Picks and Pans Review: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

updated 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/06/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden has some franchise going. At this point these London heavy-metal yobs could slap a drawing of Eddie (their macabre mummified mascot) on cardboard and sell a million copies of the album cover alone. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son may even top the group's usual rampaging success. For one thing, its music is more likely to appeal to those outside the Iron Maiden cult than the eight-year-old band's previous six albums. It contains a lighter, slightly more complex sound than their customary frenzy. With the exception of Only the Good Die Young, for instance, lead singer Bruce Dickinson doesn't seem to be trying to blister the paint off the studio walls with his voice. Producer Martin Birch has added more keyboard qualities to the mix and adjusted the setting on Dave Murray and Adrian Smith's guitars from bludgeon to frappe. The arrangements on songs like Infinite Dreams, The Prophecy and the title track show the influence of such '70s art-rock bands as Yes. The lyrics are still silly pseudoportentous nonsense, for example on Moonchild: "The twins they are exhausted, seven is this night/ Gemini is rising as the red lips kiss to bite/ Seven angels seven demons battle for his soul/ When Gabriel lies sleeping, this child was born to die." Most of the words reflect the ersatz mysticism that is the lingua franca of heavy metal. There is a cohesiveness to Maiden's spoutings that makes them sound at least preliterate, though. The band still hasn't written a song you'll walk around singing—unless maybe you're mad at your parents for grounding you. But this record shows glimmerings of a musical flexibility that portend Iron Maiden's continued success well into the next decade. Heaven help us. (Capitol)

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