Blast from the Past: Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win, seven holy paths to hell, and your trip begins. Seven downward slopes, seven bloodied hopes, seven are your burning fires, seven your desires… These are the words that open Iron Maiden‘s seventh album, the aptly titled Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. And what a way to open it is.

Released in 1988, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is the second Iron Maiden album to feature keyboards, it is the last to include guitarist Adrian Smith until Brave New World in 2000, and it is the band’s attempt at somewhat of a concept, almost Prog like, album.

We’ve been running this site for nearly a year now and we have yet to review a single Iron Maiden album, we just had a brilliant Friday Top 10 on the Maiden, so it’s about time we reviewed an album right? Make the jump to see what I make of the 1988 classic (bollocks I just gave away my verdict).

Iron Maiden – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

1. Moonchild – 5:39
2. Infinite Dreams – 6:09
3. Can I Play With Madness – 3:31
4. The Evil That Men Do – 4:34
5. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son – 9:53
6 The Prophecy – 5:05
7. The Clairvoyant – 4:27
8. Only The Good Die Young – 4:42

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is perhaps one of my favorite Iron Maiden albums. Read: Not my favorite, just one of them. I mean, there’s no point in deceiving you until the end, I may as well get that out the way now. It’s perhaps not always the “fan favorite”, but nearly everything about this album, from start to finish, is brilliant in my opinion. This album really seems to divide fans for some reason, and a quick Google leads me to someone else’s review of this album, with fans debating with each other in the comments section over the quality of this release. So yes, I think this album is a bit on the underrated side.

But what were Maiden to do? They were the biggest Metal band in the world, so what do bands do when they become bigger than prostitution? They make a concept album that often divides fans. According to Allmusic The concept is based on the European folklore which held that the seventh son of a seventh son would be born with special powers that could be used for good or evil. Yeah, ok, so it sounds a little bit soft. But this is no holds barred pure cheesy fucking Heavy Metal and you won’t get any complaints from me. So enough about the storyline, because this isn’t a fucking neo noire French film, this is a summer blockbuster and as such, it’s all about the intensity. Yeah, or rather it’s about the music.

The album opens with an acoustic guitar introduction, with Bruce introducing the listeners to the story. I really have no fucking idea what it’s about, other than what I copied from Allmusic, but the opener proves to be epic and work well to begin the album. The track ‘Moonchild’ soon introduces keyboards before turning into a powerful quintessential Maiden classic. This album honestly couldn’t have started any better, and this opening 6 odd minutes already had me peeing my pants in excitement, the first time I heard the album.

The music doesn’t let off from there, either. Second track ‘Infinite Dreams’ begins with a beautiful clean guitar melody, with some rather nice harmonization. Vocally Bruce kills it and the music follows a very progressive pattern, with time signature shifts, altering tempos and key changes. It made number two in our Top 10 Iron Maiden songs article recently, so you should already know that Dose of Metal loves this song (or at least Chris and I do :P).

After the technical supremacy of ‘Infinite Dreams’, third track ‘Can I Play With Madness’ is much more of a straight forward Metal song, with one hell of a catchy chorus, and verse whilst we’re at it. The whole damn song is catchy as hell. I’ve seen fans criticize this track, probably as it’s really catchy and commercial, but you’re all insane. This is another awesome Maiden classic.

The rest of the album continues the strength and quality of the first three tracks. ‘The Evil That Men Do’ is another Prog clasisc Maiden crusher, in a similar vein and style to that of ‘Infinite Dreams’. Throughout the album, the production is also really strong, and the keyboards and synths help thicken the tracks and add the right amount of atmosphere, without being to gimmicky.

Sixth track ‘The Prophecy’ is ok, but not as strong as some of the other songs. It is the title track, however, and seventh track ‘The Clairvoyant’ that prove to be the the real highlights of the album for me though. Seriously, both of those songs I could stick on repeat and blast every day, singing all the words like a girl. The title track is a 10 minute opus, which brings a whole new meaning to the word fucking epic (ok two words).

Overall, Seventh Son of a Seventh son is an absolute masterpiece. It may not be the best Iron Maiden album to everyone, but for me it will always be an album that I hold dear to me. From the opening acoustic introduction, to the sing-along ‘Can I Play With Madness’, to the epic title track, and the grand finale ‘Only The Good Die Young’, nearly everything is brilliant. There are times when the music doesn’t work so well, but more often than not, the band are on absolute fire.

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