The First track that gives the name of the album starts epically with the sound of heavy “Taiko” drums. In feudal Japan, taiko were often used to motivate troops, call out orders or announcements, and set a marching pace.
Beat the warning, the sound of the drums
Set the beacons afire for them all
Call to arms all the men, far and wide
Have to fight now for dynasty, pride at stake
The invaders repel from the north
Keep out nomads who came from the plains
Northern grasslands awash with them all
Blocking the tribes that invade from the south of us
Rallying round to the call
We can hear, far away are the sound of distant drums
And they need everyone at the wall
So the day of our judgement has now begun to fall
Apparently Japan is preparing for war! A lot of sources in the web associate this track with the invasion of Japan by the Mongols. “The wall” referred in the lyrics is not the Great Wall Of China (it is Located in China!!) but the Genkō Bōrui wall build as defense after the first Mongol invasion on Japan in 1274. This was really one of the most important strategy move (Senjutsu) made by Japanese Samurai forces against Kublai Khan’s Mongol army. Kublai Khan is the grandson of legendary Genghis Khan.
The Genkō Bōrui wall was 20 kilometres long, constructed along Hakata Bay. The second attack of 1281 was thwarted by a typhoon, or kamikaze, and the Mongols were forced to withdraw. Senjutsu is a great and epic opening track and again Maiden are great history teachers
Yes! It is not based on the famous board game with the same name! On the other side, the animated video for the song gives us references to the Japanese chess called Shogi.
Shogi is a two-player strategy board game (ok it is a board game again) that is the Japanese variant of chess. It is the most popular chess variant in Japan. Shōgi means general's board game which can explain the name and the lyrics.
The lyrics though to the mind of a warrior and the mental state and psychology behind War and the people involved. It is something like a continuation of the title track and dives us deeper in to the mind and burden on the soul of someone who’s led a life planning and strategizing war.
Shogi however was the earliest chess variant to allow captured pieces to be returned to the board by the capturing player switching their side. This drop rule is speculated to have been invented in the 15th century and possibly connected to the practice of 15th century mercenaries switching loyalties when captured instead of being killed.
Tendo City in Japan is known for being the main manufacturer of Shogi board games and Human scale game or Ningen Shogi is held there as an annual event.
It's not the first time that Iron Maiden make references to the bible with their song, Writing On The Wall is no exception. This is also the first single we have heard from the long-awaited 17th album. The announcement of the premiere of the single and, accordingly, the album, took place in a way that is unique to Maiden. All the hype starts already in the summer of 2021 with the release of the special fan club magazine. On the observant, they begin to discover quite curious typographical errors and accents, such as:
- Issue 117 with a strong emphasis on 17 – referring to the 17th studio album.
- A strange photo of Eddie with the words "WOTW" written behind it - something that has long been associated with the abbreviation of a new song or album of the band. Back in the Nights Of The Dead – Live In Mexico City edition, an artwork poster with WOTW was included.
- A mysterious Twitter account appeared with the name Daniel (bels_feast) which can immediately be linked to Belshazzars Feast (Belshazzar's Feast) and the story of the writing on the wall from the book of the prophet Daniel.
The ruler of Babylon, Belshazzar, desecrates vessels from the Jewish Solomon's Temple by drinking from them during a feast, after which a magically appearing hand writes on the wall the words MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. Belshazzar calls the Hebrew prophet Daniel, who interprets the miracle as a prophecy that Belshazzar's days are numbered. According to the Bible, on the same night Babylon was captured by the Medes and Belshazzar was killed.
The Twitter account in question only follows 17 other accounts, each of which can be linked to an album from Iron Maiden's discography.
No one knows who is behind this account, but it starts to give some pretty interesting clues to a number of places and events somehow connected to the band.
- The biggest evidence that something is coming up on 7/15 is a mysterious Poster and Flyer appearing in various places: all around Download Festival, 22 Accacia Avenue, Studio Guilliame Tell (where Maiden recorded their album) and other places (including and in Bulgaria).
- A number of famous performers are spotted wearing such a T-shirt and even Bruce Dickinson himself appears in an interview for SKY NEWS with one. When asked if anything new can be expected from the band, he replies with "The answer is right in front of your eyes"!
- On July 9th, just one week before the mysterious premiere, Bruce Dickinson also issued an official invitation to everyone, confirming that a new song and album of the band is in the works:
On 15.07.2021, the first single and music video from SENJUTSU – The Writing On The Wall is also available. Despite all the hype with Belshazzar's Feast, the song has absolutely nothing to do with the specific story from the book of the prophet Daniel. All through the lesson and the message the band sends is the same. That our world and civilization has become so arrogant, brash and self-absorbed that we wouldn't even see an impending apocalypse, even if a mystical force is writing it on the wall.
