BEST & WORST: Top 10 Deep Iron Maiden Cuts


There are Iron Maiden classics every metal fan knows. And then there are the songs that only Maiden nerds remember, hidden away in deep and dark tombs … Here’s our Top 10 of the deep Iron Maiden cuts!

The criteria are very simple. We can’t include anything well known, that’s obvious. No Hallowed Be Thy Name or Wasted Years. But we’re not limiting ourselves to songs that have never been performed live. What we’re going for are songs we feel are underrated and as good as some overplayed classics, but which most people probably can’t even hum.

So read on for our Top 10 of the deep Iron Maiden cuts. And give us your favorite obscure Maiden songs in the comments below!

Torgrim comments: Rounding off what became a hugely successful comeback for Iron Maiden, The Thin Line Between Love & Hate wraps up Brave New World with the following sentiment by a high-spirited Nicko McBrain, “Oh, I fucking missed it.” Whether or not he missed a beat or he actually missed the prodigal sons of Iron Maiden, Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith, is up for speculation.

But there is something about the chemistry here that speaks volumes. The song starts off heavy as f**k, before taking a turn for a more proggy and jammy approach, interspersed with playful guitar work from The Three Amigos. Dickinson’s soaring vocals are absolutely spot on, and he proves that the range and the passion are still there.

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Iron Maiden reunited with Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith in 1999. They went to Portugal to write, rehearse and visit Eddie’s Bar, and eventually sealed their comeback with Brave New World in 2000.

Christer comments: The 1990s will always remain Iron Maiden’s most controversial period, due to the departures of guitarist Adrian Smith and singer Bruce Dickinson, both crucial songwriters and premier performers, as well as the questionable quality of the band’s output in the era.

No Prayer For The Dying does offer a few gems, the most well-hidden of which is this submarine mini-epic. Dickinson’s vocal experiments suit the song, with his traditional wail soaring across the chorus: “Running silent, running deep / Sink into your final sleep…”

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Maiden hit the 1990s without Smith, welcoming Gers to the band. Spirits were high, albums were controversial.

Torgrim comments: This song makes me wanna drive my car. Maiden’s music is not something that normally calls for that kind of venture, but this one is a bit different. Probably one of the few successful attempts by the band in writing more straightforward classic radio rock with a big-ass chorus. It never made it to the live stage, but it’s still one of the few really good tunes from Fear of the Dark.

7) PURGATORY (1981)
Christer comments: It started life as a ballad called Floating, but it became an all-out speed metal anthem that has somewhat mysteriously disappeared from setlists since the band switched from Paul Di’Anno to Dickinson at the microphone. This is metal perfection, taking full advantage of the muscular sound that producer Martin Birch conjured up for the Killers album.

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Iron Maiden

Murray and Di’Anno rocking out during the Killers era.

6) SUN AND STEEL (1983)
Torgrim comments: A lot of people claim that this song off Piece of Mind, along with Quest For Fire, is among the worst songs the band has written. I find it really difficult to relate to that. First and foremost it must have something to do with the impeccable nature of the rest of the album. The song itself is more or less structured the same way as The Trooper, with a galloping verse and catchy chorus. But it even has a neat bridge in it before the blistering solo section. And it’s followed by one of the best Maiden songs of all time, To Tame a Land. Thumbs up!

5) MONTSÉGUR (2003)
Christer comments: With a sense of heavy riffing more akin to Metallica than Maiden, this hidden gem on the Dance Of Death album shows off drummer Nicko McBrain’s fluid and faultless pacing, bassist Steve Harris’ relentless groove, the three-guitar harmonies and power chords, and of course – Dickinson’s welcome return to the band that made him. Classic metal, like it’s 1984 all over again: “I stand alone in this desolate space / In death they are truly alive / Massacred innocence, evil took place / The angels were burning inside…”

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Iron Maiden

Murray and Harris on stage on the Dance Of Death tour, sadly without ever performing the awesome heavy metal of Montsegur.

