Once again, the first sounds of the album are those of the unflappable Nicko, this time screaming one of his famous "AYEEE!!!" Musically reminiscent of 'The Wicker Man', 'Different World' is in fact lyrically closer to 'Wildest Dreams'. This is once again a punchy opener with a great riff and a text about life and the necessity to live it to the full to make it worthwhile.
This time, however, the hopeful message present in previous songs like 'Wildest Dreams' does not seem to be so strongly present the lyrics of 'Different World', but instead gives way to a more realistic uncertainty. The protagonist of the song doesn't know what he wants, although he still intends to apply the "seize-the-day principle" and to "take hold of whatever comes [his] way". The grass supposedly always looks greener on the other side (wherever that may be), but he is nonetheless aware that he may not like what he finds there, which makes him therefore quite unwilling to take the risk.
We all see the world differently, hence the title of the song, and the 6 billion humans on the planet have some 6 billion different views on life, some being very close to each other, others being vastly apart. Only the acceptance of these different views and the tolerance that goes with it will make the world a better place. Wars are too often waged because some people want to impose their own views and exterminate the ones that are too far remote from theirs.
All in all, this song is a message advocating the enjoyment of the "little things" in life, as well as its careful planning, keeping in mind that situations can change unexpectedly and that we should be able to adapt to those changes. Is life really worth living if you're not willing to take a risk from time-to-time and to thrive for something better?
What can be brighter than a thousand suns but another, bigger star or a nuclear explosion. This song deals with the birth of the Atomic Age, the creation of the scientists of the Manhattan Project between 1942 and 1945, that eventually led to the Cold War and the delicate balance of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD a very appropriate acronym!). Lyrically close to '2 Minutes To Midnight ', it seems also somehow related to 'Tailgunner', but in a much more serious vein. No irony here, this is no joke. Mankind has now in its possession the means to destroy itself for good after a suicidal arms race that started in July 1945 with the detonation of the very first nuclear device in history and that still somehow carries on, even long after the end of the Cold War.
The development of nuclear weapons contributed to what was known as the "balance of terror" during the Cold War, ensuring that both main blocks could deter the other from attacking by knowing that the counter-attack would be at least as destructive as the initial strike. Many other countries, however, have tried to gain some kind of independance from the major forces in presence, which led to their own development programmes. The second half of the XXth Century saw therefore, after the first US atomic test in 1945 and that of the USSR in 1949, the entry of various other countries into this insane nuclear race: the UK in 1952, France in 1960, China in 1964, and India in 1974 incidentally with a bomb code-named "smiling buddha", a desecration of the name of Buddha who is normally the most peaceful deity you can find in human religions and who would find there certainly nothing to smile about! Even almost a decade after the official end of the Cold War, a country like Pakistan did its first nuclear test in 1998. Who's next, one may wonder...
What 'Brighter Than A Thousand Suns' deplores is the birth of this nuclear age that led to the fear of global nuclear warfare until 1989, then to the worrying knowledge that this kind of power could fall into the hands of fanatics ready to blow up any target in the Western World for some preposterous usually religious reason. Whereas nuclear energy remains an efficient, cheap and reliable source of power when controlled properly (forget the dubious reactors like Chernobyl , this is not what this is about), the military use of this wonderful discovery was not acceptable in 1945, nor is it today, for whatever reason.
Back to Iron Maiden's brilliant lyrics, one could disagree with the first line of the song as, according to the legend, humans are supposed to have been made in the image of God. The Ancient Testament, in the Bible along with the Torah and the Qur'an relate the story of Sodom and Gomorrah , two cities destroyed by God himself. Aren't Hiroshima and Nagasaki a modern version of this ancient myth? In this case, we are indeed the sons of God a chip off the old block, some would say as we are capable or the same mindless and inescapable destruction as Him. We have indeed "crossed the path He trod".
The "strange love" mentioned in the lyrics is, of course, a reference to Stanley Kubrick's 1964 black comedy about the nuclear threat, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Likewise, the "trinity reformed" is an allusion to the code name of the site where the first atomic bomb was detonated, on 16th July 1945 in a desert of New Mexico, USA. This name, coined by no one else than Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, then scientific director of the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to develop the first nuclear weapons, at the secret Los Alamos laboratory, and known nowadays as "the father of the atomic bomb". The name "Trinity" seems to have originated from one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets that Oppenheimer's former lover, Jean Tatlock, who had committed suicide a year earlier, had introduced him to. In any case, this symbol of death constitutes a pretty ironic link to the Holy Trinity of the Christian Church!
