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Iron Maiden

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  • Adrian's Album Reviews |

    Iron Maiden

    Related Artists - AC/DC, Metallica, Status Quo
    Related Genres - Rock

    Iron Maiden 7 ( 1980 )
    Prowler / Remember Tomorrow / Running Free / Phantom Of The Opera / Transylania / Strange World / Charlotte The Harlot / Iron Maiden

    We needed a new metal band, didn't we? Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, etc, etc. They'd all run their course by 1980, or were deep into decline. We needed a new fresh band with a new fresh sound. Iron Maiden spearheaded what was termed 'the new wave of heavy metal'. They were a more than welcome addition of the hard rock/metal scene. Yet, this debut offering offers more energy and speed than actual accomplishment. Having said that, most of the Iron Maiden trademarks we all know and love so well are already present and correct. The guitar sound is clean and fresh, the vocals have a certain drama about them and the songs cover lyrical ground that metal fans could very well associate with. Ah, yeah, we've got 'Remember Tomorrow' as the second song, immediately Iron Maiden proved they can do ballad/rock/epic type things very well. 'Strange World' is another song with classy guitar lines, beautiful guitar lines that rejected the fat and pomp that the seventies rockers had become and stripped everything back in terms of sound. Indeed, Iron Maiden were a metal band that had lived through the punk revolution and had been influenced by it. You can talk about Motorhead all you like, but punk didn't exist back then. Iron Maiden were refreshing after the pomp and ridiculousness that Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin had become. Yet, they could play. Well, the guitar player could play. A soaring, beautiful and yet proper twiddly guitar solo comes sailing through 'Strange World' and it's almost enough to tempt you to get your lighter aloft and wave it in the air. Yeah, you can see the potential this band had. This debut contains all the main ingredients they would later use and improve upon.

    'Charlotte The Harlot' is something to get your head bopping, yet it's no mere simple thrash. It slows down around the minute and a half mark and indicates that Iron Maiden actually thought about their song arrangements. 'Running Free' is a weak point of the record, a rather overly simplistic, almost glam back-beat permeates the song. The lyric and vocal aren't particularly strong, yet this is just one song. The opening 'Prowler' becomes a genuine highlight and the type of 'commando' singing that Bruce Dickinson would later perfect is shown to already be a feature of Iron Maiden music, even as early as this. 'Prowler' is a cool song, then. The title song is decent, 'Charlotte The Harlot' is cool enough. 'Iron Maiden' lacks enough songs that particularly stand out, yet the entire album has a unified sound, isn't terribly long and works out just about fine, overall.

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    Readers Comments

    joe doublej632@aol.com
    Maidens self titled first album to this day sounds completely origanal. Its got everything from fast metal songs with awesome solos, slow, yet powerful songs and two guitars that sound like nothing else. needless to say one of the best bassists to pick up the instrument. the album at the same time has a sorta punk sound that wasnt too fine tuned in a studio. the album influence every other up and coming metal band of the early 80's. and as always great cover art.

    lizzy Lizzy.carlton1@btinternet.com
    I think this album is ace! You can already hear how good they were back then. I know Steve Harris has a few bad feelings about the album, because of the production. But personally, I think they sound great anyway, Maiden sound fab even if they are out of tune so I'm not fussed about the production. I think every song is really good on this album. (And of course, the first Eddie is GREAT!!!)

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    Killers ( 1981 )
    The Ides Of March / Wratchild / Murders In The Rue Morgue / Another Life / Genghis Khan / Innocent Exile / Killers / Prodigal Son / Purgatory / Twilight Zone / Drifter