Torgrim comments: Maiden isn’t widely regarded for their ballads even though there are a handful of them. Strange World on their debut album being an early one. It’s quite different from the regular heavy metal ballad. It has more of a dreamy, sort of Pink Floyd-ish vibe to it. Paul sings his heart out and the way the song is structured really proved that Maiden had a different approach to the craft. Spine-chilling: “Leaves of green, grasses twine / Girls drinking plasma wine / Look at love, a dream unfolds / Living here you’ll never grow old.”

Christer comments: On an album that sports Aces High, 2 Minutes To Midnight, Powerslave and Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, it’s easy to get lost in the greatness. There are some duds on the Powerslave album, stand up Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra), but The Duellists is among the very finest music the band ever wrought. It sticks to the Phantom Of The Opera-style staccato beat and riff throughout, while displaying some incredible guitar harmonies and vocal acrobatics.

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When you pack songs like Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, there might be a decent cut or two that never gets across to people. The Duellists deserves its spot on one of Maiden’s best ever records.

2) DEJA-VU (1986)
Torgrim comments: ” ‘Cause you know this has happened before / And you know that this moment in time is for real / And you know when you feel deja-vu.” Everything but two songs on Somewhere In Time is underplayed. Wasted Years and Heaven Can Wait are the only ones to crop up semi-regularly, while masterpieces like this one remains hidden in the mists of time. Fast and furious, deliciously melodic, paranoid like hell … What’s not to like about having this kind of Deja-Vu?

Christer comments: One of their best ever albums, it might be a stretch to call anything on Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son a deep cut. But two of the songs, this one and The Prophecy, were never performed live and exist in relative obscurity.

Had it not been for the similar The Evil That Men Do being a fair hit for Maiden in 1988, one could have hoped that the superior metal of Only The Good Die Young had become a mainstay in setlists through the years. The classic Maiden gallop, awesome harmony guitars, one of the best choruses the band ever wrote. It even has a tiny little bass solo in there! And Dickinson’s pre-Chemical Wedding interest in the occult is in full swing: “The moon is red and bleeding / The sun is burned and black / The book of life is silent / No turning back.”

So, what did we miss out? What other gems are buried in the deep tomb of Iron Maiden obscurity? Give us your picks in comments!

Here’s our number 1 deep Iron Maiden cut:

And if you feel like some hate to go with the love, check out our rundown of the 10 worst Iron Maiden songs!

62 thoughts on “BEST & WORST: Top 10 Deep Iron Maiden Cuts

  1. Strangely enough, I was singing The Duellists to myself in the car this morning!

    2 of my favourite deep cuts are ‘The Nomad’ from Brave New World and ‘The Alchemist’ from Final Frontier.

  2. My top top 10:-

    10. Isle of Avalon (2010 – The Final Frontier).

    9. Lord of Light (2006 – A Matter of Life and Death).

    8. The Thin Line Between Love and Hate (2000 – Brave New World).

    7. Como Estais Amigos (1998 – Virtual XI).

    6. Judgement of Heaven (1995 – The X Factor).

    5. Weekend Warrior (1992 – Fear of the Dark).

    4. Deja-vu (1986 – Somewhere in Time).

    3. The Aftermath (1995 – The X Factor).

    2. The Longest Day (2006 – A Matter of Life and Death).

    1. Age of Innocence (2003 – Dance of Death).

    Really difficult for me to choose these others for me would be:-

    Gates of Tomorrow (2003 – Dance of Death)
    Fates Warning (1990 – No Prayer for the Dying)
    Fear is the Key (1992 – Fear of the Dark)
    Judgement Day (1995 – The X Factor/Best of the ‘B’ Sides)
    Fallen Angel (2000 – Brave New World)
    Sun and Steel (1983 – Piece of Mind)
    Starblind (2010 – The Final Frontier)
    The Angel and The Gambler (1998 – Virtual XI)
    Lord of the Flies (1995 – The X Factor)

    …..way too hard hahaha

  3. Really good list. I would add ‘The longest day’, ‘Lord of light’ and ‘Starblind’ to the list though. Three masterpieces.

  4. As it’s the first track on the first album with Bruce, I’m gonna throw ‘Invaders’ from NOTB in the pot too. A storming start to First Officer Dickinson’s debut album.

