The Parchment

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
10/10

A positive behemoth. A true masterpiece. Pummeling riff after pummeling riff. This is truly an accomplishment for Steve as it never loses steam, it just bludgeons through the world like a wooly mammoth. Steve really knocks this one out of the park. Even the regimented, metre-driven lyrics work well here. The guitar solos are endless and it rules (though I don't get what everyone's going on about re: Dave's solo, which sounds like typical Dave noodling that never really goes anywhere). The vocals do go on a bit in the same repetitive melody, but Bruce's ending crescendo makes it all worthwhile.

As for gripes? Riff at 3:30 is absolutely phenomenal. Wish it were harmonized more. Oh yeah, and there's way too many guitars-playing-vocal-melodies moments, but they're usually in a higher octave, at the very least.
 

Boroking

In the mire of an ancient swamp
From the very beginning of the intro we have a slightly ominous sense of dread. It's justified because when the riff crashes in it means business and so does every riff that follows. On my first listen where most of the songs didn't initially draw much blood, this is the one that grabbed my attention. It's the longest song on the album and it honestly feels about half of it's over 12 minute length, as it twists and turns from riff to riff, any one of which would sustain a song on it's own. Also this is the track where the guitars harmonising with the vocals works best. This is my first listen to the track in a few weeks and it frankly makes me want to be standing astride a desert mountain, beating my chest at the Sun. And that's what metal should do.
 
D

Deleted member 7164

Guest
re: Dave's solo, which sounds like typical Dave noodling that never really goes anywhere)

Great pace, great phrasing and flow.

The faster patterns are Davey-trademark fluid and the slower patterns are played quite behind the beat giving it a bluesy feeling. The solo starts slow but doesn't just build up to fast, it alternates pace two or three times. Each time the slower part starts down in the lower register and goes up in pitch when it picks up the pace. But on 5:35 the shift to slow comes via an incredibly effective little melody up in high register which seems to me like the culmination of the solo.

For me it is one of the best solos of the record,

and it's certainly better than Smith's solo on this track. That one is quite generic, and it's the type of solo that Smith does over progressive tracks when he doesn't want to build upon vocal melodies. Also the last 3 notes, I don't know whether this 'grindy' effect was sought after but there's something iffy about the penultimate, middle one, its not modulated well. Certainly Dave's effort feels more 1st class than Smiths on this one.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
The best solo of the album for sure. Adrian's on Darkest Hour is 2nd and Janick's on Hell on Earth 3rd. :)
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I'm not knocking Dave's solo at all, but it still just sounds like Dave playing in a Dave Box, finding a little lick, playing in a Dave Box again, and so on. It fits the song and it's typical Davey, so it works quite well but it doesn't blow me away. The intro is great (5:02-5:07), then it sounds super disjointed and improvised (5:08-5:13), then he hits an elephant note to get situated on the fretboard again before moving into some whammy stuff (5:14-5:24), then 5:25 on is all pretty great. Like...it's fine, but nowhere near a top tier Murray solo.

Also, I'm definitely not arguing Adrian's solo is better here. It's not. I honestly think the most interesting lead guitar work (that isn't a melody) is Janick's little bit from 3:18-3:31. There's some interesting melodic work there and it's very tasteful for Janick.
 

Edington

Last Son of The Miracle
Adrian's two solos are a bit of a let-down here, given his work on the rest of the album. They both start off really strong, I especially love the almost creepy licks of the first solo and the way it snakes in from the main riff, but they quickly lose their way and sound as though Adrian didn't really know where he was going with them.

I honestly think the most interesting lead guitar work (that isn't a melody) is Janick's little bit from 3:18-3:31. There's some interesting melodic work there and it's very tasteful for Janick.

Same for me. Janick's fantastic when he slows down and he can come out with some really exotic-sounding stuff, it suits this track perfectly.
 

Magnus

Pica Serdica
Let him who hath understanding reckon what Steve's saying with his lyrics, for there's only one 'um. Kin 'ell!
 

____no5

Free Man
Last three minutes of the song are just epic!

And the first 9 are out of this world! :p

I found this video in YouTube, the guy's suggestion Mithridates the Great as song's protagonist.
Though as far as I know the "Poison king" was another one with the same name (from Sinope, Black Sea), it's still a nice video to watch.

 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
I know Steve gets a lot of flack for his intros and outros, but man, on this album they help to encapsulate the songs' individualities among the rest of the tracks. And this song might have Steve's all-time greatest intro. Moody bass, dark and eerie keyboards with haunting Eastern vibes, rising up from the sands, before we're plunged right into the annals of time with a heavy, crushing riff. My god, I never want this song to end. The leads are so enrapturing, and the keys help fill out the sound immensely. There's some "To Tame a Land" influence in spots but it's never really obvious, because "The Parchment" is really more like Iron Maiden's (even better) take on Led Zeppelin's iconic "Kashmir" with slight Book of Souls influence for scope.

Like seriously, how fucking awesome is this song? Every second of it is like a play-by-play of Steve's brilliance at songwriting yet also constantly pushing in new directions we never really expected from him. The verses are laid out in wonderful progression. Bruce gets three right at the start to build attention, and then the song kinda just does its own thing without him for a little while. We get a small but sufficient Janick solo before the lead melodies keep working off each other in dark, mysterious fashions before culminating in some beautiful, beautiful peaks.

