Getting Into: Iron Maiden: Part I


Written by: ScreamingSteelUS, RaduP, nikarg, omne metallum, tominator, musclassia, BitterCOld, Starvynth
Published: 22.03.2021


Everything about Iron Maiden is legendary, successes and failures alike; it's difficult to find any quality of the band that isn't somehow larger than life, that hasn't been celebrated, copied, parodied, debated, and otherwise reiterated a million times over. The contributions that Iron Maiden has made to the sound, the look, the mentality, the subject matter, and the global standing of heavy metal are so numerous that this English institution, fast approaching its 50th year, could - with some debate, but little controversy - be called the greatest heavy metal band ever to fit the description. Their countless indelible imprints prompt the question: "who isn't already into Iron Maiden?" But everybody starts somewhere (or arrives to the party fashionably late), and after letting the 40th anniversary of their legendary debut album pass us by unremarked-upon, we in MS Towers felt that it would be appropriate to find some way of celebrating everything that Iron Maiden has done over the years - and since this is a band that has in some way touched all of us, having consistently been the most popular band on Metal Storm for many years, we opted to take another crack at the collaborative form of "Getting Into" articles.

Initially one of the brightest-burning stars of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden quickly became much more than a regional prodigy; word of mouth and an incredibly well-received demo started the band on an upward trajectory in the late '70s, and when they released their first album in 1980, a banner year for heavy metal in the UK, a legend was already beginning to coalesce around them. Each member of the classic lineup is regarded as among the most influential in their field: Steve Harris for playing the bass like a lead instrument, utilizing a now-trademark "galloping" style; Adrian Smith and Dave Murray for further advancing the then-recently popularized "dual lead guitar" approach, manifested most noticeably in their harmonized leads; Nicko McBrain for his rhythmic groove and his facility with a single bass pedal; Bruce Dickinson for his range and powerful, operatic singing style, as well as his charisma and stamina onstage. The band's chameleonic and omnipresent representative, Eddie the Head, has also become the ne plus ultra of musical mascots, another lightning rod for the universal adoration that follows Iron Maiden.

This article is but the first part of our exploration of Iron Maiden, covering the albums that they released during the first half of their career, from their debut up until the splintering of that classic lineup in the early '90s. Each and every album they released in the 1980s is now considered a classic at least, some milestones, and some in competition for greatest metal album of all time. The cover art was daring and stylish, always bedecked with Eddie's gruesome visage; the lyrical content frequently departed from the metal mores of the time, taking inspiration from classic literature, history, philosophy, and film, warding off claims that heavy metal was intellectually barren. Early albums were characterized by a lean, punk-reminiscent speed and toughness, while later material became increasingly given over to progressive tendencies and elaborate writing. Some of heavy metal's earliest epics came from these albums, as well as genre-defining singles, iconic performances, and a truly unique production that all, to this day, set the standard for metal. Iron Maiden has endured criticism and creative drought like any other artist, but the name remains emblematic of heavy metal's greatest qualities and the potential that lies within the genre.





1979 - The Soundhouse Tapes

Radu:


Our story starts a bit before 1979, as there had already been multiple incarnations of the band prior to the The Soundhouse Tapes, and while the EP itself is far from essential, it's a nice glimpse into the early life of the band. Recorded on New Year's Eve of 1978/1979 due to it being cheaper, The Soundhouse Tapes contains three of the four songs recorded on that night, with "Strange World" only appearing on a latter compilation. "Iron Maiden" and "Prowler" would be re-recorded for the band's debut album, with the Rush-sounding "Invasion" re-recorded as a B-side (I do recommend a bunch of the B-sides from this era, especially "Burning Ambition"). The versions here are obviously more raw and punk-ish, but also more slower paced and less developed. Though it's a bit more stream-lined and unpolished, the quality is far from bad, and there's still a lot of electrifying energy to be felt in the performance. There is a reason why the NWOBHM was kickstarted that year, and there's a reason why Iron Maiden became the biggest metal band on the planet. And the seeds of that were planted here.



1980 - Iron Maiden

nikarg:

In 1980 - one of the most celebrated years for heavy metal - a new band dropped their debut full-length, with which they made clear that they were destined to change the map of this kind of music forever. Iron Maiden is so majestic that it comes on top of two other colossal NWOBHM debuts; Angel Witch and Lightning To The Nations. Blending heavy metal and punk in the most successful way ever put on vinyl, this album is full of songs to be played loud at smoke-filled, booze-drenched pubs, packed with plastered youngsters eager to get into a brawl. Paul Di'Anno with his short hair and his carefree attitude is the epitome of coolness in a band of long-haired, pimply, no-girl-will-ever-fuck-me lads who had a boatload of music talent nonetheless. Di'Anno's manly singing effortlessly merges the scenes of metal and punk in songs that are already musically a melting pot of the two genres, like "Prowler", "Running Free", "Charlotte The Harlot", the self-titled track, and my favourite "Sanctuary" (only featured in the U.S. version). But Iron Maiden is not all adolescent and angry; "Remember Tomorrow" and "Strange World" show a more introspective and emotional side, while the astounding "Phantom Of The Opera" reveals Harris's progressive tendencies. Most of Iron Maiden's studio albums from the '80s are perfect. But Iron Maiden, along with Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, is more perfect than the rest.

omne metallum:


For a debut record Iron Maiden is a remarkably strong effort, seeing the band's sound taking shape though with not all the pieces not yet in place. While some cuts have gone on to become some of the band's best-known work don't sleep on the album as a whole as it has way more to offer than one or two tracks. Much of the album has a youthful and rough at the edges sound in both production (this was pre-Martin Birch) and song-writing that leads to tracks like "Prowler" having a charm of their own that makes them unique amongst the band's back catalogue. If you are a fan of the band but also enjoy more stripped back and raw music then this album will hit that spot perfectly. Seek out concert staple "Running Free", Harris' first epic "Phantom Of The Opera" and the eerie "Remember Tomorrow" for some of the best material the band had to offer this early in their careers. While I highly enjoy this album, I recommend starting elsewhere and leaving this later into your deep dives, as enjoyable as it is, it doesn't accurately represent the sound that would become their trademark, once acquainted with the band however ensure that you jump on this in short order.


1981 - Killers

SSUS:

Heralded by one of the most savage and magnificent album covers in heavy metal history, Killers marked the beginning of a decade-long collaboration with much-lauded producer Martin Birch, who brought clarity and precision to Iron Maiden's frenetic energy. Though not yet capable of the sheer presence that Dickinson and McBrain would bring on subsequent releases, the band had already sharpened its technical chops since the debut, with the versatile, dominant rhythm section of Steve Harris and Clive Burr not only providing a stable backdrop for the showmanship of the guitars and vocals, but claiming their own portion of the limelight as well with equally impressive responses. Killers, much like Iron Maiden, is optimized for speed and aggression, with a punkish tenacity and liveliness present in the up-tempo riffs and Paul Di'Anno's husky snarls; for the most part, Killers delivers more of what made the debut a galvanizing force, albeit in a less mature fashion. Most of the compositions predate the writing of Iron Maiden, and the few indulgences in progressive writing that surface, particularly on "Prodigal Son," sound rather chintzy; it is "Murders In The Rue Morgue," one of only two newly written tracks, that best captures the spirit of Iron Maiden's imminent eruption. Nonetheless, the numerous flourishes and impressive musicianship keep Killers exciting, and it spawned in "Wrathchild" one of the band's most enduring hits.

Standout Tracks: "Murders In The Rue Morgue", "Wrathchild", "Another Life", "Twilight Zone"

Radu:


Killers gets unfortunately sandwiched between the groundbreaking debut and The Number Of The Beast, the band's first album with Bruce Dickinson. There are less instantly recognizable hits on Killers than on most 80s Iron Maiden albums, with "Wrathchild" being the only one that most people can pinpoint. Part of that is because Killers is kind of a transitional record. It is the first album with Adrian Smith as a guitarist and with Martin Birch producing, and it does find the band sounding better and having sharpened their technical chops, but also it becomes apparent that a significant amount of the material here was written before Iron Maiden, so the songwriting can feel a bit all over the place, from the prog rock "Prodigal Son", the hard rock "Drifter", the instrumental "Genghis Khan" and the punkish "Murders In The Rue Morgue". Though a bit of that raw punk energy from the debut is lost, in turn leaving a band that was becoming more ambitious but not completely focused yet. And that makes Killers a really fun album to listen to, because it's unpredictable, jumping between being raw, melodic and intricate, partly hit or miss, but never not exciting.



1981 - Maiden Japan

Starvynth:


Maiden Japan is only an EP, but it marks the end of an era - the end of the Paul Di'Anno era. When Iron Maiden performed at the sold-out Aichi Kōsei Nenkin Hall in Nagoya, Japan on May 23, 1981, few observers of the band could have guessed that backstage the facade was already crumbling. For the five (or only four, if you happen to own the European edition without "Wrathchild") songs on Maiden Japan bear clear witness to the fact that Iron Maiden were the world's greatest heavy metal band of the early '80s and ready to take the big halls on every continent by storm. Di'Anno's rough and energetic voice can unfold even better than on the two previous studio albums and his punkish vocals fit perfectly with the aggressive but precise drumming of Clive Burr, who was heard live for the last time on this EP. Adrian Smith and Dave Murray deliver an early testimony of their perfectly matched guitar work and Steve Harris plays his bass as confidently and flawlessly as ever. The audience reactions are typically Japanese - frenetic enough to create a rousing live atmosphere, but restrained enough not to be distracting during the few quieter moments, such as the power ballad "Remember Tomorrow." The song selection is debatable and some will have wished for another real classic from Killers or from the debut instead of the seldomly performed track "Innocent Exile". But that's exactly the charm of this live EP: a compact selection of rarely heard songs and the last live recordings of the probably most legendary Iron Maiden line-up.


