Rime of the Ancient Mariner

How good is Rime of the Ancient Mariner on a scale of 1-10?

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The thing that makes this track a masteripece are the dynamics in the middle part. And then the epic crescendo and the epic scream RAAAAAAIN.

Mr Harris, take my 10.
So, here we are. My favorite Maiden song ever (only topped by the Live After Death version of "Iron Maiden", but since we're discussing studio records, this is it). Oh my, I don't even know what to write about it. "Powerslave" is Bruce's masterpiece. This is Steve's. Brilliant song from start to finish, featuring pretty much everything a Maiden fan wants to hear: heavy riffing in an epic and extremely varied song, complete with an atmospheric spoken interlude, telling a fucking creepy story and, not just that, re-creating the entire story in sound. This is Maiden's own kind of symphony. And they pull it off fucking perfectly. 11!
This is the first Maiden song I listened to, as far as I can remember. Strangely enough, I discovered it thanks to my English teacher, that mentioned it while talking about Coleridge. Since I really liked the Rime already, I decided to look it up. At first I was kinda scared by the length of the song, but I loved it right from the start. I still think the bass part is a bit too long, and they should have shortened it a bit when putting the different parts together. That’s definitely not enough to bring this masterpiece down though. The ‘rain’ part, followed by the solos, might be the best Maiden moment ever. The Flight 666 version is tied with Rio’s Fear of the Dark for their best live song. 10/10, what else?
I...kinda didn't want to go 10 here, because it's a not as perfect as the other 10s I've been giving (trying to be sparse with those) bit honestly... it's a frigging great song and less just wouldn't feel right.
Hey, question. Who is the narrator during the quiet interlude? It just occurred to me that I don't know the answer. I've always assumed it was Bruce, but listening to it now and actually paying attention, doesn't sound like him at all. Is it really him? If not, who is it?
I used to think it weird when people claimed Rime to be the best Maiden song. It seemed to drag on for a bit too long and I couldn't fully appreciate the quiet interlude. Now, in my rejuvenated Maiden fandom, I take it for one of the greats, if not the greatest Maiden epic.
Pros: thrown into action, classic gallop, guitar harmonies, cool change of pace, proggy interlude that sounds like it takes place on an underwater shipwreck, powerful build-up, solo section with more guitarmonies, smooth return to main riff and outro.
Cons: can't think of anything to improve this song. The guitar section right after the solos is peak Maiden. Absolute classic, from the first note till the very last. 10/10.
Empire of the Clouds is the greatest song of all time. I've stated this often enough. But I will freely admit that there have been times when I've listened to Rime and thought... "y'know... this song could give it a run for its money."

Empire succeeds because it takes a story and plays it out step by step, slowly building, rising and falling. Rime succeeds because it takes a story and plays it out in a different way than expected. Really, Rime of the Ancient Mariner isn't so much an "epic" as it is a lengthened song. It doesn't feel like 13 and a half minutes. It feels a lot shorter. It's no different from something like Aces High or Two Minutes To Midnight... EXCEPT for the fact that it's actually a musical masterpiece in five parts - the rocking opening, the rocking change-up, the quiet bass moment, the epic fucking solo, and the coming-full-circle ending. It rocks. It rocks despite the fact that it's 13 and a half minutes long. It's awesome.

I can't really remember to well what I thought of this song the first few times I heard it. I liked it, sure, but it wasn't until about last year that it suddenly grew on me. It went from "good song" to "hey, this is a pretty great song" to "this a fucking masterpiece of music".

It's not my personal favorite Iron Maiden song, but I think it deserves the title of "The Greatest Metal Song of All Time". Innovation, influence, and sheer force, musicality, and awesomeness...

It's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. What else can you say?
It's the quintessential escapist Maiden epic. I listened to it last night for the first time in ages and it struck me how much energy and pace 80s Maiden had - even on the long songs. All of the different parts do a great job of contributing to the storytelling and buildup. It definitely feels like you're going on a journey when you listen to this tune. The first transition after the verse (the "Here comes the Mariner" part) is just epic.
So here we are. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". The closing track to the already perfect Powerslave.

