No Prayer for the Dying: individual album judgement by yours truly

Murder of Rue Morgue

Educated Fool
  1. Tailgunner 4.5/10 - a castrated Aces High
  2. Holy Smoke 6.75/10 - catchy, happy, a good single
  3. No Prayer for the Dying 8/10 - aka Afraid to Shoot Strangers: the reharsals
  4. Publica Enema Number One 6.75/10 - bad title, but a good song
  5. Fates Warning 8/10 - the intro solo is a masterpiece, the song is a hidden gem
  6. The Assassin 4/10 - terrible
  7. Run Silent Run Deep 4.5/10 - the intro is the only good thing
  8. Hooks in You 5/10 - Adrian's worst song to those days
  9. Bring your Daughter... to the Slaughter 3.5/10 - I often question myself what did Steve find in this waste of time which led him to want the song on the album
  10. Mother Russia 5/10 - Alexander the Great mixed with Seventh Son's coda, but badly done
Overall: 5.5/10


Ancient Mariner
  1. Tailgunner 7/10 - Good opener.
  2. Holy Smoke 6/10 - Least favorite song on the album.
  3. No Prayer for the Dying 9/10 - Wonderful song, the fast part is great.
  4. Public Enema Number One 8/10 - Great intro and chorus. This should´ve been the single.
  5. Fates Warning 8,5/10 - Don´t know if the title is dedicated to the American prog metal pioneers but very good song nevertheless.
  6. The Assassin 7/10 - Good, great solo too.
  7. Run Silent Run Deep 7,5/10 - Weak chorus but nice intersection
  8. Hooks in You 9/10 - Underrated as hell!!! This song is very catchy. Sublime solo.
  9. Bring your Daughter... to the Slaughter 8/10 - Great song.
  10. Mother Russia 9/10 - Epic closer.
Overall: 7.9/10


Ancient Mariner

1- Tailgunner:
Maiden's 8th studio album starts with a typical build up that's as familiar (The Number Of The Beast, The Clairvoyant) as effective and exciting. I really love that simple yet catchy bass and guitar variations before the rhythm kicks in. While being really stripped down when compared with the previous albums' openners sound and featuring a much more contained vocal line by Bruce (and raspier, an aspect that is common to the remainder of NPFTD songs), Tailgunner sounds really solid and also does a great job while picturing the memories of a WWII veteran. While not being a pure adrenaline injector like Aces High, Caught Somewhere In Time or Moonchild (nor do I think the band intended it to be) the song is really exciting and well put together. The chorus is quite simple and while not being anything out of this world it's far from compromising the overall great vibe of the track. Most people say this is a poor man's Aces High. Well I disagree and I only can see the connection between the two tracks on two points: the WWII sky fight lyrical subject and the rumbling bridge after the chorus. And although Aces High's on a league of its own, this bridge is also amazing while giving way to some cool solos courtesy of Dave and rookie Janick Gers. At first listening it's a bit of a shock when compared with the majesty of later Maiden openers but IMO Tailgunner is one hell of a song with a really unique charm. 8.75/10

2- Holy Smoke:
To begin with I must admit I love this track: a wild and heavy rock n' roll song. Guitar harmonies sound great, solos are really cool, drums and bass clicking and Bruce's amazing breath technique enhances the verses punch in a stellar fashion. As for the theme it's a satyric diatribe (near comical at times) on the greediness and BS of tele evangelists. That being said there's something wrong here: despite being the advance single, Holy Smoke is completely out of place on this album. Lyrics, mood and even musically wise it seems like a strange body when compared with all other tracks here (except one I'll roast further down this review) and even the majority of Maiden songs. It comes to the point that I believe the cover they made of Stray's All In Your Mind sounds absolutely Maiden and should've been included here and Holy Smoke be the B' Side instead. Not that it's better or worst... it simply mingles much better with the rest of the tracks despite being different. So I'd easily give it a 8 or a 8.25, but since it's so out of place I have to downgrade it a bit. Still have a ball every time I listen to it. 7.25/10

No Prayer For The Dying:
Starting with a soft melody the title track goes even softer into semi acoustic terrain and man both this sections sound great! And while for the last 8 years Bruce has been killing it as a singer on the band this time he simply slaughters this song. I don't know what happened here but despite the raspy tone (that really sounds horrible on this calm section) this absolute off the charts singer even gets out of key at some parts. This is a disgrace and it's beyond my comprehension since I've heard several live versions of this song (one of them being a From Here To Eternity single B' side) and he sounds stellar: much but muuuuuuch better than in the album version. This really puzzles me but hey... it is what it is. The next melody and crescendo are also top notch and the instrumental part is really stunning. My only complaint regarding these sections is that I think they deserved to be a bit longer but it's still great as it is. So I give 8/10 to it live but man: Bruce's performance really makes me avoid the studio version. 7.25/10

