Iron Maiden - No Prayer For The Dying review



Reviewer:
6.6

1323 users:
7.13
Band: Iron Maiden
Album: No Prayer For The Dying
Release date: October 1990


Disc I
01. Tail Gunner
02. Holy Smoke
03. No Prayer For The Dying
04. Public Enema Number One
05. Fates Warning
06. The Assassin
07. Run Silent Run Deep
08. Hooks In You
09. Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter
10. Mother Russia

Disc II [1995 reissue bonus]
01. All in Your Mind [Stray cover]
02. Kill Me Ce Soir [Golden Earring cover]
03. I'm A Mover [Free cover cover]
04. Communication Breakdown [Led Zeppelin cover]


Iron Maiden came crashing into the 90s on the wave that was Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, finding themselves washed up on the shores of a new decade with Adrian Smith being taken to new lands by the sea. No Prayer For The Dying is the sound of the band wanting to move forward with a new sound that only served to take two steps back as they took one forward.

No Prayer For The Dying saw the new look Maiden try to merge the sounds of themselves a decade prior on their debut with the sound that they had developed as a band of musicians who, owing to years of touring, recording and challenging themselves, were far more polished and refined as players. This ends up in a misguided mess of a band trying to consciously strip away years of cohesion and progression while also trying to sound revitalized and not backward looking.

The desire to strip away and have a more basic sound is one that is pursued in an awkward manner; in trying to alter their sonic identity, they throw the baby named quality out with the bathwater as well. Ditching the sprawling epics and capping the song length is not a detriment in and of itself, but taken together with the ditching of the synths and Dickinson's new vocal style, make for a big change in a small amount of time. Yes, the band ditches the sprawling epics and cap the songs length while also ditching the synths but along with this are the subtle production changes. The most evident and biggest drawback is in the production's style, stripping the songs of the rise and fall motifs that allow key points of songs to be more pronounced, which are largely lacking here. Rather than make the band sound more raw, it ends up being the audio equivalent of being contrarian to what you know works, doing the opposite and expecting the same high quality result.

The title track, "Hooks In You" and "Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter" may be damn cheesy but hell, sometimes you need a fix of strong cheese and these three songs certainly deliver that. Sure, they seem very off kilter next to the topics that are the band's usual fare, but that doesn't diminish the enjoyment when listening to them. Beyond these three tracks though, the band can only serve up some ok songs and clunkers; it doesn't verge into unlistenable territory, but you can certainly see the line in the sand in terms of song quality.

How can I not be a fan of this album yet rate Fear Of The Dark? Beyond the latter having peaks well beyond what this album has, it is also the fact that this change in direction doesn't feel natural here; you feel much of the songs are pushed through moulds in order to fit the arbitrary sound the band wanted to take, rather than building the songs up and fitting the sound naturally. "The Assassin" and "Mother Russia" are the prime examples of this.

I can't fault Iron Maiden for wanting to alter their sound; it would be pretty hypocritical given their last two albums were highly praised for doing that very same thing. The difference would be that rather than sounding like a natural progression, No Prayer For The Dying was a conscious effort to enforce change regardless of the result. This leads to an album being served up not because of its quality but to signal this change up; as a result, Iron Maiden made one of the few missteps in their career and this album was the result.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Production: 7

Written by omne metallum | 20.06.2020


 


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
Pierre Tombale
Rating:
8.8
1990 a new decade and a new sound for Iron Maiden, without keyboards again, much more direct in sound, but a different atmosphere from 'Somewhere…' and 'Seventh Son…'. This is 'No Prayer for the Dying'!

'Tailgunner' the first single from 'No Prayer' is definitely not the album's highlight, in fact I thought by the first listen: ok, but it can only get better! And it really does. The very sarcastic 'Holy Smoke' is a good start, direct, rocking and mocking. One of the album's highlights is the half-ballad and title track 'No Prayer For the Dying', nice melody, good vocals and great solo, even without Adrian Smith, who left after the 'Seventh Son' tour and who was replaced by Janick Gers, who had already worked with Bruce Dickinson on 'Tattooed Millionaire'. 'Public Enema Number One' is yet another solid performance, 'Fates Warning' is one of the more atmospheric songs, dark intro and guitars quite similar to those used on 'Somewhere' a good song. 'The Assassin' even darker, with the beat of a march in some passages. 'Run Silent Run Deep' is once again a song about a movie, or at least influenced by the same titled movie with Burt Lancaster and Clarke Gable from 1958. This makes sense as I've seen Bruce Dickinson in an interview on german television making the statement he likes those films about the war at sea and especially those with submarines. When you now take a look into the booklet you will find that the song is cooperatively written by Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris.

Read more ››
published 17.02.2004 | Comments (17)

Guest review by
Spyroid
Rating:
6.2
To call this album bad sure wouldn't be fair, but compared to other Iron Maiden albums 'No Prayer For The Dying' isn't really something to celebrate. I myself would call it the worst Maiden album with Dickinson on vocals. But I don't know any band who has released a great deal of albums like Maiden without failing a few times, so I'm not really blaming them. 'No Prayer For The Dying' is also the first Maiden album in more than 10 years that doesn't feature Adrian Smith, and even if Janick Gers is a great guitarist the chemistry wasn't really there yet, simply because he hadn't written any songs together with the band before.

Read more ››
published 13.06.2008 | Comments (18)


Comments

Comments: 7   Visited by: 50 users
20.06.2020 - 19:54
The Shape 1973
Totally agree. I think this album has a much better reputation than it deserves. Tailgunner and Daughter being the only tracks that are half way decent.

Always liked the artwork, but could never work out how Eddie could grab the guy's throat from down in a grave. His arm must have been 6 foot long.
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That's the Dukes Of Hazard fucked then
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20.06.2020 - 20:32
JoHn DoE
What happened was that Adrian Smith had left and left a void in the band, a void that Jannick Gers could not fill, at least not yet.

I like the album, for me the two (in)famous singles are weakest songs (although still listenable).
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I thought the two primary purposes for the internet were cat memes and overreactions.
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21.06.2020 - 09:02
Troy Killjoy
perfunctionist
Written by The Shape 1973 on 20.06.2020 at 19:54

Always liked the artwork, but could never work out how Eddie could grab the guy's throat from down in a grave. His arm must have been 6 foot long.

That's not the only thing on him that's 6 feet long
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I have no memory of this place.
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21.06.2020 - 11:34
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Written by Troy Killjoy on 21.06.2020 at 09:02

Written by The Shape 1973 on 20.06.2020 at 19:54

Always liked the artwork, but could never work out how Eddie could grab the guy's throat from down in a grave. His arm must have been 6 foot long.

That's not the only thing on him that's 6 feet long


Troy Gallant mode activated. Miss him.
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22.06.2020 - 00:10
omne metallum
Written by The Shape 1973 on 20.06.2020 at 19:54

Totally agree. I think this album has a much better reputation than it deserves. Tailgunner and Daughter being the only tracks that are half way decent.

Always liked the artwork, but could never work out how Eddie could grab the guy's throat from down in a grave. His arm must have been 6 foot long.


Now you've mentioned it I can't unsee it
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26.06.2020 - 14:06
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Album has worst Maiden song, but this is my fav album from this band and second fav after first one.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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26.06.2020 - 22:57
Redel
Written by Bad English on 26.06.2020 at 14:06

this is my fav album from this band and second fav after first one.


Uuhhhmmm.... I might have caught too much sun today....
... and all this server down time is really troubling me...
....and I often seem to somehow get an idea of what you might be saying by reading twice or more...
...but here.....
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