Oppenheimer , the famous "Robert" who "made war with the sun" in the lyrics, was a physicist heading the Manhattan Project and in charge of developing a nuclear weapon before the enemy would get a chance to do it. A lot of research on nuclear fission had been going on in industrialised countries in the 1930s, hoping to use it as a powerful source of commercial energy. Unfortunately, due to the political instability in the relationship between some countries, it was naturally envisaged that this source of energy could also be used as a weapon. Some Jewish physicists who had emigrated to the United States aired their worries that Nazi Germany may have set up a programme to make a powerful weapon of mass-destruction (although this particular term was not used at the time) out of this research. They drafted in Albert Einstein ("e=mc2 you can relate"), also a Jewish refugee and world-renowned scientist, to give more weight to the argument. They wrote a letter, known as the Einstein-Szilard letter, that convinced President Roosevelt to create a research committee as soon as 1939 to investigate the possibilities to produce a nuclear weapon based on uranium fission. Progress was slow, as the whole concept wasn't taken very seriously by those in charge, but independent research from the UK soon speeded things up, as it was demonstrated that only a small quantity of uranium would be sufficient to detonate a bomb whose power had never been seen before. Eventually, an "all-out effort" was authorised by Roosevelt to develop such a bomb as soon as possible. From 1942 to 1945, scientists raced to be the first ones to detonate a nuclear device, which they did on three occasions in 1945: on 16th July a test bomb exploded at the Trinity test site in New Mexico, on 6th August a uranium bomb (romantically code-named "little boy") was dropped over Hiroshima, and on 9th August a plutonium bomb (code name "fat man") razed Nagasaki to the ground. The nuclear age, with its threat of total destruction of mankind, had started.
The irony of it all is that the German physicists of the time didn't do any serious research in this field and were in fact convinced that the reports they heard about their colleagues' work in the United States were mere propaganda. The "nuclear arms race" didn't actually exist during World War II and was run only by one side. Despite the fact that a petition was circulated among scientists of the project, pleading not to use the bomb against civilian populations, as it would be both immoral and unnecessary, Oppenheimer opposed it and the infamous destruction we all know of ensued. Although he later confessed feeling horrified and guilty, he never seems to have expressed any real regrets to have headed this programme of destruction. He merely stated that:
In some sort of crude sense which no vulgarity, no humour, no overstatement can quite extinguish, the physicists have known sin; and this is a knowledge which they cannot lose.
This rather scary statement is echoed in the very last line of the song
This is once again a war song seen through the eyes of a soldier, like many other Iron Maiden songs before from 'The Trooper' to 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers', to name but those two. However, if war is present, it is only in the minds of those who are about to go, and the scenes of war are more hinted at than actually described. The intro, like the ending, is soft and reminiscent of the calm before the storm war that explodes in the middle section of the song to quieten down again after the ordeal is over. This is yet another of many example of how Iron Maiden's music can evoke the visualisation of a story and summon up images in our minds.
Unlike in other Maiden war songs, the lyrics offer us here a glimpse of how those who are "left behind" feel, with the silent dismay to see a loved one go and risk his life far away from home. Those who enlist in the forces know that they will have to face real action at some point, and those who are close to them are also perfectly aware of that. Still, the emotion remains the same when the time comes.
The last sentence of the first verse, "and so you go to war" sums up in only a few words how horribly simple this all is. A very simple statement indeed, but loaded with incredible feeling.
The second verse describes the horrible reality of an armed conflict, where the combatants are more or less left to their own device. They probably also feel let down by the country they are supposed to serve "There is no one that will save you" yet they keep going on and face death without a second thought. The lines "On the shores of tyranny you crashed, a human wave" constitute an interesting link to 'The Longest Day', the song about the 1944 Normandy landings of the Allies and that features on the same album.
The pre-chorus seems to echo the usual propaganda that goes on in every country to get young people to enlist, depicting a somehow fairly unrealistic and quite romantic view of the reasons to join "for the passion, for the glory" whereas the majority of those who end up in the military in fact consider essentially the assurance of having a secure job and a regular income as main incentives to become soldiers.