The animated video was directed by Nicos Livesey from BlinkInk, a London based animation studio, in collaboration with Bruce Dickinson and former Pixar executives and long-standing Maiden fans Mark Andrews and Andrew Gordon via weekly Zoom meetings. The video is a story written by Dickinson, inspired by the biblical stories of Belshazzar's feast and Daniel, as well as other biblical references featuring the band's mascot, Eddie, in various styles influenced by the artwork of previous albums. The visual effects were provided by BlinkInk with fans of the band reaching out with storyboard ideas from across the globe.
Lost in a lost world refers to the extermination of Native American culture. Someone on the web referred to the song as Run to the Hills 2021, but with much more pain and wisdom. Lets accept this as a short reference for the song
Lest see some of the lyrics:
The people worshipping the sun
And all the children point up to the sky
They see the eagle as it floats on the wind
And they follow with their spirits high
Sun worshiping was something common in most of the cultures and Native Americans are not an exception. Tribes like the “Yuchi” which name is roughly translated as “Children of the Sun” and the sun is their chief deity. The Yuchi trace their origin to a man called Tsõ (“Sun”). According to one of the myths, the culture hero arose from a drop of menstrual blood of the female solar deity. According to another, his mother was the moon and the sun was considered his father.
Other tribes like the Natchez believed that their tribe hero was supposed to have come from the sun and, after organizing the Natchez state, to have entered, or turned into, a stone which was carefully preserved in the temple where also a fire was kept burning perpetually. The rulers of the Natchez and of each of its towns were also called Suns descended from the culture hero in the female line, and when they died the bones of at least the principal among them were laid away in the national temple.
No matter how different and colorful the Native American beliefs and cultures are, the most they have in common nowadays is the effacement оf their culture. Living in reservation camps struggling to fit in the modern world and being outcasts in their own land.
With the ashes of our enemies to live among our ghosts
Of our past fear nothing, life is but a better path to joy
Nowhere to go, nowhere to run, our whole nation overrun
Itself existence under threat and soon will be none of us left
As of 1997, the Yuchi tribe had a formal enrollment of 249 members. Other Yuchi descendants are already enrolled in other tribes, such as the Muscogee. Most Yuchi are of multi-tribal descent; some are citizens of other tribes, such as the Shawnee
Today, most Natchez families and communities are found in Oklahoma, in two primary settlements within the southern halves of the Muscogee and Cherokee Nations. The last speaker of the Natchez language died in 1965.
As Bruce Dickinson stated, the track is inspired by the comics' character John Constantine, specifically in his Francis Lawrence-directed movie adaptation (2005), in which he is interpreted by Keanu Reeves.
A war in Heaven in God's rage
He put me in this burning cage
Holy fury locks me in
Imprisoned by my deadly sin
In that version, the character is an exorcist as well as an occult detective who is going to die soon due to terminal lung cancer caused by his chain-smoker habits (the burning cage could be a reference to this situation). Destined to hell for having attempted suicide when he was young (Imprisoned by my deadly sin), he asked Archangel Gabriel permission to stay in the realm of the livings to investigate angels and demons crossing in the mortal plane (A war in Heaven in God’s rage), which should not be possible under the rules of a standing wager between God and Lucifer.
Every hour the shadow king
Wonders what his clock will bring
I've lived and loved and that's for sure
My fatal quest forevermore
The shadow king is an alternative reference to the character:
I’m the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I’ve got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I’ll drive your demons away. I’ll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they’re down and then I’ll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone… who would walk with me?
— John Constantine, in “Dangerous Habits”, Part 1, Hellblazer n. 41 (1994)
These lines are more related to the comics' version of the character, always entangled in adventures and occult and devilish investigations; this is motivated by an adrenaline addiction that only the strange and mysterious can quench.
Once crucified you forgave it all
But my own life condemned to fall
Where's the glory in your name
My twisted soul still burns in flame
While the first verse served as an introduction to the character of John Constantine, this second verse contains his rebuttal to God, who put him in this burning cage.
Constantine objects that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – who, according to the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity, is God himself – served as atonement for all the sins of humankind, but still he is perpetually punished due to his deadly sin, suffering from terminal lung cancer (But my own life condemned to fall) and being destined to Hell and eternal damnation (My twisted soul still burns in flame).
The “Where’s the glory…” part can be explained by noticing that the name of God is often associated with praises due to his magnanimity and benevolence, while in his own case John can’t see any mercy coming from God.
