The Writing On The Wall

Album: Senjutsu (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • "The Writing On The Wall" is an idiomatic expression that suggests an imminent event that will bring trouble or disaster. It is based on the Old Testament account of King Belshazzar, a Babylonian crown prince who held a grand feast. When a mysterious hand appeared and wrote on the wall, he summoned Daniel, a figure known for his wisdom, to decipher the writing. He informed Belshazzar, a known blasphemer, that the writing on the wall is a warning that he's been weighed and found wanting, and his kingdom will be delivered to the Medes and the Persians.

    Though this song doesn't directly reference the biblical story, it uses its lesson to deliver a message of upcoming doom and destruction. Singer Bruce Dickinson warns that terrible times are around the corner, but not everyone can see that a storm is coming. He implores the listener to take heed of the signs.
  • Iron Maiden released "The Writing On The Wall" on July 15, 2021. It was the first fresh music for the British metal trailblazers since 2015's The Book Of Souls album. The long-anticipated track came in the wake of a cryptic teaser campaign that began with posters and flyers emblazoned with "Belshazzar's Feast" in tandem with the letters "WOTW." A week before dropping the song, Dickinson called on fans to attend "The Feast" on July 15.
  • Bruce Dickinson wrote the song with Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith. Longtime producer Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley produced the track with bassist and founding member Steve Harris. Shirley previously worked with Iron Maiden on Brave New World (2000), Dance Of Death (2003), A Matter of Life and Death (2006), The Final Frontier (2009) and The Book of Souls (2015).
  • Dickinson came up with the initial concept for the epic animated video. It came to fruition in collaboration with Pixar executives and long-standing Maiden fans Mark Andrews and Andrew Gordon (The Incredibles, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo).
  • Dickinson, Andrews and Gordon hired Nicos Livesey, another longtime Maiden fan and director of the London-based animation studio BlinkInk, to helm the clip.

    Livesey brought Dickinson's treatment to life, helped by over 60 people in 13 countries. They created a dystopian story of four black-cloaked riders traversing the desert on motorcycles as they attempt to vanquish a political figure. From the "Pres 1" license plate and the convertible with upside-down American flags devoid of the 50 stars, it is clear their adversary is the American president.
  • The video, with its overweight political leader, suggests that Iron Maiden may have aimed at a certain sandy-haired former US president. The clip proposes he should have seen "the writing on the wall" and his end was inevitable.
  • Rammstein's epic video for "Deutschland" portrays various events from German history. The clip, which was voted the 2019 Video of the Year by the readers of Kerrang magazine, confirmed the band as stadium headliners across the globe.

    After watching the visual, Dickinson felt challenged to make something similarly larger-than-life. He told Iron Maiden's manager Rod Smallwood they should do something that would have the equivalent impact for them, so Dickinson wrote the storyboard for their version and gave it a happy ending.

    "Well, kind of a happy ending," he said to Kerrang. "Adam and Eve start again, but with Eddie going, 'I'll still get you in the end.'"
  • Iron Maiden gave "The Writing On The Wall" its live debut when they kicked off the 2022 edition of their Legacy Of The Beast world tour with a show in Zagreb, Croatia on May 22, 2022.

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