When “Seventh Son” first came out I hated it. I felt that the band put the “concept” before the music, the guitar-synth heavy tunes were the polar opposite of songs found on “Powerslave”, “Number of the Beast” and “Killers”. But, occasionally I would pull the cd back out and with time I came to appreciate what Iron Maiden was doing with “Seventh Son” and several of the songs on the disk are pretty good. The title track is my favorite, it has that epic sound Maiden made famous with tunes like “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. “Only the Good Die Young”, “The Evil That Men Do” and “The Prophecy”, though very heavily laden with guitar-synth, are still recognizable as Iron Maiden. Judging by other reviews you either love this album, or hate it. And though I enjoy this cd now, I wouldn’t recommend “Seventh Son” as the first Maiden disk to start your collection, I would pick this up only after you have become a fan of the band through their other albums first.
The original version of their 1988 EMI album, unavailable inthe U.S. Eight tracks, including ’Can I Play With Madness’,’The Evil That Men Do’ and ’The Clairvoyant’.
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Iron Maiden’s 1988 concept album SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON captures the metal legends at an artistic and commercial peak. Maiden has always had progressive elements in their music, especially on the epic tracks like “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” but by the time they released 7TH SON, they had become a full-blown progressive metal band. Certainly one of the originators of the genre, I might say (along with Rush and Queensryche).Don’t worry – the band’s galloping musical attack is still present, but Maiden is experimenting quite a bit with their trademark sound. The band began using synthesizers rather lightly on their 1986 release SOMEWHERE IN TIME, but on this album the synths were more noticeable and there’s even a couple of keyboards on there for good measure. I can’t understand why Maiden fans said the band “sold out” with the synths. They didn’t sell out. In fact, they enhanced their sound with the lush synth textures, which I found to be very creative. Also, this is the first Maiden album I’ve heard that has acoustic guitar in it. There’s even some bluesy guitar parts courtesy of Adrian Smith which gives greater feel to the album.Like many concept albums, SEVENTH SON tells a story. And what a compelling story it is! The plot focuses on a young man who keeps having strange prophetic visions in his dreams. It turns out that he was born with clairvoyant powers (a mix of psychic and healing powers) and has had them all his life. Angels and demons are having a power struggle with his soul, not knowing which route he will take. Apparently, the townspeople have known about his powers. That’s why they are frightened of him. When he has a vision that the town will be destroyed by dark forces, he tries to warn them but they ignore his pleas. Alas, the town is ruined and they automatically blame him for the disaster. Feeling shunned by the people, the man decides to let them suffer with their sins and guilt and faces an eternity in Hell. If that isn’t deep enough for you, I don’t know what is.Here’s a song-by-song overview:1. “Moonchild” – A solid energetic opener that starts out with gentle acoustic strums and Bruce Dickinson singing in a relaxed tone before the keyboard riff comes in and the band is off and running. Lots of attitude on this track. You gotta love Bruce’s evil laugh at the end!2. “Infinite Dreams”-One of Maiden’s best songs, this is the first track that combines the band’s melodic metal sound with progressive stylings. Brilliant lyrics from Steve Harris, great vocals from Bruce, and soaring guitar solos. A perfect song.3. “Can I Play with Madness?” – A lot of people seem to hate this track, but I like it. Sure, it’s commercial, but it’s also very complex for a 3-minute song. Reminds me of Rush’s early ’80s period.4. “The Evil That Men Do”-Another solid rocker with prog. stylings. Bruce’s voice soars really high on this one, and the chorus is impossibly catchy.5. “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”-At 10 minutes, this is the epic of the album. Musically, this is probably Maiden’s most sophisticated and versatile song. Great lyrics, a fantastic build-up, awesome synth inflections, and a wild instrumental section to close it out. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith show why they are the greatest guitar duo in metal.6. “The Prophecy” – A remarkably slower piece that gives you time to rest after the sprawl of “7th Son.” The blues influence really shines on this one and the tricky time changes are absorbing. The song ends with Murray doing a lovely, Jethro Tull-like acoustic solo. Buy this album just to hear the solo alone!7. “The Clairvoyant”-A speedy bass intro by Harris opens this one and a triumphant-sounding guitar riff follows. Haunting melodies abound in this track. Deep and meaningful. The most melodic song on the album. 8. “Only the Good Die Young” – Along with Dream Theater’s “Finally Free” and Transatlantic’s “Stranger in Your Soul,” this is one of the best grand finales ever recorded. The fastest song on here, with insane musicianship and a powerful chorus. It ends the way it begins.Armed with an intriguing tale, excellent music, plentiful melody, and that distinctive Dickinson voice, SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON is truly an unforgettable experience.