  5. Burning Ambition – I’ll take that over Running Free any day! An underrated gem & very much of it’s day!!!

  6. Top 10 of (Never or very rarely played live)

    10. Loneliness of a Long Distance Runner

    9. Back in the Village

    8. Deja Vu

    7. Quest for Fire (yes!)

    6. Charlotte the Harlot

    5. Strange World

    4. Purgatory

    3. Prodigal Son (!)

    2. Still Life (!!)

    1. Sea of Madness (!!!)

  7. How about Reach Out (1986) for a deep cut, people? Or maybe Justice Of The Peace? (1995) πŸ™‚

    On another note, we’re certainly coming back to the issue of heartbreaking setlist omissions, just as soon as we know what the final History leg this summer has to offer or not.

    • Yess! Definitely, Reach Out us a great number and Justice of the Peace from ‘The X Factor’ sessions is one to think about. Can’t wait to see the new set, hope it’s good πŸ™‚

      • Personally, I’ve always been dumbfounded that Justice didn’t make it onto The X Factor. If there’s one thing that album needs it’s another short and uptempo song. Heck, it even features both guitar and vocal harmonies! The album has only one (!) instance of the former and none (!!) of the latter…

      • Yeah, couldn’t agree more, it should of been on the record. Really nice track. I seriously, still to this day don’t know why that album and Virtual XI is overlooked. The X Factor is incredible, you get something new with each listen and Virtual XI is great, but it isn’t as good as The X Factor. Another two for the list ‘The Educated Fool’ and ‘Edge of Darkness’ haha

  8. Well, TheClansmannion, I’ll have to respectfully disagree with you about those records. πŸ˜‰

      • At some point, when the History run is over, we’re gonna get to in-depth features and retro reviews of the 1990s catalog. That should spark some interesting discussions, I’m guessing. πŸ™‚

  9. Oy, trying to pick the best of Eddie’s library is like trying to figure out which is better: breathing or eating? Some very good selections, though. Glad to see “Thin Line” was included that “Lord of Light” and “Longest Day” should be noted, as well.

    “Sheriff of Huddersfield” is a classic, of course! At least worth an honorable mention. My list would include “Innocent Exile,” “Flash of the Blade,” and “Total Eclipse.” “Avalon” is beautiful, too.

    “Quest for Fire?” Eek, I don’t know about that one…I could never get past the “dinosaur” line without cringing. (And from what I heard, neither could Bruce). After all these years, I still think that’s the rotting cheese in the Maiden lager.

    • Quest For Fire, a rotting cheese??? Can’t say I think the dinosaur line is genius (there aren’t even any dinosaurs in the damn movie, Steve…) but I think the song is musically solid, and very different from other Maiden tracks.

  10. Quest For Fire is, IMHO, just about the most embarrassingly bad thing the band have ever produced. Even without the dreadful lyrics, the happy-singalong chorus melody ruins it for me…

    However, I’d definitely agree with these deep cut suggestions:

    Starblind – layers of guitars and melody, aggression, transcendent lyrics and vocal performance.

    The Nomad – heavy as fuck!

    Sea of Madness – heavy and melodic, aggressive with cinematic lyrics (as with the best of SIT).

    Prodigal Son – Beautiful! That’s what acoustic guitars can produce in the right hands!

  11. interesting about Quest for fire, which made me think about why it is like that.

    i guess it has to be about your own reference point, where you heard it the first time in life etc.
    For me, that whole piece of mind album has a shimmering magical sound to it. it was my 3rd album with maiden. and I got it for Christmas 1987. 11 years old at the time. tiptoeing down in a slightly cold house, and blasting out the album over and over. As a heavymetal child, there weren’t bad songs or embarrassing lyrics. you either embraced the band and/or album and loved it.

    and that’s something that won’t change… those songs combined was the experience, even though I loved icarus and revelations better, I embraced the Wholeness of an album. there’s a sound to those records, different to each, martin birch doing about one each year in (often) different studios. intense listening to “albums” is something personal. and just like with bands like Pink Fl

    well sadly some or a lot of that has disappeared with the internet of course..there will never be the same connection to albums. but people will keep listening to music, still downloading an entire discography and the enourmous vast ocean of accessibility is making it a lot different, just saying.

