Sign of the Cross

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


  • Total voters
    73

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
I dunno, It bugs me with TXF not with Piece of Mind or SS or the quiet bit in Rime.
Perhaps it's just a thing with me.

I get so annoyed with the difference in volume on TV, adverts scream at about three times the volume than TV shows (don't know if you have this problem in your country) but it means that I haven't really watched TV in years now. I just watch TV On Demand or just do other things with my time.
 
I can be a little annoyed when the album starts very quite, cause I don't know if the volume is right or my ears will die when it gets going. So I often checks the volume on another song first and then go back and start the record. On some records this somehow annoys me, the X factor is one of them.
 

Perun

In the labyrinth of eternity
Staff member
Also, the quiet part of 7th Son could be said to disappear if you listen to it in loud environment etc.

Yeah, and that's not what it was intended for.

I think with the dominance of loudness equalisation we have nowadays, and people being content to listen to music anywhere and from whatever medium, we're kind of forgetting that Maiden was primarily recording music to be listened to, and not consumed. Sign of the Cross for example is not the kind of song to play on the radio, in the car or in a pub. That's what singles like Two Minutes or Aces High are for.

If people are not willing to listen to music in the environment it was recorded for, or ready to be involved in the listening experience, it's not the music's fault. I agree that The X Factor has a lot of problems sound- and production-wise, but the quiet bits in Sign of the Cross are the last thing I'd think of complaining about.

Seriously, I can't believe we've come so far that people complain about the way music sounds in a loud environment.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
The ominous sounds and 11 minute length of this song really signifies we're in for something special with this album. I really admire Maiden's courage to introduce a new singer with easily their most difficult and inaccessible album, rather than go the safe route. Opening with the epic was the perfect way to start this album. The build up is intense and this song compliments Blaze's voice.

It has the classic Maiden gallop but the song around it is moodier and heavier. Lots of interesting guitar layers and the chorus makes for a nice climax. The soft bridge in the middle is so cool, especially when the full band kicks back in. Lots of great riffs and melodies make for one of Maiden's most exciting instrumental sections. Great guitar solos, Janick has really cemented his place in the band at this point. This instrumental is also very reminiscent of FTGGOG in retrospect. Love how they layer parts underneath what would be a repetitive melody otherwise.

The half time chorus is a great way to wrap it all up.

At one point this was my favorite Maiden song. Others have dethroned it, but it's still up there.

I just realized that maybe having an epic with an extended instrumental open the album might've been a way of slowly introducing listeners to Blaze. You get a glimpse of his vocals in the first few minutes where he sounds fine but maybe there's still some uncertainty about the overall direction, but then you get a classic epic instrumental section that reminds you that this is still Maiden. Just an evolved version.

10

I'll only comment on the production once because I'll end up talking about it every song if I'm not careful: The thin sound makes these songs a lot less powerful than they could be. SOTC is a great example. The loud parts should be bombastic, here they fall flat. This song in particular is one of Maiden's most cinematic, but the production doesn't do it justice.
 

BeThyJames

Trooper
Odd to think that this was the first and best song recorded by Maiden with Blaze.

Even here though I think there are problems with the vocals. His voice sounds ever so slightly out of pitch on some of the choruses.

Tremendously atmospheric song though, haunting intro and one of their best instrumentals, especially the rapid section before the solos. Pretty epic studio versionbut of course Bruce steals it live.

8
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
10/10 torches Blaze brightly in the night.

Sign of the Cross is an extreme exercise in moodiness that takes its title from Umberto Eco’s book, The Name of the Rose, though the lyrics mostly deal with a lone protagonist possibly facing torture at the hands of the Inquisition. It is a true Steve Harris epic and one of Iron Maiden’s best songs, despite it’s atmospheric passages and overall length. Blaze Bayley’s introduction is an almost whispered intro and it is clear that we are in for a very different Iron Maiden experience. His range is much lower than Bruce Dickinson’s, closer to Paul Di’Anno’s without the grit. The choice of opening the album with the longest song is interesting. It makes a strong statement that this album will be different from all of the others. In a way, it’s a defining moment in labeling The X Factor a more progressive album than a collection of pure metal. The middle section is full beautiful harmony riffs and dramatic bass and keyboard work, some of it dipping into odd time signatures. I’m sure Nicko had fun with this song. Both guitar solos are fantastic, including Janick’s, which feels more melodic and precise than his earlier work with the band.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Those who say the Blaze era was the worst period in recorded musical history need look only to this track to find out how badly mistaken they were. 10/10
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
Don't quite know what to say about this one. Definitely one of Steve's finest epics, with lyrics that evoke pretty much the same sense of dread and doom that "Hallowed Be Thy Name" does, albeit on a less desperate and more reflective note. Such a complex song, exploring a lot of different themes and showcasing many distinctive sections. Blaze's vocals fit the general mood of this song (actually, of this whole album) especially well. Terrible way to open an album, really, really awful. It would've been better serving as a closer, although its bad placement on the album isn't really enough to hammer it down. It still shines, and would still shine wherever it was put. 10.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Terrible way to open an album, really, really awful.
This is something I've actually had a lot of thought about. On the one hand, opening an album with an 11 minute epic like this sounds like a pretty weird thing to do. On the other hand, I can't imagine another song opening The X Factor... I've come to really like the song placements on the album. SOTC sets the scene for what a different, darker, and deeper album TXF really is.
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
This is something I've actually had a lot of thought about. On the one hand, opening an album with an 11 minute epic like this sounds like a pretty weird thing to do. On the other hand, I can't imagine another song opening The X Factor... I've come to really like the song placements on the album. SOTC sets the scene for what a different, darker, and deeper album TXF really is.
I've learned to love this album for what it is, the way it is, I did; I wouldn't change a single thing about it now. But I still think it was a terrible ideia to open the album with "Sign of the Cross". "Man On the Edge" should've been the opening track, it just fits that criteria especially when you consider Maiden's standards for opening songs.