Public Enema Number One:
Now this is a charming song title. Don't know what the guys were thinking about but this is the antithesis of appealing. And to be fair the song is far from being shite (unlike what the title suggests). During many years I kinda ignored this track but in all honesty it started to sound better and better with the passing of ages. The initial guitar harmonies are really good, the verses are bombastic and Bruce's harsher approach does wonders on this social issues focused tune. The chorus is also absolutely engaging, the solo section is gorgeous. So yeah... really good track tarnished by a stupid title. For fucks sake couldn't they call it P.E.N.O. or something? I don't care... anything but this! A song that has a certain pomp being associated with Enemas even in a metaphorical way is one of the last things you want stamped on a Maiden record back cover! 7.75/10

Fates Warning:
This song is truly an hidden gem. After a gorgeous brief intro that slightly reminds me of the beginning of The Prophecy a strong yet simple bass line by Mr. Harris serves as the high octane motor that propels the entire tune with full force. The opening guitar notes on the verses are also truly simple yet well imagined and Bruce's singing on this one is amazing, giving that apocalyptic flavor the lyrics demand. As for the chorus while not being top tier stuff is strong enough to keep up with the strong pace of the rest of the track. The bridge is your 101 Maiden inflection point before the solos but works brilliantly and the solos themselvesare also really tasty. We're still presented with a great dual guitar harmony and a state of the art pause for some cool guitar squeals before the last chorus. Besides having that mystical Maiden side Fates Warning is a superb composition that is often overlooked. 8.25/10

The Assassin:
Man does this song sounds well from the get go! A wicked sounding track built upon an incredible bass line and cool drumming patterns with the guitars and vocals accentuating the extremely tense ambiance the hitman lyrics demand. It's a pity the chorus absolutely sucks (those "better watch out" choirs are really cringe worth). Apart from this the rest of the song is quite enjoyable although it seems it's a bit rough on the edges. And once again I must stress: it deserved a refrain that didn't pull its final rating this low. 7,25/10

Run Silent Run Deep:
After a really well thought acoustic intro this track makes way with a galloping riff a la Powerslave. And while being truly strong and engaging it falls short when compared with such epic tune. But then again I can't point you 10 Maiden songs as good as Powerslave so lets enjoy this WWII deep ocean battle themed song for what it is. And in all honesty this is a powerful track with great lyrics and a chorus that features a slightly folkish flavor. And although I'm not much of the fan of the soloing here, the guitar harmony before the song returns to the verses is simply awesome and so is the closing lines, re-ashing the chorus in acoustic fashion. Overall this is great stuff, more in line with what Maiden have done in recent albums and another unfairly overlooked composition. 8.25/10

Hooks In You:
It really puzzles me why the band decided to include this track in the album. First it's one of the worst compositions ever by a member that wasn't even no longer with the band by the time the record came out - that being Adrian Smith that throughout his first season in Maiden wrote nothing but great tunes, unlike this one. Then this thing is a blatant rock n' roll song that is utterly out of place in this album. Well, so is Holy Smoke you may say. But Holy smoke is fast, heavy and energizing while this thing is so feeble and bland it's endearing. The only good part in this wreck of a song is the "Hooks in you, I got those hooks in you" one: I must admit I really love the typical guitar line a la Adrian here. The solos are also ok but soon we're back in the drag that are the verses and chorus of this waste of time. Charlotte's probable third chapter deserved a way better tune and we deserved this song to be hidden somewhere on a B' side. 5/10

Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter:
Ok lets start with the only down side of this song: It sure does have some corny lyrics. Other than that it's no coincidence this single was the only one that went #1 on the UK charts. The thriller like verses are catchy, the chorus is simply the best on this record by far and to be fair ranks among my favorites when it comes to radio friendly Maiden tunes. The "So pick your foolish pride..." bridge is absolutely bombastic and the ensuing solo by Janick is also brutal. And what to say about the ambiance of the still section? The manner how those infernal choirs make way to the last assault on the refrain is flawless. So cut the "let's hate BYDTTS because band member x or y doesn't like it" crap: this is commercial Maiden done with class, intensity and focus and if it wasn't for the goofy lyrics my rate would be even higher. Plus it's one of Maiden's songs that gains the most when played live. 9/10

