy ever after" bullshit. Ah! then there's that chorus: "EHH! Ain't a bad place... eh is from here to eternity" is what I hear since the choir is so bad ir seems it was recorded by a bunch of drunk football supporters. Really, with the exception of the opening line and Dave's solo this song is utter crap. 4.25/10
3- Afraid To Shoot Strangers: This gulf war drama filled chronic is one of the band's most interesting compositions. It's divided into 3 really distinct sections over its 7 minute length. Featuring a 12 by 8 strange time signature (that Nicko divides into a somewhat waltz like drum line) the first section is as calm as haunting with keyboards backing up some really nice fingerpicking guitar lines while Bruce's soft voice makes his presence be felt for the first time in this record. Although being a melodic section the anxiety of a soldier before going into battle and his inner questions about "what am I doing here?" are absolutely achieved and the ambiance is simply superb. Speaking of superb I think that's precisely the word to define the guitar harmonies that are the base of the second section, a quick shift for your regular 4 by 4 with lots of melody and working as some sort of refrain. The track then enters its 3rd part and this one is much more expected since it's basically an uptempo guitar harmonies and solos filled cluster. And although there's nothing new here, it works wonders for the track, since its sped up and adrenaline full nature resembles the chaos of battle. The song than returns for a last go on the beautiful chorus section until it fades with grace. Epic, dramatic and a bit unusual in its morphology this song is truly a gem that deserves our praise. 8.75/10
4- Fear Is The Key: God have mercy! What have I done to see my pre-teen heroes do something so bad? Why.... just why??? Well this thing doesn't start in such an awful way with a cheap attempt of recapturing Zeppelin's Kashmir ambiance with a bit of Purple's Perfect Strangers (although falling short, obviously) but what follows is absolute garbage. This sleazy funk metal guitar riff begins and man... Bruce's voice is again sounding like crap and both the pre-chorus and refrain are absolutely mediocre. At least the the bridge before the song enters the "lies and lies and lies" bridge is decent. Speaking of that bridge it's quite interesting but the idiotic fashion Bruce repeats the verse's lines like he was a footbal reporter simply ruins it. The lyrics really approach a serious matter and have merit for that. But they are so poorly written it's embarassing. To sum it up this is a disaster. Hated this song's guts when it came out and still hate it now. And as far as I'm concerned this is by far biggest turd ever recorded on a Maiden studio album. 3/10
5- Childhood's End: A cool pompous guitar melody with keys and Nicko's cymbals resounding give way to a tom filled tribal drum pattern that Harri's bass immediately reinforces while another really interesting guitar lead composes what will later be the chorus. It then goes to the verses that are really reminiscent of The Clairvoyant ones and really sound ok. Bruce's voice is also sounding good especially on the chorus. As for the soloing part transition it seems a bit forced but overall there's nothing wrong with it. Overall a really solid and melodic song with humanitarian concerned lyrics with some great details here and there that makes me smile again. 7.25/10
6- Wasting Love: Maiden playing ballads? Mmmmm... something tells me it won't work out but ok: let's see where this is heading to. And it starts ok since the initial lead (although being a bit whiny) has its undeniable charm. Nicko's drums could do something a bit more appealing though (namelly on the breaks). Then the expected typicall fingerpicking guitar slows down the mood and Bruce starts singing. And mother of mercy... what's wrong with this man? Once again every time he raises his tone the voice sounds raspy and strained, completely disrupting the already vulgar melody it is intended to work upon. And once again I'm tortured listening to this demigod of a singer going out of tune a couple of times. As for the lyrics, although dealing with the subject of love, at least they're not your cliche lovy dovy crap and in all honesty are really well penned. But then comes the chorus and man is this thing awful! Some badly put together chords with a tenor singing on top while the bass simply fills gaps and the drums... oh man... the drums on this part are so lame. It hurts me saying this about such an excellent drumer as Nicko but that "thum thum! thum thum! pah!" sticking to the whole irritating pattern is the absolute epitome of mediocrity and reinforcing the worst part of the chorus is far from being a good idea. Well, on the positive side Janick manages to pull a simply gorgeous solo and the song's clip is also really good. But to be fair, this is a really poor track especially in a format the band never did (a pure ballad) treading once again on that hard rock radio friendly area. It has a couple of good parts but the bad ones absolutely turn this track into a mess. Next! 4/10
