Review Summary: Though inferior to later triumphs like "Powerslave" and "Piece of Mind", this record is severely underrated by fans and contains some of Maiden's best songs. One of the best debuts by a metal band in the history of the genre
What instantly pops into your head when somebody mentions the metal monsters known as Iron Maiden? Is it “Number of the Beast”? Is it “The Trooper”? Or do you think of those universally known lyrics in the chorus of “Run to the Hills”? Whatever the case may be, when I hear somebody mention Iron Maiden, I think of their highly underappreciated debut “Iron Maiden”. My reason? It’s pretty straightforward. This is where Maiden’s campaign all began. Sure, this record doesn’t have the legendary Bruce Dickinson wailing away on epic tracks like “Flash of the Blade” or “Revelations”, and maybe it lacked the drumming behemoth Nicko McBrain who would later join Maiden, but one thing it did encompass were some truly phenomenal tracks.
Though this is not the strongest effort from Iron Maiden, it’s still pretty damn awesome in its own right, and the good definitely outweigh the bad. The first track that I feel I the need to mention is “Phantom of the Opera”. Clocking in at a little over 7 minutes, this is the longest track on the record, and probably my personal favorite. This tune is a Maiden classic, and it’s no question as to why. “Phantom of the Opera” is loaded with excellent solos and leads, blazing hot dual guitar attacks, and of course, those gorgeous Maiden harmonies. From 3:20-4:20, audible chocolate is emitted through my headphones; an outstanding tapping frenzy that is accompanied by a brilliant backing rhythm. This is undoubtedly the best moment on the record. There are also some other magnificent harmonies and dual leads on this record, such as the main riff in the title track, or the highly unique guitar/bass combo in “Charlotte the Harlot”. If you are looking to hear some harmonized ecstasy, look no further than the tracks that I’ve mentioned.
Harmony and great leads are the strongest suits that this album has to offer, but the second most enjoyable aspect of this album is the wonderful balance of light and heavy songs. For example, after the bubbly opener called “Prowler”, which is a pretty good and heavy track, the album takes you into a different direction with the rockin’ ballad “Remember Tomorrow”, which is not only a stand out song, but one of the best on the album. This one demonstrates the element of musical diversity that Maiden incorporates, effortlessly transitioning from a head-banger to a softer tune such as this, and it pays off. For a second example, the most upbeat and unrelenting section of heaviness on the album is “Sanctuary”. While “Sanctuary” is a pretty mediocre track, it does flow right into one of the most subdued (and one of the best) songs on the album, the heartwarming “Strange World”, one of the most overlooked songs from Iron Maiden. This bad ass ballad features some of the most unique guitar tones on the album; a thick and clean guitar voice that is seldom used as an effect in heavy metal. On another note, this track features the use of ‘guitar harmonics’, a technique that was also used by other 80’s metal bands in songs like Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” and Megadeth’s “Tornado of Souls”. The use and variation of this technique which is used in a few tracks, (but is most prominent in this one), make the album much more lifelike and interesting than a normal old metal record.
So far, it seems like I’m making this album out to be a flawless tour de force right? Unfortunately, though it’s an excellent effort, it has its blunders as well. The biggest setback on the album is probably “Sanctuary”. To be quite honest, I really don’t see why Iron Maiden fans drool over this song, it doesn’t really have much going for it musically, and it’s definitely outshined by other, more vibrant tracks like “Phantom of the Opera” and “Remember Tomorrow”. It’s the one true plague that the album contains. The only other slightly weak track is “Running Free” which gets a little too much praise as well. It’s a solid track, but again, offers nothing but a sweet riff. The chorus to “Running Free” is absolutely insufferable and very annoying, and whenever I listen to this album in full, I usually skip this one. While "Prowler" is a good opener and a great track overall, it is not on the creative level that the stronger tracks are on, and because of this, the track is really not memorable following a first listen, though it's still a great track.
To wrap things up, “Iron Maiden” is definitely not the flawless work of art that “Powerslave” is, but it’s still one of Maiden’s best albums and is definitely underrated many Iron Maiden fans. Some of the tracks are truly stunning, and if you are interested in Iron Maiden or getting into metal in general, this album is a must-have.
“Phantom of the Opera”
First review. I know it was completely unnecessary, but I wanted to review this album, and I will be reviewing every Maiden album from this to Seventh Son, kind of like in a series. Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks in advance.
4 is the perfect rating for this album. but when i think of maiden, i immediately flock to my most worn CD, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. im just a sucker for synths, and that album is bitchin'. but to each his own.
I know it was completely unnecessary, but I wanted to review this album, and I will be reviewing every Maiden album from this to Seventh Son, kind of like in a series. Any suggestions would be appreciated, thanks in advance.
Mike Stago already did everything, and I would have done the same if he hadn't before me. But go ahead, I'd like to see your take even though all of their work has enough reviews. I agree that this is very underrated next to their work with Dickinson, and I prefer this slightly to Killers. Also, I must say that this is very, very solid for a first review. Most first ones are pretty poor.
I'm in the minority concerning Invaders. Really effective opener, which makes it stronger in the album, not on its own. Gangland is alright, The Prisoner is pretty cheesy and admittedly the weakest after Gangland. Luckily they made up for those two with lot of awesum metulz, including the best song they ever did, of course.
This album is also AMAZING. Even tho the production wasn't up to scratch and it was raw, THAT made the album what it was and what gave it its legandary status. Best tracks hands down are the title track, remember tomorrow and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.