Sign of the Cross

How good is Sign of the Cross on a scale of 1-10?


  • Total voters
    73
  • Poll closed .

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
'sign Of The Cross'

[!--QuoteBegin-Onhell+Jan 29 2004, 07:10 PM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(Onhell @ Jan 29 2004, 07:10 PM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--] most rock and roll/metal songs are written in e-minor, don't see why that's special here. [/quote]
I wouldn't quite agree with that, but if you counted the four most popular keys for guitar-based music (E minor, A minor, G major and D major) then you'd cover about 75% of rock songs.

For reasons I can't understand (let alone explain) each key has always had a certain "color" in my mind, and E minor is black as midnight. I agree this key fits this song, and particularly this intro, better than any other key.

As far as 7thSon's comment that E minor is boring for guitarists: it all depends on the guitarist and the song. But I agree E minor is over-used; personally, I try to avoid writing songs in E minor nowadays unless the lyrics really call for it.

Steve Harris apparently loves E minor, though. Many of Maiden's best tunes are in this key, for example: Wrathchild, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, and Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.

For the non-musicians: The main reason that E minor and the other keys I listed above are so popular is because they naturally fit the standard tuning of the guitar (E A D G B E) and bass (E A D G). With so many open-string (unfretted) notes that are in the scale, it becomes possible to use playing/writing techniques that are exponentially harder in some other keys. It's no coincidence that the least common keys for rock songs (D-flat, B-flat and E-flat) are also much harder to play on guitar.

And as for the lyrical side of SotC: While I've never analyzed it as deeply as some of you, my own interpretation of the song has always been similar to 7thSon's version.
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
'sign Of The Cross'

Great Post SMX!!! that clarifies a lot of stuff.
Helloween is a good band but I have a problem with their consistency, the keeper albums were great, then NOTHING really extraordinary until Better than Raw (10 years later!) which i consider their best Deris effort. then TDR is good, RDCE is a piece of shit! but oh well.
 

gor

Ancient Mariner
'sign Of The Cross'

Hey, another med student, hi there...

anyway. most things about the song have already been said, i'll just post my tidbits that havent been said:

-the intro... i actually figured out what they are singing while iwas drunk one night and put on TXF. it was a very rewarding moment, because i had been searching for ages about what they are singing... they are repeating the following phrase:

Aeternus Halleluia

which is obviously latin and means "[The] Eternal [One], Halleluia".

-also, the name of the rose. if you read the book you will see how deeply philosophical it is, sth which in my opinion couldn't have been transfered in the movie (and wasnt). the book ends in a great philosophical climax with a phrase that stuck in my head since. it goes sth like "After the rose withers, all that is left is it's name, we keep only dead names", hence the book's title...
 

Taffy

Trooper
'sign Of The Cross'

[!--QuoteBegin-7thSon+Jan 29 2004, 05:14 PM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(7thSon @ Jan 29 2004, 05:14 PM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--] "Standing alone in the wind and rain,
Feeling the fear that is growing
Sensing the change in the tide again,
Brought by the storm that is brewing
Feel the anxiety hold off the fear,
Some of the doubt in the things you believe
Now that your faith will be put to the test,
Nothing to do but await what is coming"

These lines are clearly about the experience, when you feel that your faith is being tested.

"Why then is God still protecting me,
Even when I don't deserve it
Though I am blessed with an inner strength,
Some they would call it a penance"

I also think these lines speak for themselves: altough the writer feels that he has to solve this problem alone, he gets God help, even though he is a sinner and doesn't deserve anything. That's called holy mercy, isnt it?

"Why am I meant to face this alone,
Asking the question time and again
Praying to God won't keep me alive,
Inside my head feel the fear start to rise"

[/quote]
hey seventh, it is also possible this could represent the feelings of the apostles just after christs death, resurrection, and the events of pentecost. they were in unknown territory, but had some strength but they couldn't work out, why it was them that had been given this.

Taffy
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

[!--QuoteBegin-gor+Jan 31 2004, 11:21 AM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(gor @ Jan 31 2004, 11:21 AM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--] Hey, another med student, hi there...

anyway. most things about the song have already been said, i'll just post my tidbits that havent been said:

-the intro... i actually figured out what they are singing while iwas drunk one night and put on TXF. it was a very rewarding moment, because i had been searching for ages about what they are singing... they are repeating the following phrase:

Aeternus Halleluia

which is obviously latin and means "[The] Eternal [One], Halleluia".
[/quote]
Hi there, too...
You've solved a big mistery about the intro. Anyway, knowing what are they singing, I'm more sure of my theory of the songs meaning.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

[!--QuoteBegin-Taffy+Jan 31 2004, 02:11 PM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(Taffy @ Jan 31 2004, 02:11 PM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--]
hey seventh, it is also possible this could represent the feelings of the apostles just after christs death, resurrection, and the events of pentecost. they were in unknown territory, but had some strength but they couldn't work out, why it was them that had been given this.