7- The Fugitive: This thing starts and I'm in Maiden land again and can't avoid releasing a sigh of relief. After a rumbling intro a typically gorgeous Harris style bass makes its way before Bruce and the keyboards make their way and man does this thing sound great. Then the verses are simply an extension of this section and although I expected something more exciting after such a great intro I must admit it works decently. Bruce's voice sound cleaner than the majority of the other songs while the lyrics are quite uninspired to be honest. So, if the chorus is top notch this song will surely be an highlight on this album. And when the chorus begins "disappointment" is the only word that comes to my head. Not that it's awful or bad but it's so dull and sounds so flat that completely makes the song lose its balance. On the other hand the soloing section is interesting has some really cool parts (especially that breakdown before the last solo). It's a pity since this track had everything to be a really solid Maiden tune (something by then I was starting to conclude is absolutely rare in this album) but the deflating chorus kinda blew it. Hey... at least it features some great sections and sounds like proper Maiden! 6/10
8- Chains Of Misery: Kicking in with a Sabbath like strong riff when it reaches the verses it's plain to see this song is some sort of really heavy tune with some hard rock sparkles here and there and although being far from top tier it really sounds enjoyable. Bruce's harsh vocals here work really nice. A brief pre-chorus featuring an interesting guitar scale makes way for the refrain and... oh no! Not again! Although the melody is absolutely mundane the major problem here is that the "From Here To Eternity drunk football supporter choir" is here once again to torture our eardrums while chanting the song's title in their beer filled fervour. Why? God... just why? After the second time we have to suffer through this treat a really melodic and cool solo begins but Bruce thinks it's a good idea to ramble upon it when it should be heard in its entirity (they call it solo for a reason). The following solo although a bit more generic is also really cool and delivers its share of melody. Then the song returns to the chorus and you know what that means. Chains Of Misery would have been a reallly solid and decent heavy song wasn't it for someone letting semi inebriated people roaming around the recording studio. And that's a pity. 5.75/10
9- The Apparition: Well... for starts I must say this song is strange to say the least. It starts immediately with the sang verses and the guitars are really lackluster here. Bruce's voice sounds quite ok then. It then goes to a really typical Maiden cool bridge with some keyboards that work really well and that serve as a launch pad to some great soloing and interesting sections, especially the one after the first solo with the guitars and bass harmonizing (it really reminds me of DiAnno era stuff). Then the main verses are repeated and the song ends. Really? Is that it? I mean... there are some good ideas here but this has all the aspect of being a scratch of a soon to be a song, really far from the finished product. The degree of laziness here is of the charts nd I'll only give it a pass because it has some really exciting parts in its couple of roughly put together sections. So now do me a favor: get in the damned studio and finish the song will you? 5/10
10- Judas Be My Guide: After a pompous intro this thing gives way to a typical metal solo immediatly. Then comes the verses and although being a bit out of Maiden scope (more into something like the heaviest hard n' heavy tunes of the late 70's) I must admit this sounds really on point. Bruce's aggressive approach does wonders on this one really gives it some edge and works in a brilliant fashion. Nicko's drum line on this one unlike several other tracks in the record is also tight as hell, especially on the pre-chorus. Nothing too complicated but complements and brings value to the track like it's expected from a master calibre drumer like Mr. McBrain. And the chorus is also as simple as great, with the fantastic vocals assuming all the protagonism here (seems like someone locked the drunk choir outside by this point). We're still given a typical dual guitar gorgeous harmony before the bridge that leads to your typical heavy rock soloing section. So there you go: if Maiden wanted to go a bit more into hard rock and gave me this throughout the majority of this album instead of american fm radio BS I would really buy it. Not that I adore it or consider it to be top tier Maiden but it sure is engaging, well written and preformed, melodic and exciting while keeping some traits of the band's traditional sound. 7.25/10