I remember when this album first came out. I had just become a huge Maiden fan after the previous record Somewhere In Time. By this time, I had bought their back catalogue of studio albums and was swept up by the hype surrounding the release of Seventh Son. I remember Bruce Dickinson being interviewed on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball and stating this album would be “quite popular to people who have never seen this band before” because it was the best album they had made to date and it was going to take Maiden in new, exciting directions. Then I saw the video for “Can I Play With Madness,” and that whetted my appetite even more (O.K., many fans at the time thought the song was too commercial, but it is still awesome and one of their best singles ever!). I recall bugging the record store clerks many times with “Have you got the new Iron Maiden album in yet?” I don’t think I have ever been so excited about an album release before or since! When I finally bought it (I wanted it on cassette, but the store was out so I opted for vinyl because I couldn’t wait), I think I was slightly disappointed at first. My expectations were a bit too high. But the more I played it, the more I liked it. When I listen to it now, after all this time, I can really appreciate the genius of it. A true conceptual album about a child born with clairvoyant powers (the seventh son of a seventh son), who did not ask to be born this way and has problems dealing with the strange circumstances he finds himself in as well as the forces of good and evil battling for his soul. The music is brilliant, with accoustical guitar, keyboards and other additions to transform Maiden’s sound. In retrospect, Seventh Son was the last great Maiden album. Instead of being a stepping stone to more Maiden innovations, it proved to be Maiden’s peak. Things seemed to go down hill after this record, with Adrian Smith and Dickinson eventually leaving to work on their own projects.
It has been interesting to read the disparity of opinions held about this album. I bought this CD when it was released and have always enjoyed listening to it, but for some reason I have not yet familiarized myself with this band’s other work. Thus, I can’t put this particular album in any context when it comes to the history and evolution of Iron Maiden. All I can do is to comment on my own appreciation of each of the eight songs collected here in and of themselves. By my count, there are five really good songs and three absolutely great songs on this album; you won’t have to go reaching across the dash to find the Next Track button when you have this CD rocking you down the road. My favorite has always been Can I Play With Madness. The band jumps right out at you from the very start with an a cappella delivery of the question at hand before proceeding with the heavy rock instrumentation. The lyrics are quite catchy, and the idea of playing with madness is not a novel concept to my somewhat abnormal mind. Infinite Dreams may really be the most impressive track here, however. The words of this song really carry a deep if not philosophical meaning, as the subject at hand deals with life’s ultimate meaning. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is the third true standout track on the album; it is a lengthy musical tour de force that conveys the image of the ultimate archetypal battle between good and evil, helped immeasurably by a segment in which the lead singer speaks as if he is reading from some ancient tome of sinister origins. The remaining five songs, as I said, are all keepers as well. Moonchild gets the album off to a terrific start, giving us none other than Lucifer himself making threats of Biblical proportions while conjuring up the musical accompaniment of screaming mandrakes. The Evil That Men Do has the listener balancing on that razor’s edge and taunted by the inevitable truth that the evil that men do lives on and on. The Prophecy warms the cockles of evil’s black heart, while The Clairvoyant’s metaphysically potent chorus takes the listener to a plateau inhabited only by the most psychically formidable (or disturbed) of minds. Only the Good Die Young is probably the weakest song on the album, but its seemingly endless refrain that only the good die young while the evil seem to live forever stays with you as you go out to interact with the denizens of an increasingly bewildering world. I don’t know where the music on this album stands in terms of Iron Maiden’s formidable musical discography, but I do know that these eight tracks are certainly most agreeable to my dark soul.
