—For those of you keeping score (because I know you all are), I took Mike’s advice and played Seventh Son again. It’s a cool record, but I cannot get into the vocals on most tracks. It’s like he was trying to do his operatic thing while someone was shaking him by the shoulders. Ugh.—
So, now we get to No Prayer For The Dying. I’ll write this up before I read Mike’s take on it.
Tailgunner is a great riff, and I like the gutteral, raw vocals here. It’s like he took up smoking and drinking straight bourbon between records, or something. The growl goes well with the guitar assault. A strong album opener, and my fears of a repeat of Seventh’s howls aren’t immediately realized. Holy Smoke is a fun guitar riff. Fun?!?! Yeah! Same vocals too. Could it be? Has he left the warble at home? And this is interesting to note: for Maiden, this is two mid-tempo tracks in a row. I’m talking AC/DC-like tempos instead of their typical 100 mph blasts. And to that end, these two tracks would sound GREAT in a bar. The title track is a sort of compromise. He strains it a bit there, but the growl is still predominant. And bits of this are pretty slow, for these guys! Is that an actual string section or faked? AH! 2:16, here they go at the usual speed! Woo! Cool slinky riff on that one.
Public Enema Number One Gives us the tempo right from the gates, and another killer riff. Dickinson’s OK ’til he gets to the chorus, then no thanks. Still, a strong enough track that fits with the rest. Fates Warning fits the Maiden template we’ve come to expect, but it’s not one of the stronger songs here. It’s one of those ones that, for another contemporary band it would have been a hit single, but for Maiden it’s just good. The Assassin isn’t as menacing as it tries to be. “Better watch out?” Haha, sure. You know who I could hear singing this song? Dio. He’d have given it the proper mix of gravity and hilarity.
Run Silent Run Deep is a great tune, another chugging stomper, but the vocals kill it. Sorry, I just can’t take that wobble seriously. I know I couldn’t do it myself, but I don’t think I’d want to. Especially that ending. Ugh. If he’d tone that down, this could have been a hits-disc track. Hooks In You is one of the most straight-on rawk tunes they’ve done, in chord changes in structure. There’s a raft of 80s metal bands that could have done this song. And man, by the end of this one, he sounds rough. Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter is one I’ve heard before. That bit around 3:20 just cracks me up. WTF. The rest is just like this album: great rock song with a singer that’s trying too hard. And finally, Mother Russia, well… I could take it or leave it. I know what they were going for, here. Playing on the sounds of Russian traditional songs, and trying to be atmospheric about it. And all deference, that guitar solo work is incredible. But as an album closer? No, not really. Maybe a b-side. I’m willing to bet there was a better song that ended up as a b-side, and swapping them would have made a huge difference.
In all, a cool Maiden record, but if I had to compare it to some of the others I’d say it’s only mediocre. I like that they’re all different. Reflections of the times and their interests, of course. This one lays back a bit, doesn’t do everything at breakneck speed. Fine by me.
* And I promise I won’t bitch about the vocals from here on out. Maybe I’ll contain it to one line, or something, for future reviews (because Mike tells me it doesn’t improve). It’s just that, for this one on the heels of Seventh, I wanted to see if things improved. They sort-of did, here.
And now here’s a real review. Take it, Mike: http://mikeladano.com/2012/10/18/review-iron-maiden-no-prayer-for-the-dying-1990-1996-bonus-disc/