    Adrian Smith arrives on geetar duities. So what we have here really is a refined version of the debut. Stronger production and the arrival of Adrian Smith gives the guitar sound a little something extra. After a brief, inconsequential opening number, 'Wrathchild' arrives in best anthemic, ridiculous Iron Maiden fashion. Steve Harris on the bass, principal song-writer for the group at this stage, propels the song forwards. Fabulous bass lines, decent vocal performance too. The poppy and zippy 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' was a hit song for Iron Maiden, a group with ever growing popularity at the time. The next album would see that popularity really take off, go mega. But that's another story and shall be told another time. Oh, 'Murders In The Rue Morgue' has a fabulous intro before it gets going proper. When it does, it relies on much energy and a very catchy chorus. It works, it's good! The highlight of the entire set for me is 'Prodigal Son', though. It's dreamy and the guitar tones and an air of space around the usual furious riffing and metal style, is so very welcome as sonic and stylistic diversion, on an album not too hot on either. But then, it wasn't meant to be, I should think. 'Killers' is a serious album focusing on usual Maiden themes of death and murder, etc. The cover artwork is superb, as we'd come to expect from the group. The vocalist makes an effort throughout the album, isn't actually a bad vocalist despite what staunch supporters of Bruce Dickinson may tell you. 'Killers' is an album with a great sound then, not too much musical variation overall, great guitar solos, so-so actual material. I usually find myself admiring the sound of the album whilst waiting for the next exciting guitar solo to come up. Nothing wrong with that!

    The Rock N Roll ending that 'Drifter' sports is slightly irritating and the vocalists scream at the end would have sounded better with Bruce, the master of screaming, but these are minors things. 'Twilight Zone' is hugely entertaining, it has that Iron Maiden structure where the vocalist has the space to almost issue commands rather than merely sing. 'Another Life' has an absolutely superb solo halfway through the first minute of the song. The instrumental track 'Genghis Khan' is indication enough of Iron Maiden's superior way with melody over their Metal contemporaries of the era. So, a half grade better than the debut set for me. Not enough classic material present here. Well, no real obvious stand-out classic. Yet, an enjoyable forty minutes or so, no doubt whatsoever.

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    Number Of The Beast 9 ( 1982 )
    Invaders / Children Of The Damned / The Prisoner / 22 Acacia Avenue / The Number Of The Beast / Run To The Hills / Gangland / Hallowed Be Thy Name

    The previous Maiden singer was all fine and dandy, but Bruce added a whole other layer of grit to the vocals, a singer with a great Rock n Roll voice, no question. It suited the material better, and Iron Maiden took off, going on a run of great success, building up a fantatical fanbase, being very heavy metal, etc and so forth. And while i'm no huge Maiden fan and never had their posters on my bedroom walls, I've always loved the sound of the Iron Maiden guitars. That duelling, speedy, heavy yet melodic guitar sound that went onto influence early Metallica, no question. So? Well, 'Number Of The Beast' is a fine record! And everybody knows about Iron Maiden, their fans back in the Eighties were a different breed from everyone else. But, it's high time for a critical revival. Dammit! And, 'Invaders' is brilliant, great solo and twiddly guitar parts through the mid-section of the song and great proclamatory style vocals from Bruce Dickinson. Even more great delious vocals on second song 'Children Of The Damned', ah, Bruce could/did teach Axl Rose a thing or two! And the lovely sweet guitar that introduces 'Children Of The Damned' and then flows into Bruce singing CHILDREN OF THE DAAAAAAAAAAAMNEEEDDDDDDD! is hard for me to resist, for one. Oh, god! This review sounds like i'm taking the piss, doesn't it, but it really isn't meant to. I've given the album a '9' haven't I? Iron Maiden entertain me. I really love the guitar sound, love the vocals. I never bought into them, never adored them or really took them seriously for their lyrics, which I find hilarious, but I do love this record, and other records of theirs.

    'The Prisoner' features a sample from the classic TV series of the same name, and ties in with the albums title song. 'The Prisoner' is a great song, by the way, with crushing riffs and a freshness to the sound and production that's been lost in the nineties metal scene. '22 Acacia Avenue' is deliciously fabulous in its guitar and vocal assault, very up and very heavy at the same time. The classic title song is just that, a total classic, no question. Funny, hilarious, dark and heavy - full of great guitar work, absolutely packed full of great guitar with riffs you thought had been used up in 1970, no more riffs? Didn't Keith Richards and Black Sabbath use up all the riffs to be had? Apparently not! And, check this out. "COS IN MY DREAMS, IT'S ALWAYS THERE!!!" sings Bruce, and then YEARRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!! and the guitars and drums really kick in, speedily and oh so fabulously. Bruce sounds like he's singing out commands "TORCHES BLAZED!", etc. "IN THE NIGHT, THE FIRES ARE BURNING BRIGHT" - and then the chorus. You resist, go on! And these guitars, I adore these fucking shitting guitars, damn you. And then 'Run To The Hills', and then 'Gangland' which out punks The Clash and then 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' a seven minute song in sections, each one impressive. Taking the piss? No way, although my indie cool has just gone flying out of the window.

