Iron Maiden/No Prayer For The Dying(1990)



Maiden 1990 is a different animal than the band that released what I consider their best album ever 1988’s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son!


Gone is Guitarist Adrian Smith who already had contributed a ton of Classic Tracks to the Maiden albums of years before. Case in point check out my review of Somewhere In Time as Smith is the MVP of that album in my eye’s. So when he bailed on Maiden I was disappointed but I knew Bassist and Maiden Creator Steve Harris would carry on as that’s Maiden’s tendency! Replace and move on!

Gone are the elaborate stage shows that came with each album release in the 80’s. A more stripped back stage with the backdrops and Eddie of course but more Marshall Amps added and yada yada. This did not bug me in the least as it’s the tunes that count right?!

So Harry and Crew recruit Janick Gers (playing guitar at the time in Lead Singers Bruce Dickinson solo band) and keep the Maiden Juggernaut heading into new frontiers. But are we ready for it?

1990 was a great year not only did we get like I mentioned earlier the fantastic Bruce solo album Tattooed Millionaire but along with it a new Maiden album as well.

October 1st 1990 is when No Prayer was released and SHOCKER I was not a first day buyer of it! I had purchased Peace OF Mind/Powerslave/Live After Death/Somewhere In Time and 7th Son all on their release dates.  My first day Maiden purchase streak ended at 5!

Reason you ask? Simple a little less than a week later myself and Tbone were gonna be in Winnipeg going to see ZZ Top and per our protocol on road trips was to load up on discs! Tbone especially as he would drop coin on say 20-25 discs on a given road trip! So with this in mind I thought i would hold out and at least purchase 1 for myself! Haha….

Still recall unwrapping the plastic from No Prayer in out hotel room in the Peg and scanning the lyrics/pics as Maiden always delivered in the cd department!

Course when I got back to Tbay the first order was to listen to No Prayer….

The Verdict! Good not Great. Not a let down either but a band that I had thought was maybe trying to ditch a bit of the past(80’s) and move into the 90’s with a new kinda look and new Metal like sound.

Maiden Men …

Bruce Dickinson – lead vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Steve Harris – bass guitar
Nicko McBrain – drums

No Prayer Maiden Mix…

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Tailgunner” Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson 4:13
2. “Holy Smoke” Harris, Dickinson 3:47
3. “No Prayer for the Dying” Harris 4:22
4. “Public Enema Number One” Dave Murray, Dickinson 4:03
5. “Fates Warning” Murray, Harris 4:09
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “The Assassin” Harris 4:16
2. “Run Silent Run Deep” Harris, Dickinson 4:34
3. “Hooks in You” Dickinson, Adrian Smith 4:06
4. “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter” Dickinson 4:42
5. “Mother Russia” Harris 5:30
Total length: 43:42

Couple of things you may notice right away about the track listings! Steve and Bruce team up on three tracks. Dave Murray even steps up with 2 contributions as ex member Smith is featured in a co write with Bruce. Second of all the album clocks in at 43 minutes. Not only are Maiden cleaning house but there also doing away with the Epic Long Tune’s. All tracks are under 5 minutes except for album closer Mother Russia.

Let’s Do This…

Tailgunner has Maiden beginning studio album Number 8 with Harris and Nicko along with the guitars of Janick and Davey usher in Tailgunner! Tailgunner what a great name for a late night establishment don’t you think? I could picture it now with Tbone dialing his phone circa 1990 and a voice on the other end answering with a “Good Evening Welcome To Tailgunners How can I Direct Your call?” hahaha…oh wait this isn’t it a Dance Club? Gah! Sorry lost my trail of thought there! Maidens Tailgunner  is  a song about World War 2 Pilots…..Bruce as always delivers a great vocal “Nail That Fokker Kill That Son” ahh clever writing fella’s! It doesn’t take long to realize that Maiden to  my ears is making a Street Sounding Album. The production by Martin Birch is dry sounding which kinda suits the vibe of the album.

