MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Listening to No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark recently it struck me: the energy, rasp, and simplicity (other than The Fugitive) on these albums flows much better directly from Killers. When released after Seventh Son, however, they sound shockingly angry and occasionally uninspired.

  • What do you think would have been different if these albums were released immediately following Killers? How would Maiden's catalogue, popularity, and public perception have changed if NPFTD and FOTD were albums 3 & 4? (Obviously ignoring the lineup changes and stuff, let's just talk pure musical stylings).

I think a lot of old school fans would have stayed on board and had a much easier time accepting Bruce Dickinson. His rasp on these two albums is much more comparable to Paul Di'anno's voice and the lyrics are more aggressive and "street" as they were on the debut albums.

Despite this, the songwriting probably would have kept Maiden as a more underground band and they may have missed their window to really hit it big by the time they got to Number of the Beast. Conversely, I think The X Factor makes a whole lot more sense coming directly after the dark, giant, epic beginnings on Seventh Son.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
I like No Prayer, but if they continued the gritty stripped down style of the first two albums into 83 they would've gone the way of Saxon: Well respected by classic Metal fans but not a worldwide headline act.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Re: the angry songwriting.

When I played these two albums (recently purchased LP's!) last week, I suddenly realized that they fit the current troubled times well. E.g.

When it all comes down the line
And the lights they turn to greed
And you race off with your tyres screaming
Rolling thunder
And the people choke with poison
Children cry in fear
But you've got your fast bullet
One way ticket outta here

Fall on your knees today
And pray the world will mend its ways
Get to your feet again
Refugees from the heartbreak and the pain

In the cities in the streets
There's a tension you can feel
Breaking strain is fast approaching
Guns and riots
Politicians gamble and lie to save their skins
And the press get fed the scapegoats
Public enema number one

A million network slaves
In an advertising new age
I don't need a crystal ball to sell ya
Your children have more brains
Than your drug infested remains
California dreaming as the earth dies screaming

If not fitting to current times only, then I find them timeless. Definitely not uninspired, at least. And certainly not shocking (anymore).
 
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bornless1

Messiah Supreme. True Leader of Men.
Haha!! This is why I come in here everyday! Great conversation. I try this kind of conversation starter even amongst my most metal headed friends and fam and I get head shakes and some smirks !
I'll have to play all these albums in said order when I get home to give a "proper answer"..
But I kinda agree with you Knick' that the takeoff into superstardom would have been at least...slowed.
Sometimes it takes a few albums for that kind of blow up in popularity. Also agree with Mosh in that the classic metal community would've been on board. I still think once the more clean and .. well better albums hit, (NOTB, Piece of Mind) the more widespread popularity would've kicked in.
The latter half of the 80s were a different animal though. Here in the U.S, I can speak for here, Ozzy Dio, the Scorpions and a few others, were losing steam as the co-front runners with Maiden by like 86- 87'. If this is when Notb hit? They would've been almost alone in the states as a metal power on the way up. Save for GnR maybe. Rambling... anyway awesome stuff.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
I like No Prayer, but if they continued the gritty stripped down style of the first two albums into 83 they would've gone the way of Saxon: Well respected by classic Metal fans but not a worldwide headline act.

That's my thought as well. I can't imagine they would have become as big as they did without those hits from Number of the Beast, and none of the songs on NPFTD would have been hits.

When I played these two albums (recently purchased LP's!) last week, I suddenly realized that they fit the current troubled times well.

If not fitting to current times only, then I find them timeless. Definitely not uninspired, at least. And certainly not shocking (anymore).

I completely agree with your points and Public Enema Number One is one of the best songs on that album. When I said "shocking" I meant in terms of the stripped-down songwriting and raspy punch of Bruce's voice compared to the more operatic, progressive stuff they had been doing, not "shocking" in terms of lyrics. While I think some of those lyrics are incredibly inspired, there is no case to be made for the lazy lyrics of stuff like Hooks in You, From Here to Eternity, Tailgunner, The Assassin, Weekend Warrior, The Apparition...etc. etc.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
Don't think these last two are lazy. They are serious lyrics, more so than e.g. Hooks in Your or From Here to Eternity. The Apparition is an inspiring, optimistic psychological lyric imo. Perhaps you are not interested in the meaning or subject but that's something else, isn't it?

Also don't forget that lyrics need to fit the music. In e.g. The Assassin's or Tailgunner's case, I am not sure how else these should be written, with the same subject matter and vocal lines in mind. Because, however annoying the subject matter (or vocal lines or vocals) might be to some of us, the writer wanted to deal with these matters in the lyrics.
 
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bornless1

Messiah Supreme. True Leader of Men.
In the case of the Apparition, it is the lyrical content first and foremost that I love. It is a daring song in that there is no repetitive chorus to lean on. The new lines keep coming. A deep dark subject delivered in an at times upbeat, inspiring song.