Time Machine among the slightly different Iron Maiden songs on the album. A number of fans connect the lyrics with the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells - Although the lurics had nothing to do with the novel, it is still about a time traveler. A topic that is not unknown to the band. If you had the chance to timetravel: Ask yourself Where?… or actually "When" would you go. What would you do and who would you tell about it? This is exactly what are the lyrics about. If you had this opportunity for good or bad, would you use it, and how would you know you were doing the right thing? How would justify your actions and would someone believe you? According to the lyrics, the timetraveler has done lot in time and done many things, pleasant and not so much. With the story of his actions, he does not seek forgiveness or remorse.
Can you even imagine, what it’s like to remember everything?
I remember the 6 year old girl who asked me about dinosaurs 800 thousand of years ago…
I remember the last book I recommended: “Look Homeward , Angel” by Thomas Wolfe … and yes I remember you - Time traveler.
Quote from 2002 movie "Time Machine" based on the novel of the same name by H. G. Wells
The name of the track comes from the movie Darkest Hour (2017) about Winston Churchill’s stand in WW II. In May 1940 Adolf Hitler's powerful Wehrmacht rampages across Europe, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Neville Chamberlain, is forced to resign, recommending Winston Churchill as his replacement. But even in his early days as the country's leader, Churchill is under pressure to commence peace negotiations with Hitler or to fight head-on the seemingly invincible Nazi regime, whatever the cost. However difficult and dangerous his decision may be, Churchill has no choice but to shine in the country's darkest hour.
The intro and outro of the song with the waves and seagulls and the lirics refer to Operation Dynamo that was held between May 26 and June 4
We buried our sons
We turned and fled
No growing old
The glorious dead
But we came back
Because one man said
Now on the beaches
The blood runs red
Operation Dynamo also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, or just Dunkirk is when Allied soldiers were evacuated from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. The operation commenced after large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the six-week Battle of France. In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "a colossal military disaster", saying "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.
Operation Dynamo started on May 26 and ended on June 4 with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and other Allied troops from the French seaport of Dunkirk to England. Naval vessels and hundreds of civilian boats were used in the evacuation. When it ended, about 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian troops had been saved.
In his "We shall fight on the beaches" speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue. Iron Maiden fans are already familiar with this speech as intro to “Aces High” from Powerslave (1984).
I watch the sun move away
As I embrace the night
And my black dog has its day
For six long yеars, you shall not pass
Barbarians at the gates
We will ovеrcome
Churchill was suffering from depression and he had name for it: “The Black Dog” Sometimes he was so paralyzed by despair that he spent time in bed, had little energy, few interests, lost his appetite, couldn’t concentrate. He was minimally functional – and this didn’t just happen once or twice in the 1930s, but also in the 1920s and 1910s and earlier. These darker periods would last a few months, and then he’d come out of it and be his normal self.
In an early letter to his wife Clementine in 1911, after hearing a friend’s wife had received some help for depression from a German doctor, he wrote:
I think this man might be useful to me – if my black dog returns. He seems quite away from me now – it is such a relief. All the colours come back into the picture.
Who were the Celts?
All we know about the Celts comes from the notes of military leaders who faced the Celts in a battle. The Celts themselves left almost no written documents in their language behind. The Greeks called them “Keltoi”. Polybius used the term “Galatae”, meanings Gauls, which then became widely used. Julius Caesar mentions in his notes that at that time, the Gauls called themselves “Celtae”, the Celts.
Historians are certain that the term “Keltoi”, the Celts, comes from the Celtic language. According to some possible interpretations, the word “Keltoi” means a hidden or secret nation. The lack of Celtic written sources supporting this translation, however, does not imply that the Celts were illiterate. They passed down knowledge, philosophy, and other information through oral traditions.
Dying, a warrior Celt has no fear
Immortal, for he will live evermore
The Celts were the first to believe that there is life after death. And if a man dies in the other world, he is born to our world again. There was a never-ceasing migration of human souls between the two worlds. That is why the Celts believed that, if a man dies in the “other world”, he is born again to our world. That is why they welcomed childbirth with sadness and death with joy. Caesar mentioned in his notes that this belief undoubtedly contributed to their bravery in battle. The Celtic belief system also included a prohibition of passing down information in any other way than orally. The Celts were literate, but until the beginning of the Christian era, they did not write down any of their knowledge. An equally important part of their faith was the worship of nature. Everyone knows Stonehenge, where Celtic druids performed religious rituals. They built stone monuments that served as lunar and solar observation posts, where they monitored the beginning of equinox, solstice or lunar and solar eclipse.
The lyrics may also refer to the battle of Alesia where the Gaul’s under Vercingatorix were defeated by Caesar, which was practically the end of the Celts as an independent people in mainland Europe, and eventually in Britain.
