Sound — 8
I can't imagine what had gone through the mind of an avid Maiden fan the day this album was released. They probably had been a follower ever since the beginning, or, if not, Number of the Beast would definitely have pulled them in, and made them go out and get some more of the action. Well, the action is definitely shown, and the comparison between Piece Of Mind and their three prior albums is hard to make. The production value is definitely weirder than anything they had done up to that point. I thought Murray and Smith really tried to expand on their great harmony parts, and brilliant harmony parts can be found on such tracks as "Revelations", "Die With Your Boots on" and "The Trooper". Memorable guitar riffs meld together with each song, and right from the get-go you can tell this album is going to be one hell of a ride. Let's take a look at the songs: 01. Where Eagles Dare - well, after Clive Burr's exit of the band, Maiden went out and found yet another amazing drummer to take his place. What a damn good way to introduce us all to Nicko McBrain. The song starts off with a drum intro, and a pretty good one at that. A pretty decent song depicting war (yeah, surprise surprise, Maiden doing a song about war). I'm not sure but I think it's based on the movie of the same title with Eastwood in it. The gunshots in the middle along with the guitar solo all make this song pretty kickass for an opener. 02. Revelations - I guess they wanted to go ahead and get the soft song out of the way. Probably not their best ballad-type song, but it's definitely worth a listen. Especially because Bruce's voice is, as usual, very stunning and there is an awesome harmony interlude riff that'll probably get you reaching for the rewind button. Decent enough; not the best on the album but not the worst. 03. Flight Of Icarus - as cool of a concept as it was, Maiden really tried to make this one sound commercial. It goes along alright until the chorus kicks in and you get the feeling an eight-year-old will memorize the lyrics and then sing them while dancing on a table at a birthday party. Either there's too much going on in the song or not enough, this really falls short of Maiden standards. 04. Die With Your Boots On - okay, this brings it back up to par. They start the song off with a great harmony riff (Maiden harmonies are about as good as crack cocaine), and some awesome guitar work throughout. The whole song is about cowboys dying on boot hill (I think), but somehow they turn that concept into an awesome song. Especially right up towards the end when the song takes a disturbing turn into a sadder tone right up before the final chorus. Yeah, this is definitely Iron Maiden. 05. The Trooper - so maybe they went a little overboard with this one. The main riff itself is decent harmony but it really gets sickening after a while. And Bruce's annoying "Aaahhhhhhh"s which seem to last forever aren't very pleasing to the ear. The song eventually becomes extremely boring, if not at first listen then at second, and is just one of those average songs. 06. Still Life - this is the song for which the album is named, so you're expecting it to be good. Well, it kind of is. The clean guitar and phased solo at the beginning give you the hint that it's a ballad, but in true Maiden style they bring up the BPM and thrash it out a while, combining slow and fast styles into one pretty awesome song. Though it may get a little boring after a while, you can always come back to it a couple months later and love it again. 07. Quest For Fire - another one based on a movie, this song is about cavemen on a quest for fire. Ultimately it's a pretty nerdy song, but Iron Maiden are complete nerds anyway so it fits their style well. It's not necessarily bad but there's nothing about it that really stands out. More a filler than anything else, but it's not too bad. 08. Sun And Steel - whatever the hell this song is about, I don't think I'll ever know. From confusing verses to and even more confusing chorus, lyrically this song is a pile of crap. "Life is like a wheel" what does that mean? And the guitar work isn't exactly impressive either, nor the bass nor the drums, so overall it's worthy of the "skip" button on your remote. 09. To Tame A Land - based on the "Dune" series by Frank Herbert (later carried on by his son Brian Herbert; great reads for anyone who's interested), this song is one hell of a way to close an album. From the slow beginning to the heavy verse and chorus to the blistering instrumental work towards the end, this song is to music what the "Dune" books were to literature. What an analogy! Possibly Maiden's nerdiest song, it's extremely pleasurable to any music fan, and even more pleasurable to a music fan who's read the "Dune" books, because the lyrics really make you go, "Damn, they knew their stuff!". A wonderful album closer, and a Maiden epic that doesn't try too hard to be an epic.
Lyrics — 8
Steve Harris, as usual, wrote most of the lyrics on here, and they are, as usual, pretty good. A big complaint that I have, though, as I mentioned earlier, are the lyrics for "Sun and Steel", which sound like lyrics that a fourth-grader with add wrote. But other than that, many of them are well-thought-out and Steve Harris and the guys really deserve credit for what work they put into them.
Overall Impression — 10
Not Maiden's best, but certainly not their worst. A hearty addition to the collection of any metal fan. As usual Maiden serves up another classic of epic proportions and if you don't own it go out and buy a copy today!