It's a very interesting poetic piece. Even though it lacks that catchy dynamic, and its structure is even a tad clunky, the App' always gets stuck in my head all day. It is an example of the quality of the bands creativity. So unique as a stand-alone, but fits flush with rest of the album. Few artists can pull off a song like the apparition. It's way underrated. I've always viewed it as like.... if you don't like it, you don't GET it. And are missing out...
 

Deus_Adrian

Prince of the Final Frontier
Re: the angry songwriting.

When I played these two albums (recently purchased LP's!) last week, I suddenly realized that they fit the current troubled times well. E.g.

When it all comes down the line
And the lights they turn to greed
And you race off with your tyres screaming
Rolling thunder
And the people choke with poison
Children cry in fear
But you've got your fast bullet
One way ticket outta here

Fall on your knees today
And pray the world will mend its ways
Get to your feet again
Refugees from the heartbreak and the pain

In the cities in the streets
There's a tension you can feel
Breaking strain is fast approaching
Guns and riots
Politicians gamble and lie to save their skins
And the press get fed the scapegoats
Public enema number one

A million network slaves
In an advertising new age
I don't need a crystal ball to sell ya
Your children have more brains
Than your drug infested remains
California dreaming as the earth dies screaming

If not fitting to current times only, then I find them timeless. Definitely not uninspired, at least. And certainly not shocking (anymore).

I fooking love that song!!! ❤️ ❤️ ❤️
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
In the case of the Apparition, it is the lyrical content first and foremost that I love. It is a daring song in that there is no repetitive chorus to lean on. The new lines keep coming. A deep dark subject delivered in an at times upbeat, inspiring song.

It's a very interesting poetic piece. Even though it lacks that catchy dynamic, and its structure is even a tad clunky, the App' always gets stuck in my head all day. It is an example of the quality of the bands creativity. So unique as a stand-alone, but fits flush with rest of the album. Few artists can pull off a song like the apparition. It's way underrated. I've always viewed it as like.... if you don't like it, you don't GET it. And are missing out...
This sums up pretty much everything I think about it. It's clunky, and like I've said before, it isn't perfect, but that is where its strengths lie. I heard a lot of people say it's Maiden's worst, but when I gave it a listen myself I went, "This is the worst? How?!" It's not bad at all! I'm listening to it right now, and I still don't think it sucks. It's a great tune.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
The interesting thing about all of this is that some of us have these negative reactions to songs because of the massive catalogue of stellar material that immediately preceded NPFTD and FOTD. If we didn't have such a wide sampling of the genius songs from NOTB-SSOASS, would we still feel the same way?

I doubt it. Honestly, I think I would find much of NPFTD refreshing come off of Killers (of which some may know I am not the biggest fan). If the last thing I heard before hearing Tailgunner was the lackluster Drifter...I'd probably love it. There's no basis to dislike it, honestly. I couldn't think "Meh, that's just a second rate Aces High or Where Eagles Dare". I would probably find these albums far superior to the first two because of some of the tempo changes and intricate guitar parts, and find the lyrics more sophisticated because of the biting social commentary.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
All I can say is that as a kid I heard most of the albums at the same time without any historic context and I enjoyed No Prayer as much as any other and Fear was my least favorite. So I can see both sides to that argument. I definitely think a lot of No Prayer's criticism comes from it being such a step backwards for Maiden.

That being said, I think context is a valid criticism. I've yet to hear a band convincingly recapture an old style. Sometimes the attempt will have good results, but it'll never have the same charm and spirit of the originals, because there was no pretense then. A big reason Maiden are still relevant today is that the phrase "we're going back to our roots" hasn't been uttered in nearly 30 years. That stuff shows in the music. I'd love to see an experiment done on this. If you showed someone who didn't know any better Killers and No Prayer back to back, would they believe you if you told them these albums were a year apart? Hard to say.

On the other hand, a good song will transcend all that stuff. Fear Of the Dark, Afraid To Shoot Strangers, Public Enema Number One, all good songs regardless of the album they appear on. Tailgunner is an interesting example. Yea you couldn't think it's a second rate Aces High or Where Eagles Dare, but I think the sentiment would still be there, for me at least. Where Eagles Dare wows me in a way that Tailgunner doesn't. Where Eagles Dare is a song that I'm can listen to over and over again and enjoy. Tailgunner is not. I'd take Public Enema over Aces High though.
 

soundwave

Educated Fool
Wow...this is an interesting topic.

From a purely sonic perspective, I think it can go both ways. There is a rawness and 'street' appeal that would connect with the Di'Anno era, but I also think the first two records had a sense of urgency/aggressiveness to them that I don't get from either NPFTD or FOTD, so some fans would have viewed them as a step backwards.

