Sound — 8
In the entire scheme of things, when compared to other music at the time, this album is pretty damn good. However, when you compare it to every other Maiden album up to that point, in a nutshell, 1990's "No Prayer for the Dying" is average at best. There are, as usual, certain choice highlight tracks. In fact, some songs on the album, such as "Mother Russia" and "Holy Smoke", are possibly among some of Maiden's best. It's just that, unlike previous Maiden releases, the album is too cluttered with moderately average to almost bad songs. "Public Enema" and "Fates Warning" both are pretty untolerable, whereas "Hooks in You" (the third of the 4-part Charlotte the Harlot series of Maiden songs) manages to barely surpass alright. There are two major drawbacks to the sound on this album: Bruce Dickinson's voice has been drastically changed. I don't know if at the time he was just going through a weird voice phase or if he intentionally changed it, but it sounds rather bad. At times, it's too raspy, making the classic Dickinson falsettos nonexistent throughout most of the album. I'll admit that on certain tracks like "Tailgunner" and "Holy Smoke", it does add a certain unique element to the sound, but I'd pick old Dickinson over '90s Dickinson anyday. Adrian Smith is gone! Apparently he was disliking the synthesizer direction that the band were going in on "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" (which happens to be one of their best albums, actually), so now it's Dave Murray + Janick Gers. And Janick Gers... well, he's a good showman, but he's not really that good of a guitarist. He would be good if he didn't play so damn fast and sloppy. And, of course, that means a severe cutback of classic Maiden harmonizing which the ultra tandem of Smith and Murray made awesome.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically, the band once again take some new directions (which apparently was a Maiden staple; no two albums share similar concepts or themes). Whether it's the religious satire of "Mother Russia", the excessive compulsive look at prostitution on "Hooks in You", the governmental perspectives in "Mother Russia", or the... well, let's just call it violent but playful lyrics of "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter", the album doesn't contain any particularly monumental, epic pieces, but it's a fun listen nonetheless. And like I said above, Dickinson's vocals add another touch of playfulness to the lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, the album's really not a half-bad listen. It's nowhere near their greatest, but it's definitely not their worst. The handful of tracks that do manage to be good are well worth your money. For Maiden standards, the album is average. But as an album alone, I have to admit; it's still pretty damn good.