Second song Holy Smoke is bona fide classic in my humble opinion! Loved it in 1990 and still love it 27 years later! This song takes charge and at the time with all the corrupt TV Preachers goings on Steve and Bruce nail out a Gem writing about it. Super Duper catchy chorus! Super Duper Metal Slop Rock Solo from New Boy Janick and Wow Man! Gem! Posted the video to this song and look at those Brits! They are a funny bunch! Great video!

The title track No Prayer For The Dying  almost sounds like at some spots  like a Maiden Jig! A little slower tempo but like all Harris written tunes it’s gonna speed up and go into overdrive and lift off at which it does. Real cool leads from both Davey and Janick as they just do what they do.

Whoah! Another Gem in the form of Public Enema Number One. Janick and Dave take charge with those cool dual leads right out of the gate with Steve and Nicko taking charge in the rhythm department! Bruce as he always does take charge in his vocal delivery and man oh man another Great Track!  Watch the live video! Actually I’m pasting the last verse in the tune which features my favourite paragraph of Bruce written lyrics on this album…

A million network slaves
In an advertising new age
I don’t need a crystal ball to sell ya
Your children have more brains
Than your drug infested remains
California dreaming as the Earth dies screaming


Fates Warning is a straight forward no frill’s Metal Track. It’s a decent enough one for sure and it was interesting to revisit this one as on any other Metal Release at the time this would have been a great song but with this being Maiden they set they set the Bar High.  Pretty good actually….WTF am I going on about?

The Assassin builds and builds with Harry and Nicko doing their quick snare and bass riffs. One of those tracks which is ok not great. The Verses build and build and the chorus is for me a little on the lacklustre side.

Run Silent Run Deep has Bruce singing in that sinister style vocal and man oh man after the last two previous songs kinda lagging things pick up with this track. Love the pace of it. Great chorus as well and love the guitar work and bass on this tune. Nicko man plays like only Nicko does and that’s awesome! Love how the tune ends with just Bruce and bit of guitar!

Speaking of Nicko you want Cowbell? Hooks In You leads off with a slick riff with added cowbell. Pretty good track nothing spectacular but still a decent round of Metal. Maiden man set and drank the bar high n dry.

Ok. Bruce is the only singer in the world who could sing the chorus to Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter and making it oh so catchy. Case in point when this album was first out I found myself singing it at work in a moment of pure unconsciousness except I wasn’t! Some one near by said “Pardon me” and snapped me back into reality and I mumbled away …. Great track actually and as an added bonus a real cool guitar solo! Bruce as always delivers in spades.

Mother Russia is your end of the album Harris concept piece as it’s another one of those epic pieces but for me I dunno I kinda missed the Metal Boat on this one. The playing/singing is all there of course but I just don’t get this one at all.

Maiden enter the 90’s with more of a street vibe and it’s a pretty decent album with some standout tracks and some not so standout tracks. Something has to give after a while really. I mean 8 studio albums over 10 years including tours it’s impressive to say the least.

So although Harry & Crew did not hit one totally out of the park No Prayer is still a decent album with a real couple of good standout tracks!

37 thoughts on “Iron Maiden/No Prayer For The Dying(1990)”

  1. Good but not great sums it up for me too. But it is pretty close! I didn’t buy it straight away either… thought it was all a bit disappointing. But it’s actually grown on me over the years and I really enjoy it when I stick it on now. The first side is great, it’s the second side that lets it down for me (really like Running Silent, Running Deep though.) The title-track, Public Enema and Fates Warning are my fave picks from it. Prefer this album to Fear of the Dark by a good distance.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Rich! At some point i will tackle Fear Of The Dark HMO said No Prayer was a grower on him. For me it’s Fear Of The Dark. A lot of musical changeover going on back in 92 so it will be a fun one to tackle. Probably sooner than later now that u put the bug in my ear!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting to read that it doesn’t hit past greatness but doesn’t stumble below a good listen either.
    I read a theory recently arguing that Iron Maiden has been among the most consistently reliable bands of all time – this review would support that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cool Geoff. All bands as they go that build up a back catalogue are gonna slip now and than. Even Maiden ,doesn’t help that they got lucky in the first singer change(Di’anno to Air Raid) and not so lucky when Air Raid was replaced by Bayley.
      Of course in 2017 with Bruce back all is honky dory!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I wrote this up waaaaay back when Mike was going through all the Maiden records…

