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After Iron Maiden's first album, they were on the road to success. Guitarist Dennis Stratton was fired and replaced with Adrian Smith, whom of which was a friend of Dave Murray. They also added producer Martin Birch into the picture, and the sound improved vastly. After this album was released, it would reach #11 on the UK charts, and the band would make their first world tour, which would soon lead to the replacement of Paul Di'Anno.
Killers represents a period of transition for Iron Maiden. The band still had that punk style to them from earlier in their career (which Steve claimed was never there), yet they begin introducing more of the metal sound they would become famous for. Producer Martin Birch helped give this album a stronger sound as well. Performance wise, Clive's performance on drums is at its peak on this record. Steve also sounds strong on the album. Paul's voice is still powerful, though maybe not as much as their debut album. As far as guitarists go, Adrian Smith is a strong addition to the mix and the perfect counter for Dave Murray, beginning their famous twin lead attack they would become synonymous for. The art was once again done by Derek Riggs, and is certainly and improvement over their previous record, as it is even more detailed and clean. Overall, it is one of the best Iron Maiden artworks, and certainly one of the best artworks ever, and truly expresses what the band is all about.
Song wise, many tracks were written before Iron Maiden even came out, and were songs that didn't make their debut, only two of them needed to be written for the release. Even though the tracks don't nearly match up to those on their debut, there still are some standouts. This includes the spine tingling "Killers", in which Paul delivers one of his best performances, as well as Steve with that grim bass intro. "Genghis Khan" also is a strong instrumental and "Murders In The Rue Morgue" comes in with a soft guitar intro, but explodes into a well written jam. On the other hand, a few tracks seem to be a bit forgettable. This includes "Another Life", which seems to have a lot of wasted potential as it repeats the same section 3 times and "Drifter", which seems a bit out of place for Iron Maiden. Most of the other tracks seem to fair well, such as the upbeat "Purgatory" and the ballad "Prodigal Son".
Overall, the album is far from bad, as many great improvements were made on this record. However, some of the tracks seem more forgettable than on their debut. That said, this album remains an important milestone in Iron Maiden's career.
When I was very young (let's say 12), I bought Iron Maiden's 'Dance of Death' album, then, about a year later, I picked up 'Edward the Great', the greatest hits collection, for a minimal price. None of the songs from 'Iron Maiden' or 'Killers' appear on that compilation and 13 year old me concluded that those two early albums were lacklustre in comparison to 'The Number of the Beast' and 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son' and so on. Naturally loving the greatest hits, I set about hunting down all of the Maiden albums one by one, starting with the two early releases that I had heard nothing of. And, at first listen, I found them both much harder to get into than the classic 80s albums. There was something a little more bristly and awkward about them that made them feel perhaps a bit older, perhaps a bit inferior, perhaps just more willful and destructive.
I still get that feeling about 'Killers'. It is certainly separated from 'The Number of the Beast' by more than just a year and a singer: the style bears marks of a more primitive, more energetic, more attacking kind of heavy metal, which does have some spikier shapes and rougher corners to it, not that they are any less thrilling than the classic sound that the band would develop with Bruce Dickinson. The pace of 'Killers' is much faster than any other Maiden album, including the debut, and it feels vital as result, racing through its first half with nary a thought for survivors or casualties. A few of the songs have slower intros and build-ups, like 'Murders in the Rue Morgue', while 'Prodigal Son' goes all mellow and folky without being downright naff. Importantly, these moments do not dominate the album as they would later come to do, in my opinion diluting Maiden's flowing and uplifting sound. What is strange about this band is that they never got much heavier or much softer, so 'Killers', despite giving away 30 years to their most modern album, has perhaps the most in your face and meaty songs the band ever wrote. The main riff of the title track is both tricky to play and pushes the envelope more than we usually hear from Maiden, reminding one (achronologically, of course) of Mercyful Fate's 'A Dangerous Meeting'. 'Genghis Khan' is also interesting to investigate, since it is at once distinctively Maiden in its melodies and leads, yet vastly challenging in its rhythms. I've heard it described as a precursor to grindcore and, while I wouldn't go that far, Clive Burr does begin to build into something resembling blastbeats in that faster-and-faster mid-section, while Steve Harris's grumbling bass does more than one might expect of traditional heavy metal.
