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Fear of the Dark – Commentary
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Fear of the Dark

11th May 1992

1. Be Quick Or Be Dead (Dickinson, Gers)
2. From Here To Eternity (Harris)
3. Afraid To Shoot Strangers (Harris)
4. Fear Is The Key (Dickinson, Gers)
5. Childhood's End (Harris)
6. Wasting Love (Dickinson, Gers)
7. The Fugitive (Harris)
8. Chains Of Misery (Dickinson, Murray)
9. The Apparition (Harris, Gers)
10. Judas Be My Guide (Dickinson, Murray)
11. Weekend Warrior (Harris, Gers)
12. Fear Of The Dark (Harris)

    First Single
    Second Single
    Third Single

    Tour Commentary
    Tour Dates & Venues    


Mick Wall's Commentary
Various Pressings
Other Pictures
Discuss in the Forum

The first thing about Fear Of The Dark that leaps out and kicks in the arse is the cover artwork, which for the first time in Maiden's career is not by Derek Riggs. This picture is by Melvyn Grant, who has a long resumé of cover artwork on many popular fantasy and horror novels. Apparently the band liked Grant's picture better than Riggs's;although I wish Riggs's picture was also available for comparison. But in any case, it doesn't matter much because Grant's picture is excellent and sets a great mood for the album.

As with No Prayer For The Dying, many fans consider Fear Of The Dark to be a sub-par album by Maiden standards. In my opinion there is some excellent and possibly classic material here, in songs such as 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers', 'Childhood's End', 'Wasting Love', and 'Fear Of The Dark'. But overall, the album is not as consistently superb as the albums from the golden era, and contains quite a few uncharacteristically short songs.

Fear Of The Dark represents the end of another era for Iron Maiden – after the tour, Bruce Dickinson left the band to begin a solo career until his return in 1999. Unfortunately, one can almost sense Dickinson's discontentment on this album. He continues the rough and raspy style of singing that we first heard in No Prayer For The Dying and on a few songs it sounds like he has completely lost his voice. Ironically enough, his traditional clear and powerful voice returned on his solo albums, some of which are extremely good.

Fear Of The Dark was digitally recorded and mixed at Steve Harris's own Barnyard Studios in Essex. As with No Prayer For The Dying, there are still some traces of synth on the album, but much less noticeable than in Somewhere In Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.

In closing, I just want to emphasise that despite what you may have heard or read elsewhere, this is not a bad album! It is a little less consistent than some of the earlier albums, but it contains classic material too. Don't be afraid to buy it after you've gotten all of the golden-era stuff.

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2.0-star   Be Quick Or Be Dead (Dickinson, Gers) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Be Quick Or Be Dead’

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Be Quick Or Be Dead single Similar to 'Holy Smoke' on the previous album which dealt with the greed and hypocrisy of TV preachers, 'Be Quick Or Be Dead' is a politically motivated song that deals with the greed and corruption of the democratic political system.

He says you must vote for what you want to hear
Don't matter what's wrong as long as you're alright
So pull yourself stupid and rub yourself blind

The song is about money and dodgy deals that some dishonest white-collar people make without a care in the world for those they sometimes drive to ruin. You must be quick and clever if you have no other choice but work with them, otherwise you may end up dead (maybe not in the physical sense of the term, but at least financially). The title of the song is itself inspired by a quote from the Bible that has nothing to do with the theme developed by the lyrics:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom [...].
2 Timothy 4:1

Dickinson's horrible singing style ruins a song that could otherwise have been pretty decent. He was apparently experimenting, although his clear and powerful voice from the "Golden Age" was sorely missed until the "Reunion" albums.


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2.0-star   From Here To Eternity (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘From Here To Eternity’

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From Here To Eternity single This is the return of the infamous Charlotte the Harlot on the back of a motorbike! However, the mood of the song is very different from 'Charlotte The Harlot' and '22 Acacia Avenue'. Both the music and the lyrics lack the depth of the previous songs, making this particular piece a big disappointment.

'From Here To Eternity' was the second single from the album, chosen essentially by the band for the catchiness of the music. The lyrics should not be taken seriously, as the whole song is quite simply a joke. The straightforward interpretation is that the song is about a woman's relationship with a biker and his motorcycle, the text being however full of sexual symbolism and puns.