Taffy [/quote]
Yeah, that makes sense, too. But pay attention to the fact that the lyrics are very personal. Everyone who experienced the feelings portrayed in the song (feeling guilty/sinner, but getting mercy at times you've got no hope, and still feeling sad about you) will discover that the song is mainly about this situation. Anyway, cos of the poetic lyrics, it's possible to have other views as well. At least we can have a good time on the board [!--emo&;)--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/wink.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'wink.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
 
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Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

Now you can read other visitors' comments on '[a href=\'http://www.maidenfans.com/imc/index.php?url=album10_xfactor/commentary10_xfactor&lang=eng&link=albums#track1\' target=\'_blank\']Sign Of The Cross[/a]' as well as post your own. Any contribution to the commentary will be much appreciated, may it be cultural references relevant to the song (links to related websites, interpretations that may have been overlooked in the Commentary, and the like) or personal essays related to the topic of the song. Just be aware that messages that are either off-topic or too wacky may be deleted.

Likewise, as tastes are pretty subjective and personal, I prefer to leave the appreciation of the song to a democratic vote and you can rate the song here. It would also be nice if you could let us know why you like/dislike it.

Cheers! [!--emo&B)--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/cool.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'cool.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
 

MigDaimon

Trooper
'sign Of The Cross'

Does anyone here had read the book ?

I think I can do some explanations about how the song can relate to the book. Very little to add but interesting somehow. I read it twice but it was a long time. So I might forget or even overlook something.
BUT DON´T READ THE FOLLOWING IF YOU DON´T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THE BOOK. [span style=\'font-size:14pt;line-height:100%\']This is called SPOILER I THINK [/span]








All the names I´ll give are in portuguese version, don´t know if they are the same in other languages.
Well, the history of the book is about two men Guilherme and Adso. Guilherme is the old one, and Adso his puppil. Guilherme is inteligent and very skeptic, he was part of the holy inquisition also. He believes in God but he has a very strong belief in science too.
They are traveling through some part of Italy (not sure about that) and they make a stop in a abbacy. In this abbacy a monk has commited suicide a few days ago (jumped out of a window in a rainy night, he was in the librabry, which was forbidden, specially at night and specially in a part called Finis Africae). But the abbot is somewhat sure that it wasn´t a suicide. He wants someone that its outside the community to discover that it was a crime. That´s the Guilherme´s mission and Adso is the one who will narrate the seven days they spent in there.

Well, lets see some lyrics now.

Standing alone in the wind and rain
Feeling the fear that is growing
Sensing the change in the tide again
Brought by the storm that is brewing
Feel the anxiety hold off the fear
Some of the doubt in the things you believe
Now that your faith will be put to the test
Nothing to do but await what is coming


Well, I must tell you that in the seven days they spent in the abbacy other three monks are "killed" all of them in strange circunstances.
After sometime Guilherme and Adso discover that the first monk (I think his name was Adelmo) was having an affair with another monk. Not a real affair, but Adelmo was interested in the other monk because the other knew the secret of the Finis Africae. What does it fits in the lyrics? Well, the library is full of traps, special holes at the wall to send "devil winds", mirrors that twist the vision and make you see monsters and even some burning herbs to dull the mind. Everything to keep away the curious ones. Adelmo knew that he was doing wrong and also he was having some hallucinations due the traps. So imagine someone in a library late at night. The rain is heavy, the devil is chasing him. I think I made my point here.

I won´t stay here talking. I am pretty aware that all of this can be a big nonsense and I know that I didn´t help you talking these kind of things. In fact the only thing that make me believe in the connection beetween the book and the song is this chorus.

The sign of the cross, the name of the rose
A fire in the sky, the sign of the cross


Why fire? I must tell you that after a lot of things, Guilherme and Adso find out who was the killer and his reasons for commiting the crimes. After a fight the library is fired. Then the fire eat the whole library and goes to the WHOLE ABBACY. An abbacy on fire must produce a big fire that could light the sky.

Again. This is a very weak and hurried post. I know and I appologise for that. But I can´t think of anything about the fire in the sky besides the burning abbacy.