I don't want to be guilty of adding significance after the moment has passed, but I actually hear more direct influences on other bands from the first two Maiden albums than the latter ones, and this may be due to the higher levels of energy and the faster pace of invention. This more aggressive tendency in the sound is fun to witness and may have something to do with Paul Di'Anno, whose voice wouldn't suit too many epics or slower parts. He isn't as talented as his replacement, but he doesn't really do much wrong, occasional lack of expression aside. He sounds at least as convinced and alive as Bruce Dickinson, spitting and snarling with a street-level violence that grabs you by the throat. Just look at the cover art of 'Killers': it's the least fantastic image that the band would use, but I see it as the most iconic of all their artwork, and I don't believe their sound would ever suit that image again. The rest of the band play it a little straighter as well, with the guitar riffs going for pure speed on occasion (the verses of 'Purgatory' for example), while the melodies come thick and fast, sometimes as separate movements in the song, sometimes as complementary pieces. Listening to Steve Harris relentlessly swooning and plunging on his bass, you get the feeling that Maiden would have made a very good speed metal band if they had decided to head in that direction, though the lead style sounds generally more majestic when they just drop the pace a notch.
I don't have much to complain about in the songwriting department, because Maiden drop no clangers and, even though 'Prodigal Son' is my least favourite track, I fully recognise why it had to be on the album. The other songs don't quite have the classic tone of 'Run to the Hills' or 'The Trooper', but I also think that we can't compare them on the same level, since there is more here to get your face red and your neck sore than to pump your fist and scream your lungs out to. 'Wrathchild' and 'Murders in the Rue Morgue' are both excellent hunt-and-kill numbers, the former a brisk rush of blood soaked in lead work and the latter getting the edge on chorus impact, with its lurching, plunging bass riff driving Di'Anno to proclaim his innocence in an interesting reworking of Edgar Allen Poe's classic story. The title track is naturally the textbook example of the serial killer song, which has been imitated countless times and rarely bettered. There was a time when Maiden could write a five minute song with nothing missing, while now they can't even do that in eight minutes. There's also 'Purgatory', which may just be the most savage song that Maiden ever wrote: pure cut-throat intention and flawless execution makes this a wicked listen.
There is a lot of dispute over Iron Maiden's various changes in style and the perfection or imperfection of each one. I can't fully make my mind up at which point Maiden did the most for me, and in fact I think I'm just glad that they have left us with so many albums to choose from. 'Killers' is probably not the most accomplished release that this band ever recorded and it does have a few rough edges here and there, but it must be, for me, the most visceral release of Iron Maiden's career. The sound from this album has been vastly influential and is still great to listen to.
There are many reasons why Iron Maiden’s second full length studio record “Killers” has become an iconic album with a huge impact on both the band’s career and the young heavy metal genre in general. First of all, there is of course the memorable close-up album cover of band mascot Eddie who looks much more charismatic than before and has since become the most popular mascot of an entire genre. The production on here is clearer, more dynamical and tighter than on the debut that suffered from an average sound quality. The song writing has also become more consistent. While the debut record included a lot of experiments and lacked a clear concept, “Killers” has a clear guiding line despite a more elevated number of tracks and a few interesting exceptions. Talented guitarist Adrian Smith has replaced Dennis Stratton who wasn’t the right choice for the band since he was not only older than the other band members but also less into the heavy metal scene in general. Even though this record is probably the least impressive with Adrian Smith’s participation, his uniquely emotional and more technical guitar play already adds a new dimension to the sound and complements Dave Murray’s melodic but less experimental leads in a good way. Paul Di’Anno’s vocals sound even more confident than on the debut album and he probably delivers the best performance of his career. The rhythm section with Steve Harris on bass and Clive Burr on drums also takes more space than on the first album. This album is much straighter, harder and dirtier than the first strike and mixes the best elements of heavy metal, punk rock and rarely but efficiently employed progressive or psychedelic rock influences.
