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Sign of the Cross

Discussion in 'The X Factor' started by Taffy, Jan 23, 2004.


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

  1. 10

  2. 9

  3. 8

  4. 7

  5. 6

  6. 5

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  7. 4

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  8. 3

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  1. MrKnickerbocker

    MrKnickerbocker clap hands


    It's very moody, but I love it. The intro/outro and prechorus melodies are great, and the chorus is fantastic! Yay for chanting!
  2. Eric Wright

    Eric Wright Nomad

    This has always been my favorite Maiden song. The stark power of the lyrics wash over me every time, and Blaze's baritone voice fits it perfectly....Bruce's Rock in Rio version can't even compare. The instrumentals are absolutely divine, rivaling, if not being better than, Phantom of the Opera.


    Maiden's finest masterpiece out of many, IMO.
  3. Saapanael

    Saapanael "My hair sets the trend of tmrw by doing it today"


    I'm thinking of moving it into my top 10 (11 atm), a masterpiece, quality doubled in RiR 2001.
  4. JudasMyGuide

    JudasMyGuide Domini canis

    I might be reading too much into it, really, but I can’t help but think about the inclusion of the “Name of the Rose” reference in the chorus. One of the topics of this book (and the topic is much more prominent in the book than in the film) is papal schism, which is a situation where there are two or more popes “fighting for the throne”, so to speak. The gravity of the situation cannot be underestimated; the Catholic Church claims and believes that the pope is the successor of Jesus Christ himself, an apostle, a God’s deputy on Earth (I’m oversimplifying, of course, please bear with me for a moment). If there is more than one… well, to call the situation “awkward” would be an understatement.

    When I listen to this song I always picture the second pope (or “antipope”, as he is called; and no, with no connection to Antichrist whatsoever) fearing for his future as the schism is resolved (“change in the tide again”) and the eleven saintly shrouded men came to strip him of his power, to strip him of his cloth, to excommunicate him. (Maybe the apostles mentioned in the first post would work too, but more as a representation of God's judgment - more on that later)

    I picture the antipope as a deeply religious man; a man who’s not a pope for the power, for the glory or for the money – he believes he truly is a follower of God and that he does what Gods wants of him. However, as he is deeply religious, he is also pious and in his humility he cannot but doubt himself – what if he’s a heretic, a blasphemer? What if he is not to be pope, not to be the head of the Catholic Church? What if his quest for the papal throne is why the God will despise him? - “the fear that is growing”, “your faith will be put to the test”…

    In the second (or whichever verse it is – it’s pain to talk about the prog songs :D ) verse “They’ll be coming to bring the eternal flame…” etc. he is talking about the judgment of heaven, which seems to be the only way to decide who is the real follower of Christ (in the end, the papal schism ended by political intervention in real life; I have my doubts whether God would be really satisfied with this solution). Until then he is told he is a blasphemer, which he doesn’t believe, yet he doubts his mission and the fear of going against God when he actually wants to follow him tortures him.

    I am probably putting meanings here that ‘Arry hasn’t intended and I am probably giving the antipope (whichever one of them that may be) more credit than he deserves (as I hinted earlier, the papal schism was primarily a political dispute, not a religious quest), but it in my opinion it more or less fits and as far as subjective interpretations go, I like this one.

    Otherwise, I gave it a solid 10/10. At first it was eight at best, a slow and brooding song that loses momentum in the middle (just as it gains it for the first time) – but after a few more listens it is not only the best cut off TXF, but also one of the best Maiden songs ever. The instrumental section right before the last chorus is utterly astonishing! And although I like Blaze’s performance, the RiR version with its overall frantic atmosphere is even better!
  5. Infinite17

    Infinite17 Invader

    10/10 easily for me. One of the greatest Maiden songs ever written. Would love to see this back in the setlist next tour.

    Quick question -- read somewhere that this song was written by Steve while Bruce was still in the band -- true?
  6. Eddieson

    Eddieson Nomad

    It's hard to describe these really really good, 10 point songs. I just don't know where to begin. But I try!

    The intro really sets the mood for the song, and the intro-verse with the slow riff under are so full of emotion in some way. The main part of the song starts. The verse is great and the chorus is heavenly (get it?, pun intended ;) ) . The calm breakdown with the choir coming back is excellent and prepares us for what will come. A new riff kicks in and builds tensions. The riff changes beat to some kind of 3/4 feeling and the tensions I talked about builds more and more. The drums starts to play in unison with the rest of the instruments in a fast dramatic pattern and then unleashes... freedom. The next melody is so beautiful and fits perfect after all the buildup. A fast and furious guitar solo kicks in and doesn't let you down for a second. The riff of freedom comes in again, a few other great riffs and then we are back at the heavenly chorus. The song closes of with the slow verse that started it all and ends with a dark note that fades away into the shadows.

