Iron Maiden / Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son


Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is a studio album by heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released in 1988 as the band’s seventh studio album on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in the US (it was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the US in 2002). It is the second Iron Maiden album ever to have keyboards which is played by Michael Kenney. Along with The Number of the Beast and later Fear of the Dark and The Final Frontier the album charted no.1 on the UK charts.

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the last Iron Maiden album to feature guitarist Adrian Smith until the album Brave New World in 2000 (he did write a song that Bruce Dickinson finished for the next album, No Prayer for the Dying, titled “Hooks in You”, a loose tie-in to the Charlotte the Harlot saga).

“The Clairvoyant” was the first song written for the album. According to Steve Harris, the song’s lyrics were inspired by the death of psychic Doris Stokes, saying “if she were really clairvoyant, if she were really able to see the future, wouldn’t she have been able to foresee her own death?”

At least five of the album’s songs (“Moonchild”, “Infinite Dreams”, “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, “The Prophecy” and “The Clairvoyant”) can be directly related to a main lyrical storyline inspired by the folklore concept.

Lyrically, the album centers around some main philosophical ideas: good vs. evil, mysticism, prophetic vision, reincarnation and afterlife. Almost all the album includes direct or indirect references to questions regarding to these concepts and poetically refers the answers.

Stylistically, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son develops the sounds first heard on Somewhere in Time (1986), and continues the band’s lyrical exploration of topics related to mysticism, power, and the occult.

The album debuted at #1 in UK charts (their first since The Number of the Beast) as well as #12 in the U.S, while the singles “Can I Play with Madness“, “The Evil That Men Do“, “The Clairvoyant (live)” and “Infinite Dreams (live)” reached #3, #5, #6 and #6 positions, respectively. Of all the songs in the album, “The Evil That Men Do”, “The Clairvoyant” and “Can I Play with Madness” remained on the set lists of nearly all of the band’s concert tours subsequently following the 7th Tour of a 7th Tour.

The Analysis:

Moonchild—-This is really one of the last releases where I can remember Bruce delivering stellar vocals in a less than forced manner. The keyboards included on this release was a surprise to many long time fans…but rest assured, they take nothing away from the trademark Harris metal sound. This song…even though it takes a bit to really get started, once it does, delivers classic Maiden sounds and a stellar vocal!!!

Infinite Dreams—-I have a special 12 inch pressing of this single with laser etched autographs on the b-side of the disc….another of those prized possessions of mine. From the very first notes of the song, you are able to easily recognize the Maiden sound…this is an incredible track…full of emotion, musical movements and a tremendous galloping bass from Harris..this was the beginning of the end for this era Maiden, but we have this as a result. Incredible and still sounding fresh all of these years later.

Can I Play With Madness—-Still a trademark of the live Maiden experience, this has always been a favorite track of mine. I love the mood of the song, the energy and the remarkable inferences. Bruce delivers a vocal that shines from beginning to end and Harris layers the song with equal parts of Keys and Bass…and as always…the drums are fantastic!!!

The Evil That Men Do—-This is another of those tracks that stayed in the live Maiden set for many years…this is typical, predictable and freakin’ delicious for fans and new comers as well. Beginning with that slow introduction that only serves to amp up your energy level as you wait for everything to let loose, this becomes a trademark Maiden classic by the second bar. Dickinson delivers a bit of an odd vocal at times, but his clarity and tone are remarkable. Although this has never been a huge favorite of mine, listening back i realize what a great track this is.

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son—-The cornerstone of this release, this is another of those songs I NEVER get tired of listening to. With a nice dose of synth and guitars, this is another track that has a bit of something for everyone. The ever-present bass line is incredible…setting the mood of the song and allowing you without a doubt to know this band even before Bruce opens his mouth. This is a huge and epic sounding track…delivered with passion and energy…full of manic mood swings and an energy that causes you to back up the damn thing and listen to it a few more times in a row…classic stuff!!!

The Prophecy—-Beginning much like everything else on this release…with a moody guitar line and a bit too much atmosphere. It takes a bit for this track to get started, but when the bass heavy mechanics really kick in, the vocal is right behind and the epic sound ensues. this is nice, but falls a bit flat for me…even though i really like the evil references and the double tracked vocal…a bit of something new. This is nice!

The Clairvoyant—-Harris begins the track in his typical ego-centric manner and the song seems to build around his heavy bass delivery. The remarkable thing about this song for me is the wonderful melody that lies underneath the whole damn thing. This is stellar…delivering a huge drum track…a great vocal and some remarkable lead guitars that for once are allowed to rise above the bass. Nice…I have missed this track!

Only The Good Die Young—-Beginning rather melodic and less bass heavy right from the onset, Bruce delivers a vocal that at times seems to be dipped and steeped in an evil menace. This is full of all kinds of dark references and some remarkable vocal harmonies courtesy of Adrian Smith…this is classic stuff….still after all of the passing of time…one of my favorite Maiden releases!!!

****1/2 out of 5

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