11- Weekend Warrior: I must admit I kinda fancied this track the first time I listened to it and I still do. But with the passing of time a question kept haunting me and that question was: "what is this song doing here?". And quite frankly I found the answer... it does nothing but mischaracterize this mess of an album even more. Because if songs like From Here To Eternity, Wasting Love, Fear Is The Key sound nothing like Maiden and are absolute strange bodies in this record, Weekend Warrior is the by far the most blatant example when it comes to this. To be fair this song has some really cool melodic calm guitars that flow into something that kinda reminds me of Yes' Owner Of The Lonely Heart groove. A kinda stop and go chilled out tune with some interesting sections and basic lyrics. Unlike many people I like Bruce's approach on the verses and the transition to a softer tone when the ryhthm goes still (portraying the make believe second life some supporters live versus the one they have to face back to their daily reality). The last solo is also really good with an excellent background fill. But all this is irrelevant because this song sounds raelly bad here... it's that simple. If I didn't knew I would say Bruce composed it since it has some traits that resemble some of his early solo songs. But the fact it was made by Dave and Steve puzzles me even more. So would I listen to this song if it was on Balls To Picasso (as an example)? Yeah sure: it has some cool passages and sounds quite balanced. But as an Iron Maiden song? Nah... No way José! This is like if Slayer pulled a Polka or Helloween did a Tango in one of their albums. It could be decent (as Weekend Warrior is) but would never mix well with its vicinity. Still, regarding the song's lyrics, I'm surprised they didn't let the "From Here To Eternity drunk football supporter choir" give it a go for a last time. Surprised and grateful! 5/10
12- Fear Of The Dark: Ok, if there's a Maiden song that severely suffered from overplaying in my country it's the title track from Maiden's 9th album. So I'll try to be fair while commenting a song that I must admit I'm really fed up. The intro to The Sisters Of Mercy's Temple Of Lo... ehem... I mean, Iron Maiden's Fear Of The Dark is pompous and epic, something this album really lacks. The still part does one hell of a job of creating ambiance with a superb use of keyboards and is the first of some absurdly compeling sing along parts. Then the whole thing goes uptempo in a simple yet effective heavy metal tune. The chorus is also really basic but well put together and after the second go round where Nicko halves the chorus' pace we're in for a sequence of some of the most beloved live parts by Maiden casuals (and others). The first and second guitar harmonies work as true gigantic anchors live pulling those "whoa! whoa! whoa! whoa! " chants from the audience and they have truly that epic Maiden flavor. After a duel betweem Dave and Janick another harmonic variation this time with Bruce reinforcing it with the song's title has that same magnetic effect. Then the song goes for a last spin on the verse/ chorus combo and ends with a shorter version of the still and sinister intro. Fear Of The Dark is indeed an inteligent and crafty song. The lyrics are a bit basic but then again composition while this and Afraid To Shoot Strangers are what you get closer to a Maiden epic on this record. And curiously enough both were the only ones that outlived this album's tour, especially the title track. That can't be a trick of chance and speaks volumes about this song. Do I think it's overrated? Hell yeah! Am I sick of listening to it? You Bet! But is it a great composition especially when compared with many of the garbage I had to endure throughout this album? Absolutely! Has it deserved its place among Maiden pantheon (although in a lower shelve than the absolute masterpieces)? I must agree, especially due to its reception when played live. Great song but I still don't wanna listen to it until I go to the band's next gig, ok? Thank you. 8.25/10
Bonus tracks/ Original B' sides:
Nodding Donkey Blues: Another funny vibe blues with piano B' side with hilarious lyrics. The boys having fun, nothing more than it. 3/10
Fear Of The Dark is a mess, period. Not that it's absolutely devoid of great tracks: BQOBD, ATSS, FOTD, JBMG and CE are great material as far as I'm concerned but the rest varies from filler quality to absolute trash. And the lack of coherency among tracks on this thing is embarassing. Half of them have almost zero Maiden DNA which would be ok for me if those weren't precisely the songs that sucked the most! This is a record that shows a band astray, lacking harmony, on the brink of collapse, something that would prove to be true with Bruce quiting Maiden. On the bright side the production is really nice (although I'm not a fan of that snare drum sound) and it still gave birth to some hidden gems and Melvyn Grant did an excellent job while filling the huge shoes of Mr. Riggs: that vampire like Eddie and the way the moonlight is used... wow. Nevertheless I expect Maiden to never make an overall record as bad as Fear Of The Dark again. 5.75/10
Now that's a problem! Nah, seriously, it isn't... we all have our own likes and that's the beauty of the whole thing. Thanks for the compliment and enjoy Maiden. BTW sorry for the grammar errors since it's not my native tongue and sometimes lack the patience to review what I write properly.Nice review. I enjoy FITK though.