SSOASS: individual album judgement by yours truly

JudasMyGuide

A Moravian soul
Time for an update

Moonchild 5/10
Infinite Dreams 8/10
Can I Play With Madness 7/10
The Evil That Men Do 6/10
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son 7/10 (just the ending would be 11/10, but the chorus and those stupid, out of rhythm choirs...)
The Prophecy 5/10
The Clairvoyant 8/10
Only The Good Die Young 7/10

Overall: 6,6/10

And I've been pretty generous at that...
 

MindRuler

Ancient Mariner
Time for an update

Moonchild 5/10
Infinite Dreams 8/10
Can I Play With Madness 7/10
The Evil That Men Do 6/10
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son 7/10 (just the ending would be 11/10, but the chorus and those stupid, out of rhythm choirs...)
The Prophecy 5/10
The Clairvoyant 8/10
Only The Good Die Young 7/10

Overall: 6,6/10

And I've been pretty generous at that...
:eek:
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

Educated Fool
Caught Somewhere in time has virtually the same structure (minus Coleridge and end instrumental parts) and it's a 9 ?
Caught Somewhere in Time has not the same structure and is meant to be a totally different kind of song. Also, the fact that Caught is faster than Seventh Son helps a lot.
 

frus

Barbed Wire Hen
OK, but all the "boring" elements are present: long drawn out synth heavy intro, tun turutun turutun turutun turu (ad libitum), chorus = title of the song repeated x times (OK, it's less times total in CSiT)

For the record, I love both songs and voted 10/10 for both, but your objections for SSOASS still hold and I agree with them
Why not for CSiT too?
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

Educated Fool
Why not for CSiT too?
The "boring elements" are present many Iron Maiden songs. They are not the problem per se, they become part of the problem depending on how they use it.

As I stated elsewhere, Iron Maiden, and specifically Steve Harris, based their songwriting on one main strategy: use a limited number of melodies and, moreover, chord progressions, but make the most out of them.
For istance, the "bridge" of Caught Somewhere in Time (the guitar part after "let yourself goooo") is based on a riff which was already featured in Rime of the Ancient Mariner ("see, onward she comes", etc.), but the different arrangement (in Caught is faster and played by the guitars, and the second time is harmonized) gives to it a different mood, also thanks to the different mixing and mastering and the effect used by the guitars, and so on. Also regarding Caught: the chorus vocal line = the intro melody; the chord progression is the usual one: E, C, D, which modulates in the tonality of A for the vocal bridge ("tiiiime is always on my side"); the song is 7 and a half minutes long, but if you think about it, it has no guitar melodies other than these: all the rest are the break and the solos, which are very long for their standards but, on the other hand, are well structured and give the song some variety, in a certain way. Maximum output, minimum effort.
For another instance, think about Aces High: the main riff is based on the usual E F# G B scale (Phantom of the Opera, Hallowed Be Thy Name, The Trooper, later we have Infinite Dreams, etc.); the guitars follow the vocal line; wanna guess the chorus chord progression? Yes, it is E C D, then modulated in G, and they also use a very similar progression for the solos; add an intro, a bridge riff, another one which would introduce the solos and there we go.

This way of songwriting led them to produce 5 albums in 5 years from 1980 to 1984, a 6th album in 1986 (after having been on tour during half of 1985) and a 7th in 1988 (and again, Somewhere on Tour ended on May, and having the recording sessions of Seventh Son started on February 1988, they had 8 months to recover from the tour, live with their families and start writing new material - which isn't a few time, but also it isn't a lot). This routine is impressive, considering that all of the 7 albums are, objectively speaking, top class and they also had to face some line up changes in the early years.

Now, coming to Seventh Son (the song).
The point is: Iron Maiden used, and still use, to refer to progressions and melodies which, after all, resemble each other. But they used to enhance them. They used modulations and harmonizations, in order to give new moods to their melodies. This isn't what happens in this song.