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    Readers Comments

    Ian iansundberg@hotmail.com
    Your review is hilarious, especially the screaming parts! I loved Iron Maiden in junior high, then the lyrics kind of got me off them; a bit too dungeons and dragons-y. They have since found more time in my cd player b/c of nostalgia, plus what great music to drive to, especially when feeling particularly evil..

    Killing Time
    Didn't like it... maybe it's one of the most fascinating heavy metal albums but I think it's too formulaic and pretentious, with an almost-total lack of spontaneity. The tile track was the most refreshing song, with a lot of energy. The rest were predictable riffs, predictable solos and predictable singing.

    Real Gone
    Certainly one of the best albums associated with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Maybe even in the top ten best metal albums of all time.Read my full review of 'The Number of the Beast' : here

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    Piece Of Mind 8 ( 1983 )
    Where Eagles Dare / Revelations / Flight of Icarus / Die With Your Boots On / The Trooper / Still Life/ Quest for Fire / Sun and Steel / To Tame a Land

    Do you know something? This album is the six hundred and sixty sixth studio album i've reviewed for this site. I didn't plan it this way, swear to god! That's just an aside anyway, let's get down to the matter at hand. Iron Maiden switch drummers, and this line-up consisting of Nicko McBrain (drums), Dave Murray & Adrian Smith (guitars), Bruce Dickinson (vocals) & Steve Harris (bass) - were together as a solid unit right through until 1990 or so. 'Piece Of Mind' isn't as striking an album as 'Number Of The Beast', both lyrics and music seem to have been simplified a little. This is perhaps for the best, because 'Piece Of Mind' certainly doesn't try to 'follow-up' or be a follow-up to 'Number Of The Beast'. It just happens to be the next album proper the group released. There's at least a couple of classic metal songs here, 'Die With Your Boots On' demonstrates that Iron Maiden hadn't lost any of their early punk edge or way with melody. I'm a particular fan of songs and bands with strong bass lines, particularly melodic bass lines. Iron Maiden nearly always provide the listener with impressive, melody filled bass lines courtesy of bass man and main song-writer Steve Harris. Democracy was creeping in, though. A few songs here are band co-writes, others such as 'Sun And Steel', 'Revelations' and the impressive 'Flight Of Icarus' see Adrian Smith and Bruce Dickinson pen their own material.

    Oh, I mentioned that there were 'a couple' of metal classics here, didn't I? Well, the album warms up. The opening two numbers share the classic Maiden sound, the interweaving duelling guitar sound of prime Maiden, but fall a little flat compared to the highlights of 'Number Of The Beast'. Much better is the riff filled 'Flight Of Icarus', which i've already mentioned. Even better though, to join the already certified gold 'Die With Your Boots On' in the classic Maiden stakes, is 'The Trooper'. Bruce turns in a great performance, the bass lines run and run, the guitars fight and duel. Everything works, the music is tight yet always full of melody and those great sounding Iron Maiden guitars. As for the remainder of 'Piece Of Mind', it's a second half of musical moments ( and performances ) as highlights, rather than complete songs being highlights. Thus, 'Still Life' includes a particularly impressive guitar solo, 'Sun And Steel' reminds the listener of everything Maiden do well - melody, a catchy chorus, good vocals and a twisty, nifty little solo to boot. All within a concise three and a half minutes. It does this without ever reaching the heights of the best Maiden material of the past, but it's a damn solid song all the same. The closing 'To Tame A Land' runs for over seven minutes, includes numerous impressive performances from various band members and wraps things up pretty well.

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    Readers Comments

    I'm surprised that you didn't mention "Quest For Fire", an atrocious song that very likely is the worst in Maiden's illustrious career. Pretty solid album otherwise though! "The Trooper" is an example of the band at its peak!

    Jeffers UK
    I love Maiden and POM is their best and worst early effort - side A is a perfect 10 and side B is.. awful! It's hard to see how they could have been so hot and cold on one album, and I wonder if the decision to put the good stuff together and the droos out of the way on side 2 was intentional? I like your reviews, by the way, especially Number of the Beast!