As for the eleven saintly shrouded men. The apostles were 12, minus Judas we have 11. Plus Jesus we have 12 again. But maybe Jesus is nailed to the cross yet. Yes I know, he came down and had reborn in the third day. And yes this is very stupid. Just a thought.

Gosh this post is very confusing and soooooooooooooooo poor ! Shame on me ! [!--emo&:D--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/biggrin.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'biggrin.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
 

Uwe

Trooper
'sign Of The Cross'

This one is simply a great song, perfect rhythm shifts, great lyrics and a very dark and brooding atmosphere. However, I think it was wrong to put this great one right to the beginning of the album, since all the other songs appear weak compared to it.
 

Lib

Ancient Mariner
'sign Of The Cross'

[!--QuoteBegin-Uwe+Aug 29 2004, 06:48 PM--][div class=\'quotetop\']QUOTE(Uwe @ Aug 29 2004, 06:48 PM)[/div][div class=\'quotemain\'][!--QuoteEBegin--]However, I think it was wrong to put this great one right to the beginning of the album, since all the other songs appear weak compared to it.
[snapback]84940[/snapback]​
[/quote]

I understand your point of view, but for me, it's one of the biggest "fuck" in the musical industry of the nineties ! Completely anti-commercial !

Starting an album with this song, in our time where immediacy is The Law, I just have to [!--emo&:bow:--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/bowdown.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'bowdown.gif\' /][!--endemo--]

I don't remember what was my vote, but if it wasn't 5/5, don't call me Lib anymore ! [!--emo&:D--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/biggrin.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'biggrin.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
 
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Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

This song is the perfect example for music that takes a while to sink in. For a long time, I didn't really care for this song or the album, but the more I listened to it, the more I became addicted to it, and now I'm willing to say that both the album and the song are incredible masterpieces that are in the league of so few that stand out like lonely trees scattered on a wasteland of mediocrity.

One of the things that really amaze me about this song is the way the intro is built up. Particularily the tension that is built up by the repetition of the short melody after the first soft vocals is something I cannot describe in words. There is some sort of suspense there that captures me every time I listen to it, although I know precisely what is going to happen next.

The rest of the song does not fail to reward that suspense built up in that section. The instrumentals are simply amazing, and Blaze's singing is best described as "haunting", in my opinion (which I regard as a rare compliment).

Rating: 5/5 -no doubt about that.
 

The Saint

Powerslave
Staff member
'sign Of The Cross'

Interesting post from a IMBB member:

I don't think there's any particular reason to think the song was inspired by the book, or to think that it wasn't. They share the same title and both deal with mysterious Christian symbols, but otherwise they don't seem very closely related.

But, in case you're interested.... (And be warned that spoilers follow, in case you're planning to read the book -- which you really should, because it's fantastic.) In the novel, the "rose" is a peasant girl that the narrator (a Benedictine novice at the time - sort of a monk in training) has spontaneous sex with. He never learns her name, and only sees her once again, and that's when she's being condemned to death as a witch. She's innocent but that doesn't matter. She gets burned at the stake and there's nothing the narrator or anyone else can do about it.

It's a powerful emotional experience for him, and also central to the themes of the book. He's so enraptured by his love for the girl, and yet so guilty about its supposed sinfulness; and the book is full of conflicts between the forces of church authority demanding obedience, and the forces of inner desire and individuality.

Also, secrets and mysteries are important in the book. The narrator's mentor, a Franciscan monk, is sort of a medieval Sherlock Holmes, and spends most of the book trying to discover the truth behind mysteries and secrets that others want to keep hidden. Also, the whole murder mystery revolves around a forbidden book, and everyone who reads it dies. At the end the book is destroyed, thus ensuring that its contents are entirely lost forever. This book (which may have actually once existed) in turn could have had a significant influence on the development of Christian theology, and in particular on that question of whether strict and solemn obedience, or individual passion and freedom, should be more honored.

Thus, the fact that the book is lost forever in a fire, and the fact that the narrator's lover is burned at the stake without his ever seeing her again or learning her name, form a significant parallel. In the end, the "name of the rose" represents a mystery that is powerful enough to be the driving force in our lives, and that remains forever out of our reach, forever unknowable.

Do you guys think these ideas fit into the song at all?


