Review Summary: The last album of the Di' Anno era.
After their debut, Iron Maiden found themselves in a good spot. They had charted in a good spot in the UK, and was one of the leading groups in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The main guitarist, Dennis Stratton, had left because of a creative difference, unfortunately. So Iron Maiden went into Battery Studios without a deadline, and recorded Killers in one and a half months. There was no point in writing new songs: over half of these were already written during the Iron Maiden Tour.
But there's something called the infamous second album: after your first album makes headlines, how do you follow up on that? Many choose to experiment with their sound (for example, Radiohead's The Bends), or just stick to what made them popular in the first place (Metallica stook with the thrash metal altogether in Ride the Lightning). Iron Maiden is a great example of the latter, but this album is surplus, in every sense of the word. Aside from two instrumentals instead of one, there isn't a lot here that is majorly different from their debut. Which isn't a bad thing, for the most part. Unfortunately, Killers is an example of the original formula done wrong.
Questions may be raised. Is it because they lost their energy, or were they only good after the first two? Neither are wrong. Killers still shows a band in their prime: the guitar riffs are heavy, the drums crushing, and Di' Anno's voice is still as moving as it was. So what's the difference? Well it seriously coasts here, becasue you can easily pick one or two standouts, whereas on the last, there was none, every track was likable. The two instrumentals, "Genghis Khan" and "Ideas of March" are uneventful, and do little to add anything to the album. Even with the addition of Adrian Smith, the famous guitarist from the later albums, the guitars can be incredibly thin at times: issues proven on tracks like "Invasion" (even though the original was already on their first tape) and "Innocent Exile". Hell, "Wrathchild" is the only track from here played during live performances, but it's no different from any other track.
The offshoot is that you can't compare it anything else Maiden has released: these are all arguably unmade b-sides. These were all written, but turned down during the recording days of their debut and tour, then just made in a rush. It's extra, basically what Iron Maiden DIDN'T have.
In defense of Killers, Iron Maiden still is Maiden: there is negative and positive aspects to each song. They have stepped up some songwriting in several tracks, but sometimes it doesn't work (IMMA WRATHCHILD). For metal standards, Killers is an otherwise impressive album by and up-and-coming NWOBHM band. For Iron Maiden's standards, this is slightly above average at best, executed with a lack of power. This would also be the last Di' Anno album, as he left after the Killers tour.
But the good thing? They got better from here. That's a high note!
3.2 / 5