Review Summary: One of the best, if not THE best heavy metal debut in the history of the genre.
Iron Maiden. A band. A pioneer. A legend within heavy metal. Just the name alone should be enough to inspire some sort of nostalgia within longtime hard rock and metal fans. But Maiden was not always the titan within British metal that we see now before us. Before they were selling out huge venues in South America or exploring their progressive side, the band was dealing with a vocalist that had a drug problem, controversial album art and lyrics, and production issues. And all this came together with the band’s now famous self-titled debut, “Iron Maiden”.
The first thing that becomes very noticeable early on is the fact that, among other things, the album sounds much more raw and aggressive than anything from later releases. Paul Di’Anno sticks to more of a punk-influenced snarl as opposed to later vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s operatic style of singing. Even more so, the instrumental parts have a primarily punk feel to them, more so than anything from Dickinson or Bayley’s tenures within the band. Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton’s riffs flow more quickly and have a more simplistic structure to them, while Clive Burr and Steve Harris provide a strong and steady support with quick drum beats and aggressive bass riffs.
Another aspect of the album worth noting is the production. Even though the band itself would later condemn the production job as poor quality, it actually works to the album’s benefit. The production isn’t nearly as clear and crisp as that of, say, “The Number of the Beast” or “Powerslave”, but the underproduction helps to give the LP the punky sound that NWOBHM bands had early on. And that’s where the ultimate pro of the album really comes in: it sounds like the band having a really long jam session or rehearsal, and has a much more fun, upbeat tone than later works. Even with darker tracks such as “Remember Tomorrow” or “Strange World” giving the indication of what Maiden would become, it’s the more jam-worthy songs such as “Running Free”, “Charlotte the Harlot”, “Phantom of the Opera”, or the title track that really stand out.
So, overall, in spite of all the arguments over which period of Iron Maiden’s history was best, it is undeniable that this is one of the best, if not THE best heavy metal debut in the history of the genre. And as all hard rockers and metalheads know, Maiden would only become more successful and well-known after the release of such a stellar debut.