1982 - The Number Of The Beast

nikarg:

Paul Di'Anno just had to be the singer of Iron Maiden's first two albums. I don't think anyone can imagine it any other way. But he liked to party a bit too hard and he didn't seem to be so invested into this heavy metal thing, while Steve Harris wanted this band to be 100% heavy metal and 100% professional. The Number Of The Beast is often called 'the greatest heavy metal album of all time' but it is not. Many fans, as well as the band, consider "Invaders" and "Gangland" subpar, with Harris ruing that "Gangland" was included on the album instead of "Total Eclipse" (it wouldn't make much of a difference, if you ask me). However, this album marks a turn for Iron Maiden towards a full-on heavy metal sound and features some outstanding songs such as "22 Acacia Avenue", the title track, and their breakthrough single "Run To The Hills". Dickinson shines on the dramatic "Children Of The Damned" and - of course - on the dark, epic, and unparalleled "Hallowed Be Thy Name". What can I say about this song? It has that signature guitar harmony and those beautiful melodies through all its passages, and Bruce is showcasing his skills and vocal range in the most compelling way possible. This album's closer is the greatest song of arguably the greatest band in the history of heavy metal but you already know that. I can still remember the very moment when I first heard it and I am sure you can too.

omne metallum:


While The Number Of The Beast holds a special place in both the band's history as well as metal as a genre, it is one that overlooks the album's shortcomings and focus' solely on the albums bright spots. While this is hardly a unique issue, it does mean that several tracks are given a free pass owing to the fact they came out on the same record as some of the best material the band has released. Truth be told, The Number Of The Beast is an album of two halves, four (five if you count "Total Eclipse") all time classics in the two singles, the brilliant "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and the overlooked "The Prisoner" share space with four tracks that can best be described as filler to good ideas far from well executed like "Children Of The Damned"; for all the plaudits this album receives remember that this is an album that opens with "Invaders". The arrival of Dickinson has an immediate impact on proceedings with the likes of "Run To The Hills" being the perfect foil for his voice while tracks like "Hallowed Be Thy Name" sees the perfect synthesis between the band's maturing song-writing talents and Dickinson's vocals. The album is also a case of in with the new and out with the old as the album also features one of the most memorable drum introductions courtesy of the soon to be departing Burr in "Run To The Hills" and "Gangland".


1983 - Piece Of Mind

tominator:


What is there to say about this one. I love this record and I consider it the second best Iron Maiden album from the '80s (the best one being... well you'll know soon enough). Does that mean it's perfect? Not entirely. If I had to describe the quality of the songs it would probably be as follows: 6 absolute classics, 2 good songs and 1 dud (yeah, we all know which one that is...). As my co-writer already mentioned, it is "Quest For Fire". By far the weakest link on this album and I would also agree that "Sun And Steel" and "Die With Your Boots on" are not on the same level as the rest of the tracks. However, I still find them rather catchy and enjoyable. In fact, I regularly have that galloping riff of "Sun And Steel" stuck in my head whenever I think about the song. God damnit, it happened again by writing this! I think it's pretty clear that the quality of the other songs cemented the classic status of Piece Of Mind. After all we are talking about songs that I consider absolute classics. From the opening kicker "Where Eagles Dare" (what a way to introduce your new drummer!) to the hypnotic flair of tracks like "Still Life", so many outstanding moments. This album showed that the mega success of The Number Of The Beast wasn't a coincidence. Iron Maiden was here to stay.

musclassia:

The energetic drum solo that kicks off "Where Eagles Dare" lets listeners know right out of the gate that an excellent song and album awaits. "Where Eagles Dare" is only really rivalled by "Aces High" and "The Wicker Man" as far as Iron Maiden album openers go, at least in my opinion (I'm sure "Moonchild" fans are raging), and it's followed by a slew of classic songs, whether it's the iconic juggernaut that is "The Trooper", the hooky "Flight Of Icarus", or the continued explorations of prog that come courtesy of "Revelations" and Dune-themed closer "To Tame A Land". I was lucky enough to see four of these songs when Iron Maiden toured Europe in 2018 ("To Tame A Land" was the unfortunate exclusion), but whilst I feel that Maiden albums were generally more prone to filler tracks than those from other huge names in metal in the 1980s, Piece Of Mind is arguably the biggest culprit. The most notorious dud here is "Quest For Fire", an insomniac cure of a track that plods along with the most mundane chug and tacky lyrics, but "Sun And Steel" is also clearly below the quality of the band's better work, and I'm in the minority in never particularly digging "Die With Your Boots On". As such, Piece Of Mind is a bit of an odd one as far as 80s Iron Maiden goes; it's more up-and-down quality-wise than most of the albums preceding and following it, but it also has some of the band's peaks from this era as well.


1984 - Powerslave

Radu:


In 1984, Iron Maiden were already the biggest metal band on the planet, a position solidified by their previous two albums with Bruce Dickinson, so it seemed like there was no place even higher to go. That is until Powerslave made the whole sound even larger. With an imposing and iconic Egyptian cover art, an amazing production job, and a band in top shape, Powerslave is also the longest Iron Maiden album thus far. Starting off with what I consider to be Iron Maiden's best opener, "Aces High", and then continuing with "2 Minutes To Midnight" to create the one of if not the best 1-2 punch in a metal album. The band is not completely filler-free (are they ever?), as most of the album's muscle is in the first two and last two tracks, but even the filler here is a lot more captivating than on previous albums. "Losfer Words" might not rank as highly among Iron Maiden instrumentals, but the fact that it doesn't slow down the album's momentum after that awesome start is a testament to the band's flow at this point. There really isn't one musician here that doesn't shine, but I'd be a liar not to admit that this is my favorite album in terms of Bruce's vocals. Wrapping up with the powerful title track and then upping the ante of their intricate and progressive songwriting on the 13-minute epic "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" completely washes away any sense that there was a moment wasted. And with such a large album, is it any surprise that it made Iron Maiden even larger, and that the following tour was so grandiose?