In my opinion, there are also several negative points to mention. While the flow of the record is clearer and straighter than on the predecessor, the working formula gets somewhat redundant after a while. To be fair, I’m not talking about the two instrumental tracks even though I think that especially “Genghis Khan” is bland and boring and that I would have expected something more epic when a track is named in honour of one of the most important historical and historic characters of all times. A good example would rather be “Another Life” which starts with promisingly dynamical drum loops, emotional guitar leads, a tight rhythm section and a charismatic and variable performance by Paul Di’Anno. The problem is that the song repeats itself after only one minute. In three minutes and a half, the track only includes four lines of lyrics which are repeated three times. I don’t really understand why the band didn’t write three short verses with different lyrics as the rest of the track is really great. “Innocent Exile”, “Purgatory” and “Drifter” have similar problems and especially the latter two are rather disappointing tracks. “Purgatory” is a really bland fast heavy metal track and by far the band’s worst single choice. The equally fast and short bonus track and single “Twilight Time” is already much better due to its melodic and psychedelic chorus and even the often criticized Skyhooks cover “Women in Uniform” is a great party tune performed with groove and passion. Album closer “Drifter” is by far the least impressive of its kind in Iron Maiden’s entire discography. The track is too long and repetitive for its own good and the breaks or solos after each verse are destroying the flow of the tune.
On the other side, the record also includes a few aggressive, consistent and short heavy metal anthems that work very well such as the charismatic “Wrathchild” with its charismatic galloping bass guitar and one of Paul Di’Anno’s angriest vocal performances ever. “Killers” is a track that took some more time to grow on me due to its long and psychedelic introduction but what follows is a fast paced yet atmospheric heavy metal anthem with haunting lyrics and vocals. Ironically, my personal highlights on the record are the two tracks that don’t really fit in. “Murders in the Rue Morgue” is in my opinion probably the very best song written while Paul Di’Anno was in the band. The track starts with great psychedelic guitar harmonies that give the song a fitting mysterious atmosphere before the tune gets faster and explodes into a passionate and speedy heavy metal banger with angry bumblebee bass sounds and powerhouse drumming. The track is not only aggressive and fast from then on but includes the most vivid melodic guitar solos on the entire album and Paul Di’Anno’s most diversified vocal effort where he shows off what an underestimated and powerful singer he was back then. The other outstanding tune is definitely “Prodigal Son”, an epic and mystic piece dominated by acoustic guitars and laid back vocals in the key of the two ballads from the debut record. The song has this certain something which gives it an incredibly longing yet slightly occult atmosphere which could come from the greatest progressive rock bands of the late sixties or early to mid-seventies such as Pink Floyd, Genesis or even early Rush. The track sounds nothing like any other Iron Maiden ballad and is maybe the most experimental track ever written by the band. It’s a track that really inspires and touches me and which proved back then that this is not just a short-living and exchangeable product of its time but a band that would go on to change the world with its music over the next thirty-five years and beyond.
All in all, Iron Maiden’s “Killers” must be seen as a step forward for the band as Iron Maiden forged its own identity and niche in rock music with this release after the more eclectic debut release. Both the dynamical production and the cohesive play of the band sound much tighter than before and the different instruments harmonize much more and complement each other better than on the predecessor. Due to some obvious flaws in the inexperienced song writing and an unusually elevated number of filler tracks that sound like they had been written in ten minutes each, this is still one of the weakest outputs in Iron Maiden’s groundbreaking, innovating and massive discography. From my point of view, the album is one step forward and one step back at the same time for these reasons and personally, both the debut album and its follow-up are pretty much on the same level. This album is recommendable for fans of the early New Wave of British Heavy Metal and those who like faster genres such as punk rock, speed metal or even thrash metal. Occasional heavy metal fans should rather go for the more important “The Number of the Beast”, “Powerslave” and “Somewhere in Time” among others.