Dave makes his entrance with the most overrated solo on the whole album. Yeah, I said it. There's amazing moments in it but the majority is aimless waffling. Nowhere close to the best on the album. But it does enough to make it fun, and again, solos don't usually make or break a song for me. If they do what's needed then they can be as phoned-in as you like. None of the solos on this song rank among Maiden's best, but they're all a part of what makes this song so fun for me. Janick and Adrian follow Dave, filling out this tapestry with some fun if not exactly impressive solos of their own. They work in the context of the song but never overshadow what's really on display here: Steve's fantastic songwriting.

I love the lead we get after H's solo. It brings us right into the next section of the song, where Bruce returns from behind the curtain. This isn't one of his more bombastic performances, but it doesn't have to be. He's here to help weave more shadows than we already have, and he does so with a storytellers' knack. The lyrics of this song are so cool yet also so enigmatic that I think it's impossible to tell what they mean without directly asking the writer himself. But lines like "Witness now the witching hour," and "Assembled here to butcher blades," work so goddamn well because Bruce's delivery makes them seem like profound material handed to us by the gods.

This is also the song where it makes the most sense to double the vocal melody with guitar. If the melody sounds so fucking great on its own, why wouldn't you highlight it? And the little double-ups on the vocals at certain points really cooks.

And then we hit the climactic final verse section, the closest thing to a chorus that this song has. "Here the cry!" shouts Bruce, and my god do we hit next-level euphoria here. The closing doesn't shed any more light on the song's meaning, but that's okay. This one works because of all the darkness it leaves for us to interpret ourselves. And possibly the greatest moment on the album comes right in Bruce's last line, when he sings "Meet me there!" and draws out the final note. It's easy for a singer of his caliber to do (I can hold it for twice as long if I try) but it sounds so. fucking. good. So good! SO GOOD!

But the song still has just under three minutes to go, and the boys finish things off by switching gears into a well-deserved faster section. This is where the audience starts going crazy and Bruce and Steve run across the stage just before Janick goes nuts with his solo. An amazing way to take a song that has been great up till now by not changing tempos at all, merely changing up the music through several different riffs, verses, and solos, and make everything before feel like build-up to this fantastic payoff. Adrian also gets another solo in here before the song comes to a close with a great, big rock ending just in time for one last nod to the intro section, and we're out.

This was the song I was most hyped to hear back when the band first announced the tracklist, and Jesus Christ did it live up to that hype. It's a perfect song. Everything here works in support of the full scope of the work. It's mysterious, it's powerful, it's bombastic, it's awesome, and it's an incredible Iron Maiden ride with fantastic music and performances from everyone involved. Not just the best song on the album, but one of the best songs Maiden have ever written. Delivering goliaths like this forty years in their career should be illegal, because they make it so much harder for the rest of the musical world to compare. 10 out of fucking 10.
 

Murder of Rue Morgue

Educated Fool
Though as far as I know the "Poison king" was another one with the same name (from Sinope, Black Sea), it's still a nice video to watch.
The "Poison King" was Mithridates VI Eupator, aka Mithridates the Great. He ruled Pontus from 120 to 63 BC and fought the Roman Republic (so-called 'Mithridatic Wars') but was defeated by Pompeius Magnus in 66 BC. Mithridates committed suicide three years later, after having had to face two rebellions led by his own sons.

He is called the "Poison King" due to his reported affinity with poisons. His father, Mithridates V, was assassinated by poisoning, and it is said that Mithridates VI regularly ingested non-lethal amount of poison and then somehow invented a legendary, universal antidote.
 

Jer

The dotage of a dotard
A soft bass rhythm with middle eastern guitar and synth accompaniment suddenly bursts into a heavier variant of itself, building a hypnotic groove. This transitions into a more guitar-driven groove for the melodic verse 1. Some of the vocal phrasing here is a bit odd, but nothing too egregious.

An exotic solo flows into a rolling melodic instrumental that remains repetitive but hypnotic. A raw and noisy solo with middle eastern flavor gives way to a short and abrupt solo, then a longer exotic one. This rolls into an extended verse 2 with another memorable vocal melody, then a repetitive but also memorable descending chorus, ending with the already classic “meet me there!”

A short continuation of the groove breaks into a brighter, more driving melodic instrumental, then a fiery extended solo followed by a soaring melodic one. An ascending and descending breakdown gives way to a tasteful reprise of the intro and a long, decaying note.

This song is an interesting animal, because it features many of Harris’s less appealing songwriting hallmarks (lots of repetition, wordy verses, circular intro/outro), but in this particular application they just work brilliantly together. I think it’s the infectious, hypnotic middle eastern groove that permeates the entire song — everything else revolves around it, and if it succeeds in sweeping you away, then the rest of the choices make perfect sense. But if you remain unhypnotized, then this track probably has a lot less appeal for you.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — this is the song that “To Tame A Land” wished it could be. While it has a few minor blemishes, the vast majority of it is excellent, and the song as a whole is once again greater than the sum of its parts. Whether you call it “The Pankrement”, “The Pakrement”, or “The Parchment”, this is another all-time Maiden classic — and if I’m being honest with myself I’m going to have to round this up to a 10/10. Love it.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
While it has a few minor blemishes, the vast majority of it is excellent, and the song as a whole is once again greater than the sum of its parts. Whether you call it “The Pankrement”, “The Pakrement”, or “The Parchment”, this is another all-time Maiden classic — and if I’m being honest with myself I’m going to have to round this up to a 10/10. Love it.
This is actually a good summing up of why I’m pretty generous with my song ratings. If I truly love something — and the vast majority of Maiden I truly love — then I can forgive minor blemishes for the sheer wonder of the entire affair. But to each their own obviously. Glad to see this one get a 10 for you cuz goddamn it deserves it.
 
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