How did we get here?

From the first album, Maiden have at least attempted to go somewhere with their songs. Sure, "Prowler", "Running Free", and "Iron Maiden" aren't exactly lyrical marvels, but "Strange World" tries to do create mood and atmosphere with some heartfelt lyrics, "Remember Tomorrow" attempts the same (and fails), "Charlotte the Harlot" tries to look at a controversial subject matter, and obviously "Phantom of the Opera" is based on one of the greatest novels of all time. Note something here: "Phantom" is written from the perspective of a character in the story, warning all of the titular Phantom of the Opera.

On Killers, obviously there was less happening lyrically, but we did get another step forward in the literary songs department. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is only partly based on the Poe short story. Actually, it takes the basics of it and rewrites it differently to fit the Killers concept. Instead of Dupin and his accomplice, we're treated to a song about a man (who may insane) finding a murder and fleeing the country because everyone thinks he did it. Different to the original, but with kind of the same thing at heart.

On The Number of the Beast, we get a double dosage with "Children of the Damned" and "The Prisoner". The first one describes an evil person annihilated to save others... or so it first seems, as they take the narrative and twist it for another meaning - perhaps witch hunts are the evil. And then the latter song is the titular prisoner describing what he's gonna do with his life from here on out.

Piece of Mind opens up its doors to give us a bunch of songs that continue what "Phantom of the Opera" set in motion. "Where Eagles Dare" is based on a movie; "Revelations" takes a Chesterton hymn and adds to it; "Flight of Icarus" rewires the classical myth; "The Trooper" retells the charge of the light brigade from the viewpoint of a doomed soldier; "Quest For Fire" is also based on a movie; and "To Tame A Land" is, of course, based on the novel Dune. Let's note something else here: Maiden's epics. "Phantom" was 7 minutes and 20 seconds long. "Prodigal Son", the longest song on Killers, was 6:05. TNOTB's, "Hallowed Be Thy Name", was 7:08, and finally "To Tame A Land" is 7:26. In other words, there was a great deal of build-up in the literary metal song category and a (more inconsistent) build-up in song length.

With the last track on Powerslave, these two combined together to bring us the monster 13 minute 45 second "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", based on one of the greatest English poems of all time.

From the first note, "Rime" is different from every Maiden epic that came before it and every epic that followed it - there is no build-up whatsoever. No soft acoustic section, no quite vocals, nothing like that. It's just "duhduhduhduhBAM!" and we're launched right into the riff. There's nothing to pad the run time. It pretty much feels like any ordinary song.

Look at these lyrics. Unlike the other songs that were based on already made works, "Rime" doesn't try to showcase different things like character views on their situation, one aspect of the story, etc. The only goal is to tell a story. And it succeeds with flying colors. Steve's song is little more than an abridged version of the original poem. Which begs the question - who likes abridged works? I certainly don't. Moby Dick isn't half as good when the whale terminology chapters are excluded, as they're necessary for the greater whole. It's almost the same with "Rime". The original poem is a masterpiece, and getting the story by reading it is better than by listening to the song, unless you're only in it to get the basics of it. That said, lyrics go hand-in-hand with music, and the music is evocative of the original poem to its very core. It feels like you're with the wedding guest when he meets the Mariner; it feels like you're with the Mariner when he shoots the albatross, when he watches his crewmates die, when he is rescued, etc.

Which almost begs the question - is "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" merely intended to draw people to the original "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"? It seems quite likely. That said, it may also be that Steve loved the poem and thought it would make a great song and actually made a great song out of it. Yeah, I think it's the latter. But I'm damned if the song isn't a great advertisement for the original poem.

Obviously another thing that makes this song work is the constant changes that occur. After the first few minutes we're plunged into nearly a different song, but it carries on the same story and the same feel. Once it ends, the bass-led quieter bit begins. This often seems to be the make-or-break moment for most people. Is it just hear to pad the runtime? Or could it be that Steve Harris knew that to expertly continue the song we would need something different to set our emotions back down low but slowly turn them back up as it progresses. Not only does it help create mood for the story, it also sets us up for what's next to occur.