SSUS:

Powerslave is often regarded as (one of) Iron Maiden's high point(s), but rather than any significant improvement over previous albums what Powerslave represented was a solidification of Maiden's absolute dominance over heavy metal at that point in time. It was the band's first album to have the same line-up as its predecessor, a fully optimized quintet now recognized as the classic iteration, and it was supported by the 11-month-long World Slavery Tour, which brought an elaborate stage show to ever-increasing audiences the world over and yielded the platinum-selling Live After Death. The album also serves as a broad overview of Iron Maiden's creative strengths: single "2 Minutes To Midnight" is both a fan favorite and an exemplar of the classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound; opener "Aces High" features some of the band's most legendary guitar work, but is even better known as a perfect illustration of why Bruce Dickinson is nicknamed "The Air-Raid Siren"; the pharaonic title track shows Iron Maiden at its most menacing, with a tale of megalomania entrenched in threatening melodies; closing epic "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner," based on the Coleridge poem of the same name, was for three decades the band's longest track and remains one of their most varied and iconic compositions. With cutting riffs on tracks like "Flash Of The Blade" and "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" and soaring choruses on "The Duellists" and "Back In The Village," Powerslave is an easy introduction to Iron Maiden and a well-rounded summary of what makes them one of the most significant metal bands of all time.

Standout Tracks: "Aces High", "Powerslave", "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", "The Duellists"


1985 - Live After Death

Radu:


In 1984, Iron Maiden released their largest album yet, Powerslave. It took them the Slavery World Tour to conquer the world. Live After Death is, without much doubt, the best metal live album, and perhaps among the best live albums ever. You'll notice that a lot of our quarrels with Iron Maiden's studio albums, as awesome as they are, is that they're quite uneven and contain some filler. This completely obliterates that issue, with the closest thing to an unessential track being "Revelations", which is a really high bar, so the band choose the best of the best from their first five albums. And since further live albums would have more material to choose from, they couldn't possibly play it all, but Live After Death has the luxury of coming at just the right time. The band is in top form, the tracklisting is superb (including the four best songs from Powerslave, some of which wouldn't appear on live albums again), the sound quality is fantastic. Live After Death is pretty much the prime example of why Iron Maiden resonated with so many people. And what a better way to open the live album than with the speech that finally won Gary Oldman his Oscar.


1986 - Somewhere In Time

BitterCOld:

Not Maiden's best effort, imbo, but a personal favorite. Was the first "new" album I got as BitterCYoung back in the day. Used to spend hours listening to it while unfolding the cassette cover to take in all the details (and for fun, take in Instagram's Springfieldalbums "Simpsonized" version). You'll find the lads at Maiden's Galloping Best on tracks like "Loneliness..." and the title track. Sprawling historical epics your cup of tea? Look no further than "Alexander The Great". "Wasted Years" features that cool guitar intro that everyone who ever picked up a guitar tried to learn. References to Sci Fi lit? "Stranger In A Strange Land" has got you covered. This album touches on all the Maiden tropes. I think this was Iron Maiden still firing on all cylinders, a great slice of NWOBHM before the following album pretty much was the final chapter to their glory years. Don't overlook this one, else I send Cyber Nelson-Eddie to hunt you down.

musclassia:

Picking a favourite album out of Iron Maiden's 1980s material is a tricky choice for any self-respecting metalhead, but for me it comes down to either Somewhere In Time or the album that immediately followed it. That's perhaps not surprising to those that know my proggy tastes, as between the guitar synths and epic journeys taken by the title track and "Alexander The Great", there's plenty to enjoy on that front here. Those guitar synths, combined with the production job, give Somewhere In Time a really distinctive sound compared with the albums that preceded it, but Iron Maiden backed up the tonal progression with unsurprisingly excellent material, whether it's the aforementioned rampaging title track kicking off the record, the live staple and instantly hooky "Wasted Years", or the energetic and twisted "Sea Of Madness". I do feel that the album sags slightly after this track, with "Heaven Can Wait" running too long and "The Loneliness..." feeling somewhat disjointed. However, this potential nosedive is corrected in masterful fashion with "Stranger In A Strange Land", my favourite song here and one of my all-time top tracks from the band; the slick bass work from Steve Harris and futuristic guitar tone work perfectly to give this moody mid-tempo cut a tremendous atmosphere. The transition from the hugely successful Powerslave to the experimentation on Somewhere In Time was a potentially risky one, but Maiden pulled it off in incredible fashion.


1988 - Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son

musclassia:

Discussions of Iron Maiden's greatest album typically come down to The Number Of The Beast, Powerslave and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son; for a long time after first discovering Maiden, I couldn't understand the adulation for Seventh Son, but with time, its quality has become apparent to me. The Number Of The Beast has some of the band's most iconic songs, and Powerslave arguably even more iconic songs, but Seventh Son stands out courtesy of its strength in depth. Yes, "Can I Play With Madness" makes for a fun sing-along, and yes the basswork in "The Clairvoyant" is mesmerizing. "The Evil That Men Do" indeed has one of the band's strongest choruses, and the closing minutes of the title track are of course amongst the most epic in metal. But Seventh Son also has a really fun opening track in "Moonchild", as well as an inventive and enthralling prog journey in the form of "Infinite Dreams". Just like every other Maiden album, this one isn't perfect, as "The Prophecy" is a clunky and at times tedious song to come immediately after the breathtaking climax of the title track, and "Only The Good Die Young" is a far cry from the amazing epics that had closed the previous four records. However, the album already delivered an amazing epic earlier on with "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son", one that can easily rival the likes of "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", and on a song-by-song basis, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son shapes up favourably to anything in the Iron Maiden discography.