The flamboyant chorus, however, evokes this notion of loyalty loyalty to the flag, emblem of the country the soldiers are fighting for, and mostly loyalty towards the "comrades in arms", those who suffer the same ordeal as you when you face a war situation. This is this uncompromising attitude that is exacerbated in the song, and in its powerful title. As Bruce Dickinson rightly said, "certain areas of morality are not negotiable", and this is true regardless of the country the soldiers are supposed fight for.
"These colours don't run" is incidentally what Bruce said to the audience while holding proudly the Union Jack during the infamous "eggfest incident" at the San Bernardino gig of 2005, where the Iron Maiden set was rudely disrupted by eggs being thrown at the musicians and various other unpleasant things happening due to the "Ozzy camp". Maybe this sentence struck the rest of the band and they decided to write a song around it. You never know...
Originally based on the story of the Mayflower at least according to Steve Harris himself this song with both Celtic and Oriental sonorities is essentially about any journey undertaken to find a better place, a better world. The "coming to America " is illustrated in the sentence "pilgrim sunrise, pagan sunset", which evokes quite obviously both a westward journey and the arrival of a religious community in a "pagan land", as well as the waning of the beliefs of the inhabitants of this land.
Although they were a bunch of religious zealots that England didn't tolerate anymore, the pilgrims of the Mayflower constituted a real "kingdom of heaven to hell", as the hardships of their new life on the American continent almost killed them all (their first winter, 162021, saw the death of about half of the colonists). Regardless of their beliefs, the real miracle there was not "changing the water into wine", but their sheer survival in the extreme conditions they encountered.
It has also been mentioned that this song could also somehow related to the crusades, due to the oriental sound of the music and the line "holy battles take their toll". However, there aren't any other elements in the song that could indicate that the pilgrim in question is a warrior. The notion of landing onto a new world seems to make more sense when you consider the song as a whole, although it could rightly be argued that the crusades were also about arriving into another world. The song needs therefore to be interpreted in a more general way than just a particular era or historical event.
In the same vein as 'Paschendale', this fantastic war epic deals with Operation Neptune, the landings in Normandy representing the first step of a campaign code-named Operation Overlord (mentioned in the song) to gain a foothold on continental Europe on 6th June 1944. The music, along with Bruce's fantastic vocals, depicts vividly the approach of the landing crafts towards the beaches and the hellish confrontation of the invasion itself. Bruce's singing style brings up the crescendo perfectly until the explosive verses that make us visualise the fights on the beaches. Other parts of the song, and mostly the chorus, also evoke the slow progress of the troops and the listener can almost see those men dragging their feet in the sand in a painful and mortal advance towards the enemy defences.
Unlike 'Paschendale', however, 'The Longest Day' has some victorious and hopeful melodies intertwined with the harsh riffing reminiscent of the advance of the troops. Indeed, the landings in Normandy were, despite the horrendous human losses, a first step towards the victory over an evil regime that needed to be erased for good, unlike the battle of Passchendaele, which was a useless bloodbath that benefited no one. Apart from this major difference in the mood of the melodies and the aim of the battles, both songs are similarly grandiose and typical Iron Maiden epics.
The weather was a decisive factor for the landings and, whereas May had seen fair weather, the beginning of June didn't have the optimal conditions, forcing the Allied troops to wait until "the gathering storm abates". A full moon was also necessary, both for light and spring tide that would facilitate the landings. Among many others, the German command made the mistake to believe that an attack was not possible due to the fairly rough weather at that time. The troops had trained for the landing, not "all summer's long" as the song says, but during many spring weeks, and postponing the landings another month would have also vastly affected the morale of the soldiers who were as ready as they could be for a large-scale assault of the coasts of German-occupied France.
After the initial approach of the landing crafts with their cargo of "wretched souls puking, shaking fear", five landing points saw the formation of beachheads by the Allies. The Canadians arrived at Juno Beach and suffered a very high casualty rate during the first wave. The British landed at Sword and Gold, the latter being also the scene of heavy losses, and the Americans at Utah and Omaha , this last one seeing the highest number of soldiers killed of all landing grounds. A number of Free French and Polish units also entered the battle after the initial phase, as well as contingents from Belgium , Czechoslovakia , Greece , the Netherlands , and Norway . Although the songs doesn't mention them, the airborne units also contributed significantly to the success of Operation Neptune.
