I've always liked Iron Maiden, ever since I heard "Run to the Hills" for the very first time. My fondness for the band grew greater and greater as time went on, and then one day, I heard my first Maiden album, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. After a year or so passed, I had finally acquired all of the so-called "classic" Iron Maiden albums. Or so I thought, because around two weeks ago, I purchased Maiden's self-titled debut. I was scared because I wasn't sure if Paul Di'Anno's vocals would be as enjoyable as Bruce Dickinson's. Turns out, I had nothing to be scared about after all.
Iron Maiden's Iron Maiden is a superb album, featuring all of the things that made the band with Bruce Dickinson so great, except with a much different vocalist. The riffs may not be as melodic or as power metal-ish as with Dickinson, nor are the vocals as operatic, but this album is still a magnificent effort. Paul Di'Anno's vocals happen to be, as I said before, much different from Bruce Dickinson's. He can't hit the higher notes like Bruce can, but really, his vocals are nothing to complain about. His vocals fit the album perfectly. On some of these songs, I just don't think I could imagine them being sang by Bruce. Notably Sanctuary and Charlotte the Harlot.
And speaking of the quality of the songs, there's not a single one that's lacking. One of my least favorite songs here is Prowler, but even though it's one of the worst here, it's a great song! Most of the songs here have a more hard rock edge to them. While the material with Bruce is regular old metal, this is sort of like a combonation of both hard rock and heavy metal. It's still metal though, don't get me wrong.
The musicianship is very good. Steve Harris has been in the band since day one, as he is the man who created Iron Maiden, but anyway, this album shows that even in the early days when Harris was pretty young, he was still a magnificent bass player. His bass is especially remarkable in the epic Phantom of the Opera. As you all know, most Maiden albums have their own "epic" song. For example, Piece of Mind has To Tame A Land. Phantom of the Opera is this album's epic. Now, this is one song that I could see Bruce singing. Back on the subject of Steve Harris, this is where his bass-playing shines. The song begins with an absolutely spectacular bass intro. You have to have talent to play bass like that, and talent is exactly what Harris has. While the bass is always great with Maiden, the guitar is lacking. While the hard-rock-ish style of playing fits perfectly with the music, I prefer the faster, higher, and more melodic guitar-playing that can be found in albums like Powerslave anyway, but the thing is, Dennis Stratton just isn't as good of a guitar player as Adrian Smith (the guitarist who joins the band next) is. Now, Dave Murray, who has been in the band since day one like Harris, pulls off some pretty cool things. Transylvania is one of the few Iron Maiden instrumentals, and it is simply five minutes of brilliant musicianship. Clive Burr is certainly not an incompotent drummer either. He has a unique style in which he mimics the guitars and bass. Phantom of the Opera is a perfect example of this.
Overall, Iron Maiden's self-titled debut doesn't have many flaws at all. Every track has something to offer. Sanctuary's catchy and fun, Running Free's just a flat-out killer song, the title track is an energetic song with lyrics that are describing the spirit of the actual Iron Maiden torture device; I could name every song and one of its good qualities, but that would be redundant. You'll just have to listen to this for yourself. Although it's no Powerslave, I like this album more than Seventh Son, and perhaps even Piece of Mind, but only by just a minute margin. Although Di'Anno's vocals are criticized, they're pretty good, and they find very well with the songs themselves. However, it is a good thing that he is no longer in the band, because Di'Anno just would not sound right on latter songs, like Rime of the Ancient Mariner or Run to the Hills. As for the album's flaws, the only thing I could have really asked for is a rawer production, because I would like to hear this album with a rawer sound. Not too raw, mind you, but rawer than my copy is. I purchased the remastered edition, which is quite polished when it comes to production. This does not decrease my opinion on the album though. Iron Maiden's eponymous debut is a superb album, and while it's no Powerslave, it certainly gets the job done and leaves me happy.
Listen To These:
Phantom of the Opera
Charlotte the Harlot