tominator:


Masterpiece! There you go that's all you should know about this album. If you haven't guessed by now, this is my favourite record. Not just Maiden record, favourite record ever made. And to think that the first time I gave this one a listen, I didn't particularly like it. It wasn't a full listen though, I only listened to about 30 seconds of each track to see if something immediately stood out. I remember thinking "Synthesizer on an Iron Maiden album? No, thanks." (Bear in mind I hadn't listened to Somewhere In Time at that time). It sounded odd to me. But then, almost a year later, I gave it a second chance. A real chance. And God was I a fool for not liking it at first. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son is easily the most consistent album Iron Maiden has ever made and the synthesizer adds a lot to the incredible atmosphere it creates. The pacing is brilliant and the variety on offer is that as well. You go from the bombastic "Moonchild" to the catchiness of "Can I Play With Madness" and the progressive touches in the title track, it's all in this amazing album. And then I haven't even mentioned my favourite song of them all, "Infinite Dreams", which is an absolute rollercoaster of a song! The lyrics were also impressive. I think the thing I liked the most about them, is that they basically tell mini stories on a song per song basis. And those mini stories combine into one overarching story. It might not be as involved as other concept albums like for instance Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, but the advantage is that when you listen to a single song it doesn't really feel like you're missing a lot of context. This is THE quintessential Maiden album. An album without any filler whatsoever. Simply put: total perfection!

No Prayer For The Dying was as lethargic a collapse into the '90s as Iron Maiden had been an electrifying introduction to the '80s, widely cited as the first sign of trouble in Iron Maiden's hitherto-unspoiled discography. No Prayer For The Dying cut short a growing interest in experimentation with synthesizers and ambitious, progressive songwriting that had advanced Iron Maiden's reputation on the preceding several albums, favoring shorter and more direct compositions whose indebtedness to simplistic '70s hard rock recalls the band's earliest material. Returning to the raw, terrestrial style of the Di'Anno era seems to have been the intent, but the execution was half-hearted; the production, far from the freshness of the prior decade, feels disharmonious and shallow, while Bruce Dickinson affects a raspy, often sarcastic delivery that doesn't flatter the material or the mundane lyrics. No Prayer For The Dying does not precisely have a single fatal flaw; it is not necessarily poorly written, and the title track could even be called a hidden gem, but there are no real dynamite choruses, the guitars are a hair thin, and the overall sound is lacking in conviction or direction. It is, though not Iron Maiden's worst album by a healthy margin, rarely worth the attention.

Standout Tracks: "No Prayer For The Dying", "Mother Russia"

tominator:


Hmm... you know this was probably one of the last albums from the Iron Maiden discography I've listened to (well apart from The Book Of Souls obviously since that wasn't out yet at the time). I actually bought the CD in a small CD store in Oxford when I was on a school trip in England. The £7 price tag is still on the case... Anyway... Truth be told I didn't really know any of the songs except for "Tailgunner", which I had heard the live version of. The fact that this was the case, it didn't really fill me with confidence when I hit the play button the first time. Surprisingly though at the time, it wasn't that big of a disappointment (at first). I actually liked a couple of the tracks pretty much immediately. Songs like the title track, "Run Silent Run Deep" and "Mother Russia" sounded good to me. I even liked some of the others as well. However, it didn't take too long after those initial impressions, to start seeing some issues. The soundscape is a lot weaker compared to the previous records, the lyrics are a lot weaker, the songwriting is more simplistic... Don't get me wrong I still like the aforementioned songs, but the other tracks all suffer from hit and miss aspects. Best example is "The Assassin". It's incredibly catchy and really fun sounding, but it also has incredibly cheesy lyrics which just sound incredibly out of place for an Iron Maiden song. And this goes for a lot of the other tracks too. Honestly, if this album was made by an unknown band I would probably be saying "This is a good record overall", but this is Iron Maiden we are talking about. For them this is just average and spotty. I will say though that "Mother Russia" often gets overlooked (most likely because it's on this album). That's unfortunate because it's probably the only track on No Prayer For The Dying that reaches the classic status for me. And I feel that if it had been featured on one of their previous albums, it would have been considered as such. All in all, I wouldn't call this terrible, it's (together with another certain record from the '90s) their weakest record overall, but it still has its moments.


1992 - Fear Of The Dark

musclassia:

Iron Maiden clearly didn't think my impending arrival into the world was worth much fanfare, considering they cursed Earth with Fear Of The Dark just over a month before my birth. Most people will know this album purely due to the title track, which is rightly recognized as amongst the best songs the band ever produced. There are those out there that would argue that the song unfairly overshadows what is an otherwise underrated record; that group does not feature me. I will concede that Fear Of The Dark offers more than just "Fear Of The Dark"; "From Here To Eternity" is a fun track, "Be Quick Or Be Dead" is a high-tempo opener full of energy, and "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" has some rather touching guitar melodies in its second half to make up for the forgettable first couple of minutes. However, those three are the first three tracks on the album, and I can't say there's another song in the tracklist prior to the title track that I would recommend. Not all of them suck, but those that don't ("Fear Is The Key", "Childhood's End", "Judas Be My Guide") don't offer that much to write home about, and certainly not enough to justify listening to them ahead of an onslaught of better songs by the group. Then you have the bland, soporific "Wasting Love", awkward "The Apparition" and truly dreadful "Weekend Warrior" to really tank the album as a listening experience. I'm not sure whether this is the worst Bruce-fronted Iron Maiden album or not; "Fear Of The Dark" is clearly superior to any song on No Prayer For The Dying, as arguably are the other three highlights I mentioned. In contrast, No Prayer For The Dying does have the benefit of being a whole 15 minutes shorter than Fear Of The Dark, so if you're forced to listen to one or the other, at least choosing the former means that the ordeal will be over quicker.

