Iron Maiden: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son review

The point where Iron Maiden entered my life was 1988. The Clairvoyant single was released after their first performance at the Castle Donington Monsters of Rock Festival and a live version of The Prisoner was on the b-side. I bought it and I was hooked. Seventh Son was Maiden’s second album to go into the charts at number one and meant they were the only metal band who were able to mount any serious assault on the charts. This was a different time when metal was desperately unfashionable and before Metallica broke big. Maiden were the only ones flying the flag and Seventh Son was one of their finest albums.

Moonchild begins with its subtle acoustic intro before exploding with keyboards and guitars. And then Steve, Nicko and the air-raid siren get involved. The song is an absolute powerhouse of an opener. The lyrics set the tone for the mystical story about to unfold over the album’s eight songs. Maiden have never lacked musical ability and this album expanded their horizons and pushed them further than anything they had done previously.

Infinite Dreams begins as the beautiful, gentle contrast to Moonchild, but this doesn’t last long, as the song launches into the Seventh Son crying out against the horrific visions that torment him. The guitar harmonies are exquisite, driven along by Steve Harris’ intricate bass, until the song goes into a Nicko clatter-fest. His drumming is brilliant as usual and more complex on this album than ever before due to the nature of the songs.

Can I Play With Madness is one of Maiden’s greatest songs. A brilliant riff, chorus, time changes. It just has everything. When Maiden’s three best songwriters work together this is what happens. The video for the single starred Monty Python’s Graham Chapman as a school teacher in one of his final roles. The single hit number three in the top 40 when such things mattered.

The Evil That Men Do was the next single and has been a regular track in the band’s live set as it’s just the kind of song that fits well anywhere, with its catchy chorus and opportunity for Eddie to make an appearance during the guitar solo. This is another Smith/Dickinson/Harris composition, like Madness, and the quality shines through.

The title track follows, in all its unapologetic majesty. It is monolothic with its chugging guitars at the beginning before plunging into a quiet, mysterious middle section with lush choral keyboards, much akin to The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner, before diving headlong into spine-tingling guitar duels between Dave and Adrian. Only a song as epic and extraordinary as this could be the title track of this album.

The Prophecy is a Murray/Harris composition and although the vocal sections are a bit Piece of Mind, the instrumental middle section launches​ into a wonderful short bluesy solo from Adrian. But, yes, this is the weakest track, although it also has some lovely acoustic guitar at the end.

The Clairvoyant is a Steve Harris track, and it begins with his amazing bass riff. This was another great single, and the song that made me an Iron Maiden fan. The time changes are extraordinary for a hit single and the success of this album’s singles show just how powerful a devoted fanbase can be.

Only The Good Die Young is a Harris/Dickinson song that brings the album to its triumphant conclusion. An absolutely storming track that roars off like a runaway train, but with some wonderful key changes and even a great bass solo. The guitar harmonies, as usual, are gorgeous and the end of the song is the biggest and best finish this extraordinary album could have. An absolutely​ storming conclusion to an astonishing album. One of Iron Maiden’s very best albums.

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About paulcarden

I am a writer and performer from The Midlands, UK.
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