The Man Who Would Be King

How good is The Man Who Would Be King on a scale of 1-10?


  • Total voters
    50

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
This is a strange song, it's not really that long and yet it feels like a journey. It's strange to think that it's almost exactly the same length as If Eternity Should Fail.

Anyway, there's a lot going on here. The intro all the way up to the heavy buildup is very cool, one of my favorite moments on the album. The actual verses could be a lot better, the vocal melodies are a bit dull and the lyrics are very awkwardly phrased. But the riffing and the prechorus are really cool. I really enjoy the story being told in the song too, Steve has a knack for building an interesting mystery around characters in his songs. I think that's something he learned from Peter Gabriel.

The instrumental section is very cool, especially the slide melody and the backmasked guitar solo. Something new for Maiden. The twin melody afterwards is glorious.

This is a hard song to assess, there are things I like and things I don't like. It's not one I go for often, but I enjoy it a lot when I do.

7
 

Poto

Ancient Mariner
8/10

I really like the intro to this one. One of Dave's finest. The entire song is very exciting musically IMO. I like the backwards solo and the guitar playing underneath it. Nice touch.
 

BeThyJames

Trooper
A complex, ambitious song but the different elements don't come together for me. I actually find parts of it boring which is not something I've ever said about Maiden.

6
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
5/10

Dave Murray’s follow-up to The Talisman is the worst song on the album. The Man Who Would Be King feels like a bunch of random pieces glued together with no regard for key or pace. Imagine this: the song begins with a quiet guitar solo. A Murray song starting with a mournful guitar lead, you say? Well, I never! When the band kicks in, the key changes from A to E, and though it shouldn’t sound so out of place, there’s no leading notes helping the song along. It sounds forced. Bruce sounds great, despite the childish lyrics. The solo break is so completely random that it distracts from what is actually a cool instrumental section (I call it the “elephant horn” section). Murray's solo is lost amid a confusion of notes mixed far too low while the elephant horn wails. It sounds cool on its own, but has no relevance to the song. Neither does the chipper unison riff that appears after the solo. The ending refrain with Bruce's wailing and harmonized guitars is great, but again so very random. Sadly, the song never feels cohesive, despite containing a bunch of solid musical ideas. It is the clunkiest, though not the worst, progressive song the band ever made.
 

Number 6

Ancient Mariner
I've learned to enjoy this song for what it is (a fun and quite ambitious epic song), but it's frustrating that it had a lot of potential to be so much more. The instrumental section is very nice and peculiar for a Maiden song, but it doesn't really have anything that special. It sounds stretched, could've been made shorter. The ending, with Bruce repeating "far away, the man who would be king" over and over, makes zero sense and really drags the song down. I'll give it a low 8 for being better than "The Final Frontier" (which I gave a 7), but still disappointing.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I've listened to this song twice through to finally try to commit it to semi-memory. It's weird, listening to that one song you don't remember by your favorite band. Anyways... the lyrics are horseshit. Sometimes not being able to understand what's happening is good; here it's not. He killed someone, he has regrets, ok: I don't give a fuck. Musically, however, this is pretty good. The opening is a nice one, and while the verses are very reminiscent of the song that follows it - When The Wild Wind Blows - and thus I don't care too much for them, but everything pulls together in the chorus. That's a good chorus. The instrumental section is also pretty good but like @Number 6 said, peculiar for a Maiden song - the closest comparison off the top of my head is Hold on Loosely by .38 Special, Just What I Needed by The Cars, or some kind of Christian thing I heard in my youth. Needless to say, this is better than those three. The song kicks back in to another verse and another great chorus, and then quiets down for an ending, in which the guitars are very reminiscent of the Seventh Son album, specifically The Prophecy. Bruce's repetition makes no sense, yes, but they come as a nice end to this song. The music takes you on a journey, the lyrics do not, but I can overlook lyrics sometimes if they're balanced out by the rest of the song being top-notch. This song... I feel that with enough listens this might become another certified Diesel Favorite, but until now this has been the single Maiden song I forget faster than the rest, so for now I'll give it an 8/10. In time this may change. We'll see.

Far, far away... the Diesel will listen again...
 

Gk1

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
I think that the most part after the solo is unnecessary....oh yeah, also the intro is unreasonably long and repetitive. Love the ending though. Maiden once more managed to get some great parts and repeated them to death. Also the lyrics are almost funny.It has been quite a while since Steve wrote a decent tune, let alone lyrics.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
I've listened to this song twice through to finally try to commit it to semi-memory. It's weird, listening to that one song you don't remember by your favorite band. Anyways... the lyrics are horseshit. Sometimes not being able to understand what's happening is good; here it's not. He killed someone, he has regrets, ok: I don't give a fuck. Musically, however, this is pretty good. The opening is a nice one, and while the verses are very reminiscent of the song that follows it - When The Wild Wind Blows - and thus I don't care too much for them, but everything pulls together in the chorus. That's a good chorus. The instrumental section is also pretty good but like @Number 6 said, peculiar for a Maiden song - the closest comparison off the top of my head is Hold on Loosely by .38 Special, Just What I Needed by The Cars, or some kind of Christian thing I heard in my youth. Needless to say, this is better than those three. The song kicks back in to another verse and another great chorus, and then quiets down for an ending, in which the guitars are very reminiscent of the Seventh Son album, specifically The Prophecy. Bruce's repetition makes no sense, yes, but they come as a nice end to this song. The music takes you on a journey, the lyrics do not, but I can overlook lyrics sometimes if they're balanced out by the rest of the song being top-notch. This song... I feel that with enough listens this might become another certified Diesel Favorite, but until now this has been the single Maiden song I forget faster than the rest, so for now I'll give it an 8/10. In time this may change. We'll see.