I can't think of another album cover that better represents the content of the music than Iron Maiden's Killers. Take one look into the beady eyes of Eddie as he lifts his bloody hatchet for a finishing blow and you'll know you're in for a lethal dose of heavy metal horror. Filled with dark and majestic imagery, Killers delivers just that, but it doesn't end there as Killers also features the best and most consistent musicianship, song-writing, and production of Iron Maiden's long and illustrious career.
By the time Killers was released in 1981, Iron Maiden had already established themselves as one of the premier NWOBHM bands with their early demo 'The Soundhouse Tapes'. After becoming local heroes, the group then hit a global audience with their debut album, the self-titled masterpiece 'Iron Maiden'. Boasting such classic metal cuts as 'Phantom of the Opera', 'Prowler', and 'Transylvania', the album perfectly captured the raw power and energy of a band on the brink of world domination. However, the album suffered from a cheap production job and, in my opinion, a few tracks that dragged on longer than they should have, 'Remember Tomorrow' for example.
Touring in support of their first album helped Iron Maiden further develop their sound and grow tighter as musicians. Following the departure of Dennis Stratton, axemaster Adrian Smith was hired as the second guitarist. It turned out to be a wise choice as Smith's heavy and rough-around-the-edges playing style perfectly accentuated Dave Murray's precise and complex riffs and solos. Paul Di'anno serves his duty well enough, delivering a signature raspy, wailing, punk-like performance. His voice fit the tone of the songs perfectly, but its easy to hear that Iron Maiden were progressing past him as musicians. Although this is his final album with the band, the personality he gives the early Maiden songs earn him major credit for their worldwide success.
Now that we've gotten all that out of the way, let's get down to what really counts- the music.
Killers hits the ground running with the thundering march of 'The Ides of March', a brilliant and powerful instrumental as heavy as it is beautiful. The track leads into what is perhaps the most well-known song off the album, 'Wrathchild'. Now considered a Maiden classic, Wrathchild is a hard-hitting rocker with a driving bass line and some incredible rhythms from drummer Clive Burr, a bonafide master of the skins. It's worth noting that Killers-era Maiden had the greatest heavy metal rythym section in the genre's history.
'Murders in the Rue Morgue' embraces a song structure that has proved to be a favorite of the band continuing to the present day, the slow and mellow opening leading to a heavy, crushing song. Although in later years the format would grow tiresome, it works very well on this track. The opening is just the right amount of time, gradually building up in intensity until a barrage of snare fills launches right into the opening verse. The track is frantic yet melodic, a balance that defines Iron maiden's music.
Perhaps the most musically accomplished track on the album, 'Another Life' begins with a hypnotic cacophony of opposing guitar solos on top of a steady driving beat. Dual guitar harmonies dominate this song, and represent the most addictingly melodic and expertly executed of the band's career. The instrumental 'Genghis Khan' follows as a sort-of sequel to 'Transylvania'. Although not as good as its predecessor, Genghis Khan still contains Maiden's signature galloping heavy metal style that makes you want to charge into battle.
'Innocent Exile' was an early song in the band's career that makes its debut on this album. It begins with an intense drum fill and doesn't let up from there. It is another quality metal song that displays a mastering of the craft. My personal favorite part is near the end after the guitar solo when there is a pounding break and Di-anno screams 'Lord I'm RUNNNNNNIIIIIIINNNNNNN'!!!!!! YEEEEEAAAAHHH!!!' to an eruption of guitar shreds and cymbal bursts. Now that's metal!