As it is mentioned that "the cliffs erupt in flames", the song may describe the action at Gold Beach , but the scenario was roughly the same at every landing point, and "remorseless shrapnel" was raining wherever Allied troops were trying to gain a foothold on land. The lyrics, vocal harmonies, as well as the music itself, are very reminiscent of the terrible and some would say unnecessarily long scene at the beginning of the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan, and evoke vivid images of the slaughter that took place. In the three months that followed the D-Day, almost 72,000 Allied and about 200,000 German lives had been lost. The campaign was a success, albeit a costly one, that constituted one of the major steps towards the fall of a despicable regime.
Incredibly melodic, 'Out Of The Shadows' is one of the very few "power ballads" ever written by Iron Maiden, the others being 'Prodigal Son', 'No Prayer For The Dying', 'Wasting Love', and 'Journeyman'. However, it is much better than the previous ones, with the notable exception of 'Prodigal Son'. This little musical gem has lyrics that deal with life, and essentially with its beginning: birth. Being born is indeed being brought out of the shadows and the newborn is in Dickinson 's words "king for a day". The beauty of birth is however overshadowed by death, like all life, and one can't help but think about the sentence "as soon as you're born you're dying" in 'The Clairvoyant'.
The interesting albeit quite futile question of the meaning of life is once again raised, like in many other Iron Maiden songs "what purpose to it all?" and here again, no answer is given, provided there is one! Likewise, reincarnation is hinted at in the last sentence of the chorus also a recurrent theme in their songs and another tie with 'The Clairvoyant'.
Nevertheless, this is a song of hope, like the hope that arises with every newborn child. Every new human life represents beauty as well as pain (ask any mother how it feels!) the pain of birth and, naturally, the pain simply caused by living. This is inescapable, but we must indeed endure it during the short time we are "into the sun" to make life worth living before we return to oblivion, to those shadows we originally came out of.
Based on a completely fictitious character that quite interestingly became a powerful marketing tool for the band, this song may be the weakest on the album. Its release as a single before the album itself has caused some disappointment among a few fans, but it must be said that, as part of the album, it blends perfectly well with the rest of the songs. It has a similar feel to the others and conveys the same sense of gloom and suffering as most of the songs on A Matter Of Life And Death both musically and lyrically. Anyway, being a weak song on such a brilliant album doesn't mean much. This is still an excellent piece.
For weeks after the announcement of the titles of the songs on the official site, everyone has been raking their brain to find out who Benjamin Breeg really was. A website about him even appeared out of the blue supposedly set up by his cousin, a certain "A. Breeg" telling a nice fictional story about this man of mystery (see above). This technique is known as "viral marketing" and consists in exploiting the interrelationships that exist within a community to spread a message through word-of-mouth in pretty much the same way as a viral infection travels from host to host. It is a cheap and very efficient technique that has been used successfully by many companies, but this seems to be the first time that it is employed by a Rock band (once again, Maiden are pioneers). In the present case, the most efficient tool was used: the Internet. Iron Maiden and their marketing people are aware that this medium of communication is extremely powerful (remember that Maiden was one of the first Rock bands to have a website) and made the most of it to make themselves known all over the Web. This gimmick wasn't necessary to promote the name and works of the band, as they have achieved more than their share of fame, but it nonetheless kept the Maiden world-wide community entertained, with the most ludicrous hypotheses about the real identity of Benjamin Breeg emerging here and there from fans with too much time on their hands.
The story is however quite interesting and many parallels can be made between the "life" of Benjamin Breeg, as described on the fake amateur website, and events related to the career of the band and its members (essentially Steve Harris). The following is a little compilation whose source is essentially the www.benjaminbreeg.com fansite and forum:
Seneca [ca. 4 BC65 AD], Roman philosopher
Religion is an insult to human dignity. With or without it, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.
About religious fundamentalism and fanaticism, this rather long song is a typical Harris epic, with a fantastic instrumental part leading to blinding solos. The lyrics themselves are a sharp criticism of the worryingly spreading extreme religious views from various confessions. When a "man of peace", which is what a priest or a "good" believer of any faith is supposed to be at least if you are to believe the scriptures of most religions becomes a "man of holy war", the blind followers can become a destructive and uncontrollable force. Steve Harris is trying to rationalise all this throughout the song, but it is well known that "reason is the worst enemy of faith", as the saying goes.