The best feature on this song is the great guitar solos, but otherwise it has the feel of a made-to-be-a-single, which is pretty uncharacteristic for Maiden. At the end of the song, you can hear Bruce cryptically say: "Get on your M11, get on your bike!" Why he mentions this motorway that links North-East London to Cambridge is a mystery...

I'll take you on a ride from here to eternity
Curve Machine
Artwork by Monte M. Moore © Copyright 2003
Reproduced with kind permission


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4.5-star   Afraid To Shoot Strangers (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Afraid To Shoot Strangers’

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Bruce Dickinson told the crowd at the Live At Donington concert what this song is about:

[This song] was written about the people that fought in the Gulf War. It's a song about how shitty war is, and how shitty war is that it's started by politicians and has to be finished by ordinary people that don't really want to kill anybody. 

Bruce Dickinson – 22nd August 1992

The song starts off slowly and quietly, but then breaks into a faster beat, a trademark Maiden riff and an inspired instrumental section. It is actually a very beautiful song and a Maiden classic.

Unlike most war songs that usually deal with the combat itself, like 'The Trooper', or with its terrible consequences, like 'The Aftermath' or Metallica's 'One', 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' takes us into the mind of a soldier preparing for battle. Although he is nothing but an anonymous element of the powerful tool used by the government of his country and known as the Army, he remains human, with his feelings and his doubts. He's "trying to visualise the horrors that will lay ahead", the main one being the fact that he probably will have to kill (hence, "afraid to shoot strangers").

With the exception of a minority of mentally dysfunctional individuals, the act of killing another man is one of the most traumatic experiences a soldier can face in combat, even more than risking his own life under fire ("When it comes to the time, we'll be ready to die" – to die, yes. But to kill?). Like in any other animal species, normal human beings are deeply reluctant to cause the death of their fellow humans and, when they do so, can be marked for life if not given the appropriate treatment. But let's not forget that the individual this song is dealing with is a professional soldier – and not a poor conscript sent into the midst of battle with only a crash-course in gun-handling – he's been conditioned for this kind of situation and shooting at enemy soldiers is an ingrained reflex through continuous military training – some kind of brain-washing. Steve Harris shows here the point of view of a normal man who is understandably "afraid to shoot strangers", but he seems to have overlooked the fact that trained combatants do not feel this fear as strongly as others would, and have therefore less problems in opening fire upon other humans. The consequences of this act can be devastating, but this is irrelevant in the present discussion.

When it comes to the time, are we partners in crime?

What does the soldier really question here? Is he reflecting on the fact that, although he is only an instrument of his government, he is part of a crime that his country is committing? What is the crime, then? Had Britain (and all the other so-called "Allied" countries who participated in the First Gulf War) the right to engage a war with a country so distant for such preposterous reasons as to protect the oil fileds for the West? Or maybe he's simply referring to the fact that his comrades will kill too, thus making them all partners in crime.

But how can we let them go on this way?
The reign of terror corruption must end
And we know deep down there's no other way
No trust, no reasoning, no more to say

These verses are probably the worst written since those of 'Quest For Fire', with the dinosaurs walking the earth at the same time as Man. Not only in retrospect, but even at the time, it was obvious that the First Gulf War was not about ending a dictatorship, but about protecting (and controlling) the crude oil drilling in Kuwait. There's a "reign of terror, corruption" in many other countries, but no one is interested enough in ending any of them in any way. Steve's lyrics sound here like the headlines of The Sun or any other disgustingly jingoistic tabloid "trying to justify to [the gullible population] the reasons to go." It is obvious that the use of force can be necessary in certain situations and that "we know deep down there's no other way", but in the case of this particular war, such justification doesn't stand a close examination of the real reasons to engage in a conflict. What is a fantastic song musically is quite sadly somehow ruined by lyrics that seem to condone a rather dubious international action.

The psychological effect of combat is a concept which encompasses a wide variety of processes and negative impacts, all of which must be taken into consideration in any assessment of the immediate and long term costs of war. This entry will address the wide-spectrum psychological effects of combat, to include: psychiatric casualties suffered during combat, physiological arousal and fear, the physiology of close combat, the price of killing, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
FRONTLINE's "The Gulf War" is a comprehensive and critical analysis of the 1990-1991 war in which more than one million troops faced off against each other in the deserts of the Gulf states. From the Allied coalition's air war, to the ground assault, to the liberation of Kuwait, and the fallout of Saddam Hussein's retaining power, "The Gulf War" deconstructs what really happened, how it happened and why.

