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A Review of "No Prayer for the Dying" the 1990 Studio Album by Iron Maiden

Updated on March 11, 2021
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Introduction to the Album No Prayer for the Dying

No Prayer for the Dying was released through Epic Records in the US. Note: it will be 30 years since this album was released and so how has it done over time? Read on to find out!

(note: the titles in bold are the songs that were released as singles).

  1. Tailgunner
  2. Holy Smoke
  3. No Prayer for the Dying
  4. Public Enema Number One
  5. Fates Warning
  6. The Assassin
  7. Run Silent Run Deep
  8. Hooks in You
  9. Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter
  10. Mother Russia

What makes No Prayer For the Dying different than albums before it?

Iron Maiden entered 1990 on a very high note. They had finished off the 1980’s in excellent fashion with their album Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. I wrote earlier that the band released two albums that really put them on a path to success. They released "No Prayer for the Dying" in 1990. There is one lineup change. Replacing Adrian Smith is guitarist Janick Gers. Smith had left the band because he was not happy with the direction that the band was going in. The album marks a change in style. It is described as a more straightforward approach instead of the synthesizer and keyboard melodic style of Somewhere in Time or Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Bruce Dickinson switched to a more raspy style of singing. I think it really puts a strain on his voice and he does not have as much power. No Prayer for the Dying is one of Iron Maiden’s weaker albums but it is still a good one to listen to. If you hang in there until the end of the album, you will be treated to the catchy song called Hooks in You.

Where was the album recorded and how successful was it?

It was recorded on a barn on Steve Harris’ property in Essex. Dickinson later said that this was a terrible idea. The album debuted at #2 on the UK album charts. It was the only Iron Maiden album to not have a song at 6 minutes in length. It was the first album that the band recorded in their home country since The Number of the Beast in 1982. 1990 would also be the 8th year that Dickinson would be with the band. This album would also be the last Maiden album to get gold certified in the US. In spite of some negative feedback, I really think the album does have some very good songs on it.

Pros & Cons of No Prayer for the Dying

Note: when this album review was first composed, my thoughts and feelings were much different about this album so here is the first analysis and review of an Iron Maiden album that may be overlooked.

The album begins with two very strong songs "Tailgunner" and "Holy Smoke." Tailgunner has a pretty impressive riff before the solo! "Public Enema Number One" makes reference to what politicians will do just to get what they want. This is something that has been covered lyrically by so many bands. The song also talks about praying for a better world. We have the power to change things even if it does not seem to be that way. The Assassin has a great beginning bass line with good guitar work. It is about an assassin who is looking forward to pursuing his next victim. He is doing it not for the money but for “the thrill of the chase” as he says. This one was always one of my favorites on the album. No Prayer for the Dying is a slight step down for Iron Maiden and may be one of the lowest points of their career. Bruce Dickinson would leave Iron Maiden in 1993 to pursue a solo career. He would return in 1999 along with Adrian Smith. The year 1990 was a great year for heavy metal but this album was one of the weakest of the year. The strongest songs on the album are Tailgunner, Holy Smoke, The Assassin, and Hooks in You. "Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter" is an average song in spite of all the publicity it received. No Prayer For the Dying is not so bad that it should be avoided. Rather it is an album that is good to listen to if you are a big Iron Maiden fan. The UK’s best heavy metal band can still be good even when they release a weaker album.

The song called Holy Smoke

Last Three Songs of the Album Including Hooks In You

The mentioned song called "Hooks in You" sees Bruce Dickinson really being raspy to the point that he may be straining himself. the song has a melody that matches the song before the solo. Bruce near the end of the song lets out a shout of "hooks in you." "Mother Russia" has a chanting style part to it as the bass lines can be heard. The song builds up into a decent slow to mid-tempo song.

"The Assassin"

No Prayer for the Dying Weakest Album

Is the album No Prayer for the Dying Iron Maiden's Weakest Album?

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The song called "Hooks in You"

No Prayer for the Dying Is No Longer the Weakest Metal Album Released in 1990

How does this writer feel about No Prayer for the Dying in 2020? Does the album feel any different? The title track starts out with a nice, soft part as it builds up into a good melodic metal song. Is No Prayer for the Dying one of the weakest albums of the year 1990? This Iron Maiden fan says that it is not the weakest metal album of that year any longer! It takes a special appreciation of Iron Maiden to be able to come to that kind of conclusion. The lead guitar work and bass guitar complement each other nicely in this title track.

Even the song called "Fates Warning" has a sort of construction that you don't expect. This is the creative genius of Iron Maiden starting to show as the band was entering a new decade. They managed just fine without Adrian Smith! This album is far superior to other experimental albums such as Load, Re-Load, and Risk. In spite of the raspier vocal approach by Bruce Dickinson in the song Tailgummer, there is a guitar part before the solo that is superb!

The score for this album as of early 2020 is a solid 90 out of 100 points!





This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2016 Ara Vahanian

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