Flipping the album over to the other side gives you the title track 'Killers', which follows a similar format to 'Murders of the Rue Morgue' with a slow-building into that explodes into the main driving riff. The lyrical content is dark as the title suggests, and Di-Anno delivers them perfectly with his rough vocals. The song is very fast once it starts going, and is sometimes referred to as an early influence of thrash metal. After that is 'Twlight Zone', another quality hard-rocking track that has my personal favorite opening riff on the album. This is also perhaps the most melodic song on here, with a very catchy and fun-to-sing-along-to chorus that serves as a precursor to the song-writing that would dominate Maiden's later efforts in the 1980's. It is a great song that proves Paul Di'Anno can actually sing.
The next one is kind of an oddball. 'Prodigal Son' is a soft, ballad-style song, one of the very few in Maiden's career. Although it can be initially off-putting, there's still plenty here for heavy metal fans to appreciate. Clive Burr hits just as hard here as he does on the other tracks, and the intermittent heavy chords in addition to the acoustic-sounding main riff gives the song a unique dynamic. I believe this song represents Maiden attempting to show their mellow side in a heavier context with shaky results. I personally like the song, but it simply doesn't fit the tone of the record and disrupts the flow.
Things get back to normal quick enough with the frenzied opening riff of 'Purgatory', another earlier song, previously called 'Floating', reworked for this album. For a long time this was my favorite track on the album. It perfectly combines an exciting, fist-pounding rythym with an infectious vocal melody and brilliant harmonies during the chorus.
'Drifter' follows 'Purgatory' as an ending to the album, and what an ending it is! From the very beginning it hooks you with a unique bass line and a harmonious guitar part then kicks you in the face with a manic scream from Di-anno on top of some ripping solos from Murray and Smith. It's another hard-hitting rocker (my favorite type of song, in case you haven't guessed by now) that breaks into a dreamy and mesmerizing mid-section that features the most melodious guitar solos yet. For the final run the band goes full force in what definitely feels like a fitting conclusion to such a heavy album. Every member of the band shows their chops in the closing minute of 'Drifter', easily one of the most exciting songs ever recorded.
With their sophomore album 'Killers', Iron Maiden had fully defined their signature sound , a combination of the bluesy hard rock of Deep Purple, the metal edge of Judas Priest, and the complexity of Prog masters Yes. Killers represents a band at the peak of their creativity and skill set, ready to conquer the world through the power of their music. Needless to say their journey has been a success, and the early albums are very much a part of that. Killers features some of the best album cover, the best songs, and the best line-up in the history of Heavy Metal. It is a masterpiece, and my personal favorite record.
"Killers" could be seen as a transition album for Iron Maiden. Although the band had a relatively firm grasp of their galloping sound since the debut, Paul Di'Anno's punkish style and image had a pretty significant impact on the way Maiden carried themselves. "Killers" indeed picks up where the self-titled debut left off, but nothing is done with the same sense of sincerity and excitement. Perhaps "Killers" was needed in order for the band to finally opt out of their ties with Di'Anno and move forward, but we have here a record that falls under a terminal case of 'second album syndrome'. Iron Maiden's signature sound is here, but the magic certainly isn't.
Looking back on my fond memories of the debut, Maiden may not have had the degree of sophistication in their sound and lyrics as they are known for today, but, as the towering "Phantom of the Opera" would testify, they were capable of great things, fusing raw energy with technicality and pomp likely influenced by the progressive rock of the decade past. The idea of moving one step forwards, and two steps back seems to apply here. Although there is a slight progression towards a grittier heavy metal sound, the aggression and intelligence have been siphoned out. "Killers" puts all of its best tunes at the front; although "The Ides of March" functions as a simple, anthemic intro to the record, its martial rhythm leaves a greater impression than most of the songs here. "Wrathchild" has become a bit of a fan favourite, and there's no doubt that it takes the dubious prize of album highlight. Steve Harris' bass licks on "Wrathchild" are some of the best of his early career, and though Di'Anno's performance throughout the album feels generally inferior to his vocals on the debut, he executes some incendiary wails. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" follows up "Wrathchild" quite nicely, delivering a faster pace more indicative of the album as a whole. After that, the songs begin to blur together. Iron Maiden deliver many of the same tricks each song, and though it is made a worthy listen for their consistent tightness as a band, the songwriting lacks the excitement and distinctiveness most of us have come to expect from this band. The one exception later in the album is the relatively long "Prodigal Son", which actually ends up feeling like an unwelcome change of pace for the album. It's as if Maiden suddenly decided to toss out their metal direction in exchange for a painfully watered down prog rock style. Di'Anno's vocals notwithstanding, "Prodigal Son" sounds like something Rush could have done on "Fly By Night", then decided to toss away.