nikarg:

In 1992, Iron Maiden are running on fumes. Fear Of The Dark is the second album after the departure of Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson seems more interested in his solo career than the band. Janick Gers is involved in the songwriting for the first time and he is even one of the main contributors. The result is an hour's worth of music, and a more polished and versatile album than its predecessor. The band caught fans by surprise with songs like the almost AC/DC-style rockers "From Here To Eternity" and "Weekend Warrior", the Zeppelin-esque "Fear Is The Key", the power ballad "Wasting Love", and the hair metal-sounding "Chains Of Misery". Admittedly, not everyone was positively surprised. But there are some undeniably stellar Iron Maiden tracks on here, like "Be Quick Or Be Dead", "Childhood's End", and "Judas Be My Guide", even though the true stars are the longer epics; "Afraid To Shoot Strangers" and especially "Fear Of The Dark" are the songs that No Prayer For The Dying was sorely missing. The record-closing title track is the last anthem of the band's original run and Fear Of The Dark clearly marks the end of an era. Artist Derek Riggs did not design Eddie for the first time on this one. Producer Martin Birch would retire after this, never to be seen again. Bruce would leave too, as everyone knows. The golden '80s finally ended in 1992 for Iron Maiden, as for pretty much every other heavy metal act. But Fear Of The Dark is not without its merits.



 



Written on 22.03.2021 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments

Comments: 25   Visited by: 206 users
22.03.2021 - 12:18
Deadsoulman
Ok Lumberjack
If anything, this article made me want to revisit Iron Maiden's whole discography (well maybe not "whole", but at least up to Seventh Son), so great job guys! Iron Maiden is one of those bands I rarely listen to nowadays, but everytime I do the first thing that comes to my mind is "man, this is so cool!".

I wouldn't have much to add to this article, except that I would rate Seventh Son slightly lower and Killers much higher. I have a special soft, warm and fuzzy spot for Killers, which is the first metal album I heard before I even knew or cared "metal" was a thing. It's also one the first albums I EVER heard in my life thanks to my dad, and so it would be one of the four or five most important albums in the making of my taste in music.
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22.03.2021 - 12:40
Nejde
Green Devil
I will start to point out that I don't know if this is a true story or not but here goes. In junior high in the early nineties we had a music teacher named Pelle Hjelmér. Quite tall as I remember him, glasses and a beard. He always wore manchester trousers and flannel shirts.
The story he told was about his time in England in the seventies when he was in his early 20's. He used to hang around the bars and venues where local bands were playing punk and rock. He himself was quite prominent guitar player and played mostly for fun with some other guys. One particular evening a guy called Steve approached him after hearing him playing and told him he needed a guitar player for his band. For some reason Pelle politely declined. Some time later Pelle went back home to Sweden and eventually became a teacher instead. A couple of years later Steve and his friends got their big break. The band? Iron Maiden.
As I stated in the beginning, I don't know if his story is true, but at the same time I see no reason for him to lie about it for some 13 year old students in his music class. And he was a damn good guitar player and probably still is. So yeah, it's definitely plausible.
I will also point out that I didn't know who Iron Maiden were back then. My love for Maiden started when my first girlfriend introduced me to them back in '98. Before that I was more into the hardcore/straight edge movement and wanted my music heavier and angrier.

Favourite album: Powerslave
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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22.03.2021 - 13:24
Stormm

I consider Powerslave as an album of contrast. Some all time classics and some best examples of their style and strongest elements. But also with some weak links (Losfer words, Back In The village). And The Duellists is just good song.
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22.03.2021 - 13:28
musclassia

Written by Stormm on 22.03.2021 at 13:24

I consider Powerslave as an album of contrast. Some all time classics and some best examples of their style and strongest elements. But also with some weak links (Losfer words, Back In The village). And The Duellists is just good song.


If I'd covered that album, I would've said the same. I do like Losfer Words, but that Flash Of The Blade-The Duellists-Back In The Village stretch is one that I've never been overly keen on (Back In The Village is definitely my least favourite of the trio), so when you compare them to the 2 songs that begin and 2 songs that end the album, it's a big dip in the middle of the album
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22.03.2021 - 13:49
nikarg
Mod
Written by Nejde on 22.03.2021 at 12:40

I will start to point out that I don't know if this is a true story or not....

If this story is true and if I were Pelle, I would cry myself to sleep for the rest of my life.


Written by RaduP on 22.03.2021 at 10:21

Some of you may notice that the write-up and rating for Iron Maiden has been mistakenly taken from the Soundhouse Tapes one. I will put Nik's proper write-up and rating here, until the issue gets fixed.

