The last of Iron Maidens first golden streak of perfect albums, "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" is, as is well-known, a concept album about mysticism and esoteric philosophy, based on the folkloric myth of the seventh son of the seventh son and the special powers that are bestowed upon him.
I absolutely love this album and all the tracks on it - from the "Seven deadly sins" intro, over the keyboard-driven power opener "Moonchild" over the more poppy mega hit "Can I Play With Madness" and the epic ballad "Infinite Dream" to the dark epic title track and the melodic closer "Only the Good Die Young". Every track is full of great guitar melodies, twin leads, galloping basslines, amazing vocals and pounding drums - everything that Maiden do so well.
The opening track, as mentioned above, is a power opener, which, after the acoustic intro to the album, starts out with an energetic synth figure, and slowly builds up into a quite aggressive metal track. "Infinite Dreams" is one of my favorite Maiden tracks; it opens up a ballad with a haunting guitar melody and quite mellow vocals on top of a rather complex backdrop of music, which upon second repetition is distorted. The chorus is, of course, in a different tempo, while the bridge is an uptempo galloping affair with lots of catchy vocal patterns an twin guitars. "Can I Play With Madness" is more poppy and it is not coincidence that this track was the great hit off this album. "The Evil That Men Do" is a more straight rocker, but its vocal lines are inescapably catchy - you just can't help but singing along to this one. The title track is an epic affair along the lines of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" with three major parts: a slow galloping one, an eerie athmostpheric one, and then a dark but upbeat one with some really atypical guitar figures (and there are lots of twin guitar sections all over the song). "The Prophecy" is one of the more obscure tracks on the album, but it's actually a quite interesting folk-inspired dark track, while "The Clairvoyant" is another major hit, with some uplifting and catchy guitar melodies. The closer "Only the Good Die Young" is another straight rocker with loads of catchy melodic things going on.
This album has been described as Iron Maiden's progressive album, I agree to some extent. I agree that it certainly is progressively inclined what with the concept storyline an all, the layers of guitars and all the time and tempo changes. But I do not think that it is THE progressive Maiden album, because the progressive mentality has been there from the very first album. But, "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" certainly is more progressive than the follow-up albums "No Prayer for the Dying" and "Fear of the Dark", both of which has a more straight rock approach to them.
Recommended to anyone who likes rock or metal!
(review also posted on metalmusicarchives.com)