Senjutsu - 3rd September 2021

GhostofCain

Ancient Mariner
I mean, this is a matter of interpretation, but to me "Empire" reads like a caricature of British imperialism. Bruce evokes all the pathos of British grandeur but shows us it belongs to a mindset of people who are completely full of themselves ("royalty and dignitaries, brandy and cigars"), have the vision of a limitless empire ("to India they say, magic carpet float away"), but eventually all their bombast drags them down to their doom. The language is very British, but if there's one thing I know, or thought to know, about Bruce, it's that when he talks about Britain and British ambitions, he likes to be very tongue-in-cheek. I thought "Empire" was such great storytelling because Bruce uses the R101 disaster as a metaphor for the British Empire as a whole.
That's why it is so difficult for me to handle the completely unironic take on Churchill found in "Darkest Hour" as coming from Bruce. It celebrates the same pompous glorification that "Empire" parodies.

Spot on!
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I thought "Empire" was such great storytelling because Bruce uses the R101 disaster as a metaphor for the British Empire as a whole.
I agree, and I think your take is a great one I mostly agree with. The only thing is that in framing “Empire” as a tragedy, one can draw the conclusion that the fall of the British Empire is likewise a parody, one that Mr. Dickinson is incredibly sad over. But that could be picking at straws and looking for intentions that aren’t there in actual fact. As far as I know, Bruce just really likes England and British history and comes at it from a point of old-school gung-ho-ery with a dash of modern hipness. Kinda depends on the song as to where he achieves success best.
 

Zare

Uniformly distributed hostility
But, he speaks about R101 as a disaster project because the project was led by the state, rushed in service by the state, so they can display brandy and cigars in high skies. R100 was led by a private company and had a impeccable service record (recalled after several flights due to sister ship disaster) and he specifically used it as a counter-point to the disastrous R101. However both were paid for by the state and designed by the state. The "Empire's" involvement in R100 is still huge - entire R&D and entire operational funding. So the song simply can't be a critique of the Imperial system as a whole.

IRL the story of R101 is taking it really, really too far in terms of state control. The R101 was entirely state-run project, top to bottom. Which wasn't norm not even in the empires.

I would take it as a critique to R101 as a project, which can't be applied even to its class of ships let alone the entire Britain.
 

dmort93

Educated Fool
Don't forget Maiden are all post war kids. That has a huge factor in their outlooks and songwriting.

In regards to Darkest Hour, Bruce has even said he's not idolising Churchill and acknowledges he was a flawed character.

From the rolling stone interview; https://www.rollingstone.com/music/...n-bruce-dickinson-senjutsu-interview-1219598/

What is the Senjutsu song “Darkest Hour” about?
It’s about Churchill and how, for all his mistakes and his personal flaws — and there were plenty of them — he did one thing in his life, which was to stand up against this tyrant who would have engulfed the world in his madness … you know, Hitler. And Churchill stood up against the advice of lots of great, worthy people. Half his government was opposed to him, and he was just a cantankerous alcoholic, grumpy old git that went, “No. Had enough. You shall not pass. That’s it.”

But of course, he had his flaws, and that’s the point of the chorus: There he is, “naked by the throne of kings.” He suffered from depression, which is the line about the black dog stalking him, and the song is bookended by beach sounds at both ends. The beach at the beginning is Dunkirk, where basically we ran away and the beach at the end is D-Day. And both beaches were steeped in blood for different reasons.
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
I'll give Bruce the benefit of the doubt and say that those lyrics are referring to the pre-war period when he was a loan voice opposing appeasement, rather than it being Churchill claiming to have singlehandedly won WW2
That's what I would have presumed. Churchill's claim to fame wasn't him being the real life inspiration for Rambo.
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
But it is a blatant lie. There were many others against appeasement across the political spectrum, but Bruce is either unaware of it or, even worse, ignoring it to portray Churchill as this heroic figure who stood alone against the appeasers.
Many a legend has the historical figure standing alone and above and doing heroic things that change history. It's just the way it goes.
It would make for a really boring and long song to write a historically correct and balanced, and expressing all views and disclosing all positives and weaknesses.