Our EIC should be roasted for even considering that anyone would give 3 and a half stars to Iron Maiden's debut.
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22.03.2021 - 14:19
Nejde
Green Devil
Written by nikarg on 22.03.2021 at 13:49

Written by Nejde on 22.03.2021 at 12:40

I will start to point out that I don't know if this is a true story or not....

If this story is true and if I were Pelle, I would cry myself to sleep for the rest of my life.

That's exactly my thought too. Although he didn't seemed to be unhappy in any way back then. Maybe he had and still has a rich and happy life in many other ways instead. But yeah, teaching music to tone deaf school kids who didn't give a rat's ass or be the guitarist for Iron Maiden... Still, there's no point in looking back at what could've have been. The only way is forward.
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"When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It's only painful for others. The same applies when you are stupid." - Ricky Gervais
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22.03.2021 - 17:20
Silent Creeper
Senile Veteran
Some ratings are a bit off (too low for a fanboy like myself), but all in all nice article. As pointed out, Powerslave and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son are definitely their greatest albums - even though I still find most of their (especially 80's) material excellent.
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22.03.2021 - 23:53
nikarg
Mod
I don't think it was intentional but we posted this on the 39th birthday of The Number Of The Beast.
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23.03.2021 - 01:42
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
Written by nikarg on 22.03.2021 at 13:49

Written by RaduP on 22.03.2021 at 10:21

Some of you may notice that the write-up and rating for Iron Maiden has been mistakenly taken from the Soundhouse Tapes one. I will put Nik's proper write-up and rating here, until the issue gets fixed.

Our EIC should be roasted for even considering that anyone would give 3 and a half stars to Iron Maiden's debut.

I did think it was unfortunate that we should have such a middling review for one of their best albums, but it was late and I suppose I was more concerned about getting the article up than reading it.

But it has been fixed, so everyone can observe that Iron Maiden has now correctly been adorned with a five-star write-up, as it should be.
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"Earth is small and I hate it" - Lum Invader

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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23.03.2021 - 03:14
tominator
At best deranged
Written by nikarg on 22.03.2021 at 23:53

I don't think it was intentional but we posted this on the 39th birthday of The Number Of The Beast.


Eh... totally intentional... for sure... You know, we've planned that for months. Don't you remember?
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23.03.2021 - 15:46
Karlabos
Meat and Potatos
Getting into Iron Maiden? Nah... I'll pass, thanks.
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Rose is red, violet is blue. Flag is win, Baba is you.
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23.03.2021 - 17:17
Zap
Phlegmish
Written by Karlabos on 23.03.2021 at 15:46

Getting into Iron Maiden? Nah... I'll pass, thanks.

I'd rather stick needles in my- oh, wait...
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And the tears that we will weep today
Will all be washed away
By the tears that we will weep again tomorrow
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23.03.2021 - 20:57
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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23.03.2021 - 21:07
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Now you guys need do getting into Bruce, Blaze solo and just for fun Iced Earth

Anyway to me I remember as teenager I got No Prayer For Dying cassete, it was wow, men, long hair, jeans, letter, they likes football and drinks beer (and maybe get all chicks)
I did listen it a lot , it stuck to me, so deep, its still my fav album , I hate daughter song, but rest is awesome

Then second my fav is debut. I remember went to mountain, as young lad, whit old school mp3 player, where you put whole CD in lol, it was summer, midnight sun, I listened it whole niggt.... girls gives you plasma dreams, then 2005 I saw it in Ullevi in Göteborg, they plaid frist 4 albums and Bruce was good,
Good punk my ass attitude, sortha same as Motorhead you can have long hair, you can have doc martins and grey hair and you can listen those bands.

Killers - I hate it, never liked it, Murders and or old gone famous French staff nick name. Those songs stands out, rest sorry , I dislike it. But its better as last 2 offers

Numer- Energy full New Wave sound whit extreme HM spices, young Bruce , when we were young all was fun, I like it its awesome, but Piece Of Mind I like a bit more, because my fav song Trooper.

Powerslave Still classic sound, old 80's band is big, rich and glory follows, they have only one goal, ( I will buy you beer if you tell me what logo has Steve on his bass). Good album

Somewhere In Time - Good album whit to me a bit power metal elements as Helloween something simmilar.

Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son - A bit Progressive touch there, good,

Fear Of The Dark Enjoyable , maybe best from all NW bands what put albums out in 90's and did not die.

Cant pick up fav songs, I told what I dislike, to me whole disco here is strong and worth to listen, somehow I wish time would not exist and I could listen it again.

Great band, good era. Maybe best what metal can give. There wont be bigger metal band from UK never ever again.
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Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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23.03.2021 - 22:36
Starvynth
i c deaf people
Written by Bad English on 23.03.2021 at 21:07

I will buy you beer if you tell me what logo has Steve on his bass.

It's a West Ham United sticker and this is already the third beer you owe me.
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signatures = SPAM
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24.03.2021 - 00:51
omne metallum

Written by Silent Creeper on 22.03.2021 at 17:20

Some ratings are a bit off (too low for a fanboy like myself), but all in all nice article. As pointed out, Powerslave and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son are definitely their greatest albums - even though I still find most of their (especially 80's) material excellent.


