On October 1, 1990, "No Prayer for the Dying", Iron Maiden's 8th studio album, was released.
This is the band's first album in the 90s and also the first to begin the process of disintegration of the band's classic line-up, from all the masterful albums of the 80s.
Guitarist Adrian Smith left the band during the album's pre-production phase, due to professional disagreements related to the band's musical style. Adrian was interested in continuing with the musical line featured on the previous album "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". Realizing that this was not the case he simply left the band, not before writing with Bruce Dickinson one song - "Hooks in You".
Smith was replaced by guitarist Janick Gers who worked with Dickinson on his solo album "Tattooed Millionaire" which was released earlier that year and also collaborated with other artists such as Ian Gillan and Fish from "Marillion".
Indeed, the musical line in this album is fundamentally different from the previous ones, especially compared to "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son".
Let's start with the fact that there is not a single song on this album that crosses the 6-minute line, with the vast majority of the songs being under 5 minutes. In addition, the band completely abandoned the keyboards and synthesizers and focused on the deep-rooted and direct Metal that characterized their first albums. Even Dickinson's voice on this album has gone from bombastic and operatic to thin and rough.
The album was recorded with the help of Rolling Stone's mobile studio in a barn near Steve Harris' home in Essex England. What started as an energetic process in a pleasant atmosphere did not continue like this, at least for Bruce Dickinson who later noted that it was a bad decision to record in the barn. The band chose the super producer Martin Birch who worked with them on previous albums and was responsible for quite a few masterpieces of the band.
Beyond the fact that the album included short songs of root metal style, the lyrics were also different from the previous albums, while moving away from writing on historical issues and focusing on political issues, religious exploitation ("Holy Smoke"), society ("Public Enema Number One"), nuclear holocaust ( "Fates Warning"), Naval Battles ("Run Silent Run Deep").
It is interesting to note that the song "Tailgunner" is a kind of sequel to "Aces High", from the album "Powerslave". The lyrics of the latter tell about a British Royal Air Force pilot who fought during the battle of Britain against the German Air Force. The song "Tailgunner" describes the battle from a different point of view of the gunner sitting in the back of the plane.
The album includes the song "Bring Your Daughter ... to the Slaughter" which is also the only single released from it. The song was written and recorded by Bruce Dickinson for the soundtrack to the horror film "Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Boy," but Steve Harris thought it was good so the band recorded it again and included it on the album. Although the song was boycotted by the BBC due to its title and content, it reached number one on the UK charts.
The song that is perhaps closest in musical style to Maiden's previous albums is the epic track that seals it - "Mother Russia" which talks about the democratization of the Soviet Union.
This album will always be remembered as an album that started "Iron Maiden"'s decline, a process that continued with the departure of Bruce Dickinson in 1993 and will only intensify during the 1990s in a way that undermines the band's relevance.
Although in the various charts of the band's albums, this album is always in the last places, it is still an excellent heavy metal album that is worth listening to.