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988). Iron Maiden’s seventh studio album.From their debut all the way up to Powerslave(1984), Iron Maiden successfully showcased that they were on top of the NWOBHM scene, rocking hard and riding free, with few bands able to rival them. Come 1986, Maiden decided to experiment with guitar synthesizers and bass synths and managed to create the moody masterpiece progressive album, Somewhere In Time (IMHO, one of my two favorite Maiden albums). Now we arrive in 1988 when Maiden decided to take the progressiveness even further to an epic level. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son takes its style from Hemispheres and AFTTK era Rush (back in 77-78) and fuses it with Iron Maiden’s early sound creating a masterful concept album. It follows the story of a cursed child who is born with special powers and it tempted by the side of both good and evil. Whether you understand the concept story or not, all fans must agree that SSOASS has excellent musicianship by the band, and the chemistry of the “perfect 5″ Maiden lineup is completely intact. Unfortunately, this is the last time that they play this well for a good twelve years, as the classic lineup is shattered. But for the rest of the 80s, Iron Maiden managed to stay on top of the game and gave the fans an album to remember them by. Let’s take a look at this album:1) Moonchild- Starts off with an accoustic passage giving this album’s theme and then it builds into a fast rocker. Great usage of keyboards in the background. Bruce’s vocals are very aggressive here. 10/102) Infinite Dreams- This one may take time for fans to get used to as it alternates between a softer and harder section. Great song though. 9/103) Can I Play With Madness- A short commercial rocker similar to the previous album’s Wasted Years. I understand that this track was played to death back in the day (though I’m much more inclined to believe that # Of The Beast and 2 Minutes To Midnight got overplayed if anything), but it’s still an excellent song nonetheless. I like it. 9/104) The Evil That Men Do- Another phenomenal rocker. I didn’t like it at first because the chorus got rather tedious to listen to, but it does grow on you. A noteworthy gem. 10/105) Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son- IRON MAIDEN TACKLES THE 10-MINUTE PROGRESSIVE EPIC CHALLENGE, and succeeds! They’ve done it before with Rhime Of The Ancient Mariner and Alexander The Great, but this is the first time in which they create the story themselves. Wonderful musicianship throughout. 10/106) The Prophecy- Some say that this track is the worst on the album, but I have to disagree. While it’s certainly not one of the best Maiden songs, it does stand out quite a bit, as the band has never done anything that sounds quite like it up to this album, and for that the song deserves credit. Bruce’s vocal ability shines here. 8/107) The Clairvoyant- A MASTERPIECE! Of the more commercial progressive styled rockers on the album, this track shines far above the rest. My favorite track on here. 10/108) Only The Good Die Young- This song would tie with The Prophecy as far as good songs on the album go, but unfortunately unlike The Prophecy, this one fails to really stand out at all. Still decent though. It ends with the same accoustic passage as the intro of Moonchild. 7/10So how will fans judge SSOASS? It really depends on how much you enjoy progressive rock music. If you’ve got a short attention span and you’re a fan who can’t sit through any song longer than four minutes, then you may not like SSOASS much. Give it time and it should grow on you. I on the other hand have come to appreciate more complicated works in the past year, and I enjoy hearing the different guitar parts, time-change signatures, and concept story SSOASS has to offer. Therefore I give it five stars. Also, hardcore fans shouldn’t be stringent on their usage of keyboards. They are used as a nice background texture, which has very little presence. Cripes people, if you think that the keyboards are dominating here then you need to actually LISTEN to the music. There are certainly no shortages of guitar parts here. Dave and Adrian are playing dual guitar solos as great as ever, but unfortunately Adrian departs after this album, which started a chain of progressively worse Maiden albums until the dawn of the new millenium arrived. Don’t hesitate to pick this up if you are already a fan. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.The Evil That Men Do lives on and on, and so does Iron Maiden! They still have it in them as proven by their new album, Dance Of Death(2003). For that and their devotion to true heavy metal, I salute them. Keep on rocking forever guys.