Review Summary: With the likely exception of Guns and Roses' Appetite for Destruction, no other metal band has made a better debut album. Top to bottom, I would say this is a stronger piece of work than some of their more well-known albums like Powerslave and Piece of Mi
This released before the mighty Dickinson years, and a man named Paul Di'Anno growled out lyrics for Maiden during these times. Steve Harris, the bassist, founder AND lead songwriter, wrote songs that were perfect for Di'Anno's voice. The production, or lack-there-of, gives the guitars an extra distorted, punky sound. However, this may have been more of a blessing than a curse as that same unique sound is what fans love about the Di'Anno years.
Usually for great bands, the debut tends to be forgotten among the rest of the musical works the artists produce. Not so for Maiden. This album is a staple in the bands history, as it contains several of their best tracks, and many forgotten classics. There is no poor song on the album, a feat that has only been matched by the great Seventh Son of a Seventh Son in Maiden's catalogue. Side A contains one of the very best Iron Maiden songs ever in Phantom of the Opera, and Side B has the band's self-titled song, which is played at every single concert they perform. This is a good a debut as a band could hope for.
1) Prowler-This song opens up with a memorable riff, before the song itself begins. The perfect display of early Maiden energy, as Di'Anno howls out the unclassy, yet catchy lyrics the guitarists echo him with harmony that changes from simple to complex in the flick of a wrist. A straightforward, upbeat song in general that is always fun to listen to. 4/5.
2) Remember Tomorrow-Changing the tone almost completely from Prowler, the second track is much more complex and emotional. A soft bass line opens it up, as if building up into the soft singing from Paul, which he does surprisingly well. After awhile the song goes into a brief heavy riff before growing softer again. A nice change of pace from the rest of the album, this song keeps it from feeling monotonous. 4/5
3) Running Free-Getting back into the quicker tone, Running Free opens up with sharp drum and bass lines before a low-pitched guitar wail chimes in. The vocals here command the melody of the song, as the verses are sharply growled out, before the tuneful, simple chorus "I'm Running Free." This song is an anthem for the runaway, live-for-the-moment person. It's a catchy song which doesn't stand out, but is still a perfect addition to the album. 4/5
4) Phantom of the Opera-The best song to be found on the album, and also the longest at 7 minutes and 20 seconds long. The relentless, sharp opening guitar work takes listeners on an insane ride through everything early Iron Maiden was about. It's all here, the raw guitar licks, perfectly complimenting Paul's raspy vocals, and occcasionally interrupted by brief, yet memorable bass lines to break things down a bit. And that's all before the amazing 4 minute intrumental mid-section. 5/5
5) Transylvania-As an instrumental, this song allows the musicians to show off their talents without being overshadowed by Paul's aggressive voice. And show it off they do. It's a very well composed piece of music, opening up with a rapid-firing guitar spasm before effortlessly gliding into a melodious riff, this song is a classic without any vocals there at all. The fast guitar is always there, however, powering its way through the song and keeping this at the speed that at this point is a key factor in the enjoyment of the album. It's almost like a miniature Phantom of the Opera. 4.5/5
6) Strange World-A drawn out guitar riff that ends Transylvania flows right into this song. Another song that slows down the pace from the rest, this song begins with a soft, almost otherworldly intro that sounds not unlike a distorted version of Pink Floyd. The heaviness is not completely missing, however as the solo returns to the punk sound the other songs used. Paul, however, completely steals the show on this track. Singing in a soft, crooning voice that differs from his usual style, he describes the "Strange World" in vivid, yet weird, detail. The closest thing to a tear-jerker on the album, this song takes you over and makes you feel what the band wants you to. 5/5
7) Sanctuary-The fast-paced, driving rhythm returns for the next song. "Sanctuary" is about as simple as it gets. The main riff is comprised of two notes, yet is still manages to make you hum along. I found it to be the most catchy song on an album full of them. It's just another piece of the puzzle in this album of addictive tunes. 4/5.
8) Charlotte the Harlot-Maiden created a whole "mini-series" of songs out of this one 4 minute tale of a prostitute named Charlotte. This is one of the better songs in the saga, and the only one that has the old school Maiden sound to it. What hooks you is the chorus, with lyrics that are so bad their good. Or maybe the lyrics are just bad, but the way Paul sings them makes you forget. Whatever the case this could still be called one of the "lesser" songs found on the album, if there were such a thing. It still retains the charm the rest of the songs have, however, and is secretly one of the heaviest there. 4/5
9) Iron Maiden-The self-titled song on the self-titled album is a blast. The riff is beloved among fans (myself included) as it is one of the more complex, yet just as fun as the rest. Still, you'd expect a bit more out of the song the band named after themselves. Not that its a bad song, because its actually very good, but this seemed like a smaller effort on their part for the closer of the album. 4/5
All in all, this is a great debut for the band, though it sounds incredibly different to their later work. The sound of this album is the sound of a hungry, young band that was ready to take over the world of metal music, a feat which they very much succeeded in.
Phantom of the Opera