Those dubious preachers with their "too many sides", encourage the distrust and all too often the outright hatred of whoever, as a people or individuals, does not follow the same faith or even have no faith at all! As Voltaire  so rightly put it, "those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities". What is hard to understand is that the hateful actions sometimes undertaken in the name of religion are supposed to be done "for the greater good of God", as the powerful chorus of the song sarcastically reminds us. The pre-chorus itself asks essential questions that tend to be too often ignored, as religions are supposed to deal with life and spread a word of love. If this is the case, let's not forget what war is bringing death and hatred and let's remember once again what life is. There too Voltaire can appropriately be quoted when he wrote that you should "think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too" in other words, live and let live.
The three abrahamic religions of the planet Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all have their share of intolerance against one another, and history shows that it has been the cause of countless massacres and of the shedding of far too much innocent blood, even among different branches of the same basic faith. It would be pointless, and would take too long, to list all the atrocities and genocides sometimes attempted, other times successful like in the case of the Cathars who were eradicated by the Catholic Church (for more details, see another great Maiden song: 'Montsegur') committed for the glory of some god or another. Likewise, with the notable exception of Buddhism, non-abrahamic religions have also been encouraging the slaughter of many a people who didn't share the same religious ideals. Whatever god people may worship, human psychology explains otherwise seemingly illogical behaviours ("Their actions beyond a reasoning"), and the sheep-like aspect of most religious communities can appropriately be summarised by the following quote:
Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.
Bertrand Russell , British philosopher, logician and mathematician
This "herd instinct" is often used by so-called religious leaders who instill fear into the minds of the people, making them easier to manipulate. The current US governments is using the same method, although on a more secular level, on its citizens with the "fear of terrorism", but priests have been using it for millenia. After all, even the Bible states that "the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalms 111:10). This rather dubious affirmation is also repeated in the Torah and, although in different terms, in the Qur'an. Many dictators have used this fear quite efficiently by using religion to support the totalitarian rule of the state, as well as the fear of God as a weapon against those who otherwise would question their regimes. Likewise, some religious leaders have obtained great followings throughout history, and even today, by talking about sin, hell, damnation, and fear, and how any kind of disobedience to the god they pretend to serve can be "redeemed" by their intervention. As long as people will believe that they can be subjected to some kind of divine punishment or reward as well, like reaching Valhalla in the case of the Viking warriors of old, or receiving a number of virgins directly from Allah in the after-life in the case of the islamic murderers of innocent people those self-righteous Jewish, Christian and Muslim priests will continue to blurt out sermons about this god who loves one minute, and murders the next.
This herd-like collective fear can only be thwarted by individuality, as the basic beliefs of those groups are not necessarily wrong. It is simply that institutionalised practices and selfish interests tend to corrupt any kind of clear thinking, making it more difficult for organised religions to adapt quickly, whereas the individual believers most often can provided that they use their intellect as well as their faith. Naturally, as the most intelligent people are frequently those who tend to have a more critical view, all religions have been challenged, both internally and from the outside, by those who have an appropriate intellect and who make the effort to use it. As a general rule, education and intelligence oppose blind faith and unfounded beliefs, and intelligent philosophers throughout history have been trying to air whatever questions, doubts and concerns they may have had over the beliefs of popular religion. All too often, attempts to silence these people, by either murder or imprisonment, have been made by the accused authorities, although this seem to be a much less common practice nowadays at least in the Western world, and let's hope that this freedom of speech will also reach other parts of the planet, and not the opposite.
Obviously, intelligence allows an individual to doubt dogmas presented as facts, as well as unfounded assumptions, as it is well-known that assumptions and faith are among the main postulates of so-called "intellectual" religious beliefs ("The blind leading the blind"). However, it must be stressed that emotional belief is quite different, as intelligent people can also be religious due to social or emotional factors. An intelligent person can have beliefs in a god, but still remain critical and open-minded when it comes to institutionalised religion his or her own and that of others.
The apparent wave of fundamentalism that is currently washing over all religions, abrahamic or not, is however nothing new, and history shows that "dark" ages come and go, with periods of enlightenment. This song reflects on the emergence of one of those eras where the "greater good of God" seems more important than that of the people. The very last verse reminds us of one of the main creeds of the Christian Church although Jews and Muslims are equally concerned that a man called Jesus, whose historical existence is sometimes disputed but whose impact on our civilisation was tremendous whoever he was, supposedly died for "for all of those who never mourn his loss". As the song goes, "it wasn't meant for us to feel the pain again", but this was without counting on human nature, full of vindictive violence and unable to live in peace. The herd-like notion embodied by the phrase "the Lord is my shepherd" shows then its full significance and causes man to become a wolf for man, except that, here, the sheep are the dangerous ones!