As drums kick back up and Bruce and guitar come back to the forefront, we are slowly led along as the Mariner changes his tune and receives forgiveness in the form of RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The iconic scream - rivaled only by the one in "The Number of the Beast" - ushers us into the single best moment in Maiden's discography: Rime's perfect instrumental. Every bit of this is just ear candy. The guitars are perfect, and obviously, when it all ends, we return - full-circle - back to where we began, to finish the story and provide closure for us all.

Certainly there were metal epics before 1984. What Iron Maiden did with "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", however, was to reinvent what people considered and looked upon as a "metal epic". From this point forward, every epic that followed would be in the shadow of this monster of a song. Any band that released one - including Maiden with their subsequent epics - would need to strive, not to be better than "Rime", but to get damn near close to it. It changed the landscape forever in the metal scene.

If Iron Maiden hadn't released "Rime", they'd still be the greatest band of all time. If Powerslave didn't include this epic, it'd still be one of the greatest albums ever released. But with "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", both become even better than they would be otherwise. "Rime" is a good part of the reason in why Powerslave is a milestone in metal albums and why Maiden are such icons in the genre.

Finally, when I listen to "Rime", I don't feel the 13 minutes and 45 seconds that transpire. The whole thing is lengthy, yes, but you become wrapped-up in the tale, wrapped-up in the music, wrapped-up in the vocals, that by the time it's over, you feel as though maybe five minutes passed at most. It feels like a normal song... a normal song that was extended and transformed into an epic tale of bad judgement, vengeance, penance, and forgiveness. This is a song you come back to time and time again... or as Steve writes and Bruce sings: "And the tale goes on and on and on and on...."

Quite simply, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is the only song truly deserving of the title - 'Greatest Metal Song Of All Time'.

As drums kick back up and Bruce and guitar come back to the forefront, we are slowly led along as the Mariner changes his tune and receives forgiveness in the form of RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A descending lead greets a mid-paced gallop with occasional fills that supports a vocally busy but appealing verse 1. A brief harmonized break leads us back to the verse and a brief but catchy chorus 1 ("sailing on and on...").

Another round of verse 1 and chorus 1, another verse 1, a brief instrumental break, and then we cut into a verse 2 that switches off between a capella vocals and melodic breaks before cutting into an appealing chorus 2. Another round of verse 2 and chorus 2 takes us into an extended interlude.

A swaying bass lead gives way to a driving guitar bit, eventually breaking down and dissolving. A soft bass lead with volume knob guitar accents sets the scene as the wood of the ship creaks and a man quotes Coleridge. We marinate in this for a bit as we consider the words we've just heard.

A brief pause and the bass comes back in at a more driving pace. Bruce delivers one long crescendo of a bridge, with the guitars building tension as the mariner reaches the pivotal moment of his story...and then down in falls comes the RAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIN!!

The band slowly builds up underneath Bruce's amazing scream, breaking into a driving riff and a pair of excellent solos, followed by a couple of decent harmonized sections and a few melodic breakdowns before returning to the verse 1 riff.

Another round of verse 1, harmonized break, verse 1, and chorus 1, then a final pass through verse 1 and chorus 1 closes out the song, ending on a long vocal note.

This song could be accused of being repetitive in parts, but the constant changing of the lyrics keeps things fresh, and the length and repetition lines up thematically with the story that the song is telling.

This is another great example of the "theater of the mind" in full effect, where the whole becomes greater than the sum of its already great parts. A triumph of musical storytelling. 10/10.
Yep, there was the time when Steve's songs were as long as they needed to be.
No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...No more length!...
I would argue that Rime is a bit too long, but I love most of the reunion epics, so who am I to say:p
What can I say that I haven't already said a hundred thousand times? This song is utterly perfect and the best thing the classic Maiden lineup ever made together. 10