Review Summary: Now you won't escape from my grasp......
Paul Di'Anno – vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Dennis Stratton – guitar, backing vocals
Steve Harris – bass guitar, backing vocals
Clive Burr – drums
Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden
Released on 14 April 1980
Included in the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die
Very few debuts can be as hard-hitting as Iron Maiden's. What the band has done from here is amazing to say the least: touring the world in numerous successful arena shows, debuting at #1 across several countries of the world, and considered some of the brightest stars in heavy metal today. But before all that, there was their self-titled debut, which otherwise proves to be one of the most entertaining first releases to date.
Allow me to bore you with a little history: Iron Maiden was formed in December 1975 by Steve Harris, who had originally been part of Smiler (according to Hit Parader, Smiler was a four-piece act that earned considerable success, and a favorite of producer Will Malone). Although originally with Tony Moore, Barry Purkis, and Terry Wapram (later on part of Phaze and V1), the entire band was fired after numerous unsuccesful performances on the UK Club curcuit. An audition and personal liking from Harris got Di' Anno his start in the group, as did Dave Murray. Paul Cairns (later Killerhit) quit dual guitar duties, so hopes for a secondary guitarist seemed slim, until Dennis Straton tried out at the Red Lion pub, and Burr was strong enough to replace Burr, and the rising young group landed a deal with EMI. Once Iron Maiden was released, it stalled at #4 on the UK Charts, become one of the leading forces in NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), and caused the band to have enormous success throughout the UK Club curcuit and in the music industry.
The first is no different from everything else Maiden has released: it's still very heavy: the lightning-quick riffs that rocket through tracks like Phantom of the Opera
should be proof, and the crushing bass tempos of Steve Harris never fail to impress. The only differences come in two packages: the first is minor, and that would be the mainstream influences that can pop up. Maiden was still in their building stage here, so numerous cases of hard rock can pop up here (Burning Ambition on the second release is a prime example), therefore a slight unfitting bump in an otherwise prime metal LP.
The other one is a real doozy. For those that have listened to every Maiden album (besides X Factor and Virtual XI), it: is Di' Anno's voice. Millions of fans arouind the world have become used towards Bruce Dickinson's powerful voice, as it has appeared on every album since (in fact, tracks from this album in compilations don't even have Di' Anno's vocals: Dickinson covered them with his own). That's not to say it's bad par se: it's got a strong sense of force that powers through the album, and the best cases pop up in tracks such as Running Free
and the title track, but it's not as strong or energetic as Dickinson's was. (That being said, it's still better than Blaze Bailey)
isn't really worhy of this much criticism, though. The dual guitar-shared melodies have always been a strong point of Maiden albums, and the work of Stratton and Murray never fail to impress. It still surprises me that this is not the most respected piece in Maiden's work, if not the most underrated (excluding Killers). Those who enjoy modern day Maiden should find a great amount of pleasure in the band's early work, and you can't call yourself a fan of British Metal without this in your library. Recommended.
4.1 / 5
I'd say the title track best represents the album. If you want long, shredding riffs, Phantom of the Opera
is another good one.