Vercingetorix Throws Down his Arms at the Feet of Julius Caesar, painted by Lionel Royer in 1899,
now in the Crozatier Museum at Le Puy-en-Velay
There is not much information about what exactly the song is about but there are suggestions that it might be the story of Mithridates VI Eupator.Mithridates is believed to have been born sometime around 130 BC, and was about 13 years old when his father, Mithridates V Euergetes was assassinated. Although Mithridates inherited his father’s throne, he was still a minor at the time, and the kingdom was ruled by a regent, Laodice VI, a Seleucid princess who was the mother of the boy king. Laodicea is said to have been a suspect in her husband’s murder, and, fearing for his own life, her son went into exile. During this time, Mithridates apparently consumed various types of poison in small doses in order to develop immunity against them, should an assassin attempt to kill him by this means.
Around 116 BC, Mithridates came out of hiding, and confronted his mother. The young king successfully removed his mother from her throne, and had her thrown into prison, where she eventually died. During her regency, Laodicea had favored Mithridates’ younger brother, Mithridates Chrestus, perhaps as he was more malleable to her will than his older brother. He too disappeared from the scene, possibly shortly after his mother’s imprisonment. One suggestion is that Mithridates had both his mother and brother murdered.
Sweet revenge will be ours
Vengeance of a shaken world
Just remember that patience is no sin
Fierce as wolf with a leopard skin
Dark and bitter deep within
This part of the lyrics are probably the biggest hint that the story is about Mithridates as he usually depicted wearing a leopard skin. With these rivals out of the way, Mithridates became the sole ruler of the Pontic Kingdom. He then began to enlarge his kingdom, as a continuation of his late father’s expansionist policy. In 115 / 114 BC, the young king crossed the Black Sea so as to intervene in a conflict that was going on between the Hellenistic settlements on the Crimea and their Scythian neighbors and later with Rome.
During the time of the First Mithridatic War, a group of Mithridates' friends plotted to kill him. One of them named Asclepiodotus changed his mind and became an informant. He arranged to have Mithridates hide under a couch to hear the plot against him. The other conspirators were tortured and executed. Mithridates also killed all of the plotters' families and friends.
In continuation of his kingdom expanding Mithridates was hoping to reach his possessions around the Black Sea and enlist the help of his son Machares, but when he got there, he was disappointed. Machares had aligned himself with Rome and refused his father; so Mithridates killed him. His other son, Pharnaces, then rebelled and led a force against Mithridates as Pompey was closing in. Alone with his two young daughters in a citadel, Mithridates chose to take his own life rather than be captured and paraded in a Roman triumph. After poisoning his daughters, he is said to have tried to poison himself but failed and then asked a slave or servant to kill him.
Bound himself to oath and king
Such loyalty a shameless thing
Youth of agony still burn
Shedding parents blood
Iron Maiden's "Hell on Earth" is a song about the harsh realities and difficulties of life and how it's so easy for people to lose the hope and sense of love they once cherished. The song deals with the horror and pain of war, the weight of loss, and the tragedy of not being able to return things to the way they once were.
Beginning of a sunrise bores a big hole in the sky
Not to reason why that
Armed children are in this world
And fighting in the name of God's way
Mourning bleak and utter waste
The vanity of the world is assured now
Prey upon the weak no more
The spirits of those who are gone
Propaganda of the battles
That are lost or won
Steve Harris has proven to be master in storytelling. The apocalyptic concept of Hell On Earth is not an exception. It is just stunning to think how this song a prophecy to what followed shortly after it was written. In fact in 2019 when Steve wrote the lyrics the world was not that different. ISIS were recruiting children to fight their battles. Massive fire disasters were happening in The Amazon and Australia which showed to mankind how helpless we are. Soon after the entire world was changed because of COVID pandemic, people dying in hospitals, lockdowns, followed by War in Ukraine and nature disasters worldwide.
Regarding the message behind the lyrics There is a bit of skepticism whether humanity deserves this Hell On Earth, since mankind is the one who disregards the past and knowledge we have. Instead of using it to make the world a better place, we are lost in our anger and put ourselves in danger. Where is the place of love in this world? Do we ever actually try to incorporate it into our lives more? I don’t know if “Love in anger” is the act of loving while angry OR if it means that Love itself is angry that people don’t care about loving anymore.
There is also a slight change of the mood as even in the hell of human suffering there are people who can find hope and a sense of peace. The song emphasizes the importance of focusing on the beauty of life and the power of love, and never gives up even in the darkness that exists in the world. There are people that learn from their mistakes and are ready to change their lives.
I wish I could go back
Will never be the same again
Bled for all upon this hell on earth
And when I leave this world
I hope to see you all again
On the other side of hell on earth
Upon the eyes of good
I'm following the light again
In between the dark of hell on earth
On the other side, I'll see again heaven
So far away from this hell on earth