A building intro that breaks into Gregorian chanting opens up Maiden's tenth album. It's a drastically different opener to everything they've released before it, but my god, is it brilliant. A bass lead and the voice of Maiden's new singer take centerstage before drumbeats and slow moving guitars and keyboard start intensifying the action. Finally the song just explodes into a heavy, plodding piece with Blaze showcasing how great his voice fits Maiden's new style. The verses are very typical Steve Harris but they work great, and the lyrics are an awesome look at someone awaiting the Inquisition. The chorus is simply but effective, and the long instrumental piece is amazing. It starts out chugging along, then has some more chanting over bass, then gets back to heaviness, leading to a fantastic couple of solos from Dave and Janick, before winding down and returning to the chorus before bowing out with a final stanza delivered by Blaze. This song is a masterpiece, an epic to rival everything Maiden have done up to this point. The production isn't technically 'great', but I love it anyway, because it gives the song a much bigger sound than otherwise. "Sign of the Cross" is the most atypical opener ever, but fuck me if it's not also an incredible way to start an album of this caliber. 10
This is an epic by all means. Great dramatic intro, awesome verses and a wonderful chorus. Very good drumming from Nicko. The two twin-lead guitar harmonies after the quiet middle part are highlights of the whole song - one of the best harmonies from Maiden!. Great solos (especially Dave's one with the tapping). The song is full of fantastic melodies and tempo changes. Live, the song is even greater. One of the best songs from the Blaze era. A classic !
Just to correct something that Diesel mentioned above, the intro chant is actually not Gregorian chant, but Russian Orthodox chant. I guess they just wanted to use it for the mood it provides, but I noticed this since the words are in Church Slavonic and are "Блажен Муж" followed by "Alleluia", which is based on Psalm 1 "Blessed is that man who hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly... For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked shall perish" and is well known among Orthodox Christians as it is featured in their liturgical cycle making up a regular part of the Vigil service. I found a version online for whoever wants to listen and confirm that this indeed is the source, which I linked below. Anyway I just thought I would mention this since I had not seen the source given either by the band or anywhere else online.
BTW just for the record and to answer the question, this song is definitely a 10/10 for me, as is the album. I love Blaze and think that he is greatly (and sadly) underrated, not only his voice but his contribution to the band (which I think the band themselves have even realized and acknowledged, just look at how much Blaze content is starting to come back in recent setlists). These songs kill live and they only get better with time while some of the "classics" sound worn out the longer time rolls on (just my opinion but Blaze's albums and Brave New World are my favorite albums).
According to Bayley, the lyrics are
slightly influenced by the novel “The Name
Of The Rose ”(1980)
Italian writer Umberto Eco (1932-), which
later it was shot in a film of the same name (1986).
The track opens with the Xpression choir
Choir with a psalm, whose structure is reminiscent of
Gregorian psalm. This current of ecclesiastical
music was introduced by Ag.
Gregory, Pope of Rome
(540-604 AD), which,
since then, it has prevailed throughout
The eleven men mentioned in
verses is the Holy Examination of the Catholic Church.
The Holy Inquisition was that institution of the Catholic
Church who was shouldered
the elimination of heresies and persecution
those persons whom I believe or
acts were characterized as deviating from
Christian teaching. There were four main sanctuaries
Exams, Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese
The first of the Medieval Sacred Examinations was called “Episcopal
Examination "(because it consisted of Bishops) and was founded in 1184 by one
Papal Decree entitled "Ad Abolendam" ("For the Purpose of Exemption") as
response to the rising heresy of the Pure in southern France (see
The Papal Examination (1230) was the answer to
ineffectiveness of the Episcopal Exam to suppress heresies.
Unlike its predecessor, the Papal Examination consisted of special
trained ministers certain by the Pope, coming mainly
from the Dominican Order.
After the 13th century, the Inquisition spread to Germany and
Scandinavia and the 16th century in America by Christopher Columbus.
At the end of the 15th century, the Spanish Inquisition became independent
from Rome, under the king of Aragon, Ferdinand (1452 - 1516). He
persecuted Muslims, Jews and the Enlightenment, writing one of
the darkest chapters of this institution. From the bays of Spain
Sacred Examination The Mexican Sacred Examination was founded, the action of which
lasted until Mexican Independence (1492).
Pope Paul III (1468 - 1549) established in 1542 a permanent body,
the "Gathering for the Doctrine of the Faith", consisting of Cardinals and
other officials, whose responsibility was to “maintain and defend
the integrity of faith and to examine and to
suppresses heretical practices and ideas "as well as
to prosecute the people who spread them. This body
supervised the local Holy Examinations. It was what
1616 ruled that the Earth does not revolve around him
Helio, ranking his book
Copernicus (1473 - 1543) “De
Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium ”
("On the Revolution of
Celestial Spheres ") (1543) in
He also persecuted Galileo (1564 -
1642) because he supported the
his heliocentric theory
The lyrics of the song are written in the first person and, it seems
to be the thoughts of someone to be examined by the Holy
Examination. The verse "Asking the question time and again" may refer to
the way in which the Inquisition used to extract confessions of guilt. THE
"Examined" was tortured in successive sessions that took place
over several days. During his torture
the question "are you guilty?" was always asked, without reference to
accusation that the tortured person was called to admit by confessing.
When, under the pressure of horrific torture, the accused
he confessed, surrendered to the fire and burned alive. In the fourth
the genesis of the doubt of the faith of the future is distinguished in four verses,
topic that Harris has raised again in "Hallowed Be Thy Name". In the last
couplet, the protagonist seems to recognize that the desire for matter him
has turned away from God, which shows that he is someone
who believed in God and sought to win Paradise, but believed that
he had committed something that deprived him of the afterlife, sketching him
Adso, the monk who is the narrator of the story in "His Name
Rhodes ", who had had sexual intercourse with a villager who
he was later accused of witchcraft
I listen to this song almost every day, handily solving all of my lifes problems in just over 11 minutes. Even the weak production cannot hide the power behind this track. In fact if it was better produced i doubt my ears would be able to handle the power.
Problems with work? Sign of the Cross vaporises them.
Can't get out of bed? Sign of the Cross catapults you across your house and into the shower.
Worried about walking down that dark, unlit alley? Well Blaze is now by your side, air drumming furiously away.
One of Maiden's greatest tracks on one of their most dismissed albums. I have listened to it 4 times so far today and i'm probably not done yet