By the time they released Piece Of Mind
in 1983, Iron Maiden were already a household name in the heavy metal scene. The runaway success of their two previous albums, Killers
and Number Of The Beast
had given them much-needed mediatic exposure. Number
in particular had put Maiden in a very favourable position within the underground. They had managed to obtain an excellent singer in Bruce ęBruceĽ Dickinson (formerly of Samson) and the more focused songwriting managed to obtain the publicís appraisal. However, there were still some edges to be smoothed. Those edges were dealt with on Piece Of Mind
First of all, yes, Piece Of Mind
is indeed the album that features The Trooper
, perhaps Maidenís best-known song. However, it would be entirely inaccurate to merely reduce Piece
to that one song. The whole album is so good and balanced that, by doing that, one would be doing it a disservice.
Actually, a very rare thing occurs in this album: there are absolutely no weaker tracks. Every track is a potential hit, and while most have been criminally forgotten by the tides of time (Sun and Steel
, anyone?) others have gone on to gain their place in Maiden history.
High points in this album are a dime a dozen. Where Eagles Dare
is a battering ram of an intro track, Flight Of Icarus
is pure heavy metal and Still Life
is one of the best metal ballads on offer. As for the two more forgotten tracks, Die With Your Boots On
and Sun And Steel
, theyíre top-caliber hardíníheavy songs that deserved to have been classics. And then thereís The Trooper
, which shadows everything else under its instantly recognisable intro lead. The album closes with a long, more progressive track called To Tame A Land
, that is seven minutes long but doesnít feel like such.
As for the musicianship, it's tight, with both guitarists (at the time, Iron Maiden were a five-piece) delivering scorching yet melodic solos. As for Steve Harris, his playing style is among the most recognisable in the music scene, and Nicko McBrain provides solid backup in his debut as the Maiden drummer (he was formerly in french hardrockers Trust). But the real winner here is Bruce Dickinson's performance. Much more controlled than on his frantically high-pitched debut on Number
, Bruce gives a lesson on how to sing good heavy metal. His collocation is perfect, and although most of the time he wanders in a middle-pitched register, he occasionally shows that he can climb up the octaves scale, too (which, of course, everyone had gathered from his performance in the previous album). This attention to detail only adds to the overall quality of the album.
And so we have come to the point in the review where I usually discuss the albumís downsides. But since there arenít really any, Iíll cut this review short and recommend straight away that all you metalheads go out there and get this one NOW!