    So, now we get to No Prayer For The Dying. I’ll write this up before I read Mike’s take on it.

    Tailgunner is a great riff, and I like the gutteral, raw vocals here. It’s like he took up smoking and drinking straight bourbon between records, or something. The growl goes well with the guitar assault. A strong album opener, and my fears of a repeat of Seventh’s howls aren’t immediately realized. Holy Smoke is a fun guitar riff. Fun?!?! Yeah! Same vocals too. Could it be? Has he left the warble at home? And this is interesting to note: for Maiden, this is two mid-tempo tracks in a row. I’m talking AC/DC-like tempos instead of their typical 100 mph blasts. And to that end, these two tracks would sound GREAT in a bar. The title track is a sort of compromise. He strains it a bit there, but the growl is still predominant. And bits of this are pretty slow, for these guys! Is that an actual string section or faked? AH! 2:16, here they go at the usual speed! Woo! Cool slinky riff on that one.

    Public Enema Number One Gives us the tempo right from the gates, and another killer riff. Dickinson’s OK ’til he gets to the chorus, then no thanks. Still, a strong enough track that fits with the rest. Fates Warning fits the Maiden template we’ve come to expect, but it’s not one of the stronger songs here. It’s one of those ones that, for another contemporary band it would have been a hit single, but for Maiden it’s just good. The Assassin isn’t as menacing as it tries to be. “Better watch out?” Haha, sure. You know who I could hear singing this song? Dio. He’d have given it the proper mix of gravity and hilarity.

    Run Silent Run Deep is a great tune, another chugging stomper, but the vocals kill it. Sorry, I just can’t take that wobble seriously. I know I couldn’t do it myself, but I don’t think I’d want to. Especially that ending. Ugh. If he’d tone that down, this could have been a hits-disc track. Hooks In You is one of the most straight-on rawk tunes they’ve done, in chord changes in structure. There’s a raft of 80s metal bands that could have done this song. And man, by the end of this one, he sounds rough. Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter is one I’ve heard before. That bit around 3:20 just cracks me up. WTF. The rest is just like this album: great rock song with a singer that’s trying too hard. And finally, Mother Russia, well… I could take it or leave it. I know what they were going for, here. Playing on the sounds of Russian traditional songs, and trying to be atmospheric about it. And all deference, that guitar solo work is incredible. But as an album closer? No, not really. Maybe a b-side. I’m willing to bet there was a better song that ended up as a b-side, and swapping them would have made a huge difference.

    In all, a cool Maiden record, but if I had to compare it to some of the others I’d say it’s only mediocre. I like that they’re all different. Reflections of the times and their interests, of course. This one lays back a bit, doesn’t do everything at breakneck speed. Fine by me.

    * And I promise I won’t bitch about the vocals from here on out. Maybe I’ll contain it to one line, or something, for future reviews (because Mike tells me it doesn’t improve). It’s just that, for this one on the heels of Seventh, I wanted to see if things improved. They sort-of did, here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you posted this here! It’s cool to read the different takes on this album. Pretty harsh on Bruce Bruce! Haha..fair enough though your entitled to your say round these parts!
      It’s also neat to see tunes that I think are super cool and you not so much!
      Great read!


