Review Summary: A few flaws here and there, but in the end of the day - a huge record.
One of the finest debut efforts you will find across the genre. Even though it lacked decent production, this album sounds very, very tight. Most of the credit goes to the one and only Steve Harris. Iron Maiden is obviously his brainchild and back then everything revolved around him and his outstanding talent on the bass guitar. But that doesn't mean that other members weren't good or that they didn't contribute. Au contraire, they left a pretty good impression themselves.
Prowler kicks everything off with a single guitar riff that is joined by other instruments in a matter of seconds, creating an attractive, almost punkish groove. Di'Anno's vocals are then introduced and are as aggressive as they get. He gets through the verse-chorus section quickly, and coming up is a short instrumental break which soon gets back into the starting groove and Di'Anno comes in again. The guitar solo is nice, nothing special though. An average song, at least according to Maiden standards. (3/5)
The next track is much different and in a way hints at things to come in the future. Remember Tomorrow starts with a beautiful bass line that actually spreads through all the verses in a subtle manner. Mentioning the verses, one has to say that Di'Anno struck gold with his tone. Very low and gentle throughout and then rising slowly to peak at the great 'fire!!!!!'. Definitely one of the best moments of his career with the band. The song hasn't got a chorus, only a blazing dual guitar solo accompanied by the galloping bass that keeps the rhythm vibrant. Very emotional. (5/5)
Coming of a ballad (?) we've got another heavier tune on our hands. And this time it's a beauty. Running Free, sometimes even accused of being too simple, is in my eyes a classic just because of that. The remarkable drum/bass intro has such a rhythm that forces you to tap your knee or play an imaginary instrument. The lyrics are equally simple, serving to their only point: getting to the chorus. And the chorus consisting solely of the song's title is something that just demands to be sung by dozens of thousands of people on stadiums. That explains why Running Free (normally clocking at 3:16) often drags to 7 mins on concerts. (4,5/5)
And now - Phantom of the Opera. Back in 1980, people should have easily predict just how big Iron Maiden are going to be, only judging by this song. One of heavy metal's best, and a career defining moment for the band. The monstrous riff hits you right on the back of your head and lets you know what you're dealing with. Verses sung aggressively, leading you to a bass lead melodic section that shows another side of Di'Anno's voice (similar to Remember Tomorrow, only a bit higher). And then, at 3:24 we are privileged to witness the full wizardry of His Excellence, Not-Yet-Sir Steve Harris. He delivers a bass solo you couldn't even dream of, perhaps even the best bass line in metal. It's soon joined by the dual leads of the guitar, gradually speeding up and coming to the riff that lit the whole thing. It ends with another verse and a nice little drum fill. The first of many grandiose Iron Maiden epics that showed everyone what are Maiden capable of. (5/5)
Transylvania is the band’s first instrumental and one must say their best. Opening with an insane guitar riff held together by an occasional drum fill and soon settling in a medium/high tempo rhythm that lasts for a minute or so and then becomes an absurd all out onslaught that you have to hear to believe. (4/5)
Now we have a similar shift like in the beginning of the record. After a short, stomping rocker, comes a ballad. Only this time, the rocker (Transylvania) rocks harder and the ballad (Strange World) is even softer, which is good in this case. A beautiful 1:28 min guitar intro hints at the band’s more proggresive influences (a la Gilmour) and just inserts a nice warm feeling into the listener. Di’Anno’s singing is once again very soft and melodic, but this time throughout since Strange World hasn’t got a chorus or any heavier parts for that matter. Even the solo is incredibly abstract and emotional. A rather unique song that Iron Maiden have never really attempted again in the future. (4,5/5)
Sanctuary is a song that wasn’t originally listed on the album, only on the U.S. release but it was later added on the the 1998 re-release. But it’s actually a very good song. Especially it’s riff which is probably second only to Phantom of the Opera on the entire record. It has a great rhythm which is kept through the entire song and it never drops down, not even for a moment. Highly entertaining, and more importantly – high quality headbanging material. (4,5/5)
Charlotte the Harlot is very well known opener of the ‘Charlotte Saga’. Even if it’s perhaps overshadowed by it’s own sequel, this track could stand on it’s own quite well. It’s opening riff has a similar basis like the one in Prowler, except it’s much more rhythmic and groovier. During the verses the song settles in a mid tempo rocker topped by well executed vocals. And then, around the 1:30 mark something unexpected happens. The song surprisingly slows down and Di’Anno sings one of his most delicate and technical parts ever. And besides that, this song is an early example (along with Phantom) of one of Maiden’s biggest trademarks: their brilliant time changes. (4,5/5)
The self-titled song, the band’s anthem and when performed live, the cue to Eddie’s entrance. Superb riff, incredible rhythm and an overall amusing vibe are the characteristics of Iron Maiden. But sadly, it’s main charateristic is that it portrays how badly was the album produced. The squeaky, unpolished sound sometimes makes you regret that the band didn’t have the luxury of a better production. (4/5)
The average rating sums up at 3,9 which is actually pretty close to my overall view of the album.