Sound — 10
Well, if you own all the Maiden albums up to this point, I think it's pretty clear that Iron Maiden is basically a band composed of complete nerds. From history references to literature references, with plenty of war battles in between, Iron Maiden pretty much set the standard for making geeky concepts rock. And with 1988's "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", the concept of nerdiness is taken to a whole new level. Composed of 8 tracks, the last 4 are all conceptually based upon the "Seventh Son" book series by Orson Scott Card. Though the first 4 songs are great too, there's no doubt that "Seventh Son" goes down in the history books as one of the greatest concept albums ever. If you've heard any of "Somewhere in Time", you'll be fully aware of the band's change of sound. Still that classic Maiden signature style, but with synths thrown in, along with some more complex song arrangements. Well, in my opinion, Seventh Son takes all the positive aspects of "Powerslave" and "Somewhere in Time", pulls out anything negative, and what you've got left is one of Maiden's greatest albums they've ever done. The only album I know that comes close would be "Piece of Mind", but that for me ties with Seventh Son. Seventh Son basically takes rock solid concepts, epic guitar parts ("Moonchild" has arguably the best guitar work in the band's career), monumental bass/keyboard elements, good solid drumming, and Bruce Dickinson singing what his probably his best performance ever. Though Bruce's voice changed dramatically on the subsequent "No Prayer for the Dying", Seventh Son appears to be Bruce's last truly great vocal album; and undoubtedly his best, too.
Lyrics — 10
Lyrically, this is also one of the best Maiden albums. Taking elements from the Seventh Son novels, Maiden mold songs into a completely solid perspective, and it works out great. Songs like "Can I Play With Madness" and "The Evil That Men Do" (arguably Bruce's best vocal performance ever) are also very cool, but it's really the concept half that is memorable. However, the album's opener, "Moonchild", contains the memorable passage perhaps of the whole album: "Seven deadly sins, seven ways to win, seven holy paths to hell and your trip begins/Seven downward slopes, seven bloodied hopes, seven are your burning fires, seven your desires" (notice that the word "seven" is said seven times in that passage). Those exact lines are again spoken at the end of the album's closer, "Only the Good Die Young"; and is probably the best opener/closer formula ever created. Judging by both how well the lyrics fit with the music and how well-constructed and ideally sound they are as a whole, this album is a lyrical gold mine.
Overall Impression — 10
As I said before, this album, along with "Piece of Mind", are my two favorite Maiden albums. PoM probably has the better songs, but as a complete album, "Seventh Son" is quite possibly the most complete work the band has ever created. Next time you're at the mall, pick up this album. Pick yourself up a copy of the Orson Scott Card book, too. You won't be disappointed with either.