Today I read both commentaries for this song (one for the song and one for the enhanced video on The Angel and the Gambler single). They differ from my sense of the song in ways I find thought-provoking, and accordingly I decided to say a few words about the thoughts they provoked.

The song commentary is quite short – a brief description of the music accompanied by this quote from Bruce: "[This song] was written about the people that fought in the Gulf War. It's a song about how shitty war is, and how shitty war is that it's started by politicians and has to be finished by ordinary people that don't really want to kill anybody." Note that the song was written not by Bruce, but by Steve. I'll come back to that momentarily.

Meanwhile, the commentary on the video includes this bit: "The video itself looks a little bit like pro-war propaganda, condoning the useless bloodshed and misery that was the First Gulf War. It most probably wasn't the intention of Iron Maiden to pose as supporters of such a ridiculous conflict, whose aim was merely to protect the oil fields of Kuwait, but the images do not seem to correspond the original depth of the lyrics."

Okay. Here's my story. I bought Fear of the Dark the day it came out in 1992. It was my second year in college. I had already been bitterly disappointed by the Whitesnake-ish-ness of the No Prayer album, so this album was either going to restore my faith in Iron Maiden or drive me away for good. Unfortunately it did the latter (well, for almost 10 years, anyway). 'Afraid to Shoot Strangers' was a big part of this.

The Gulf War was "over," although obviously the U.S. military presence in the Gulf, periodic bombings, and the brutal sanctions regime were not. Like many Americans (and obviously others), I was still pissed about the war, and especially about the shallow jingoism of many of my fellow Americans who supported it. In my first year at college (90-91) we had these big sheets of paper on the walls of our dormitory where people could write (anonymously) their thoughts about the war while it was going on. Every day I would see that someone had written "kill the towelheads" or "sand niggers" – i.e., people who supported the war out of ignorant, racist, nationalistic, oversimplified machismo more than anything else. People sported shirts saying "these colors don't run" and whatnot, suggesting that anyone who disagreed with (the first) President Bush's war was un-American (or worse).

This is the context in which I heard 'Afraid to Shoot Strangers'. It seems obvious, given the timing, that the song was written as Steve's direct response to the Gulf War and the debate over it. And it seemed obvious at the time that he was arguing in favor of the war:

God let us go now and finish what's to be done
Thy Kingdom come, thy shall be done... on Earth
Trying to justify to ourselves the reasons to go
Should we live and let live, forget or forgive?
But how can we let them go on this way?
The reign of terror corruption must end
And we know deep down there's no other way
No trust, no reasoning, no more to say

From the point of view of someone opposed to the war, this is patronizing. Opposition to the war did not then (nor does it now) equate to "live and let live, forget and forgive." But then it gets worse; the song ends of course with the refrain of the title, "afraid to shoot strangers." To me the only sense this makes is as a characterization of opponents of the war – such people are afraid to do what even God knows is "to be done." They are cowards. Listening to this song in 1992, I was livid – Steve and the boys were joining the chorus of ugly Americans around me who insisted that going to war was a simple matter of having the balls to "kill the towelheads." At least with the song the racist overtones weren't there, although the "strangers" bit always made me uncomfortable. Why use the word "strangers"? Should the fact that they are "strange" to us make them easier to shoot?

So fast forward to the present. Having sold my Fear of the Dark CD a few weeks after I bought it, I have never been able to bring myself to re-purchase it. I still can't stand that song, and I still read/hear it as a defense of the Gulf War – as an argument that the soldier's ordeal is worth it for the greater cause – and as an indictment of those who protested the war. (I do see that the song does express some sympathy with the soldier, and this at least is to its credit.)

Reading the commentaries today, I find that my understanding of the song is not necessarily the consensus view. I think Bruce's quote in the song commentary is intriguing... it sounds more along the lines of how I would like to be able to interpret the song. I suspect that Bruce and Steve do not necessarily see eye-to-eye politically, and that the quote is Bruce's way of rationalizing the song, of making it palatable for him as a singer to make the requisite emotional investment in it. (I'd be curious to hear how he interprets 'Age of Innocence'.) I don't think Bruce speaks for Steve, or what was in Steve's heart at the time the song was written; the lyrics themselves speak too clearly otherwise.