Lucifer. The Light-bringer. The Lord of Light. This song deals with this former archangel who, according to the legend, rebelled against God and was subsequently cast down to Earth. Being a fallen angel, he obviously doesn't see this "strange world" quite the same as the rest of us and wonders why humans are so blind "Nothing hidden still you fail to see the truth" and keep perpetrating massacres upon each other "Why the slaughter of the brotherhood of man".
Still according to the legend, Lucifer is supposed to be at the origin of all evil in our world, but the song makes us see our own lives through his eyes, highlighting the fact that us, as humans, are the ones responsible for this evil. There is even an appeal to us to change "Revenge is living in the past, time to look into a new millenium" although, from what he witnessed of his stay on Earth, "we are not worthy in [his] black and blazing eyes".
The sentence "all our sins to you we give this day" makes an interesting tie with another song that also deals with a demon residing amongst humans, namely 'The Fallen Angel'. Lucifer and the other demons are usually blamed for our low deeds. But it's all too easy to find scapegoats and put all our sins on them, so we can just go on and commit new ones. The chorus admonishes us to "free [our] soul and let it fly" (note that similar lines can also be found in 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' and 'The Thin Line Between Love And Hate') and to "give [our] life to the Lord of Light", as he seems to be the only one who can guide us "in this lonely promised land" after we were "cast out by our bloody father's hand" (i.e., God).
The last line "In our nightmare world, the only one we trust" sums up very well the state of the world since humans appeared on the planet, making each other's lives a misery and only trusting the symbol of evil that this Lord of Light traditionally represents. However, the meaning could be reversed and we could interpret the message of this song as a sign that we should trust science and knowledge, as this is what Lucifer stands for, bringing light to the civilisation and making it progress forward. So, let's not hesitate to metaphorically give our lives to this Lord of Light and try to make this world a better place by pushing back the remaining shadows that still plague too many people's minds.
It should be stressed that no one actually needs a god or a devil to satisfy his or or her thirst for knowledge. This commentary does not by any means encourage Satan worshipping, notwithstanding the fact that he is only a symbol and is quite unlikely to exist. We can all follow our own desire to learn and those who have had the same desire before us.
Glory and praise be with you, Satan, in the heights
Of the Sky, where you reigned, and in the lightless nights
Of Hell, where now, overcome, you dream in silence!
May my heart, one day, under the Tree of Science,
Rest close to you, at the hour when around your head
A new Temple will rise and its branches will spread!
Charles Baudelaire  Translation copyright 1999 by William A. Sigler
There is a mention of a "strange yellow gas" that "played with their minds", reminiscent of the story of the 1990 film Jacob's Ladder, where US troops in Vietnam are subjected to a drug that alters their perception of reality and renders them extremely aggressive. Although the "gas" of the lyrics seems to elicit a different response than the drug in the film, the mind-altering effect, as well as its potential lethality, are clearly obvious.
Then, the story shifts to some character laying on his death bed after a life of political intrigues, deceit and seemingly various evil deeds as a leader, including that of sending out those men on some secret mission. Behind the mask of peace achievement ("You had us all strung out with promises of peace"), this character has done nothing but render the world even more unsafe than it was before, putting the lives of innocent people at risk with "prophecies [that] will send us all to hell as well". One cannot help but compare with the current situation worldwide, with governments waging wars, secretly or not, that endanger the lives of all of us due to the threat of terrorism that these conflicts generate after all, most bomb attacks in Western countries stem from the politics in the Middle-East of some so-called leading industrialised nations, and cause innocent civilians to pay that price with their lives.
The second and last part of the song, after the solo, enlarges the picture to something more general (notice the progression from the specific secret mission of the "men all dressed in black", to the leader who ordered the mission lying on his death bed, then to a broader worldwide situation). Although there is hope while there is life, some still consider that "life is cheap" and blatantly disregard the basic respect for other human beings, may they be their own troops sent to the slaughter, or simple citizens who die as a result of their dubious political man?uvres.