I found it hard to settle on the ratings, its a testament to their quality and consistency, but it would have made for a confusing read trying to explain why one five star album was better than another five star album
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Just because I'm not listening doesn't mean I don't care
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24.03.2021 - 10:44
Callisto

Nice group effort guys, I enjoyed reading every word. This section is really gaining on me!
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25.03.2021 - 12:22
Jon Irenicus

Sorry that I have to say this, but for me, personally, Iron Maiden is the epitome of ridiculous. That vocals alone... Why does a grown man sing like this?

It's the kind of music that I hope people do not think about when I tell them that I'm listening to metal.

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25.03.2021 - 13:08
RaduP
CertifiedHipster
Written by Jon Irenicus on 25.03.2021 at 12:22

Sorry that I have to say this, but for me, personally, Iron Maiden is the epitome of ridiculous. That vocals alone... Why does a grown man sing like this?

It's the kind of music that I hope people do not think about when I tell them that I'm listening to metal.



I'm sorry but there's isn't any metal that isn't ridiculous
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Serenity is no longer wishing you had a different past.

2021 goodies
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25.03.2021 - 15:10
Jon Irenicus

Written by RaduP on 25.03.2021 at 13:08

Written by Jon Irenicus on 25.03.2021 at 12:22

Sorry that I have to say this, but for me, personally, Iron Maiden is the epitome of ridiculous. That vocals alone... Why does a grown man sing like this?

It's the kind of music that I hope people do not think about when I tell them that I'm listening to metal.



I'm sorry but there's isn't any metal that isn't ridiculous


Some more, some less...
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25.03.2021 - 18:28
Deadsoulman
Ok Lumberjack
Written by Jon Irenicus on 25.03.2021 at 12:22

That vocals alone... Why does a grown man sing like this?



That's an odd thing to say - what are "grown men vocals" according to you then?

Dickinson doesn't strike me as especially childish, theatrical or over-the-top, and his singing is more natural than any growl, scream, shriek or whichever forced vocal techniques I can think of...
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26.03.2021 - 08:10
Jon Irenicus

Written by Deadsoulman on 25.03.2021 at 18:28

That's an odd thing to say - what are "grown men vocals" according to you then?

Dickinson doesn't strike me as especially childish, theatrical or over-the-top, and his singing is more natural than any growl, scream, shriek or whichever forced vocal techniques I can think of...


I admit it, my grown-man-comment was too much. I even would in a way agree with RaduP. You can easily say that any form of growling, screaming or shrieking is ridiculous. Still, even if you say that the vocals aren't especially theatrical, they are way too theatrical for my tastes.
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27.03.2021 - 14:07
tominator
At best deranged
Bruce's "theatrical" style is why I absolutely love his vocals. It adds a lot to the storytelling which we've come to expect from a lot of Maiden's songs.

I think that's also part of why it's difficult to cover a song from them. Finding the right balance between straightforward power and the theatrics. When people talk about a singer sounding theatrical, I always have to think about the singers from bands like Sellsword and Strident. Not necessarily Iron Maiden. They kind of go overboard with it. I do enjoy that from time to time, but Iron Maiden always striked the perfect balance. In part due to Dickinson's (as well as the other singers') vocals but also thanks to the songwriting.
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30.03.2021 - 15:12
Enemy of Reality

I'd divide Maiden's career into 5 phases.

The first comprehends the Di'anno era, which honestly i don't appreciate that much. Not the songs themselves which gained a whole new life at the hands of Bruce, but solely because i don't like Paul's singing. A handful of remarkable songs but overall, still proto-Maiden and for me i'd rank these first 2 albums on the second half of the list.

The second is the classic Maiden in their prime era from The Number of the Beast until Seventh Son. All these albums are 9 and 10/10. Hard to choose a favorite. I'd go with Powerslave because it has a very special meaning to me.

The third era is the No Prayer/Fear of the Dark sequence where the band sounds "old" for the most part. These were actually the first Maiden albums i heard and actually enjoy a few songs a lot, but when compared to other albums they pale in comparison. Specially No Prayer.

The forth is the Blaze stuff. They have a lot of good things going on for them, great songs but both albums deserved better editing. The Angel and the Gambler would be a very cool song if it was cut to 5 minutes, for example. Without doubt the least good Maiden era. Surprisingly to most people i prefer Virtual XI to X Factor.

The fifth is divided in two. A 5.1 is the awesome return to form with Brave New World and personally a not so great sequel with Dance of Death. And 5.2 is the incursion into progressive experimental "we don't give a shit because we're Iron Maiden" long stuff with the subsequent albums which i enjoy very very much. A Matter of Life and Death is an incredible album.

It's very hard for me to rank them but i think it would be something like this:
1. Powerslave
2. Somewhere in Time
3. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
4. The Number of the Beast
5. Piece of Mind
6. Brave New World
7. A Matter of Life and Death
8. Fear of the Dark
9. The Book of Souls
10. The Final Frontier
11. Killers
12. Iron Maiden
13. Dance of Death
14. No Prayer For The Dying
15. Virtual XI
16. The X Factor
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02.04.2021 - 18:06
4look4rd
The Sasquatch
Greatest band of all time to me. Every single album has something memorable, even the "bad" albums would likely be all time highlights for any band other than Iron Maiden. I remember Brave New World and Dance of Death getting a lot of shit they came out, but to me they are up there with the 80s classics. It's unbelievable how consistent and long their career have been. I don't think any other band comes close to the quality, consistency, longevity, and influence that Maiden has had.
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