I'm also intrigued by the comments on the video, which I haven't myself seen. According to the account, the video images echo pro-war propaganda, which would be consistent with my first reaction to the song, but not Bruce's remarks on it. Whose viewpoint is expressed in the video, then? I suspect it's Steve's.

The most interesting thing in all this, to me, is how each person adapts a text to suit his or her own worldview. The writer of the commentaries has obviously internalized the message of 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' as an anti-war message, or at least a "war is hell" message, which obviously suits his temperament (judging by his comments on the Gulf War itself). He even goes so far as to assume that the pro-war message was "probably not the intention of Iron Maiden," which I think is mistaken but which I understand as a natural reflex. And Bruce too appears to have re-imagined the song in a way that makes more sense to him. I was never able to do this for 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers', but I have done it for other Iron Maiden songs, and other musical and nonmusical works.

zgodt – 22nd February 2004

I never thought of this song as pro- or anti-war. I always thought it was Steve's attempt to describe the feelings of a soldier. No one wants to die, and I seriously doubt that many soldiers actually want to kill another human being in combat. But it is still the viewpoint of most soldiers that war, and the killing that unfortunately goes with it, is sometimes necessary for the greater good. Therefore you get the apparent conflict between peace and war in the lyrics.

I also feel it necessary to say that I have never served in the military, so if I have presumed wrongly about how soldiers think, just let me know. I've spoken to many veterans – including Gulf War vets – so I think I understand their point of view, but I could be wrong.

Also, remember that this isn't the first song where Steve let the lyrics take the point of view of a soldier. A couple songs called 'Run To The Hills' and 'The Trooper' come to mind...

SinisterMinisterX – 22nd February 2004

You raise an interesting point. Is it pro- or anti-war? Personally I do not like the involvement of God's will in matters of war. However, if you take it as an anti-war song God's will is peace. But aside from that and on to Steve's and Bruce's points of view. Most Maiden war/conflict songs ('Run to the Hills', '2 Minutes to Midnight', 'Paschendale', etc.) seem to show the futility, ridiculousness and horrors of war. In that vein of thought I doubt 'Afraid to Shoot Strangers' is a pro-war song.

As for how soldiers think... It is human to be afraid to kill and be killed, but that is why they are trained and put through boot camp and other training facilities. To be honest most soldiers are brainwashed to be able to handle the horrors of war. In the case of the U.S they have many soldiers joining the Armed Forces because they pay for their college. They don't join to defend their nation, so war and killing is the furthest thing from their mind. Those who willingly join hoping to have the chance to defend their country have no problem with war and killing (the Marines come to mind).

And as far as Veterans go their are two types:
1. Those who go to war and realize how horrible it is and become strong advocates against it.
2. Those who come back believing that war is the only way to settle conflicts.

Onhell – 22nd February 2004

I have served in the forces and I completely understand the point of view of the soldiers. I am in the category of those who have done time in the army and are now completely anti-war. Like many other war songs, 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' sees the conflict through a soldier's eyes, but the lyrics seem to condone this war (the First Gulf War) and I simply cannot agree with them. I was very disappointed in Harris when I first got the album back in '92 and if it hadn't been for the X Factor, I would probably have given up on Maiden...

Maverick – 23rd February 2004

'Afraid to Shoot Strangers' never clicked with me lyrically. I haven't served in the forces, and hopefully I never will. But my father's been in several war zones: Cyprus, Bosnia, Persian Gulf 1991, and Persian Gulf 2001-02. These lyrics don't tell me what he's told me.


Having said that, I believe (to an extent) in the Fourteen Points upon which the League of Nations were created. When created from the ashes of that failed organization, the United Nations attempted to take those same points and make them into a viable goal.

V. A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined. 

For those who aren't familiar with history, the Fourteen Points were set forth in a speech by American President Woodrow Wilson during the First World War. They were the basis of the League of Nations. Of course, American spurned the League and let ratifying the Treaty of Versailles die out in the Senate.