During the verses, guitars play just one chord: a mid-tempo, galloping E power chord.
The bass does literally nothing more than follow the guitars: E, E-E-E, E-E-E, E-E-E, E-E-E, E-E-E, E-E-E again and again.
During the interlude, besides the fact that the chord change is the most predictable by them (E -> C), there is a guitar line which is, let's be honest, nothing special, but mostly the bass still plays what the guitars play. Steve was well known because of his bass lines, he used to put in fills and licks or drive the song itself (The Clairvoyant, The Prisoner bridge — "Now you see me, now you don't" —, Flight of Icarus, Infinite Dreams). But not here. Same for the chorus. This is not the first time they used the song title as a chorus (Run to the Hills, Caught Somewhere in Time, The Evil That Men Do), but the not-so-interesting vocal line, the obvious variations and the fact that the song is mid tempo makes it repetitive and kinda boring: "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son! Seventh Son of a Seventh So-o-o-on! Seventh Son of a Seventh Son! Seventh Son of a Seventh Son!" ok I got it, move on for God's sake!
Again, same applies for the rest of the song (= until the guitar line which leads to the arpeggio).
And again: it is always in the same tonality. And this is not a problem per se, but becomes a problem when the song is this long and when it is slow, because the perception of it is different. It is repetitive, it has no variations, no licks, no chord changes, and its mid-temponess leads the listener (at least, me) to hear all these things. It becomes heavier, but not in a good way.

The only time when Seventh Son becomes interesting to me is the instrumental coda: finally the tempo changes, finally the tonality and the rhythm change, finally we have some fresh ideas, finally we have the arrangement we expect from Steve: the riff which introduces us to the solos is based on the usual three notes, but it has some personality; the solo rhythm and the riff between Dave's solos are quite aggressive for their standards, and Adrian's solos are singularly sinister, given his usage of tremolo bar, harmonics, chromatisms and tritones. All of this is played in F# Phrygian (not the "normal" F#), instead of the usual E, and contains some musical solutions which are not that common in Iron Maiden music. Obviously there would be no point in analizing Steve's modulations* as he says he does not know music theory and composes by ear, but still.

It seems to me that Steve had the intro and the instrumental section, but he didn't want an instrumental in the album and so he wrote the remaining sections and used them to link what he had.


———
* same applies for another song which I ranked 6.5/10, which is Only the Good Die Young. It rocks between C, Em, Am (bridge — “Time waits for no men”), Dm (first chorus — “Only the good die young and the evil seem to live forever”), Fm (second chorus — “Only the good die young! Only the good die young!”) and F# Phrygian (Adrian’s solo and Dave’s solo before the ending), which uses the Seventh Son’s solo progression but simplified). The F -> F# Phrygian modulation isn’t common, but it has to be pointed out that F# Phrygian adds only a # to the usual “Maiden tonality”, which is Em natural. (Even though, IIRC, Adrian puts in some natural Gs instead of G#s here and there in the solo.)
 
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karljant

Ancient Mariner
IRON MAIDEN - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (2020 re-listening)

1- Moonchild:
Seventh Son is the first concept album by the band, based on the myth of a child to come with huge supernatural powers that both the forces of good and evil are hell bent to take advantage of. Notice that the story isn't 100% clear so much of the plot will be based upon my own conclusions. So after a great acoustic intro that serves as a prologue to the story itself, a bombastic yet mystic intro starts growing tension wise until it explodes in a fast paced monster of a song. Bruce's voice sound wicked as he gives voice to the lord of darkness himself, warning the 7th son's mother that, no matter how much she tries, his soon to be born son is doomed either by joining the powers of evil or by denying them. Music wise this near perfect song is intense, theatrical and simply wicked! Bruce's absolutely devilish tone is on point and absolutely relatable to the character he's representing. And although this is a really heavy tune (in that particular Nicko and Steve's rhythm section is really on point) the guitars oscillate between aggressive riffing and uneasy yet larger than life harmonies. Plus the solos are aggressive as hell and also help to convey that malicious feeling to the track. As a last note the absolutely devilish laughter of Bruce on the final stretch sounds as creepy as awesome. another masterpiece of an opener. 10/10