    Also, I must be very different hearing a song like Quest for fire in 1987 than 2014, not having access to the internet forums where you have the majority of big noses who knows. πŸ™‚ you form your own opinions by yourself and the friends around you. for me back then I didn’t feel different between trooper or quest for fire, same album and same band. great vibe. felt it deep.

    too big of a discussion, lots of pros and cons with the generations grown up with the net. sorry for the rant. just struck me as one explaination of the general “hate” for that track.

    • I’m not sure there’s general hate for the track, but it’s certainly one of those songs that some fans really dislike. The negative attitude towards certain songs was somewhat intensified in the 1990s, because Bruce started talking about how stupid he thought songs like Quest For Fire and Mother Russia were. Fair enough, but looking back it would have done Bruce good not to mouth off like that…

      The part I love the most about QFF is the harmony guitars leading into the solo section, particularly when Steve starts doing the chord progression in back of them.

      And the solo also rules!

      • There are parts of ‘Quest for fire’ that I like (those harmony guitars and the solo) and some parts that I do not like. The vocal melodies are certainly not Steve’s best job. I guess it would have been significantly better with better lyrics too.

        Anyway, cheesy lyrics or not, they are not as embarrassing as those they concocted for ‘Charlotte the harlot’. Those really make me cringe.

      • Funny, I don’t think Mother Russia is that bad. The lyrics are certainly not anything profound, and it’s pretty much by default the weakest longest song of any album, but it’s still a decent song. Most of NPFTD is the same way in my opinion. Highly underwhelming, but solid.

  12. Actually, the “missing” that Nicko is referring to in The Thin Line isn’t an omission, he just continues to play over the very last silent part of the song. Just at the end of the last heavier part you can hear the beginning of the beat, so Nicko is referring to not cooling it down at the right moment. It actually fits the song quite nicely, check out the song around 7.29 and you’ll probably get what I mean.

    • You’re right about that. I don’t think Torgrim meant to be too technically precise in his comment, though. πŸ˜‰

  13. My top 10, no particular order:

    Dream Of Mirrors
    Face In The Sand
    Judas Be My Guide
    Run Silent, Run Deep
    Twilight Sone
    Strange World
    Out Of The Silent Planet
    Still Life
    For The Greater Good of God
    No Prayer For The Dying

  14. I totally agree with Purgatory, The Duellists, Sun and Steel and Run Silent Run Deep. These are some of my favorite Maiden songs… I think they’re better than a lot of the hit singles.

    I would add to the list:

    “The Prophecy” and “Judgement of Heaven”

    • The Prophecy is an absolutely killer deep cut! It would have made the list, but we wanted to spread it out a bit and not have two tracks off the same record. So the honor went to Only The Good Die Young. πŸ™‚

      By a similar kind of reasoning we left out Alexander The Great, one of the best unplayed cuts in the catalog. But millions of fans continually request it, so it’s not really a deep and obscure one…

  15. Wow, Montsegur is actually my favourite Maiden song period. And I also love Deja Vu and Purgatory. Good call, dude! Again, I can’t believe how Montsegur is so under-appreciated. It’s just about a perfect song.

  16. One of the best deep cuts I can think of that hasn’t been mentioned here yet is The Fugitive. Fear of the Dark doesn’t have a lot of high points outside of the first 3 tracks and the title song, but buried in the bloated middle section of the album that has so many forgettable, mediocre tracks is one that I actually enjoyed. I find The Fugitive is one of the few bright spots on an otherwise overlong and underwhelming album.

  17. I have to ask, by your judging, can a single be considered a deep cut? I ask since Purgatory is on the list. I only just realized this now. I can see why you’d include it, since it certainly isn’t one of their more prominent singles, and I’d definitely call it an underrated classic.

    • We opened like this: “There are Iron Maiden classics every metal fan knows. And then there are the songs that only Maiden nerds remember, hidden away in deep and dark tombs …” I’d say it’s highly unlikely that anyone but Maiden nerds even know that Purgatory exists, single or not. Twilight Zone was a single, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone besides Maiden nerds who would know what the hell it is.