Although the term colony is now outdated, this tells us that national sovereignty determines the borders of a nation. I supported Gulf War I personally, because as much as it was political, no nation has the right to invade the other. Yes, the USA did go after Saddam because he puked in their oil supply. However, he violated Kuwait's sovereignty, and the world organization reacted.

It is legal to fight war to defend another country.

This, of course, makes Gulf War II illegal and stupid.

From this (admittedly idealistic) point of view, the tone of lyrics in 'Afraid to Shoot Strangers' becomes somewhat more... proper.

LooseCannon – 23rd February 2004

Who says violence never solves anything? It solved WWII. When was the last time you were attacked by a Nazi?

Seriously though, this is one of my favourite Maiden songs, so I obligated to reply.

At the opening of the First World War, a wave of Nationalism swept across the West. Men were glad to march off and fight for king (or kaiser, tsar) and country. War was a glorious way in which to become a "real man".

At the opening of the Second War, however, sentiments had shifted from glorification of war to seeing it as a necessary evil. Hitler had to be stopped, and diplomacy had failed. The Allied powers knew "deep down there’s no other way" to stop the madman.

Likewise in the Gulf War. There was "no trust. no reasoning, no more to say". The soldier in the song is scared shitless, but is going to suck it up and do his duty.

Of particular interest to me is the line "when it comes to the time are we partners in crime?" I interpret this as a British soldier wondering if this is really his fight. Should America’s satellite states (the NATO countries) be fighting wars that are primarily of American interest? On the other hand, should America be cleaning up Britain’s post-Imperial messes? The collapse of the Ottoman Empire at the close of WWI caused a power vacuum in the Middle East, which Britain and France were glad to fill. Under a League of Nations mandate, Britain drew an arbitrary border and created the country of Iraq (notice I don’t say nation). Kurds, Sunni, and Shi’ites were supposed to get along... No wonder a madman like Saddam was able to rise to power.

I’m rambling, so I think I’ll sum up:
'Afraid to Shoot Strangers' tells us what we already know deep down: War sucks, but we must do our duty when necessary.

IronDuke – 23rd February 2004

Like many other war songs, 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' sees the conflict through a soldier's eyes, but the lyrics seem to condone this war (the First Gulf War) and I simply cannot agree with them. I was very disappointed in Harris when I first got the album back in '92 and if it hadn't been for the X Factor, I would probably have given up on Maiden... 


That was exactly my feeling too. Unfortunately, I never did hear X Factor until I bought it a few months ago...

I'm not certain I agree with the consensus view that this song is entirely from the soldier's perspective. The opening lines are, clearly, but after that I don't see it. Take these lines:

Trying to justify to ourselves the reasons to go
Should we live and let live, forget or forgive?

This first person plural stuff doesn't sound to me like what a soldier going into battle would be thinking. He's going, with or without justified reasons. Given what he's facing, there's no sense in which "live and let live, forget or forgive" makes any sense. Instead, I think Steve's voice here has taken over the song; he is the one trying to justify "our" reasons to go – not as soldiers, but as nations.

And actually, now that I look at it again, there's no reason necessarily to see any part of the song as being a soldier's perspective. Even the first verse can be read from the point-of-view of a civilian back home weighing the pros and cons of the war. But even if we assume that the song is at least partly from the soldier's perspective, it wouldn't be the only Maiden song to cut back and forth between a soldier's voice and a narrator's voice (cf. 'Paschendale').

Meanwhile, the title/refrain continues to bother me. Who, according to the song, is afraid to shoot strangers? I have never been a soldier, but I would imagine a soldier is generally more afraid not to shoot strangers, and/or afraid of being shot by strangers. To my mind, not wanting to shoot strangers is a matter of moral repugnance at killing (which I take to be a good thing), not a matter of weakness or fear.

To me, this refrain still sounds like the old-fashioned indictment of war opponents and/or conscientious objectors as being cowardly. Especially coming as it does, not after the soldier's rumination about being scared of the "burial mound," but after the questions about justifying the war which culminate in the certainty that the war is right.

Of particular interest to me is the line "when it comes to the time are we partners in crime?" I interpret this as a British soldier wondering if this is really his fight. Should America’s satellite states (the NATO countries) be fighting wars that are primarily of American interest? On the other hand, should America be cleaning up Britain’s post-Imperial messes? 