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    Powerslave ( 1984 )
    Aces High / 2 Minutes To Midnight / Losfer Words / Flash Of The Blade / The Duellists / Back In The Village / Powerslave / Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

    Less anthems, more serious playing, more thoughtful arrangements. The first two songs are the ones with the usual speedy punk energy. And, to be fair, they are anthemic enough although take a couple of listens to appreciate the sheer splendour of the playing. We'll take 'Aces High' first of all. Four and a half minutes long, it's no chest-beater akin to 'Run To The Hills', but it does have, well, a chorus. The lyrics are full of things which I won't go into now, but across the entire album, it's clear the lyrics have been thought about. The song arrangements, the solos appear in the right places and are never too over the top, they all serve their purpose. There is a very nifty guitar solo that appears midway through 'Aces High' for example. It does it for me, and then, towards the end, Bruce reaches for the high note to end the song. '2 Minutes To Midnight' arrives, all riff and drums and energy. Bruce does his commanding style of singing, but a bit more subtly than on 'Number Of The Beast'. Basically, he just comes across with authority. And, the chorus for '2 Minutes To Midnight' is the strongest on the entire album. It rocks, yeah? YEAH! Oh yeah. The guitar sound is wonderful, the drumming and bass playing both super tight. The song lasts for six minutes and is glorious, really. Metal at its finest. Maiden reinvented Metal music to an extent, stripped it away of the 70s pomposity that it had become. It's impossible to imagine 'Metallica' having become what they did without the work laid down by Iron Maiden earlier. Well, it's difficult for me to imagine, at least.

    The final two songs account for 20 minutes of the 50 minutes the album lasts. Good job both songs are amongst the finest work Maiden had put together then, isn't it? Well, yes. The title song is very strong, something with reappearing melodic themes and lyrics that demand to be listened to from beginning to end. All the while whilst the playing is oh so tight. The closing 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' has various sections, it's akin to progressive heavy metal. In fact, it is progressive heavy metal, with the word progressive taken from progressive rock, of course. Prog rock? Prog metal. Same difference, different variety, different sounds. Complexity and a total dedication to their art. Oh yes, Iron Maiden took themselves very seriously around about this time, knew what their fans wanted and played to them. They toured and toured and toured, which had built up their playing abilities. They wrote and recorded this album here, not as enjoyable as 'Number Of The Beast', for me. A little too dour sometimes, is this 'Powerslave' record, but it gets to you. It gets to you in the end and really is something admirable.

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    andres diaz andres_diaz1982@hotmail.com
    im not a big fan of metal or maiden either, like you must be,but i dont understand how you rated higher powerslave(for me only the first 2 songs and the last 2 are good enough,the rest are mediocres songs)than use your illusion1 by the guns,the number of the beast is a great album also live after death but powerslave is not

    Ricardo nunez101@hotmail.com
    It's a matter of taste my friend. I personally agree with Adrian as far as giving "Powerslave" an 8 (thus it being more enjoyable than G&R's Use you're illusion albums). I'm not very big on metal my self, but the truth is- Iron Maiden was a great metal band and they are great instrumentalists (way better tah G&R could ever dream af being) plus I find their songs to be more catchy and way less commercial than the ones on the Use You're Illusion albums. And "Powerslave" is one of those essential Maiden albums, like or not.

    I love this album, but it is sorely overrated. The album comes to a screeching halt at the instrumental and does not pick up again until the song Powerslave. 4 out of the 8 songs are OK or worse. During the 4 song slump there is not ONE but TWO songs about SWORD FIGHTING!!! Give me a break!!!!

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    Somewhere In Time 8 ( 1986 )
    Somewhere In Time / Wasted Years / Sea Of Madness / Heaven Can Wait / The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner / Stranger In A Strange Land / Deja Vu / Alexander The Great

