Oh my, this song is so good! It's certainly the best opener since "Moonchild", and weirdly enough doesn't seem like a Bruce solo track at all; Maiden were able to pull it off very well, in their own, unique kind of sound. Not as heavy as the atmospheric intro implies, but still a great deal of payoff, opening a great album on a terrifically strong note. The lack of solos (not exactly a full lack, since we do get an H half-soloing during the ending chorus) is definitely not a problem; in fact, I think any solo in this song would hurt the overall experience quite a bit. The acoustic outro, musically, reminds me of the outro from "The Prophecy" (which is good, since I love the melody on both), but the spoken description of Necropolis (who was supposed to be a main character in Bruce's solo concept album) feels out of place. A fully instrumental outro would've been better. Overall, a 9 for this one.
After what is probably their most disappointing album not from the 90’s, they came back with a great one, starting from this song, the best intro since The Wicker Man at the very least, and maybe even Moonchild. One of the most surprising things is that the vocal performance is much better than on The Final Frontier, despite five years and a cancer in between.
The song is great overall. It’s very strange to have an 8 minute Maiden track without a guitar solo, but it still works very well, despite the chorus becoming a bit too repetitive towards the end. Keeping the outro was a weird choice, but it doesn’t feel out of place. 9/10
A strange, plaintive, horn-like synth introduces an a capella, reverb-soaked vocal intro with ominous pulsing pads underneath. Some more atmospherics and another vocal line, and we kick into a driving, midtempo verse. Bruce sounds a little husky, but still on point here.
A cool, ascending instrumental pre-chorus breaks into a strong, very catchy chorus. Another round of verse through chorus and a percussive break leads into a nice melodic bridge with some more cool ascending parts and some sweet bass licks. A nice harmonized section follows, then a brief eastern lead falls back into the chorus with some very nice backing solos.
As the end of the song fades away, it's replaced by a nice acoustic bit and some bizarre monologuing by Necropolis. When I first heard this I thought we were in for a concept album, and I learned later on that that was in fact true, but just not for this band or album! I hope Bruce goes ahead and re-uses this for his next solo album, completing the story.
Very strong from start to finish, living on the razor's edge of greatness. I'll round this up to an 8/10.