This is an intriguing proposition that had never occurred to me. Do you take "partners in crime" then just as a colloquialism for "partners," without placing emphasis on "crime"? After all, if it's an issue of the war being a just response to a madman's aggression when there's no other option, then what would be the crime? My understanding of that line, conversely, has always been that he's asking if we would, by NOT going to war, become partners in the original crime – i.e., the madman's aggression. Which again leads me to my conclusion that the song is as much a denunciation of war protests as it is an argument in favor of the war.

zgodt – 24th February 2004

The following review is my own opinion and my own interpretation. I'm not saying this is the sole truth, I'm saying that this is how I see the song.

I have always regarded this song as one of the best on Fear Of The Dark. For a long time, I never listened to the lyrics and just payed attention to the music. Only after I heard Bruce's commentary on the A Real Live/Dead One album did I read through the lyrics and cared for what the song was about; that was about time, because war is one of the subjects I am most deeply concerned with. Anti-war lyrics are my favourites next to ones about loneliness.

Musically, the song is brilliant. It is partly soft ballad, partly great heavy metal with superb guitar solos. In fact, I would go as far as saying that the guitar work is some of the best Maiden have ever done.
The quiet, slow vocals reveal that Bruce's voice was definitely far from being at their peak; as with many other songs from the album, they sound tired and strained. But in this song, it even adds to the mood of the song, and fits perfectly.

Now, onto the lyrics.
The song is about a soldier in the Gulf War. As a matter of fact, it could be any war, but the historical context and the mentioning of "desert sand mound" in the words imply that it is the Gulf War.
The words are from the thoughts of a soldier. The soldier lies awake and questions his mission. Is what he does correct? He prays to God but he knows that this will not help him. He knows he must go out to kill, and he tries to convince himself. He is a soldier, after all, and he vowed to serve his country, to die and kill for it. He tries to tell himself that he must not question his orders, because he is only there to follow them. He tells himself what has been told to him, that he is fighting for the right, good thing. In truth, he puts on a mask, he hides behind hollow phrases, those phrases his commanders and leaders repeat endlessly. He tries to comfort himself, he tries to believe these phrases so he can sleep well.
But he cannot convince himself. He lies to himself. The doubts follow him wherever he goes: He is afraid to shoot strangers – he does not want to shoot them. Why should he? He doesn't even know them, so why kill them? He tells himself that "deep down there's no other way", but in fact, deep down he's afraid. And he cannot convince himself to believe the lies.

The song is not only about war, but also about militarism and jingoism, and what they do to people. How false causes and propaganda can tear a man apart. How the people get sucked into a machinery that despises mankind but only reveals its true nature when you're trapped in it with no way out.
And about how sometimes, its brainwashing fails.

About the video, if you turned off the sound and just watched the footage, you could think you're watching CNN, Fox News, N24 or any other propaganda channel. But with the melancholic tunes, especially with Blaze's deep, sad voice, there is no way this video could ever glorify war.

In conclusion, 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' is one of the best and most poignant anti-war songs ever made.

Perun – 3rd March 2004


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2.5-star   Fear Is The Key (Dickinson, Gers) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Fear Is The Key’

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'Fear Is The Key' is sort of a strange song, with a different musical style. It's about the AIDS epidemic that started to become awfully noticeable in the early- to mid-eighties and that was blissfully ignored by millions until the death of celebrities started to occur, making it obvious that no-one was safe when it came to the HIV virus.

The kids have lost their freedom
And nobody cares till somebody famous dies...

While the band were writing songs for the album, they heard about the death of Queen's singer, Freddy Mercury (1946–1991), due to the HIV virus, and decided to add the AIDS theme to their list of serious topics already contained in the album. The song highlights the fact that, after the so-called "sex revolution" of the 70s, the late 80s and early 90s were the start of a new conception of sex; it wasn't about freedom anymore, but about fear – the fear to contract HIV though sexual contact. Something that was supposed to bring pleasure and – as Nature had intended – life had become a synonym for fear and death...

As mentioned above, the song itself has quite a different style from most other Maiden songs. It's hard to define exactly what it is, but it might be a touch of blues influence. It is not a terrible song, but it lacks that undefinable little something that makes a song special.


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4.0-star   Childhood's End (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Childhood's End’

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Childhood's end?

