“The Writing on the Wall” by Iron Maiden
Iron Maiden’s Writing on the Wall project operates along a Biblical motif. For instance, the title itself actually comes to us via a well-known story from the Old Testament. But more specifically in terms of the modern usage of the phrase, it is an idiom which fundamentally means that the signs of a forthcoming event or whatever coming to pass is presently evident.
Let’s use an example completely unrelated to this song to illustrate this point. Let’s say that you’re late on your rent, and you happen to cross paths with your landlord, and he or she gives you a dirty look. Then ‘the writing is on the wall’ that you need to settle them expeditiously.
But rather, the concept that Iron Maiden is speaking to is the imminent arrival of “the riders of the storm”. You may not currently be able to perceive such transpiring with your naked eye, but the “writing [is] on the wall” for those who are able to decipher it. That said, it is not abundantly clear who these “riders on the storm” are supposed to be. However, there are some clues within the lyrics.
For instance, the vocalist himself is apparently is or will be one of them, thus explaining his sympathetic tone towards their cause. These “riders” are some type of ragtag collection of “vagabonds”. And by the looks of things they are the survivors of “empires” which were once “glorious” but are now “gone”.
They are also depicted in the first verse as traversing a desert. So honestly this reads like some sort of like some Mad Max fare. Moreover in once again going back to the Bible, it is reminiscent of the plight of the Hebrews when they were compelled to leave Egypt and venture, “across a… desert”, into Palestine.
The second verse is where it becomes more apparent that perhaps what Iron Maiden is predicting here is an apocalyptic event. But instead of delving too deep into the featured wording, it is perhaps best to err on the side of caution and conclude with the general understanding of this verse.
And along those same lines, it should be pointed out that the vocalist references the ancient Biblical-era state of Babylon, though in a modern context, insinuating that it is still extant. That very idea also ties into Biblical end time prophecy.
But again we’ll just leave it at that, i.e. with the basic understanding that the vocalist too believes in such prophecies, at least to some apparent evident extent.
What “The Writing on the Wall” is all about
Indeed all lyrics considered, Bruce Dickinson sounds a lot like a prophet himself. And “the writing on the wall” apparently points to an idea like the approaching destruction of modern civilization or at least the localities where the future “riders on the storm” currently reside.
However, the implication is that the inevitability of such transpiring is not something that everyone can perceive. So that is why the thesis sentiment of this track more or less centers on the vocalist imploring listeners to take a closer look at what’s going on around them.
Release of “The Writing on the Wall”
Being released by Parlophone Records on the date of 15 July 2021, “The Writing on the Wall” is the first track that Iron Maiden has dropped since 2016’s “Empire of the Clouds”.
But by this point in the game, no one is really expecting them to come out with music on a regular basis. That is to say that the band has been around since 1975 and, being the music legends that they are, have already made their fair share of contributions to heavy metal.
For instance, Iron Maiden has approximately 40 albums under its belt – live projects and compilations included – and have sold over 100,000,000 of them worldwide. Also as of the writing of this post, bassist/keyboardist Steve Harris, the primary member of the crew who has been down since its inception, is a healthy 65 years old.
And that other musicians that currently round out Iron Maiden at the time are as follows:
- Bruce Dickinson
- Janick Gers
- Nicko McBrain
- Dave Murray
- Adrian Smith
And all of them, with the exception of Gers who joined in 1990, have been down with the crew at least since the early 1980s.
Credits for “The Writing on the Wall”
This song was written by the aforementioned Dickinson and Smith, who respectively serve as Iron Maiden’s lead vocalist and guitarist. And Steve himself produced it, doing so in collaboration with Kevin Shirley, an experienced heavy metalist from South Africa.
The music video to this track is an animated affair which is actually based on stories from the Bible. It was put together by a studio specializing in animation called BlinkInk, which like Iron Maiden is based in the UK.
And the clip was directed by one of the company’s animators, Nicos Livesey, who has formerly worked with the Gorillaz, a musical crew that regularly puts out animated music videos.