      • True, it certainly doesn’t have the profile of the singles from the classic era. I’d say the singles from the first album are probably in the same boat. Most people have heard of Run to the Hills and The Trooper, but I doubt many people have herd of Running Free or Sanctuary.

      • @Andre: Well, except the fact that Running Free and Sanctuary have been played on numerous tours all through the band’s history and have been featured on live albums and videos. Purgatory hasn’t been performed since 1981 and is thus in a much more obscure category. πŸ™‚

  18. Pingback: BEST & WORST: The 10 Worst Iron Maiden Songs | maidenrevelations

  19. Replace ‘Run Silent, Run Deep’ and ‘The Duellists’ with ‘…..Benjamin Breeg’ and ‘Total Eclipse’ and your list and my list match up pretty well. I feel ‘The Duellists’ is far too similar to the infinitely superior ‘Where Eagles Dare’ to be anywhere near this list – try singing the lyrics to ‘Eagles’ over the music to ‘Duellists’and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Being similar to Where Eagles Dare does not disqualify a song from a list of the best obscure Maiden tracks. Not in our book, in any case. πŸ˜‰

      You’re right about the similarities though. Rhythmically it’s the same as both Eagles and Phantom Of The Opera, even if Nicko can’t be said to play a very similar pattern. But melodically the verse is pretty much an inversion of the Eagles melody.

  20. i may be old fashioned who plays records from the beginning to the end. so the deepest cut for me would be the albums amolad and the new one. i absolutely love maiden, but their live sets cannot be compared to bands like metallica. it almost seems that maiden just picks up the usual 15 songs and then plays it safe for the whole tour while metallica mixes up the songs so you actually can watch the band for two gigs in the same town and get almost two different sets. for over 20 years i have followed maiden live and never ever have they played something spontanious. it would be so awsome if they could give something back for the old fans and actually listen to them and play all theese songs (good or not), instead of the trooper and hallowed wich we have heard 10000 times. they have now proven that they made it, and they really have nothing to loose. so play alexander the great live, just once, for the old fans!

    • Well, to be fair to Maiden, they have dropped Trooper, Beast, Run To The Hills and Hallowed from setlists, and gotten a lot of heat for it. And they have actually performed about 100 of their 140 original tracks in concert. Not a bad number. The Metallica comparison is often brought up, but in my humble opinion they have less great songs and I don’t get off on them suddenly throwing Cyanide or The Memory Remains into the set. I see your point though, and I realize that many fans want the band to mix it up from night to night, but personally I’ve been happy that they have mixed things up from tour to tour. Just consider the setlist differences from 2003 to 2005 to 2006 to 2008 to 2010.

      Come to think of it, the pacing of Bruce’s performance probably dictates this to a large degree. It’s very likely the reason for dropping Hallowed and Infinite Dreams in 2012.

      • maiden (read steve) is in many ways a bit (read a lot) conservative. bruces voice wont get better with the years and thats nothing he can do about it. the question is, do they need to tune down? is it better with good singing and tuned down guitars or good guitars and a singer who cant pull it off? a song like mother of mercy would be amazing if tuned down. listen to the song and tell me if it is not the singing wich is the problem. in a lower key some stuff would actually sound a lot better. and on the plus side, they could play all theese songs wich are hard to sing. what do you think? i always enjoyed bruces solo records where the music is made to fit his voice in a different way. a lot like helloweens “the dark ride” wich is in a lower key and fits andi deris voice so well! roy z for maiden perhaps? or is tuning down a sign of weakness?

      • Well, Steve never tuned down for Blaze, so I don’t know if he would ever do it for anyone. That being said, Bruce sounded great on most parts of the most recent tour, even nailing Aces High in some performances. Personally, I don’t think Bruce is a problem, but some tracks certainly get dropped for vocal reasons.

  21. Sorry, Christer, I’m not being facetious here but I’m a little confused.If you ‘don’t think Bruce is a problem’ (which he definitely wasn’t at the show I saw on the recent tour) why would ‘some tracks certainly get dropped for vocal reasons’?

    • Way to pick the nit… πŸ˜€ Sorry, I meant that there’s a difference between them dropping some songs for him, which they do, and him being a big problem for the band. Is that clearer?