    Maiden were burnt out following a 190 show tour circa 84/85, vocalist Bruce Dickinson contributing no writing towards 'Somewhere In Time', although guitarist Adrian Smith stepped up contributing three songs, one of them ending up being the bands biggest US hit, 'Wasted Years'. Iron Maiden included synthesizers for the first time here and their overall sound had evolved from their earlier work. Matured is perhaps not a sensible word to use when describing a heavy-metal act, yet with albums like 'Somewhere In Time', Maiden proved themselves attractive to far more than just the usual metal brigade. Let's take 'Wasted Years' as an example. It's still clearly a metal song, yet infused with a commercial ( ish ) and excellent pop melody. The guitar assault is tight and focused, the lyrics are absolutely great here, reaching a wider audience without losing sight of artistry or intelligence. Oh, yeah. This is a maiden album, isn't it? Yeah. So we expect a few twiddly bits and great guitar solos? Well, of course we do. Iron Maiden have a wonderful guitar sound anyway, whether it's a twiddly bit or a song intro. A song intro? The song intro's here seem more considered than before. The opening tune 'Caught Somewhere In Time' is a great opener. It immeditately sets the tone for the rest of the album. After the slower part, we get a faster part and the vocals, usual Dickinson style. Three and a half minutes in, we get a stellar guitar solo, all twiddly! The song closes, it seems a serious song, the tiredness in the band taken to helping their artistic progress, rather than hampering it. Tiredness turned into seriousness, but keeping the bands creative and playing ability intact.

    'Sea Of Madness' is slightly more Maiden of old, a fairly simple little tune. The seven minute plus 'Heaven Can Wait' is all classic simple riffs and one of Mr Dickinson's finest vocals on the album, a track full of energy, and guess what? Stupendous guitar solo arrives roughly four and a half minutes into the song. Yay! 'Stranger In A Strange Land' is heavy and scary without resorting to obvious hard rock or metal cliches. Bruce, for all we can criticize him for, does a great job with the vocal, it feels full of feeling. The closing 'Alexander The Great' is something of an epic, a beautiful introduction leads into the duelling guitars, the vocals. The song switches again for an instrumental section, lots of impressive and most importantly, very listenable playing. Often, great playing replaces melody. Iron Maiden acheive both here, great. The vocals swing back in before the song closes. A very consistent and impressive record, although without any obvious standouts, or are all of the tracks standouts? Slightly confusingly, and perhaps explaining certain critics and fans reluctance to praise this record, it's probably somewhere inbetween.

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    Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son ( 1988 )
    Moonchild / Infinite Dreams / Can I Play With Madness / The Evil That Men Do / Seventh Son of a Seventh Son / The Prophecy / The Clairvoyant / Only the Good Die Young

    Iron Maiden's natural evolution continued apace. More great artwork, a platoon of fans ready and waiting to snap up any and every piece of vinyl the guys happened to release. These guys were tight! Yet, getting faster and quicker as a result of getting better and improved through hours and hours of touring and playing wasn't going to be to everyone's tastes. Black Sabbath managed very well at a studied, bludgeoning crawl. 'Infinite Dreams' manages pretty well to be melodic at a slightly slower pace. In contrast, 'Moonchild' speeds along at a furious speed. The band just coil themselves up and rip through the tune, a jam on speed - three hundred miles an hour. Bruce Dickinson does tremendously well with the vocals considering there’s no obvious place for him to sit atop the tune. The solos are all good, the keyboard intro suitably epic and ominous to open up the entire LP. I like it. As for ‘Infinite Dreams’, it’s always been one of my favourite Maiden tunes. Can anybody tell me, actually. They released a live 7” version of the tune a year or two after this album. Anybody know whether there’s a Maiden live album or video from which the live track was taken? Just a little appeal there to Maiden fans everywhere. ‘Infinite Dreams’ at the time was good enough to make this lapsed Maiden fan get interested again. The integration of keyboards into the Maiden sound may not seem very heavy metal, but the band reached some kind of peak of integration with them around this time. It’s long been the case that local rock bands use keyboards as the first branch of ‘branching out’ and becoming sophisticated. Maiden arrived at this point naturally rather than the keyboards being there for no good reason, or just to make the band ‘appear’ sophisticated and clever in some way. Believe you me, heavy rock bands of all descriptions have needlessly beeen tacking keyboards onto their sound for years. So much so, I know of Maiden fans who slightly dislike this era of the band. Judging after the event, it’s easier to see what the band did right rather than wrong. Anyway, I’m kind that way.