In fact, I actually only started to remotely like this album when I had the brilliant idea to move the track listing around and even removing some stuff I considered unnecessary at the time. The most pleasant mix of this album that I got was something like this:
  1. "Man On the Edge"
  2. "Lord of the Flies"
  3. "Judgement Day"
  4. "Fortunes of War"
  5. "Blood On the World's Hands"
  6. "Justice of the Peace"
  7. "I Live My Way"
  8. "The Edge of Darkness"
  9. "Sign of the Cross"
Only by listening to this was that I started to get into The X Factor. Today, I can't listen to it in any way other than the original intended track listing, but even so I consider it (the track listing) awful.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
  1. "Man On the Edge"
  2. "Lord of the Flies"
  3. "Judgement Day"
  4. "Fortunes of War"
  5. "Blood On the World's Hands"
  6. "Justice of the Peace"
  7. "I Live My Way"
  8. "The Edge of Darkness"
  9. "Sign of the Cross"
That's a... huh, I might listen to this "version" myself. Surprised you disregarded a few tracks though.
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
Yeah, now I wouldn't be able to leave out "Look For the Truth", for example. Or "The Aftermath". Heck, even "2 AM", which I consider to be the weakest track on the album. But back then, when I made this mix, I really hated this album. So this mix, albeit somewhat lacking, really helped me to get into this. :D
 
About the Rock in Rio version:

The beginning choir itself is a forgotten masterpiece. The song uses the often seen Maiden structure: quiet start, some action, the starting repeats for the ending. The first guitar solo sequence is godlike and the second riff sequence gets even better. 10/10 and the best song of the 90's Maiden.
 

GiovaOfficial

Powerslave
Not an easy song to rate at all. The first times I listened to the studio version I thought it was really boring. What really got me into this song, and I suspect it might be the case with several others, was the Rock In Rio version, that is really outrageously good. I’m going to be honest and say that I most definitely prefer Bruce to Blaze, but I think this song as a whole works better live, just like the song that came immediately before in track listings (Fear of the Dark). The verses really fit Blaze’s voice, but Bruce still did a great job with them, and I hope they’ll try this song live again, even though it seems unlikely. I now see this song as a great epic, but I still don’t feel like giving it the top rating. 9/10
 

Jer

Yes, Yes, Another Beer!
The opening to the Blaze era is pretty decent. The chanting, moody intro is a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, the start of the verse has you flailing for the volume control because you had to crank it up so high to hear the intro and now it's suddenly destroying your ears (a clear sign of failure on the producer's part).

Blaze's voice on the verse is pretty good except for the "time and again" lyric, which sounds terrible. He's also pretty solid on the chorus, though his tone's a bit inconsistent.

The clean guitar flourishes leading up to the midpoint of the song are nice. This leads into some pretty decent instrumental meandering before slipping into a by-the-numbers Fear Of The Dark style key-supported groove and a couple of decent, if sloppy, solos.

On the final chorus reprise, Blaze sounds like he has something in his throat on the first line, but he recovers afterward. The song should have ended with the end of the chorus, but Steve's circular songwriting fetish slaps on an intro reprise which is wholly unnecessary.

Pretty solid overall, with a small handful of boring or cringey moments. One of the better songs of the Blaze era. 7/10.
 

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
The opening to the Blaze era is pretty decent. The chanting, moody intro is a nice change of pace. Unfortunately, the start of the verse has you flailing for the volume control because you had to crank it up so high to hear the intro and now it's suddenly destroying your ears (a clear sign of failure on the producer's part).

Blaze's voice on the verse is pretty good except for the "time and again" lyric, which sounds terrible. He's also pretty solid on the chorus, though his tone's a bit inconsistent.

The clean guitar flourishes leading up to the midpoint of the song are nice. This leads into some pretty decent instrumental meandering before slipping into a by-the-numbers Fear Of The Dark style key-supported groove and a couple of decent, if sloppy, solos.

On the final chorus reprise, Blaze sounds like he has something in his throat on the first line, but he recovers afterward. The song should have ended with the end of the chorus, but Steve's circular songwriting fetish slaps on an intro reprise which is wholly unnecessary.

Pretty solid overall, with a small handful of boring or cringey moments. One of the better songs of the Blaze era. 7/10.
I agree on everything except for the bit about the outro (intro reprise), which I think fits the song quite well. As far as I'm concerned -and although it is a bit conservative- I still think they should have opened the album with "Man on the Edge" and finish it with "Sign of the Cross".
 
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