2- Infinite Dreams:
This song starts with a soft yet absolutely gorgeous melody where guitars, bass and keyboards. And speaking of which, the keyboard on this song (and in the remainder of the album) are much more in front of the mix and sound cleaner and more orchestral that the synth like background fills of Somewhere In Time. But once again, although being a new element, they still fit 100% on Maiden's sound and once again due to its smart use only contribute to enhance it. So, after this brief intro, the stillness continues, with Bruce singing in a really soft and contained fashion yet sounding absolutely great and in sync with the softness of the guitars. And man the bass on this part while being far Steve's most complicated lines is sooooo cool and well placed. Lyric wise i believe that either the father or mother of the soon to be born 7th son start to be haunted in their dreams by premonitions and revelations of both their past life and future years to come and although they feel tortured with these dreams they can't help themselves but feeling curious nd knowing a bit more about the cryptic messages they're receiving in their dreams. As for the rest of the song it's borderline prog metal Maiden perfection. After the calm down part Bruce opens up its lungs and while still melodic this thing assumes a sense of grandeur that simply blows me away. The section finds Bruce giving us a lesson on how to control your breath while singing various words with little to none breathing breaks, Steve pulling another excellent bass undertone and a simple yet absolutely perfect ambiance while keyboard layer. And after the excellent guitar harmony shamelessly stolen and desecrated by Papa Roach and another one of Nickos great variations, Bruces amazing scream pulls you down to a roller coaster of heavy riffs backed up by once again a simple yet intelligent use of keyboards, stellar works by Nicko and Steve, great harmonies, brutal solos until the whole thing returns to the initial pompous riff as if a circle meeting its initial point, like the cycle of life itself. Mind blowing lyrics, performance and ambiance. 10/10

3- Can I Play With Madness? :
Perhaps being the heaviest riff ever featuring lots of cowbell (perhaps a tribute to Gene Farrell), this track achieves something really unique: making a 100% radio friendly tune be absolutely in line with the mystic ambiance of the remainder of the album thus not breaking the narrative. Lyrics wise I believe here the soon to be father of the 7th one gets fed up of being tortured with visions and dreams and goes to a clairvoyant that promptly refuses to tell him what he has seen in his visions since he knows it's a grim future and beyond the father's capabilities to handle the situation. Music wise the galloping and voice on the verses is stellar, the chorus is absolutely commercial yet gorgeous featuring once again a superb use of keyboards and the bridge heavy blues like breakdown is also really cool. Top notch song that mixes elements that have everything to fail in a disastrous way but end up being a monster of a success on pair with other Maiden's best so called radio hit songs. 9.5/10

4- The Evil That Men Do:
Starting with a great intro this track quickly goes uptempo with great drumming pedal details. And while the riff is a bit too linear, Bruce's low and wicked vocal line really benefits from this simple approach and steals the attention to his absolutely breath taking performance. On the other hand the guitar melody pre-chorus is simply beautiful and makes a perfect bridge to a simple yet larger than life refrain where this time Bruce's tenor is unleashed in its full potency (the second time he goes "on and oooooon" without use of falsetto is simply ridiculous). The full brake stop before the bridge and solos is also excellent and there's still room for a great coda at the end. Plot wise I believe this is about the conception of the 7th one (The Evil That Men Do being a reference to the original sin of conception). How his father decides that no matter how terrible the prophecies are he wants to have the child come hell or high water. And vows to defend both him and his mother with all his forces no matter how dangerous this decision may reveal itself. Overall this track is one that IMO suffered more attrition from overplaying and I'm a bit fed up to listen to it. But nevertheless it's still one hell of a tune. I'm not crazy about all of the performances here, but Bruce shines on a god like level and we're once again presented with some great guitar melodies. This would be a 9.25, but since I kinda got a bit tired of listening to it on almost every concert and live album I'll chop half a point. 8.75/10

5- Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son:
Ah! The birth of the chosen one arrives and let me tell you: ambiance wise this thing is really HUGE. It immediately transports us to a ceremony or ritual where the new born son is recognized (by some sort of conclave of priest or ancients or something similar) that see in him the traits of the prophetical child to come with supernatural powers, especially the one of clairvoyance. Music wis, this is pompous yet heavy as fuck, superbly filled with keyboards. A 9 plus minute monster that easily fits the band's long epic/ narrative typology. The chorus is a bit lackluster but everything else is Maiden focused in 2 things: heaviness and pomp. The pause at the middle is really reminiscent of Rime Of The Ancient Mariner nd also does wonders for the narrative as the declamation serves as the absolute confirmation of the prophecy and the huge struggle between the forces of good and evil that will ensue in order to harness the new born's powers. And that struggle I believe is depicted in the duality of the remainder instrumental sections of the track. And if until now this song was quite simple, things are about to change: lots of sections every single one of them better than the previous one. Really: the second part of this song is a jaw dropping crescendo of intensity and quality, that varies from angelical choirs and harmonious guitar melodies to wicked riffs and aggressive as hell solos. Although this is obviously another great composition I must admit I kind got a bit tired of it with the passing of ages. So I'll steal 1/4 of a point to it, but nonetheless far from me from not giving due reverence to this master crafted tune. 8.75/10

6- The Prophecy:
Now this track is normally portrayed by the majority as one of the album's low points. So let's see: stunning intro, epic and powerful as fuck celtic influenced verses, masterpiece of a pre chorus (those layered voice lines... the lowest one is one of Bruce's best -if not the best- low tone singing EVER). Plus this whole muscular, tense yet somehow medieval sounding state of the art tune fits perfectly the lyrics, how the 7th sons good intentions while attempting to warn the populations of incoming disasters only made them turn against him (maybe due to superstition and the mass's religious zealot beliefs), labeling him a witch and the bringer of curses, as the devil patiently waits the main character to grow bitter and turn to the dark side. Plus there's that punch on the chorus: riffs, bass and resounding tenor voice: everything at 11. And to carry on the lesson on perfection we're offered some more state of the art folk inspired harmonies, a rush tempo great solo, and to wrap it up a simply beautiful folk outro. Low point? Low point my ass! This thing is one of Maiden's best tracks ever... PERIOD! 10/10

7- The Clairvoyant:
After an amazing Harris bass crescendo that both guitars get a hitchhike from, this thing explodes into a colourful guitar harmony only to flow into a state of the art verse section with everything on a ridiculous high level. Backed once again by an excellent use of keyboards, creating an intense environment that I believe depicts the evergrowing powers of the protagonist that, despite harnessing them easier and easier with the passing of days could not predict his own death. The only minor down side here is the chorus that seems to belong to an entirely different song (and so does the soloing part). Other than that another superb track that somehow doesn't seem to tire me. 8.75/10

8- Only The Good Die Young:
As the album's last song starts we're already thrown into another feast of gret harmonies that dance upon the keyboard. As for the verses the mix of Dickinson's wicked lower tone, the guitar strums along with Steve's monstrous galloping bass is simply top stuff. Talking about Steve and top stuff... that bass doodle after the first solo is simply delicious. And the chorus while being a bit repetitive features some cool details, especially the second part with the keys emerging along with the guitar licks. Plot wise I believe that this is the 7th one's final words, where he despises all the religious zealots that treated him like a curse (although he never did anything evil) as well as the devil's temptations. And at the same time aknowledges that although his death was sealed he kept his free will all the time when it came to the morallity of his actions and they were never entirely controlled by either forces that battled on manipullating him. Basically he tells thme both (the good and the evil) "hey you two... now that I'm dying young for never faultering to evil and I no longer have my powers, just leave me to my eternal rest and go bust somebody's else chops will ya?". Overall a great song and a great way to close a masterpiece. 8.75/10