Far, far away... the Diesel will listen again...
Yup, even reading Kipling's story or watching the film (with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, great) doesn't make any more sense of them lyricses.
 

GiovaOfficial

Powerslave
This song is very hard for me to rate. I enjoy pretty much every part, but the way they’re put together makes it barely a song altogether, especially in the second part. It’s enjoyable, but it still feels like a huge waste. They could have made a couple of good songs out of this material, instead of making another unnecessarily long one. 6/10
 

Palpy

Blacker than the night
I've always wondered who this song was about. Atm the interpretation that there isn't a specific character behind the story but only a moral message seems the most realistic, but it never satisfied me.
Time ago I realized that someone who's going to be king can simply be a prince, and after some online research I discovered the existence of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. Carlo killed his wife and her lover in Naples, from which he run away to reach Gesualdo, a mountain castle. His pride was the reason for the murders and the line "Life is is not a rehearsal" may be referred to his composer activity.
But all that glitters is not all gold. It must be said that Venosa was just a little part of the Kingdom of Naples ruled by a feudal-like system, so Carlo wasn't son of a king and it would never be one himself. The word "king" can be a metaphor for the aristocratic power of Carlo, but anyway he wasn't going to lose it after the murders. (he just left Naples not to increase the pain of the victims' families and cause a new homicide, he wasn't even indicted by the law) Furthermore it's an almost unknown character (if not completely unknown in England) so it's hard to imagine a reference to him in a song.
Are there other theories about who he is?
 

Gk1

The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
I've always wondered who this song was about. Atm the interpretation that there isn't a specific character behind the story but only a moral message seems the most realistic, but it never satisfied me.
Time ago I realized that someone who's going to be king can simply be a prince, and after some online research I discovered the existence of Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa. Carlo killed his wife and her lover in Naples, from which he run away to reach Gesualdo, a mountain castle. His pride was the reason for the murders and the line "Life is is not a rehearsal" may be referred to his composer activity.
But all that glitters is not all gold. It must be said that Venosa was just a little part of the Kingdom of Naples ruled by a feudal-like system, so Carlo wasn't son of a king and it would never be one himself. The word "king" can be a metaphor for the aristocratic power of Carlo, but anyway he wasn't going to lose it after the murders. (he just left Naples not to increase the pain of the victims' families and cause a new homicide, he wasn't even indicted by the law) Furthermore it's an almost unknown character (if not completely unknown in England) so it's hard to imagine a reference to him in a song.
Are there other theories about who he is?
It sounds like a pretty legit back story. The lyrics are a bit akward though.
 

Edington

Let's Get Volatile
The only parts of this I really like are the clean section near the end (a surprisingly good use of "whoa-ohs") and the prechorus, which is wasted on such a bland chorus. The intro doesn't really build an atmosphere like it should and the lead melody before the verse goes on for too long with some very uninspired drum fills from Nicko.

Bruce sounds bored out of his mind for the most part*, he does get a little more into it on the chorus, but as I mentioned it's so bland that it doesn't really make any difference. Daves solo is decent, though I don't really like how it fits (or doesn't fit, rather) with the rest of the song. Anyone else notice how similar the lead melody before the title drop is to the intro of The Prophecy?

Sorry Dave, but this song was a waste. 5

*Something that bothered me about the entire album, though I read that he recorded his vocals separately from the rest of the band, so I get why he may not have been that excited.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
Something that bothered me about the entire album, though I read that he recorded his vocals separately from the rest of the band, so I get why he may not have been that excited.
I sorta agree, sort of disagree. I don’t think he sounds bored, I just dislike his singing on the album. Possibly the worst he’s ever done in studio. Either he’s holding back or else he wasn’t mixed in properly or something like that. But yeah definitely not a favorite of mine and one of the reasons the album is the least good of the reunion era.
 

Jer

Yes, Yes, Another Beer!
A gentle guitar intro leads into a nice, soft vocal. Bruce sounds great here. A brief pause and ascending harmonized guitars carry us through a nice build-up to a strong uptempo verse. The pre-chorus increases the tension, though Bruce sounds a bit sketchier there. This breaks into an OK but plodding chorus where the guitar unfortunately doubles the vocal.

A bizarre interlude follows, with slide guitar and an all-over-the-place solo, eventually breaking into a nice harmonized groove. We return to the verse, which starts to grate a bit, then more pre-chorus and chorus, which is also starting to grate.

We suddenly cut to a cleaner interlude with some distant wailing, which morphs into a nice soft outro vocal.

Lots of good elements and some great ones, but the musical repetition in the verse and chorus wear out their welcome before the end of the song. Still a 7/10.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
For the longest time, the one song I just didn't remember shit from. I almost wish I could go back to those times because it'd give "The Man Who Would Be King" more of an aura than it actually has. This is the most un-Maiden song the band have ever released, and while that wouldn't be bad per se, it's also completely random, has terrible verses, goes on for too long, and Jesus do the lyrics suck. Almost all of the individual pieces here are decent to actually kinda great, but they're all just thrown into the weirdest melting pot I've ever heard, and the construction is just mind-boggling. Good lord, this song could've been so much interesting, but it's only a mess at the end of the day. Definitely one of their worst songs. 1
 
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