Iron Maiden has had a notably successful career since their formation in the mid 70’s. Whether you hate or love them, they have had a huge impact on the genre of heavy metal. Bassist Steve Harris is considered by many to be one of the best metal bassists in the world, and when one listens to Piece Of Mind
we see that this is not far from the truth. Rather than just taking the back seat and keeping the rhythm like so many bassists sadly do, he actually gives the album a whole new sound with his playing. By that I mean, he doesn’t just follow the guitars, he experiments with his instrument. Vocalist Bruce Dickinson also has a huge role in shaping the sound that Maiden is known for. He has an excellent range, and is all round a great singer. He is also capable of pulling off some very decent lyrics, as shown in Revelations
. This is incidentally one of the best songs on the album; it is slower in pace than some of the other tracks and has a sadder feel about it. The guitar solo is not too fast and flashy, and is the perfect length. So overall, when Maiden work together as a band rather than just relying on generic, meaningless guitar solos their music is at its best. This song does justice to that theory perfectly.
The drum fills, courtesy of Nicko McBrain also pay my respect. Rather than just relentlessly double kicking like so many mediocre drummers do, he experiments and utilities most of his kit. He is particularly impressive on Die With Your Boots On
; side from having the perfect metal song title, this is another wonderful track. The chorus is really catchy and has impressive supporting vocals, and the rhythm guitar works really well too. Another thing I noticed about Maiden’s music is that they are a cheesy band, but they know it and aren’t afraid to show it. A precedence of their music is to have really catchy, up-lifting choruses which almost every song contains. It makes their music more easy-listening and very memorable. For example, I can’t help but sing along to the totally cheesy but awesome chorus in Flight of Icarus
, where Dickinson yelps: "Fly on your way, like an eagle. Fly as high as the sun." It totally rocks and is bound to get stuck in your head before too long.
By tradition, it seems that Iron Maiden like to finish their albums off with an epic track. I will now walk you through To Tame a Land
, which is the longest song on the album at 7:26 minutes in length:
Probably the most well constructed song on the whole album. Starts off with some slow guitar and bass playing, the quiet drumming works perfectly with the music. The band does a good job in making this song very atmospherically and tonally rich. At about 55 seconds in the guitar riffing begins. The bass clearly stands out and is excellent. At about 1:15 Dickinson comes in and he is singing the lyrics a lot faster than the rest of the album. A mini solo surprisingly erupts at about 1:35, but then Bruce comes back in with an almost rap like singing style here. Another solo commences, this one being slower in pace, and sounds awesome. At about 2:49 Harris gets the spotlight with a wonderful bass solo. When Bruce comes back in his high vocals are a highlight of the song and showcase his amazing range. The bass continues to dominate this track. The drumming at around 4:20 in is a really cool fill that works very well. Yet another solo comes in at 4:38; the perfect time. The song quiets down a little bit towards the end – the acoustic section that started off the song comes back in before it slowly dies down. Overall this is a classic Maiden song, and is a more than worthy addition to the album.
One of Piece of Mind’s strongest points is its superb consistency. The only song I can generally say I don’t listen to is the terrible Sun and Steel
, which to me really just feels like filler material. It simply doesn’t have any particularly noteworthy riffs, the drumming isn’t up to par with the rest of the album, and the chorus is uncommonly boring for this band. The solo is also guilty of being uninteresting, as it is too short to really make a proper impact on the listener. Quest For Fire
also gets slammed religiously by fans – some consider it to be Maiden’s worst song. However, it is at least better than Sun and Steel. That starting riff is very innovative, and it has a great, uplifting chorus. The lyrics are well, not that great: "In a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth." But hey, they are cute and work just fine with the song. After all, we aren’t really supposed to take this band very seriously. But enough about that; with the exception of those two songs which are of a lesser quality to the rest, this album possesses 7 hard-hitting tracks, each averaging in five minutes in length, with some being particularly good.
To conclude: while this album is rather cheesy and often shows its age for the early 80’s album it is, neither of those two complaints really hurt the overall sound too much. A very good album to start with if you are new to the band, Piece Of Mind is bound to leave you licking your lips and wanting more.
Where Eagles Dare
To Tame a Land