      On the recent tour the obvious vocal drop-out was Hallowed, which he clearly struggled with on some shows in 2011. Infinite Dreams could have been another, but I don’t think we have any real confirmation of that, do we? It was dropped in rehearsals and replaced with Afraid To Shoot Strangers, but I’m not sure we clearly know the reason. The latter is much easier to sing, though.

      They have paced their shows according to Bruce’s ability ever since he came back in 1999. Janick says that Bruce, Steve and Rod work out the setlists, which have to work for Bruce as a two-hour performance. Sometimes changes get made during rehearsals or early shows but not always because of Bruce. Paschendale was dropped in 2010 because Nicko struggled with it, and dropping Charlotte The Harlot in 2005 was certainly not for vocal reasons. Steve also once blamed Adrian for them not doing Alexander The Great, but that could have been a joke, I guess.

      In any case, they also dropped songs for Bruce’s benefit in the 1980s, like Where Eagles Dare in 1986, so it’s certainly not a new problem, if we’re going to call it that at all. πŸ˜‰

  22. 10) Burning Ambition
    09) The Unbeliever
    08) The Fugitive
    07) Fates Warning
    06) The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
    05) Back To The Village
    04) Total Eclipse
    03) Twilight Zone
    02) The Man Who Would Be King
    01) The Legacy

  23. If I had to pick 10 it would look like

    The Alchemist
    Innocent Exile/another life
    The Prophecy
    Sun and steel
    The Duelists
    The Pilgrim
    The Educated fool
    Judgement of heaven

  24. Good selections on the main post, those are my selections also. In regards to the 90’s era I am not a big fan of Blaze’s material but there are a few that I believe Maiden should still throw in there now and then. Clansman, for one. Awesome tune and seeing it performed live in 2000 and 2003 was special. IMO one of their best tracks. Man on the Edge and Futureal are great also as well as Judgement Day. I shake my head at lost opportunities in the setlists as the years go by but I can’t criticize too much; they’re my second favorite band behind Priest. Love Maiden, seen them 5 times including three weeks ago being the most recent. Up the Irons!

  25. More than a Top10, I would like here to make a set list with this type of songs plus some classic ones to balance a live show. This would be my hypothetical “Wasted Songs Tour 2021”

    Iron Maiden – The Ides Of March (1:55) (Intro)
    Iron Maiden – Invaders (3:21)
    Iron Maiden – Sun And Steel (3:26)
    Iron Maiden – The Duellists (6:07)
    Iron Maiden 1986 – The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (6:31)
    Iron Maiden 1986 – Stranger In A Strange Land (5:44)
    Iron Maiden 1986 – Deja-Vu (4:56)
    Iron Maiden 1986 – Alexander The Great (8:35)
    Iron Maiden – Transylvania (4:15)
    Iron Maiden – Stranger World (5:56)
    Iron Maiden – Purgatory (3:30)
    Iron Maiden – The Thin Line Between Love and Hate (8:27)
    Iron Maiden 1986 – Caught Somewhere In Time (7:25)
    Iron Maiden – Judas be my Guide (3:08)
    Iron Maiden – Only The Good Die Young (4:42)
    Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden (4:20)
    Iron Maiden – Sanctuary (4:12)
    Iron Maiden – Drifter (9:18)
    Iron Maiden – Running free (3:44)

    19 tracks in playlist, average track length: 5:14
    Playlist length: 1 hour 39 minutes 32 seconds

    I wouldn’t touch anything, this playlist works like a glove, believe me. But remove this song over here, that one over there, and add Hallowed, Fear and Number and you have almost 2 great hours for a Summer Festival

  26. Good list. You missed out on Public Enema number one though. What a brilliant song and solosection that song has!

  27. There’s a fair few that I’d really consider underrated. My top 10 would be
    – Gangland (1982)
    – Back in the Village (1984)
    – Public Enema Number One (1990)
    – Childhoods End (1992)
    – Fortunes of War (1995)
    – The Edge of Darkness (1995)
    – Como Estais Amigos (1998)
    – The Nomad (2000)
    – The Alchemist (2010)
    – Shadows of the Valley (2015)

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