Song writers can take poetic licence when it comes to writing concise and interesting songs.
Do we hate Inglorious Basterds because it wasn't historically accurate???
 

maideneer10

Educated Fool
Currently listening to Senjutsu for over the 100th time.
This album is amazing. It's just so heavy. I can honestly say that I am no longer skipping any songs on the album. I used to skip TTM and the Parchment but no longer.
I am loving every moment of this beast of an album.
Sir Bruce was right when he said it is better than BOS and I loved the majority of that album. Roll on the next one asap.
 

Josh

Ancient Mariner
Still my go to record when it comes to the post reunion era. We can debate which one is the best until we're dead but it's hard to argue which one is more consistent. I think it's a great debate between this and AMOLAD.
 

DJMayes

Ancient Mariner
Senjutsu is my 3rd favourite reunion album, after The Book Of Souls and Dance Of Death.

I enjoy every song from all three albums, but I think the peaks on the latter two are stronger.
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
Still my go to record when it comes to the post reunion era. We can debate which one is the best until we're dead but it's hard to argue which one is more consistent. I think it's a great debate between this and AMOLAD.
AMOLAD is a unique album but not a goto album in my book. BOS, TFF and Senjutsu are all pretty high up there.

Senjutsu songs seem quite easy to play on guitar and my 11 year old daughter can sing them, she wouldn't have a hope in hell of singing the earlier stuff. But that doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the songs, they are great.
 

____no5

The Angel Of The Odd
I think it's worth noting that the re-evaluation of Churchill's legacy over the past ~10 years is very much being driven by the phasing out of people of a certain age from academic and story-telling circles, the replacement of those with diverse figures & youth who do what always do at this point in the legacy of a major figure and question the rhetoric that we know to be true. Bruce is of an age with those being phased out, and he's not a trained consumer of historical fact.

This.
I wasn't aware of said re-evaluation until Senjutsu was released and it's pretty radical. I remember clearly when Churchill was voted no.1 of the 100 Greatest Britons back in 2002 above Newton, Shakespeare, Alfred the Great etc. Also, I may be wrong but I don't remember any particularly negative Churchill-related remarks here during the Commentary days. So seeing this massive shift of opinion is strange.

"...he's not a trained consumer of historical fact." KUDOS!
 
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Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
For what it’s worth, the discourse around Darkest Hour has been much more interesting to read than just about anything that came up for the songs on The Book of Souls. Seems like there’s quite a bit more to unpack there. The album in general has a lot of lyrical depth that its predecessor lacked.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Do we hate Inglorious Basterds because it wasn't historically accurate???
I certainly consider it to be a negative for the film, which I didn't terribly enjoy. Then again, I loved Django Unchained which is also very historically inaccurate, but includes the moment where they tell Leo DiCaprio's Three Musketeer-loving slaveholder "Alexandre Dumas is black you stupid son of a bitch" which was one of the most cathartic moments in cinema for me, like, ever.

Honestly, I think Darkest Hour would get a pass if it was more interesting musically and lyrically. I just think it's very...bland, in almost every way.
 

chaosapiant

Ancient Marinade
I think Darkest Hour is Maiden’s best ballad-ish song, or at least tied with Coming Home. It’s a tough pick. Listened to Senjutsu again this evening driving to my girlfriend’s house, and I just adore every second of this album. It’s got such a mood to it. It’s got a lot of the darkness of X Factor but better produced. The Parchment is my third favorite reunion era song behind Starblind (still the best song the band ever wrote, period) and The Book of Souls.
 

Nyx

Rebel Girl Royalty
I really disliked Darkest Hour like many others, but I have to agree that overall the album is pretty satisfying and solid. The Parchment is seriously epic. My favs have to be The Writing On The Wall, Death of the Celts, Senjutsu, Hell On Earth, and Lost In A Lost World. I agree with @Mosh as well that the discussions for this one are quite good! I've been watching this topic since yesterday reading through the epic discourse you guys are belting out.
 