Mother Russia:
Starting with a great guitar harmony followed by an excellent keyboard meets acoustic guitar ambiance, this epic tune really conjures the frost of the by then dismantelling USSR winter with its march like infectious rhythm courtesy of Mr. McBrain. And while Bruce is merely acessory here, reinforcing the main harmony it works in a truly effective fashion. The following bridge shows once again the keyboards conveying a huge dramatic dimension to the song until the whole thing comes to a moment of inflection and enters a whirlwind of excellent bridges and solos, some of them kinda resembeling the vibe of Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (the song) instrumental section. It then returns to the main verses briefly only to fade out on the frozen acoustic opening section. This is a great song but damn I have one main complaint: it sounds too rushed, too compacted, like the band wanted to finish it as soon as possible. It deserved at least two more minutes for all the sections to breathe and develop. It seems like an edit of the original a la single version and that kinda hurts the final outcome. And this is the only fault that I spot here because since everything else sound great. 8/10

So Maiden tried to revamp their more direct and raw side on this one after a prog metal stravaganza in Seventh Son. Due to this some say No Prayer For The Dying sounds poor, lacks ambition and quality. I disagree. Although it features some lackluster moments and some coherency I really like many of the songs here (almost every single one of them, to be fair) and I believe the main problem is the band kinda got stuck in no man's land. It is far from a epic metal album like Powerslave, Piece Of Mind, Somewhere In Time or to a certain degree The Number Of The Beast but its way too soft and pompous when compared with the DiAnno era wild years. There are some songs that try to reach for that more stripped down feel to it like Holy Smoke, The Assassin, Hooks in you and even Bring Your Daughter but there's still lots of more refined later Maiden arrangements in tracks such as Mother Russia, Fates Warning and Run Silent Run Deep. They're not as polished as the last three albums but sure retain some common traits. And there's nothing wrong with it. The cover is also a bit more stripped down but I truly love it overall and although I like all the enhancements on the 1998 release version I miss the grave robber being grabbed by the neck. Decentely produced, the record was kind of a let down when it came out and obviously their least good release to date. But with the passing of time It grew on me and IMO it's overall a really solid record featuring some stellar passages. 7.25/10
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Ancient Mariner
I don't have a huge problem with the production on this one, a bit raw but so what

Tailgunner - 8. Intro is good as is the verse but not keen on the chorus, it's not a great lyric and the melody is poor. Interesting rhythm guitar part outshines the two solos

Holy Smoke - 10, A brilliant pop single from Maiden, catchy riff, no flab and a great lyric from Bruce. Love Janick's fluttery harmonics in the solo

No Prayer for the Dying - 9, Soulful verse reminiscent of Kayleigh, nice touch with the melody instead of a chorus, typical Maiden style tempo change for the solos, which again feature really interesting rhythm guitar parts

Public Enema Number One - 9, terrible pun, great melody intro, love the way the chorus slows down and then kicks back in, plus the side to side riff between the verse, love the build up to Dave's solo and it's maybe the best one on the album. TBH not sure exactly why I'm docking this one a mark, it's pretty great.

Fates Warning - 7, intro sounds good, as does the riff that kicks in, verse not great, melody isn't the best and lyrics are fairly generic and I think Steve has dumbed down the lyrics a bit, he's done this topic before a lot better. Good harmony after the first solo, as usual from Maiden even with a song that's not firing on all cylinders they throw in a great melody, more side to side harmonics at the end of Janicks solos but song ends real abruptly.

The Assassin - 7, I think this is musically brilliant, it creates a real menacing atmosphere and there's very little flab, rhythm guitar parts in the solo are again real interesting. But the lyrics are so dumb it's beyond belief, and Bruce's vocal performance is so hammy and hackneyed. The chorus is really catchy if only the words were nearly anything else.

Run Silent, Run Deep - 10, Best track on the album, Intro creates a nice mood and a great groove for the verse, Bruce sounds great on the chorus, and how he delivers the line "a cunning fox in the chicken's lair" with a straight face deserves a medal. Yet again great rhythm for the solo, it's a real theme of this album. Plus another stellar harmony coming out of it. Love the breakdown for the last chorus repetition.

Hooks in You - 8, I don't think Maiden do sleazy well but I can't help but enjoy this one as it's just mindless fun, Riff is good, it's the Crue's Looks that Kill with a bit of panache added.

Bring Your Daughter... The Slaughter - 10, more mindless fun, as the first Maiden track I ever heard I'll always have a soft spot for this one. Love all the noises and creaks during the verses, and the riff for the chorus is so rock n roll Marty McFly could have invented it. One of my favourite wildman Janick solos. Fetch is so english it's no wonder Bruce voted leave:lol: Bonkers "ah ah" section before the last chorus, track is so off the wall it's great and ending on a Hendrix chord must be unique for Maiden.

Mother Russia - 6. some ok Russian sounding melodies, but the lyrics and vocal melody are pretty bad, maybe it would have worked better as an instrumental? Low key Nicko drumming, a theme which developed throughout the 90s, just doesn't work for me, especially the grooveless solo sections.