    Without hesitation a 10 for me and this one should probably me my favorite Maiden song if it were sung by Bruce and had little better production. (o wait, that's what the Rock in Rio version is for)!

    Forostar likes this.
  7. Gk1

    Gk1 Ancient Mariner

    If it weren't for the overly long instrumental section before the solo it would get a 9,now just an 8


    I have had several discussion about Sign of the cross. I had another one last week.

    Everyone goes like "Man, this is one of Steve's best songs ever". And then as he talk goes on we conclude to the following facts:

    1) The sound /production sucks

    2) There are no harmonized guitars on it

    3) It is much better live and with Bruce singing it.

    4) Maybe the speed on the studio version is a bit down

    5) Maybe the instrumental part is a bit too long

    But yes this is one of the best Maiden songs ever.
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2015
  8. Kashmir75

    Kashmir75 Prowler

    10/10 . An all time Maiden classic
  9. Pand

    Pand Ancient Mariner

    The 11 most glorious moments of the Blaze era. This song is a true masterpiece. One of the best vocal performances from Blaze, and Bruce nails it on RiR too. I love the sense of anticipation I feel throughout the quiet opening, and in the slower instrumental section before the solos. An unusual choice for an opener, perhaps, but an absolutely brilliant one.
    eddienephwrack likes this.
  10. DJMayes

    DJMayes Educated Fool

    6. An 11 minute song that more than outstays its welcome as far as I'm concerned but does have some cool bits around 8 minutes.


    Previous Albums:

    Iron Maiden - 6.67

    8 - Prowler
    6 - Sanctuary
    7 - Remember Tomorrow
    6 - Running Free
    9 - Phantom Of The Opera
    7 - Transylvania
    4 - Strange World
    6 - Charlotte The Harlot
    7 - Iron Maiden

    Killers - 5.91

    6 - The Ides Of March
    6 - Wrathchild
    6 - Murders In The Rue Morgue
    5 - Another Life
    5 - Genghis Khan
    5 - Innocent Exile
    8 - Killers
    5 - Prodigal Son
    8 - Purgatory
    6 - Twilight Zone
    5 - Drifter

    The Number Of The Beast - 7.56

    6 - Invaders
    7 - Children Of The Damned
    8 - The Prisoner
    7 - 22 Acacia Avenue
    9 - The Number Of The Beast
    10 - Run To The Hills
    6 - Gangland
    5 - Total Eclipse
    10 - Hallowed Be Thy Name

    Piece Of Mind - 7.44

    8 - Where Eagles Dare
    9 - Revelations
    9 - Flight Of Icarus
    7 - Die With Your Boots On
    8 - The Trooper
    7 - Still Life
    6 - Quest For Fire
    6 - Sun And Steel
    7 - To Tame A Land

    Powerslave - 6.75

    8 - Aces High
    7 - 2 Minutes To Midnight
    3 - Loss Fer Words
    7 - Flash Of The Blade
    5 - The Duellists
    6 - Back In The Village
    9 - Powerslave
    9 - Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

    Somewhere In Time - 8.00

    8 - Caught Somewhere In Time
    9 - Wasted Years
    8 - Sea Of Madness
    8 - Heaven Can Wait
    8 - The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
    7 - Stranger In A Strange Land
    8 - Deja Vu
    8 - Alexander The Great

    Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son - 8.25

    7 - Moonchild
    9 - Infinite Dreams
    9 - Can I Play With Madness
    9 - The Evil That Men Do
    10 - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son
    6 - The Prophecy
    8 - The Clairvoyant
    8 - Only The Good Die Young

    No Prayer For The Dying - 6.90

    6 - Tailgunner
    6 - Holy Smoke
    8 - No Prayer For The Dying
    7 - Public Enema Number One
    7 - Fates Warning
    7 - The Assassin
    6 - Run Silent Run Deep
    8 - Hooks In You
    8 - Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter
    6 - Mother Russia

    Fear Of The Dark - 7.42

    7 - Be Quick Or Be Dead
    8 - From Here To Eternity
    9 - Afraid To Shoot Strangers
    5 - Fear Is The Key
    6 - Childhoods End
    8 - Wasting Love
    7 - The Fugitive
    8 - Chains Of Misery
    6 - The Apparition
    8 - Judas Be My Guide
    7 - Weekend Warrior
    10 - Fear Of The Dark

    X Factor

    6 - Sign Of The Cross
  11. eddienephwrack

    eddienephwrack Invader

    10 for me. One of Steve's finest moments. I do prefer the Rock in Rio version, but that's more down to The X Factor's crap production than a criticism of Blaze's performance
  12. Poto

    Poto Ancient Mariner

    Best song from the Blaze-era.
    'Arry1985 likes this.
  13. The problem I have with Sign of the Cross (and The X Factor in general) is the mixing.
    Sign of the Cross ought to be quite an enjoyable epic, but it has a really big issue.