Author: zgodt
Post: [a href=\'http://www.ironmaiden.org/showpost.php?p=1656961&postcount=20\' target=\'_blank\']http://www.ironmaiden.org/showpost.php?p=1...61&postcount=20[/a]

Cheers
 

Onhell

Infinite Dreamer
'sign Of The Cross'

It has been a while since I read the book but, the book he mentions is a book supposedly written by Aristotle, nothing to do with Christian theology (I could be wrong it's been like 3-4 years). Also The song and book DO NOT share the same title "Name of the Rose" "Sign of the Cross". Other than that I would have to reread the book, because I never made the connection between "the name of the rose" and the girl that gets burnt. Also I'd argue that the novice does not "love" the girl, but merely enjoyed some good sex and wanted some more. To add to the "spoilers" the girl frequently had sex with one of the cooks in exchange for food, and one night finds the novice instead and gives it to him willingly. That's not love, just plain horny hahahaha. It is a good book to see the clear gap between reality and ideal of any philosophy or system, in this case Christianity.
 

national acrobat

Ancient Mariner
'sign Of The Cross'

Brilliant song - 5 stars. Over 11 minutes long, this is a totally untypical Maiden album opener - normally being a 4 minute single-material song.

The slow, dark build-up works brilliant, breaking into fast guitar riffs. Sets the tone for a definitely dark-feeling album, and is just a fantastic song. Probably the best on the album.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

The commentary of 'Sign Of The Cross' has been re-worked. Agree or disagree, but post your comments here. [img src=\"style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/smile.gif\" style=\"vertical-align:middle\" emoid=\":)\" border=\"0\" alt=\"smile.gif\" /]
 
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Anonymous

Guest
'sign Of The Cross'

While reading the new commentary, I could not help to link the story of the song to Hallowed Be Thy Name. It is quite interesting to compare these two songs, in my opinion.

In Hallowed Be Thy Name, we have a character who has been sentenced to death for a crime not mentioned (and not important). At the start, he lacks any religious beliefs. He ignores the Priest who is supposed to comfort him, and he denies the existance of God- this denial, in my opinion triggers a process which leads to the development of a new religiosity. Before the someone from the cell cries "God be with you!", the thoughts of the character are completely profane, and his questions go unanswered (why am I crying); once God is brought to the game by an outsider, things change, and the character suddenly gets irrational thoughts about his soul and what will happen to it after his death. In the end, he accepts God (Hallowed be thy name) and believes his Heart will die, his soul will fly and [he] will live forever (sorry for cross-quoting).

Now, what is happening to the character in Sign Of The Cross?
Here too, we have a character before his untimely death. His crime is unnamed too, but it is obvious that it is something that was interpeted to be heresy. The character however never denied the existence of God, and instead of asking If there's a God, why does he let me go? he wonders about the exact opposite: Why then is God still protecting me?
This idea is a very personal interpretation of the lyrics (and a rather wacky one at that), and I do not claim it to be the intention:
In Hallowed Be Thy Name, the character denies the existence of God and in the end, he is saved by him (it is not explicitly said so in the song, but I think the outcome is an implication at that).
In Sign Of The Cross, the character clinches at the belief in God, and he feels that this is all that is left to him (he also feels that in the end, he will be the one who will be rewarded, while the others will be punished), but in the end, he is damned by God. This is what I make out of the last line: Lost the love of heaven above, chose the lust of earth below. Could this be a final judgement, this time not spoken by the character himself, nor the eleven saintly shrouded men, but God himself? Could it be that God thinks better of those who commit crimes while lacking belief (and turning to God later to seek pardon) than of those who commit crimes while believing in (or even commit the crimes in the name of) God?

In that case, God wants every mortal to find his belief, his religion, by himself, instead of accepting it from others. At the end of the day, it does not matter when you found him or how; it matters that you found God by yourself, and in your own way. I believe that is the message some Theologists and other Christians try to transmit. If "finding God" means "finding your God" or "finding your belief", that is something I can well live with. The character in Sign Of The Cross has always lived by principles pressed onto him -even heretics in the age of Inquisition mostly believed in something other people told them-, and it does not matter if other mortals condemn him for that, but he is not fit for Heaven who did not find his own Truth.


A possible other interpretation of the song on a more down-to-earth level is based on Mav's comment on the last line mentioned above: A cleric fallen from his abstinence. Could the one being burnt by the eleven be Judas, and the eleven be the Apostles? Judas fell for the lust of the earth below (he betrayed Jesus for, of all things, money)...


