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No Prayer for the Dying

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★★★½☆
(79 Reviews)

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  • THE BAND: Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Steve Harris (bass), Nicko McBrain (drums & percussion).

    THE DISC: (1990) 10 tracks clocking in at just over 44 minutes. Included with the disc is a 14-page booklet that contains band pictures, song credits/titles, song lyrics, and thank you’s. Recorded at Steve Harris’ Barn somewhere in England on the Rolling Stone Mobile. Cover art by Derek Riggs. Label – Epic. *The digitally remastered version (on Sanctuary Maiden label) released in 2002 offers more in the way of liner notes and videos for your PC.

    COMMENTS: It’s hard for me to write this review, since I’ve been a fan of Iron Maiden from the beginning. I have their entire collection on disc – Iron Maiden has so many great releases. Some of those (“Number Of The Beast”, “Powerslave”, and “Piece Of Mind” to name a few) are all-time British metal classics… as well as all-time heavy metal classics. However, there are so many things wrong with “No Prayer For The Dying”. What the heck happened after 1988’s “7th Son Of A 7th Son” (less than 2 years prior)? The sound (production) is flat. Much different from previous albums – Steve Harris’ Barn and the Rolling Stone Mobile I’m sure has something to do with it. This was a first for the band recording here (most of their classic 80’s material was recorded in the Bahamas or France). Guitar wizard Adrian Smith is gone… working on solo projects and beckoning Dickinson to join him (a few years later he got his wish). For the most part, the melodies are forgettable. And most importantly, the lyrics are silly, or don’t fit with the song. Several reviews here trash Dickinson’s vocals. I disagree – I think he sounds fine, but the lyrics just don’t go with the guitar licks and melodies… leaving an awkward feel to most of this album. “No Prayer For The Dying” is also missing a trademark epic song. It doesn’t have to be a 13-minute “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”, but something lengthier than “Mother Russia” (the longest song on the album at 5:31) would have been nice. Steve Harris is an amazing bassist, but the questionable bass playing on “Run Silent Run Deep” simply baffles me. The original album cover artwork features Eddie reaching out and choking a man… on the remastered edition, the man is gone and (background) colors are slightly changed. The band’s most recent “live” albums (“Death On The Road” and “Rock In Rio”) feature NO songs from “No Prayer For The Dying”… what’s that tell you! On the plus side, the songs “Holy Smoke” and “Bring Your Daughter… To The Slaughter” made it to their “Essential” (2005) and “Edward The Great” (2002) best-of compilations. The latter of the two also made it to “Best Of The Beast” (1996). While these two songs are easily the best songs on the disc, that’s not saying much… they’re both weak compared to anything the band did in the 80’s. The 3rd best song is “Tailgunner” – good tune with unconforming lyrics. I’ve kept the original disc and opted not to trade in for the remastered version – even with better sound quality, it’s still an album I won’t listen to much. In my opinion, Iron Maiden really struggled in the 90’s… two sub par albums with Bruce (“Fear Of The Dark” was the other one), and two with sad replacement singer Blaze Bailey (“X Factor” and “Virtual Xi”). I’ve tried repeatedly to get “into” this album over the years… and I simply can’t do it (2.5 stars).

    Posted on December 6, 2009