Undoubtedly, you’ve been hearing about this almost 11 minute magnum opus, one written solely by Steve Harris and based on Raymond Brigg’s 1982 graphic novel about a post-nuclear attack, but no amount of build-up can prepare you for the musical adventure that Maiden have cooked up.
The atmosphere is, at first, grim and evil, with a march-like tempo driving precise, unison playing. Lyrically we’re into some unpleasant territory, but that’s befitting the nature of the song.
Suddenly, the band breaks into a passage that is not unlike, in spirit and structure, The Beatles’ The End: every guitarist gets a chance to solo, with new tones, ideas and melodies popping up every few seconds. For lovers of six-string (or 18-string, as the case may be) goodness, this is a sumptuous feast.
The military tempo returns and the band once again segues into a multitude of soloing. It’s jaw-dropping feats of technical wizardry, but infused with passion and guts.
After a final verse, the vision ends… and a gust of wind brings us into the clearing. What a rush this has been!
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