    CAN I PLAY WITH MADNESS!!! Wails Bruce, and why not? Well apart from the fact Madness were a slightly dodgy semi-ska / two-tone band well past their best by 1988? Probably not meant to be taken literally, but what a stupendous pop song? Following the impressive lead track and the ballad of sorts ( although they twist and turn and duel guitar-wise in a most impressive way ) ‘Infinite Dreams’, you’re surely talking a stone-cold classic LP release? Especially as 4th tune ‘The Evil That Men Do’ is almost as good? Yet despite side two trying gamely with the faintly ridiculous in parts title tune and ‘The Clairvoyant’, the album becomes too much, too intense and too one-dimensional tempo-wise. It’s a shame, but it doesn’t detract from the fact this remains a damn fine release with some of the ‘most excellent’ guitar-work of any Maiden album. The rhythm section rumble away impressively, Adrian Smith does some of his best work. Which makes it something of a shame he left afterwards. Steve Harris apparently wanted a return to the chest-beating Maiden of yore. Adrian Smith departed for a solo career, of sorts. Maiden carried on regardless, although fashion would turn against them. Their evolution had ceased and begun to regress. Still, because of ‘Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son’ being some kind of peak for the band ( although I prefer the tunes on ‘Number Of The Beast’ ) I’m still giving it a more than impressive 8.5. Wonderful driving music and the single ‘Can I Play With Madness’ is metal at its finest.

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    Bruce Dickinson : Tattooed Millionaire ( 1990 )
    Son Of A Gun / Tattooed Millionaire / Born In '58 / Hell On Wheels / Gypsy Road / Dive!Dive!Dive! / All The Young Dudes / Lickin' The Gun / Zulu Lulu / No Lies

    Janick Gers and Bruce wrote most of these songs. As it turns out, Janick had just done a pretty decent audition to join Iron Maiden. At the time, Bruce just wanted to do something different and 'Tattooed Millionaire' was a fun album for Bruce and Janick and company to make. It didn't and doesn't take itself too seriously and especially coming off the back of 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' sounds like Hard Rock compared to the complex Heavy Metal that Maiden were producing. Bruce has a fine set of vocal chords on him though that enliven such 2nd rate material as 'Son Of A Gun' no end. Indeed, it becomes so enlivened it becomes a good song purely through his, and his alone, performance. It's also the most 'Maiden' of all the songs here and the one fans would have been most excited about, no doubt, at the time. Elsewhere, two singles pop up and remind everybody of why few people seem to remember this particular album these days. The title track is tired, American sounding hard rock although with an admittedly strong chorus. The Bowie cover 'All The Young Dudes' was probably not required and all it does is highlight how inferior the rest of the material actually is. 'Hell On Wheels' is hugely entertaining. It's daft vocally and lyrically and but for the instrumentation, guitar solo being decent apart, inferior musically to Maiden but it doesn't seem to matter at all.

    There's a couple or three of bog-awful AC/DC soundalikes here. 'Lickin The Gun' is terrible just for its title, let alone the uninspired and borrowed ideas. 'Dive, Dive, Dive' is only slightly better an impersonation of AC/DC yet the lyrics, including the infamous character 'Sea-man Staines', lets this one down. Elsewhere? If I'd have been a Maiden fan at the time learning that Janick had just joined my favourite band, the cliched and awful likes of 'No Lies' wouldn't have helped me stay calm. He can solo well enough, it's just everything else he does simply lacks lightness of touch and creativity. 'Born In 58' manages to impress me though. Janick and Bruce don't seem to take themselves too unseriously and manage a mediocre kind of tune, but a good and impassioned, melodic performance. Overall, a pretty average to good kind of album, although if not pushed, i'd always call it average.

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    No Prayer For The Dying 6 ( 1990 )
    Tail Gunner / Holy Smoke / No Prayer for the Dying / Public Enema Number One / Fates Warning / The Assassin / Run Silent Run Deep / Hooks in You / Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter / Mother Russia

    Something happened in 1990 that prevented me from listening to Iron Maiden for at least the following ten years. They released the pantomime metal 'Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter' and even worse, it reached number one in the UK singles charts. Old-school UK metal/hard rock died that very day.

    Janick Gers replaced long-term Maiden guitarist and fan favourite Adrian Smith for this release. You wouldn't really guess by the quality of the guitar playing which is as good as ever - it's more to do with the style of this Iron Maiden album that might tip you off that something had changed. You see, they wanted to get back to basics, the kind of sound they had way back when they first emerged mixing Metal with Punk. The opening cut here 'Tailgunner' almost convinces you they had got everything exactly right with this intention. It may not be much of a tune, but it has a rawness inherent in UK punk back in the very late Seventies. 'Holy Smoke' meanwhile is a typical Maiden single, if a bit by numbers whilst the title track could almost be a left-over from a 'Seventh Son' sessions.