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____no5

The Angel Of The Odd
I think Darkest Hour is Maiden’s best ballad-ish song, or at least tied with Coming Home.

Musically I like Darkest Hour Better. Overall Coming Home wins though, due to some excellent lyric work:

When I feel the engines roar and I think of what we've done/
No creed and no religion, just a hundred winged souls/
Stretched the fingers of my hand, covered countries with my span
Just a lonely satellite, speck of dust and cosmic sand/
To Albion's land
Coming home when I see the runway lights
In the misty dawn the night is fading fast
Coming home, far away as their vapor trails align
Where I've been tonight, you know I will not stay

Listened to Senjutsu again this evening driving to my girlfriend’s house, and I just adore every second of this album. It’s got such a mood to it. It’s got a lot of the darkness of X Factor but better produced. The Parchment is my third favorite reunion era song behind Starblind (still the best song the band ever wrote, period) and The Book of Souls.

Senjutsu is a driving heaven. Highway driving though, it doesn't do very well with traffic lights.
Writing on the Wall is Maiden's equivalent of Born to Be Wild..! :D

download.jpeg
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
I've no strong feelings either way, it sounds like something Manowar would do musically, like Heart of Steel or something, but with the touch of class you get from Maiden.

I'm actually surprised I've never seen anyone mention that the intro is lifted from Victim of Changes:lol:
 

Zare

Uniformly distributed hostility
I like this one very much, for me one of the better album tracks.

It was about time for Maiden to make a straight format ballad. Without proggy bridges, sections and stuff, which Coming Home still kinda has. Also way less pompous song than Coming Home or Blood Brothers.

Upon release, I commented that it reminds me of Gates of Urizen, and if you don't hear the similarities well they're not in your face. For me it's about the phrasing of the guitar chords and lyrics atop of them, really roomy sound of guitar that allows drums to steadily clock the song, and the dynamic between chorus and verses. I also see why harrisdevot would say the melody lacks, it does, but for me, alike Urizen, it's a choice to have lyrics contrasted to guitar texture, like a story laid out on a big carpet, without having an additional musical voice in form of separate vocal melody.

I have to say that Harris should get a tip out of this, because in his output on this record, as much as it being top tier, too much stuff moves around. Even when it's not on max it should've been less. Parchment does not need a melody "voice" in the main song, the main melody is pretty reinforced by the riffs. Hell on Earth is over arranged. So on and so forth.

About lyrics, well there's two components to them. How they sound, and what they mean. In this song, IMO they sound excellent. The words, the phrasing, the pronunciation. Excellent. We discuss what they mean, while that concept is largely non existent in majority of the music that Earth listens to. The songs are written intentionally ambiguously because philosophical essays don't sound good when you sing them. You need to choose words that fit the song and not vice versa. Cohesive poetic or prosaic experience of lyrics alone is not the norm. The lyrics could be modified to the point of breaking the narrative just to fit the song and it doesn't matter, because most of the feeling comes from the music.

And it's a somber song, not very epic, triumphant or anything, so that also should be taken into account. That does add to a "balanced point of view". So, great music, and great execution of vocals with a sort of meh lyrics in itself? Still a great track in my book. As far as woke goes I don't feel anything bad while singing this song out loud so kill me.
 

____no5

The Angel Of The Odd
Amen brother, at least some love for this beauty. And yes, lyrics do sound great for most part (except the sit & naked parts that don't, imo).

Parchment does not need a melody "voice" in the main song, the main melody is pretty reinforced by the riffs.

Naked voice would fit fine, but the passage is so heroic that demands reinforcement to take us into the stratosphere and the guitar does fine the job.
I imagine some over-production, i.e. Bruce doing some backing vocals to himself or some echo in his voice or both would do great too. Not the Maiden style but still.
 
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