Although it has the same title as an Arthur C. Clarke novel (1953) or a Marillion song on their 1985 album Misplaced Childhood, the song is actually unrelated to either of them. Whereas Clarke's story is about an alien species that comes to Earth to prevent Man from travelling to the stars by enslaving him in a society of entertainment and shallow pleasures, and Fish's text deals with the end of a comfortable childhood and the beginning of a responsible adult life, Iron Maiden's song is about all the terrible suffering, pain, injustice, and fear in the world. The lyrics summon those terrible images of children dying of starvation in countries where the leaders do not care for their people, and stress the fact that humans cannot remain children for long on this this planet due either to "natural" catastrophes engineered by man or simply to pointless wars that lead whole countries to ruin.

Pretty much everything about this song is excellent – it is among the best songs on the album and has all the makings of a classic. Strangely however, Maiden haven't played it live in concert.


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4.0-star   Wasting Love (Dickinson, Gers) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Wasting Love’

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Wasting Love single Iron Maiden has never been a "love song" type of band. About the closest they've come has been the 'Charlotte The Harlot' saga of songs, which were anyway pretty far from traditional love songs. 'Wasting Love' is not exactly a love song either, but instead talks about the emptiness and futility of the life of those who collect shallow sexual encounters without ever trying to get into a stable reciprocal relationship.

The lyrics are actually quite reminiscent of 'Wasted Years'. This is an inspired and incredibly beautiful song, and has become a classic concert number for a few years.


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3.5-star   The Fugitive (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘The Fugitive’

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The Fugitive – The series 'The Fugitive' is based on the original television series (1963–1967) [see also the IMDb], which was made into a 1993 film with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, then remade again into a very disappointing bland new 2000 series that real fans of the original Fugitive should avoid. Both the series and the film are a tense action-thriller in which Dr. Kimble, an eminent surgeon wrongly accused of brutally murdering his wife, is relentlessly pursued by US Marshal Samuel Gerard. Following his escape from police custody, Dr. Kimble must find the real murderer, a one-armed man he saw at the scene of the crime, before he is found and executed for a crime he did not commit.

It's a good song whose mood matches the subject quite well. There is a double set of guitar solos in the instrumental section, and if you listen carefully you can also hear a bit of synth in the background.


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2.5-star   Chains Of Misery (Dickinson, Murray) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Chains Of Misery’

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This is a song, which – according to Bruce Dickinson himself – speaks about the little devil who sits permanently on our shoulder. He dishes out the worst advice possible and, should you listen to him, he can make you ruin your life. We sometimes do the wrong things, and we know that it's wrong but we can't help it... well this is all down to that little ill-advisor Bruce mentions in the song – this mischievous creature that holds our chains of misery.

This is an ok song, though for some reason its style and sound is reminiscent of Dokken. The guitar solos are excellent and are the highlight of the song, although they are a bit short.


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2.5-star   The Apparition (Harris, Gers) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘The Apparition’

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'The Apparition' is about some kind of ghost or spirit which is imparting some advice about life before it continues on its way. Steve Harris exposes there his views on the world, his feelings, fears and worries. The song is full of good advice, although musically it is a bit of a failure, lacking mood, emotion, and even a decent tune.

When the room goes cold, tell me...

Many people report physical changes in haunted places, especially a feeling of a presence accompanied by temperature drop and hearing unaccountable sounds. They are not imagining things. Most hauntings occur in old buildings, which tend to be drafty. Scientists who have investigated haunted places account for both the temperature changes and the sounds by finding sources of the drafts, such as empty spaces behind walls or currents set in motion by low frequency sound waves produced by such mundane objects as an extraction fan.

Source: The Skeptic's Dictionary.

Gor – 1st June 2004


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4.5-star   Judas Be My Guide (Dickinson, Murray) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Judas Be My Guide’

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'Judas Be My Guide' is a short but incredibly catchy song with an excellent chorus and good guitar solos. This is one of Maiden's shortest song with lyrics, next to 'Futureal'. There was a line in the song 'Son Of A Gun', on Bruce Dickinson's first solo album Tattooed Millionaire, that went:

Just an ordinary man – with his orders and his plans
In the shadows of a cross
Ooh in a blood red sunrise
Take me to Jesus – with Judas my guide

The song 'Judas Be My Guide' was then developed from there, as these lyrics had a good potential to make another song. The lyrics are about everybody's bad side, which Bruce chose to call "Judas". It's basically about the fact that anyone is able to sell anything at any price...