In any case: Brilliant work, Mav! [img src=\"style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/smile.gif\" style=\"vertical-align:middle\" emoid=\":)\" border=\"0\" alt=\"smile.gif\" /]
 

gor

Ancient Mariner
'sign Of The Cross'

Yes, your new commetary on this one is excellent and insightful Mav. I esp like the explanation you give to the lyric "asking the question time and again". Although, I always perceived this as reffering to the question that is being asked by himself in the lyric just before that. Anyway, very cool explanation.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
'sign Of The Cross'

I have been searching a bit on the internet to find out what the band said about the lyrics of SOTC but the only thing I found (until now) was this:
----------------

Is there any kind of concept in the lyrics to the album? Blaze mentioned that when he wrote lyrics, he was trying to "explore the darker side of the human spirit", and this is clearly seen in quite a few songs in the album (like The Edge of Darkness, Lord of the Flies, and The Sign of the Cross). The Edge of Darkness is influenced by the film Apocalypse Now (which is based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness). The Lord of the Flies is based on William Golding's book with the same name. The Sign of the Cross, however, has little to do with the movie of the same name, or the book The Name of the Rose, according to Blaze.

source:
http://www.ram.org/music/articles/iminterview.html
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Re: 'sign Of The Cross'

I figured out today why i like this song so very much. It's because everything (lyrics, music) is delivered at the right
place the right time. Sign of the Cross is a musical adventure.
The intro sets up the mood but doesn't give a clue as to where the song will go. The verses and choruses appear to be the heart of the song but are not, they suddenly give way to the long instrumental pieces that are its magic.
Instrumental passages so different from each other that could be a part of a classical piece. Those melodies and riffs sort of carry you away, and there are no lyrics to accompany them, you're just dragged in a "musical unknown" that gives the song a kind of adventurous feel. The music absorbs you, you flow with it to wherever it gets you, you create music images in your head. And when the final chorus comes, you feel redeemed, the song has run its course, you've tasted music's magic but it feels like it's only been a few seconds.
Everytime i listen to SOTC ti feels like hearing it for the first time. I've always loved this song, it's one of the first Maiden tunes i've ever heard. I just heard it today from a different perspective. This is the absolute testament of Steve Harris' songwriting brilliance.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Re: 'sign Of The Cross'

I have a completely different interpretation of this song; it probably wasn't what the band had in mind, but it does fit rather nicely.
Seeing as Iron Maiden have a lot of historical songs (one of the cool things about them, IMHO) and seeing as I have a passion for Medieval history, I immediately thought of the emperor Constantine the Great when I first listened to this song. It was the line about "a fire in the sky, the sign of the cross" that did it; Constantine was supposedly converted by a vision of "a cross of light" outlined against the sun. That night Christ appeared to him in a dream and told him to paint the cross on his army's shields. This could be referenced in the opening lines of the song - Christ surrounded by his apostles shows Constantine the cross.
The first verse, about standing in the wind and rain, could be interpreted as Constantine's inner thoughts on religion and the state of the world. It sounds like the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, when he challenged the Emperor Maxentius for control of the Roman empire. Constantine's self-doubts about his chances of victory may be referred to here; either that, or his vacillation over which religion to follow. Being a Roman the society around him was pagan, so he was naturally inclined to follow that faith, but if he believed in Christianity he would probably have struggled with himself as to which religion was the true path. The lyrics speak of putting your faith to the test; Constantine must pick a side, both on the battlefield and spiritually.
The scond verse makes it clear that Constantine has chosen the Christian faith; the whole world will be blessed. He was the emperor who finally legalisd Christianity throughout the Empire; he did not make it the official religion. Pagans were stil allowed to worship the old gods - however, he made it clear that it was a dying faith. No temples were built in Constantinople, and pagans were forbidden to convert Christians, though not the other way round.
The last lines of the song might refer to an event shortly before his death; his son, Crispus, was executed on his orders for allegedly having an affair with his wife, Fausta. Soon after, though, Fausta was herself put to death. It is speculated that she was jealous of Crispus and plotted his death; when Constantine found out, he was furious and had her killed. The line "Lost the love of heaven above" could refer to these murders, which typified the sort of intrigue that went on in the Imperial Palace. Constantine, on his deathbed, must have regretted the unnecessary death of his first-born son on false charges. Not the sort of thing that Christ would have approved of! In the end, we return to the same vision of saintly men coming to cleanse Constantine of his sins. A deathbed vision, perhaps?
I knoe this is a pretty unconventional interpretation of SOTC, but it fits; to me, anyway! It's hard to listen to the song now without envisioning the Byzantine court in all its glory: golden icons dimly glimpsed through clouds of incense, black-robed Orthodox priests swinging censers, an ancient empire rife with infighting and murder, and the sign of the cross looming above it all...
 
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