      1. I’m glad you’re cool with me putting that all here…

        Yeah I went through a dislike of Bruce Bruce’s warbly bits (and I don’t wanna know about his wobbly bits). That sort of ‘singing’ never works for me. But I think if we all agreed on everything, we’d only need one blog! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have this one here, but I’ve never given it a real listen. Just a cursory one when I got it and although there were a couple of things I liked, I never went back to it. I’ll revisit, though, as you’ve suggested there’s enough here to warrant spending some more time with it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You summed this one up nicely. There are a few tracks I really like. Tailgunner is one of my favourite songs. But for me this is one of the last of Maiden. Shortly after I would go full grunge. Even though everyone knows you don’t go full grunge, I did.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HAHAHAHA… least you can admit it! Late 90 and the musical landscape was changing for Maiden. I was talking to DEANO at work and told him the story of when Maiden played Winnipeg early January 91 only 3000 people showed. Would have gone but had no idea they had played there so early in the new year. Instead i went to see that Poison Fiasco live at the end of the same month and there was 12,000 there for them….
      Shows you just where Hard Rock was shifting as it was even Bandana Michael’s last hurrah as well!


  6. Good not great. Definitely not a favourite, but every once in a while I get the cravings to hear it. When I do, Hooks in You always strikes me as the worst tune. Nothing spectacular as you said but I think it should have been used as a B-side.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post! I agree that it isn’t their best, but still love it. No Prayer for the Dying and Public Enema Number One are my favourites off this album. Iron Maiden has been so consistently brilliant for decades now. And, these guys are phenomenal live! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I dig the album as it’s got some awesome guitar playing on each song and I used to like Holy Smoke for a short time. But then the film clip came out and I couldn’t stop laughing at it. So it became a parody and running joke, especially when we saw a tractor

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ha..yeah man that is funny…I like it as Maiden is not taking themselves to seriously in it. Like Bruce wearing a numeral like pink T shirt! haha..but he pulls it off..


  9. I genuinely love how there’s always fans of the weaker albums from Maiden, shows how good they are. But for me, it’s pretty dire. Some of my least favourite Maiden tracks on it such as Tailgunner (*cringe* that chorus) and the assassin (sounds like a parody song). Actually, they all sound like parody songs, you know they’re not taking it seriously anymore. The holy smoke video confirms it and I guess that was a response to the seriousness of grunge which pulled metal bands popularity from under their feet. Some metal bands just weren’t having a good surge of creativity around that time I suppose. Bruce was especially struggling. As Nicko says, Bruce wasn’t in a good place touring-wise and he wouldn’t try during live performances anymore, he didn’t want to be there. Wondering what your opinion is on newer Maiden albums which are so contrasting to the rawness of early 90’s maiden?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to check out this Maiden review.
      Maiden set the bar very high in the 80-88 period and the huge continuous cycle of album/tour/album tour will eventually dry up some creativity for sure.
      It was good to revisit No Prayer as it had been years since I spun it and it was quite good. Reader HMO hit it not he head though as the first side is pretty strong while the second side dips a bit…
      Fair enough!
      Bruce your right was bored I believe with the same ol same ol so thats why he drifted away but as far as the new Maiden albums since Bruce’s return have all been pretty decent.
      I did review Book Of Souls a ways back and lately have gotten back into A Matter Of Life and Death and that one is real strong.
      Overall I like them all perhaps Dance Of Death lacks a little but I will need to revisit those albums as well…
      Thanks again for stopping in!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Good but not great is a perfect summary

    I toatally agree with you on Bring you Daughter and Holy Smoke

    I don’t agree with you on Mother Russia though. I think it’s an excellent song

    Oh and in my opinion Tailgunner is Maiden’s worst song.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for commenting…
      Tailgunner is a decent track but its a step down from being a classic Maiden opener…
      There 80s output was at a ridiculous clip so something eventually had to give.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What’s more, I’ve just that Holy Smoke isn’t marked with an “e” at all, despite two very clear instances of the word “shit” in the lyrics


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