I think this is not only one of the most underrated songs ever, but it has one of the less explored lyrics in the Maiden catalogue...

Why is it called 'Judas My Guide'? What does Judas have to do with the lyrics? My theory is that it is the lyrical sibling of 'The Unbeliever', stating that modern day way of life has smashed someone's trust in society/the system/relationships/humanity, so he chooses to disbelieve them, chooses to cherish nothing as sacred, just as Judas did not cherish Christ as Holy and betrayed him. Thus the lyrics "I live in the black, I've no guiding light" "nothing is sacred, back then or now".

I also think the line "whispers in the night" refers to the moment where Judas betrays:

Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,
And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.
And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
Mathew 26:14–16

Note that our modern Judas is also whispering in the night, he's "whispering in your dreams", betraying the things you cherish as sacred, just as Judas betrayed Jesus...

So, our modern Judas, driven by his disbelief, mocks those who suffer because of their trust in ideals and their following of the system:

Fight wars, die in a blaze of glory!
Come home, meat in a plastic sack!
Fall down, pray to your god for mercy!
So kneel and help the blade come clean!

Gor – 9th June 2004

According to the Christian analysis of Judas, your theory is very interesting. Surely, Maiden used his name to emphasis the betrayal of our own ideals.

But, if you follow the theory of Nikos Kazantzakis, Judas was a revolutionnary, the only one who had enough faith to go to his death, whereas the other apostles would leave at the first wind of change.

That is why Jesus gave him the role he has in history: betraying him on purpose, to make the voice of Jesus finally heard.

Remember that Kazantzakis, when proclaiming his view, was in search for God, saying that a world without God is not tolerable, but that a world without Justice is not worth either: hence, he went after the sins of the Church (the temporal one).

With this view, we can view the lyrics in a different light:

A world filled with people who don't listen to the voice of God is lost and another revolution led by Judas is the only way to establish his Kingdom again. Hence, Judas Be My Guide.

The Saint – 14th June 2004


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3.5-star   Weekend Warrior (Harris, Gers) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Weekend Warrior’

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This song is about the football hooligans that go to the games for the sole purpose of causing trouble. They are not real football fans and have only a limited interest in the match itself, let alone the team they are supposed to support. They only live for the weekend, when they can get into fights with supporters of the other team. Then, they quietly go back to their little jobs the following Monday, as if nothing had happened, only looking forward to the next weekend when they'll be once again able to let loose all the violence and aggression that are in them. This is when you realise that they are nothing after all.

The highlight of the song is the guitar solos, which are excellent. However, the rest of the song is fairly mundane at best.


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4.5-star   Fear Of The Dark (Harris) Commentary Lyrics Discuss this song in the forum

‘Fear Of The Dark’

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Melvyn Grant – Fear of the Dark

Fear of the Dark
Original illustration by Melvyn Grant
Oil on board © Iron Maiden
Reproduced with kind permission

'Fear Of The Dark' is an instant Maiden classic, and certainly a live concert favourite. It begins and ends softly and ominously, with a tune that is vaguely similar to 'No Prayer For The Dying'. The main parts of the song are fast and exciting – and quite frantic – highlighting the notion of fear that becomes panic, with perhaps the most recognisable Maiden tune and chorus since 'The Trooper'. The live versions of the song feature an interesting crowd interaction during the instrumental section and it has become part of the setlist ever since the release of the album. Everything about this song is incredible, and it is probably the best song of the album.

According to Bruce Dickinson, Steve – who wrote the lyrics – is himself actually afraid of the dark. Whether this is true or not is not important, as he seems to have transposed in a very clever way the childhood fear of being left alone at night in the dark – a very common fear in children that most of us have probably experienced at a younger age – and turned this irrational phobia into an adult metaphor. It is basically about the fear of losing control and drifting into the madness that threatens virtually everyone at one point or another in life.

As Mick Wall recalls in his commentary contained in the 1998 re-edition of the album: "It's about being scared but not really knowing what of," Steve explained at the time. "They say that everybody has a secret fear of something, they just don't always know what it is – until it's too late," he added enigmatically.



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