Review Summary: One of the best debuts ever. Fact.
It was 1980. The year Led Zeppelin's drummer John Bonham tragically died. Led Zeppelin were gone; who would take their place at the top of British Rock and Metal? The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was coming and it was fronted by a group of young men from London. When Iron Maiden first plunged on to the scene in 1979 with their EP The Soundhouse Tapes, all of the 5000 copies made sold within 2 weeks. AND got them a record deal to boot. And listening to their debut LP you can see why.
Opening track Prowler immediately summarises what they are here to do - rock hard. The Wah-Wah sound of Dave's guitar in the intro perfectly fits the riff he plays. Paul puts in a blistering vocal performance throughout the song and the solo is one of the best I've ever heard - it fits the song perfectly. My favourite track on the album, it shows you why Iron Maiden got to #4 in the UK charts. (5/5)
Sanctuary is a very fun song, with simple riffs that get you headbanging right from the word go. Again, Paul's voice is amazing on this song and I for the life of me cannot figure out why it was left off the original release. It's a song never to be taken too seriously, and is still occasionally played at concerts to this day. (4.5/5)
Remember Tomorrow shows a lighter side of Maiden, and Paul's voice is so different on this song it makes you wonder how he does it. The song is quite eerie at times and hooks you in. It has heavier slices in it too, making sure that you don't skip the track. Though not Maiden's best song, it is an often overlooked gem from the Di'Anno era. (4/5)
Running Free is a song that has, much like Sanctuary, a fun feel to it. It's not a headbanging song as such, more of a head-nodding song. It's probably the most accessible song on this album for the mainstream listener, but is none the worse for it. Maiden pull it off well, and is still a staple song in Maiden's setlists - usually to conclude the concert. (4/5)
Phantom of the Opera may be my least favourite Iron Maiden epic ever. That's not to say the song is bad by any means. It's quite a thunderous song, with a few time changes here and there. Although it was supposed to be an epic, the song drags on a bit for me and I find myself skipping it at around 4 or 5 minutes in. (3.5/5)
The first Iron Maiden instrumental ever is named Transylvania, although the name is misleading - it makes you think of dark, eerie places in South-Eastern Europe. However, this is an extremely upbeat track and lifts your spirits if you're ever feeling down. Played at the beginning of Maiden concerts (though not live - over the PA), it's one of those songs that gets you going. Good tactical move from Maiden; it makes sure the crowd is ready for when the band really get on stage. Great track. (4.5/5)
Transylvania has a calm ending which directly leads into the next song, Strange World. Paul's soft vocals make it a very moving song, and it has quite a futuristic feel to it. A quiet (for the most part) song, it represents a different side of Maiden, previously explored on Remember Tomorrow, but this is something else again. Strange World makes you think, and hooks you in that way. (4/5)
Charlotte The Harlot is the first song of the CTH saga, and, much like Sanctuary and Running Free, is a 'fun' song. Surprisingly it is one of my favourite songs on the album. The only song written solely by Dave Murray to date, it is quite a dirty song, which is rare for Maiden. Then a time change in the middle and a change in style of the lyrics - from arse-swishing to heart-breaking - explains how she became a whore. Just as you begin to feel sorry for Charlotte's ex, the tempo picks up again for a great couple of solos, and the lyrics change back. A extremely well-written song. (4.5/5)
Iron Maiden, the album's signature track and Maiden's very own anthem is being sung from an Iron Maiden's point of view. And by that I mean it's what the torture device would say if it could talk. A very aggressive song, the only flaw is the repetitive lyrics. It's also a short song, at 3:36. A song used to (supposedly) close concerts before the encore, it gets people going and wanting more. Another good tactical move by Maiden at concerts. In my opinion, a very strong song to close the album. (4.5/5)
On the whole, an extremely impressive release by Iron Maiden. It immediately summed up why they had come - to play Metal. That's it. If it's not already in your collection, go buy it- an essential for any Metal fan.