Saturday, 25 February 2012

METAL ESSENTIALS: IRON MAIDEN - “SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON”


Iron Maiden' seventh album was, to these ears, heavy metal's “Dark Side of the Moon.” A luxurious, complicated and multi-faceted piece of musical ingenuity which retains every bit of its power, even now. At the time of its release, there seemed to be some division amongst fans of the band as “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” featured heavy usage of keyboards on many songs.

There were those who maintained that keyboards had no place in the Iron Maiden sound, that they watered down the basic foundation of what made Maiden who they were and continue to be. Nonsense.

The album was a very bold move for the band, but it was a move that needed to be taken lest they remain static in one creative space. Yes, it featured all of the guitar harmonies, galloping basslines and enough Bruce Dickinson howls to satisfy the diehards, but the added sense of scale those additional elements brought to the music worked really well. Those sounds have dated a little now, but not enough to reduce the impact of each song.


The hit single “Can I Play With Madness” is a perfect example – it's one of the greatest songs Iron Maiden have ever produced, yet it features the keyboards heavily throughout it, as well as a hugely melodic quality thanks to the legendary chorus.

Everything about the album seems to work with everything else, from the songwriting itself to the cover art, the production and the ad campaign which went with it.

The title track is a perfect example of how Iron Maiden can take the listener on a lengthy musical journey without it becoming stale or too contrived, and the whole album is an essential piece of the Iron Maiden story, and a key point in their evolution. Incidentally, a brilliant live album and video followed it in the shape of “Maiden England”, which features some amazing live renditions of tracks from this album. 

Highlights: “Infinite Dreams”, “Can I Play With Madness”, “The Evil That Men Do”, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”, “The Clairvoyant”
Year: 1988
Produced by: Martin Birch
Label: EMI

And here is the "Maiden England" live version of the title track in all its glory...


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