Review Summary: "Killers" is still a decent record, but definitely inferior to the similar debut, "Iron Maiden". The weakest link in the legendary classic era of Iron Maiden.
In 1981, pioneering heavy metal band Iron Maiden released their acclaimed follow up to their debut, entitled “Killers”. This is the second and last album that Iron Maiden recorded with lead singer Paul Di Anno, before trading up for the legendary Bruce Dickinson and forming their legendary line-up. Unfortunately, though a decent effort, Killers attempts to be superior to the previous Maiden effort (the debut), but ultimately fails on nearly every level. This is a record that is far too overrated by fans and critics of the group.
“Killers” has many blunders, more than it does achievements. The biggest complaint I have with this record is how tedious and dry it can be compared to other Maiden albums. When you listen to Iron Maiden, you expect a few things. First and foremost, those high energy, burning hot guitar leads and intricate harmonies are a huge part of Iron Maiden’s sound. Sadly, this album lacks layered riffing and is much more rhythm based. While there are a few gems on the record, like “Killers” or “Drifter” that feature some pretty epic leads and riffs, most of the album is comprised of tracks with much less substance, like the painfully boring “Twilight Zone”, the easily forgettable “Purgatory”, and the totally superfluous “Innocent Exile”. While these tracks are not absolutely horrible, they are simply not great or even good enough to compete with more engaging and multifaceted tracks from the debut. All this said, these are nothing compared to the albums biggest fault, “Murders in the Rue Morgue”. I have absolutely no clue as to why there are Iron Maiden fans who pray to this song like it’s a god, but when looked at critically, it’s the most repetitive and annoying track that Iron Maiden had produced thus far in their career. Following a promising and exciting intro, the tune takes off in a much heavier direction, but ultimately drags for 4 minutes without producing anything riveting or even slightly entertaining. Some may find the immediate shift from the relaxed intro to a heavy state interesting, and it is, but the rest of the song is a bit pathetic. To me, it doesn't have any sort of 'wow' factor whatsoever. Despite a splendid solo, the incessant echo of the abhorrent chorus definitely brings the album down. When I listen to “Phantom of the Opera” and “Transylvania”, which are tracks from the debut, I enjoy them so much, because of the copious of intriguing lead riffs and epic guitar attacks. Clearly, the biggest issue on the album is the lack of density and color, whereas the debut featured much more diversity in song structure and a higher abundance of varying harmonies, this album is definitely more one-dimensional and less entertaining. Most of the time, it just lacks the texture that “Iron Maiden” contained.
Besides the lack of impressive leads and instrumental intricacy, the album has a few other small problems as well. As I mentioned before, there are some forgettable tracks on here, and one that is just flat out awful. “Innocent Exile”, “Purgatory”, “Murders in the Rue Morgue” and “Twilight Zone” are all weak tracks that did nothing but bore me. They were just ‘there’ and had no impact on me whatsoever. Though the album has some extraordinary tracks, it is nearly impossible to disregard that more than half of the album ranges from awful to solid. Filler songs like “Twilight Zone” simply have nothing to offer besides the sluggish and painful movement of time. Not that every track has to have riffs and rapture galore at every moment, but simply put, the few tracks I’ve mentioned have literally nothing special about them at all.
If you are a fan of “Killers” and believe that I am being way to critical of it, you may relax now, because this album has its good points as well, and I’ll be happy to share them with you. “Prodigal Son”. Yes. “Prodigal Son”. If you are Maiden fan, than I need to say nothing more, but if you are unfamiliar with this song, then listen up. “Prodigal Song” is one of the best and most amusing tracks that Maiden has ever written. It never drags. It’s a softer track, maybe comparable to that of Metallica’s “One”, but has its dazzling climaxes as well. The integration of the acoustic guitar fits perfectly into the song, and the break from the heaviness is quite refreshing. This is a song that I’d never expect a heavy metal band like Iron Maiden to write, but it works out perfectly and is a true gem in Maiden’s discography, and probably the strongest track on the record. Like “Prodigal Son”, the title track, “Killers” never drags either and is a Maiden classic. Following a famous galloping bass line from Steve Harris, the rest of the intro flows like a tsunami through your speakers, it is pure heaven compared to the prior tracks which were mostly lackluster and uninviting. “Killers” is the most engaging track on the album and is the one that I always sing along to. Not a weak spot is to be found in the song, and it actually features some outstanding dual guitar lines, which is an area that the album was definitely lacking in prior to this track. Another great track, “Another Life” is also pretty engaging as well. Following an elaborate drum intro, “Another Life” entertains for its entire length, and also displays some marvelous harmonies and bass lines. It’s a shame this track isn’t more popular, it’s one of the best here, despite the oddly repetitive lyrics. The two instrumentals “Genghis Khan” and the intro track “Idles of March” (which should have been longer) are also good tunes, nothing spectacular, but definitely more solid than some of the other pathetic songs. See, not all bad right?
In the end, while “Killers” is still a solid album, it is highly overhyped and definitely a lesser version of their excellent debut. It’s just one of those albums that has its few fantastic moments, but overall, most of the tracks are just outright boring. It lacks the ‘oomph’ that the debut displayed. I would definitely say that the tracks I recommend are ones worth listening too, but besides those, the album is just an average hard rock record.
Second review in my Iron Maiden series, please don't neg me if you disagree, because I know this is a controversial rating for this record. However, any constructive criticism would be appreciated. Thanks.
I will neither pos nor neg here. Not just because I disagree on some points (I looooove Murders in the Rue Morgue), but also because your arguments don't make sense at all times. To me, at least. One other thing: you might want to put song and album titles in italics.
Oh, and Drifter is definitely one of the weakest songs on here.
I'd advise you do it here and in your previous review already, it will look much better. As for arguments:
Following a promising and exciting intro, the tune takes off in a much heavier direction, and ultimately drags for 4 minutes without producing anything riveting or even slightly entertaining.
Intro is promising and exciting, correct, but the song leading into a heavier direction flows perfectly from the beginning. The part about it not being entertaining I don't get at all. Those are some of the best vocals Di'Anno ever did with them and the whole song is catchy as hell. Plus, it's nice 'n fast, which means that it doesn't drag one bit. The lyrics tell a story, which means it's interesting to listen to throughout.
Yes thats what I thought you would say. That was worded a little awkwardly, thanks for pointing that out. When I showed this too a few colleagues, they said the review was great, but haha, they both mentioned that line. However, I must disagree with you in that tracks quality, the lyrics are pretty bad ass but the song drags, it repeats way to often and it really didn't 'wow' me with anything. I was really bored by it, though the lyrics are pretty brilliant. Thanks for the criticism though, I'll go back and see If I can change that line.
Ides of March, Prodigal Son, Wrathchild, and the title track are the only real standouts here imo. Murders isnt as bad as you say but it does get rather annoying. This is the first Maiden record I ever got and there is alot of filler.
This is by no means a bad album, but aside from the Bailey offerings and No Prayer for the Dying and maybe Fear of the Dark, this is their worst. I guess that just goes to say how fucking stellar Maiden is. UP THE IRONS!
I'm one of the few who actually prefers this album to their debut, but only slightly. The overall quality of the tracks is about on-par but what really made me enjoy this album more was the title track, easily one of my favorite Maiden songs.