Way back in 1979 British band Iron Maiden was just a band fighting for recognition. There were no world tours. They didn"t have any albums or hit singles. But all that was about to change within the next year"
On April 11, 1980, the band"s debut album, Iron Maiden
(self titled) was released. The band had built up an underground following through pub tours and the like, and expected to hit the charts. But the public reaction to their album was better than they (or anyone) ever expected. Iron Maiden reached #4 in the UK charts, and the band was ecstatic. Iron Maiden"s self titled debut is not only one of the best debut albums in metal but also the beginning of s new era. Iron Maiden"s time had come.
Iron Maiden"s self-titled debut is somewhat different from their more well known albums such as Number of the Beast or Piece of Mind. The sound is raw and the production isn"t as good. Another notable difference is the band"s singer. Before Bruce Dickinson became the lead vocalist, the band was fronted by a man known as Paul Di"Anno. Paul"s vocal range wasn"t as great as Bruce"s as he couldn"t hit the high notes, but his rougher style of vocals fit the songs that were being written at the time.
Iron Maiden"s debut album begins with Prowler
. A powerful opener, Prowler displays a ton of raw energy that the band carries throughout the album. With excellent melodic leads, a strong rhythm section from each of the bands members, and catchy, memorable vocals from Paul, Prowler is a great track, and a very clear indicative of what the band played at the time. Each musician can be heard at work very clearly, which displays the talents and potential of the band superbly. The lyrics are quite shallow, but Prowler is a fun song nonetheless.
The next song, Sanctuary
, was not featured on the original European release of the album, but the 1998 remaster fixes this. As mentioned before, Iron Maiden"s early songs fit Di"Anno"s vocal capabilities very well, and this is a perfect example. Sanctuary is a fairly good song, with that "old school" Maiden feel to it. The song is very catchy, and for that reason was chosen as the second single. The guitar riffs are simple and aren"t really that impressive, but Steve"s relentless bass guitar attack sets the mood for the song. Both Dennis and Dave turn in brilliant guitar solos. The song has a great finish to it, as all the instruments speed up, before a sudden finish to the song.
A fantastic bass intro from Steve Harris starts up Remember Tomorrow
, the third track. This song is has a great atmosphere, and coupled with softer vocals from Paul has one of the albums most enjoyable intros. The song is very emotional and has some of the best lyrics of them album. The song"s pace changes several times throughout the song, starting off slow, and eventually becoming very fast paced towards the middle of the song, where the two guitarists contribute largely again, with Dennis" solo being the highlight, and showing why he got the gig over other guitarists. Remember Tomorrow is ironically one of the albums forgotten gems. A great all around song, and one of the album"s highlights.
The fourth song is the album"s first single and most recognized song, Running Free
. One of Maiden"s simplest songs, it starts off with a steady drum beat and some bass before the vocals and guitars start up. Running Free is a fun song live, with its sing along choruses and catchy beat, but the studio version seems to be lacking in emotion and energy. Running Wild is definitely a weaker song off the album and is very skip-able.
After a weak song, the band starts up the next track, Phantom of the Opera
. Easily the best song on the album, Phantom of the Opera was a crowning achievement for Maiden. The first of several epic tracks, Phantom of the Opera is very well written. Paul Di"Anno does a good job singing on this song, but the musicians steal the spotlight here. Each member has a specific point where he sticks out, be it one guitar solos, the amazing bass line 3 and a half minutes in, or Clive"s consistent drumming. Phantom of the Opera is full of epic lead sections, catchy rhythm pieces, and is executed very well. This song is easily the best song to have come out of the Di"Anno era.
, the next song, is also a very well written and thought out track. It was first instrumental Iron Maiden had ever done, and IMO is the best one they"ve written thus far. The song is very fast paced and fun to listen to. Clive Burr is relentless on this song, with his amazing drumming that is second to none. Also impressive are the harmonized riffs which flow very well. A driving rhythm from the band helps make this song more enjoyable, and the band is very successful in doing this. Transylvania is one of the fastest songs on the album, and fun to listen to.
Transylvania fades out with a clean riff that leads directly into the next song, Strange World
. This track is perhaps the only song here that can strip Phantom of the Opera of its "best of the album" crown. The song is the lightest of the album, driven by clean guitar riffs and interesting bass lines. A sad sounding song, Paul sings with emotion only matched by the third track, Remember Tomorrow. Dave treats the listener to a fun solo before the song turns back to the sadder sounding clean riffs. Another forgotten classic that I wish Maiden would play more often.
The next song, titled Charlotte the Harlot
, is the first episode in the Charlotte saga that the band has carried over several albums. This track is as close as Iron Maiden has got to love song until Wasting Love off of the Fear of the Dark album. The tempo of this song changes several times, and it is pulled off rather well. Paul sings exceedingly well here, and his vocals really fit the song and its themes. A good track, but is lacking in some aspects. 22 Acacia Avenue, off the Number of the Beast album, is a better song.
The final track off the album is Iron Maiden
. While it isn"t their best song, it features cool harmonized riffs, as well as a catchy chorus. Iron Maiden might well be the bands anthem, as it has been played on every tour. The lyrics cleverly describe the iron maiden as a sick, deceitful woman, when they really describe a torture device that goes by the same name. Despite this the lyrics are still rather odd and not among the band"s best. This song is also pretty simple in structure, and features no guitar solo, which is very disappointing. However, Iron Maiden is a fun song to listen to, with both the studio version and the live versions being interesting.
Compared to modern rock and metal, Iron Maiden"s self-titled debut may seem dated. But the raw, aggressive power this album has defines the early years of the band, and is incredibly enjoyable to listen to. Iron Maiden isn"t the most technical or epic heavy metal release, but it is a very satisfying product, and is one of the top debut albums in the world of heavy metal.