Bonus stuff/ Original B' sides:

Black Bart Blues:
A groovy tune with cool solos a lot of relax and comedy along. Decent for a B' side but that's it. 3/10

To wrap it up, Seventh Son is a monster of an album. Featuring my favorite production from the band's entire discography this epic conceptual masterpiece brings some more new traits and shows Maiden still on their very prime. The Illustrations are superb and when two of my favorite art names collide (Maiden and Dali) you cannot go wrong. The somewhat vague way the story is told and the whole concept leaves lots of room to interpretation without rendering it discombobulated. That conveys a certain flow that other conceptual records lack because they're so limited on the narrative and focused on describing every single detail without noticing how it hurts the musical side. And very often that turns what could be an epic metal conceptual record in a feeble nd boring rock opera. Absolutely stunning work. 9/10
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
I may be wrong here but this could probably be the first (and last?) time out here, that Can I Play With Madness is higher rated than The Evil That Men Do (and the title track, and The Clairvoyant and the album closer, so it's a top half track!). I had to look twice to be sure.
 
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karljant

Ancient Mariner
I may be wrong here but this could probably be the first (and last?) time out here, that Can I Play With Madness is higher rated than The Evil That Men Do (and the title track, and The Clairvoyant and the album closer, so it a top half track!). I had to look twice to be sure.
Yes it is. Not that it's a better or worst song than the ones you pointed but with the passing of DECADES (almost 3 and a half to be more precise) I grew a bit tired of some. Just a bit because everything here is so well put together it's insane (7th son is my 3rd favorite record by the band). All songs on 7th Son are absolutely great. Of course Moonchild, Infinite Dreams and The Prophecy are on a godlike echelon as far as I'm concerned but Can I Play With Madness simply didn't lose its charm. Perhaps it benefits from being a really short tune, I don't know. But fact is unlike other tracks here I can still listen to it with the same engaging excitement I did when I was 12.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Holy Moly. And that's fairly recent too!

:--)

edit: depending on if @JudasMyGuide likes Can I Play With Madness more than one of the following ...

the title track
the album closer

... it is a top half track or not for him.

Is this your lowest ranked Maiden album Judas?
 
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JudasMyGuide

A Moravian soul
Nah, the numbers may make it seem that way, but I rank Killers, DOD, TNOTB and NPFTD lower as albums (at least, maybe the debut is also down there somewhere, maybe VXI as well).

Thing is, a lot of the stuff I genuinely liked here I found very easy to overplay (the title track - including noticing the out of synch keyboard "aaaahs", that just annoys me now; Infinite Dreams) and some, like TETMD I never understood the appeal - as for fast, catchy Maiden stompers I'd much rather listen to Boots or Trooper or 2M2M or even Run to the Hills. The Prophecy to me is the worst excess of Maiden trying to be "progressive", like a messy, mistaken attempt at repeating Still Life, IMHO.

Madness is at least novel with its shameless radio-friendly feel. It's a weaker 7 than the title track (which borders on almost an 8, the ending itself is one of my favourite Maiden moments in general) and about the same as the closer, whose chorus melody I find more intriguing than TETMD (though the latter still has the cool guitar run-ups before the chorus).

I used to love this album very much, but over time it became really annoying to me. Quite the opposite of Powerslave - early in my Maiden experience I found that one to be barely held together by the killer opener and the final two track, whereas nowadays it's most certainly my favourite 80's Maiden album (with TXF for the 90s and AMOLAD for the 00s).

I might have been too harsh towards Moonchild, at least now I think it's not a 5. A strong 6, maybe?

As an album, it still holds better, because it feels greater than the sum of its parts (also because of the production), that's where the really low numeric assessment comes.
 
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