    Comparative volume.

    The intro is really, really quiet. It goes on for about 2:45 minutes or so. If I am walking through the street, listening to my mp3 player, I can barely hear it. It seems like 2:45 minutes of silence. Then the song kicks it, then at around 5:30 minutes it goes all silent again for about 45 seconds, then kicks back in, then at about 10:50 we get another 30 seconds of silence.
    If I am listening to it on my radio in the car or on my stereo at home, I need to constantly turn up the volume and turn it back down again.
    It's entirely frustrating and makes me not want to listen to this song. The whole album has this issue although Sign is the worst of it.

    The drum sound is also very bad.

    It's a shame to ruin an album with mixing issues and drum sounds. As a result, I hardly every listen to this album.
    Black Bart likes this.
  14. Black Bart

    Black Bart Ancient Mariner

    The note is a bit severe but it was this song (along with "Man On the Edge") on which befell the responsibility to herald the whole Blaze era. While the single was promising, "SOTC" was marred by mixing problems (as @MindlessPieces just said), featured Blaze being flat on the chorus ("the name of the rose"), lyrics that try to hard to fit the meter (one of Harris's recurrent flaws) and overstretched themes (flaw n°2). Hopefully, the solos (especially Janick's) make it better. All in all, it could have been great had it been trimmed of 3-4 minutes. What is sad is that it is still one of the best songs in the X Factor and that it killed the suspense as whether Blaze could replace Dickinson.
  15. frus

    frus Barbed Wire Hen

    It's called 'dynamics', and is actually (generally) a good thing.

    Consider a live performance. You have the possibility of exploitinh the whole dynamic range, from whisper quiet to ear-hurting. For instance, classical music often does exactly that. However, there are some repercussions, as you say, you can't walk leisurely down the street and listen to it. You have to be in a quiet environment and listen to it loud. That's when the magic happens. I'm sure this is done on purpose, and it's supposed to force the listener to really listen and pay attention; there are many other aspects of this album that suggest the same.

    Also, the listening habits have changed from 20 years ago till now, it was much more common to just put the record on in your room and just listen to it :confused: vs listening on the way.

    I agree that the sound is not particularly good, for instance I don't like the guitars at all, but I certainly prefer dynamics to brick-wall compression that was used from XI to DOD
  16. Saapanael

    Saapanael "My hair sets the trend of tmrw by doing it today"

    These are both extremities. You can have dynamics in a mix without making some parts barely audible. Of course, over-compression isn't any better. The Blaze era albums sound quite stripped down in terms of production overall, but I guess it's especially noticeable on VXI, where the mix is full and muddy. TXF is more pleasant for the ears.
    Mosh likes this.
  17. frus

    frus Barbed Wire Hen

    Of course you can, but as I said, I think it's done on purpose, to exaggerate the incentive to 'really listen' to it. Especially on this song, where you really have to turn it up in the beginning to hear anything :D
  18. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    X Factor sounds more like a glitch than dynamics.
  19. Yeah, nah.

    Brickwalling compression is a bitch, and it affects the drum sound, the punchyness of it. But unless it is audibly distorting like Deaf Magnetic then it's not that noticable (not to me).
    But I just can't stand having to turn volume up and down during a single song. It's not really dynamics here. They have a queit intro. I get that. But they have just made the contrast too much.
  20. frus

    frus Barbed Wire Hen

    I listened to it yesterday on headphones, in relative silence (tv was on), and it was fine. It doesn't feel unnatural or exaggerated. For instance, if you listen to Look for the truth, Blaze starts singing quietly and then goes to loud when the others are still quiet ('monsters of men'). When he continues singing, his level stays the same, he's not turned up as loud guitars and drums enter. It would sound roughly the same live.

    Compare it with Still Life intro, where Bruce does the similar thing, it's also much more quiet than full blast that follows. Also, the quiet part of 7th Son could be said to disappear if you listen to it in loud environment etc.

    X factor just happens to have more quiet parts than typical IM album

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