    It's at this stage I have another complaint. What's happened to Bruce Dickinson's voice? Is he trying to do an Axl Rose impersonation just because Guns n Roses had gone mega since Iron Maiden last released a record? Did he have a sore throat? I really have no idea but the vocals of Dickinson are actually one of the albums weak points. The loss of the duelling guitar sound of 80s Maiden is also lost, possibly one of the areas we can blame the change in personnel.

    A whole host of deeply average songs flow by unmemorably once the pretty good opening trio of tunes are over. 'Run Silent Run Deep' at least resembles classic Maiden even if it doesn't manage to achieve that level. 'Hooks In You' makes the classic mistake of having the drummer hit a cowbell during the intro. 'Bring Your Daughter....' is as i've already stated, pure pantomime metal that did a whole lot to ruin Maiden's critical reputation for years to come. 'Mother Russia' needed Bruce booming out commands, deep and loud. Unfortunately, it still sounds like he either has a cold or couldn't actually give a damn.

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    Readers Comments

    Bob Roberts chicago usa
    Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter is an awesome song. The guitar on the chorus is incredible. The video is great too, by the way.

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    Fear Of The Dark ( 1992 )
    Be Quick or Be Dead / From Here to Eternity / Afraid to Shoot Strangers / Fear Is the Key / Childhood's End / Wasting Love / The Fugitive / Chains of Misery / The Apparition / Judas Be My Guide / Weekend Warrior / Fear of the Dark

    At one stage during the lead track, 'Be Quick Or Be Dead' the drummer falls over himself. You know what I mean, that superb clattering of drums, super-human style? Always a good sign. At one other point, you have in your mind this could have been the last ever time Bruce Dickinson fronted Iron Maiden. Despite the album selling healthily (Maiden's audience being mega-loyal) grunge was in the ascendancy and it wasn't clear Bruce wanted the Iron Maiden 'thing' any more. I guess that came later, as his performance is never less than fully committed here. Course, Maiden by now had a stupendous back-catalogue to live upto and 'Be Quick Or Be Dead' is very probably Iron Maiden by numbers. The lively tunes continue though with 'From Here To Eternity' and we can suddenly make sense of that post 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' desire to return back to basics. That's the feeling of much of 'Fear Of The Dark' and a feeling captured arguably better here than it was with the previous LP. Still, we do have some five/six minute long tracks. 'Afraid To Shoot Strangers' opens with lovely ringing guitar over a suitably dreamy atmospheric backing. The vocals come in and I think of The Scorpions, never a good sign. Ah, we just miss the hollering and fun of yore, circa 'Number Of The Beast'. Iron Maiden, where did all the fun go? Thank goodness for the faster section, but it doesn't rescue the track overall, however much twiddly guitar you put over it - even if you do have the classic Maiden duelling guitar sound in places. 'Fear Is The Key' is much better, Bruce tries that hollering thing! You know, with the proclamations and stuff, Dio circa Rainbow style? Were they ever an influence on Maiden? Maiden fans will let me know, hopefully.

    'Wasting Love' is the sound of a tired Iron Maiden. I don't want Iron Maiden trying to sound like a serious Bon Jovi. Ah, the speed returns for 'The Fugitive' and it's a good song with a classic singalong Maiden chorus. Maiden always were at their best with the melodies, particularly the vocal melodies and all that about Bruce sounding committed, well he does, but this is one of the few vocal melodies I like on this album. Oh, fifty-eight minutes is too long for an Iron Maiden album unless it's progressive, pop, stunning, etc. 'Fear Of The Dark', enjoyable as it is in places, isn't these things. Ah, there's a glorious instrumental section in 'The Apparation' and after a few utterly forgettable tracks arrives the title song. The overall consistency of the album isn't great, there's nothing new here even by Maiden standards and the when they do stretch out over the seven minute long title track, we do get rewards. Treading water elsewhere? Well, maybe but it does still sound like they tried hard. Perhaps too hard? "I have a constant fear something is always near" sings Bruce. So do I, i've not that far away from a dozen or so Iron Maiden albums sitting on my shelf! Ah, I like this title track, back to classic Maiden with a chorus you can shout.

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    this page last updated 23/08/15

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