Viewing it with historical/environmental context....the swashbuckling energetic escapism of Beast through Seventh Son was a good fit for the general entertainment zeitgeist of the 80s (referring to proliferation of imaginative stuff like Indiana Jones, Blade Runner, Terminator, Conan, conclusion of Star Wars et-al). The dour social commentary and mid-tempo chug of most of the NPFTD/FOTD tracks probably wouldn't have resonated as well for that era (Metallica and Megadeth were gloom and doom, but balanced that frentic pace), and as such, I can see their career being completely different (even if NOTB arrived in the mid 80s as it may have been too late to ride the wave). Maiden was never a big MTV band, but their 'comic book' stage presentation, sound, and image certainly helped to captivate young people in the 80s (it certainly worked with me :cool:). Can't see NPFTD or FOTD doing that as effectively as they consciously were stepping away from that with those records.

I will say that I have a new found appreciation for NPFTD and FOTD...they actually work for their time period. I think that @MrKnickerbocker is right that they sound occasionally uninspired after following Seventh Son. The band kept getting bigger, more adventurous, and proggier with each record in the 80s...and then they slammed on the brakes and threw the car in reverse for NPFTD.
 
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Forostar

Ancient Mariner
If you showed someone who didn't know any better Killers and No Prayer back to back, would they believe you if you told them these albums were a year apart? Hard to say.
The drum patterns are very different in certain songs. The Assassin (verse) or Mother Russia pattern (fast one) sounds more like The Clairvoyant's. Or the fast one during solos in SSOASS. It is a pattern that emerged in Loneliness (instrumental part). There is not much of it but several songs do have keyboard playing.

So, I can see how rawness popped up in No Prayer and how lyrics do deal with (real time) reality rather than with fantasy, film, books or older history. But musically the evolvement from the previous album is not illogical. It is less of some things and more of other things.

On Fear Maiden experimented more. Some songs are relatively simpler/compact such as Judas or Eternity but most venture new territory.

Both albums are miles away from Killers, apart from rawness and aggression. But there is much more to these records I think.

If people view too much with helicopter view on these records (too much generic context) then they might risk to not zoom in on the individual albums and songs and their own strengths. The devil is in the details. They are very important ingredients to my interest in and love for Maiden.

The early nineties albums sound different from SIT and SSOASS but a case can be made saying they sound even more different from the first two albums. The approach on No Prayer was back to basics. The result led to less bombast but overall lots of elements are kept or different as well. Maiden did not just switch back in their playing and ideas about music. They kept elements and brought new ones. These albums are part of an evolution with a desire to take a certain path. They took different paths but they used the same car. With new fuel (Janick). Janick brought new energy, new sound (his playing) and new ideas (songwriting on Fear of the Dark).
 
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AncientMariner_Essex

Educated Fool
It's an interesting question the OP raised however I just couldn't see no prayer or fear following the first two albums. Both no prayer and fear sound exactly like what they are; two albums written by a well established band who've been around for a while who were trying to strip back the grandiose nature of their previous few albums.

I love both no prayer and fear as this was my era of Maiden. No prayer was the current album out when I first got into them.

i just couldn't see Maiden going from primitive stuff like running free, sanctuary, wrathchild to stuff like fear of the dark, afraid to shoot strangers and mother Russia so quickly.
 

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
As this thread is based on hypotheses, let's bring back the "create your NPFTD/FOTD 12-song single album compilation" :)

1. Be Quick or Be Dead
2. Public Enema Number One
3. Afraid to Shoot Strangers
4. From Here To Eternity
5. Holy Smoke
6. Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter
7. Run Silent Run Deep
8. Hooks in You
9. Judas Be My Guide
10. No Prayer for the Dying
11. Wasting Love
12. Fear of the Dark
 

Black Bart

Ancient Mariner
i just couldn't see Maiden going from primitive stuff like running free, sanctuary, wrathchild to stuff like fear of the dark, afraid to shoot strangers and mother Russia so quickly.
I wouldn't call "Wrathchild" as 'primitive' as the other two, especially because of the instrumental break. As far as "Mother Russia" is concerned, it is surprising that a band can produce such a badly constructed, inefficient "epic" AFTER creating the likes of "Hallowed..." and "Rime...". And they did it again later on.
 

CriedWhenBrucieLeft

Meme Only Account
As this thread is based on hypotheses, let's bring back the "create your NPFTD/FOTD 12-song single album compilation" :)

1. Be Quick or Be Dead
2. Public Enema Number One
3. Afraid to Shoot Strangers
4. From Here To Eternity
5. Holy Smoke
6. Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter
7. Run Silent Run Deep
8. Hooks in You
9. Judas Be My Guide
10. No Prayer for the Dying
11. Wasting Love
12. Fear of the Dark
This thread was pretty decent until you posted that.

NO. LISTS. FOLKS.
 

AncientMariner_Essex

Educated Fool
I wouldn't call "Wrathchild" as 'primitive' as the other two, especially because of the instrumental break. As far as "Mother Russia" is concerned, it is surprising that a band can produce such a badly constructed, inefficient "epic" AFTER creating the likes of "Hallowed..." and "Rime...". And they did it again later on.


I think all the tracks on the first two albums are primitive by Maiden standards compared to what came after. The first two albums are technical marvels compared to most of the output from the other NWOBHM bands at the time but primitive by there standards.
 
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