Sound — 6
After Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (1988), Iron Maiden had to face the departure of Adrian Smith, who not only was a skilled guitarist, but also contributed greatly to songwriting. Maiden decided to choose as the new guitarist Janick Gers, who had previously worked with Bruce Dickinson. This change of members obviously contributed to a change of sound in this album. The sound became rawer, more similar to older stuff like Piece of Mind or Number of the beast, and synths were used in a quite different way from the previous two albums. Overall, from the first track, Tailgunner, you can feel how Maiden wanted to return to their old sound, and how they almost failed in it, making a good album, but which is maybe the worst by Maiden's standards. Don't get me wrong, this is a great album, but it isn't at the same levels of the others, especially because of Bruce's change of style, which becomes for the first time (the second is Fear Of The Dark) growling and missing that deepness that made him one of the greatest metal (and rock) singers.
Lyrics — 8
Talking about the lyrics, this is a really good album. The already mentioned first track, Tailgunner, is about the Second World War, and the bombings done in Germany by the allies. It's a very good album opener, with a very catchy chorus, but it misses a good instrumental part, and Janick's solo isn't very expressive. Holy smoke, the second track, is about TV preachers who tried to gain money from people. It isn't the usual maiden song, both lyrically and musically, but as the previous track has a cool chorus but doesn't have great solos. Number 3, No Prayer For The Dying, is one of the best songs on the album. It starts up slowly, and the lyrics, which are about the meaning of life, are really deep and open to personal interpretations. Then the rythm bulids up with an instrumental part and the song ends asking god for an answer (who said maiden are satanists?) The fourth track, Public Enema Number One, is about the current state of the world, and how rich people are getting their "one way tickets" to save themselves, leaving the others in the bad world they made. A really good and very underrated (and unknown to the most) song, which also has a very expressive solo. The fifth track, Fates Warning, is about fate and why death hits some and lives some other alive. It isn't the deepest song ever lyrically, but has a cool solo and a great harmony interlude in pure maiden style. The Assassin is in my opinion the weakest track in the album. Its lyrics are not really deep, and the music isn't nothing special. Number 7, Run Silent Run Deep, about spies and such, has a good chorus and a really fast interlude that make it a decent song. The eighth track, Hooks In You, was written by Adrian Smith before his departure, and is a prosecution of the Charlotte the harlot "saga". It's a good song but Bruce's growling and screaming ruins it all. The ninth track, Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, is probably filled with double meanings, but is apparently about a girl being kidnapped. Bruce growls and screams in this song too, but it fits very well in this one. It's a really catchy song and is probably the only track from this album that Maiden still play sometimes at their concerts. The last track, Mother Russia, is probably the best track in the album. After the slow intro with synths, the rythm builds up with one of the best guitar riffs I ever heard, and after a short sung part, begins an epic instrumental part, where not only Janick shows his ability which is almost at Adrian's level, but also Dave, Steve and Nicko show they are some of the best rock musicians around.
Overall Impression — 6
Overall, if you are new to Maiden, don't get this album, you could make yourself a wrong idea of what Maiden are. If you want to buy your first or second Maiden album, get something from the "Golden Years," like Piece Of Mind, Number Of The beast, Powerslave, Somewhere in time or Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. But if you like Maiden, this isn't a bad album by any means and you should get it. One thing is sure, this isn't the classic Maiden album and it's something different from all the others, even from its follower, Fear Of The Dark, which is is some aspects (especially Bruce's singing style) different.