The first two Maiden albums are usually seen as being apart from the rest, if only because Bruce Dickinson had not yet entered the fold. Paul Di'Anno is a great frontman with a charismatic delivery, but his vocal work on "Killers" lacks the precision and ballsy guts it sported on the debut. His performance is decent, but he favours the 'charismatic' angle of his inflections far too much over the more melodic aspects here. As a result, DiAnno's vocals still feel larger-than-life, but there's not a single vocal melody on the album that really sticks, even after several listens. In short, the worst thing that ever happened to "Killers" was the fact that it was being expected to follow one of the best heavy metal debuts ever. There is still much potential in Iron Maiden's style- which remains powerful and exciting- but it's a tough sell to say that the album is really worth checking out for anything more than the fact that it's Iron Maiden. Luckily, it wouldn't be long before the excellent "Number of the Beast" was released under the vocal guidance of Brucey, but considering the sort of artistic success Maiden had with Di'Anno with their first record, it's pretty difficult not to feel disappointed.
Iron Maiden's sophomore effort Killers is such a good ole gem that I often dream of what the band's career would have been like had they held on to Paul Di'Anno (and Clive Burr) forever. Perhaps there may never have been a Powerslave or Piece of Mind that was quite the same as those that front Dickinson's powerful pipes, but it's not hard to understand why some of Maiden's fans have eventually divided into two camps: those that prefer the 80s Dickinson streak of genius, and those that believe the first two albums represent the band at its most vital. Although I clearly belong to the former camp, with almost all of my favorite albums involving Bruce's vocals, I have grown very fond of the first two albums with age. There is just no denying it...if you want to hear Maiden at their closest to the 'pack' of the raw, pure NWOBHM bands, Killers is a monumental record that was nearly without peer (if you discount a few bands like Judas Priest), which took the infectious energy and good hooks of the s/t debut to a new height. It's also the first album by the band that I actually got into as a kid...
And it is one badass album. Where later Maiden efforts howl at you through the winds of history, the realms of the imagination or the shimmering neon streets of the future, Killers takes you from the shadows of the back alley of the sprawling 80s metropolis, lunging at you with a rusted cleaver, cackling with glee. That's not to infer that it ignores the band's old penchant for lyrics based in science fiction, horror and history. But compared to an album Somewhere in Time, Killers is just low down, dirty and mean, without totally lacking that melodic kick in the pants that made this band a household name on planet Earth. I can't blame Di'Anno for any of the drug problems he may have succumbed to while helping to conceive or tour off this album, because I honestly feel like taking a snort or two myself and tracing it with a draft of something dark and lethal proof when I listen to these songs.
Don't let the short-lived majesty of "The Ides of March" deceive you, because "Wrathchild" comes storming out like Jack the Ripper posteuring as a Hendrix or Page. The riffs groove and stomp while Di'Anno weaves his old catlike sorcery like a dirty man that knows he's about to score with every whore in the pub. Mind you, I mean this only with the sincerest of compliments, because if anything, Killers is the most 'sexy' Iron Maiden album. Denim and leather, spikes and booze, this is heavy metal music and it is not ashamed. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" devours you with terse seconds of tranquility, before the sparse chords ring out. I'd almost call the fast paced verse of the song 'uplifting', considering the Edgar Allen Poe story it was based on, but regardless, it is one of the best fucking songs this band has ever played, and I've got a lawn that wants you to kindly step off if you don't agree! Flighty, fun solos and an unflinching, dark boogie to the chorus assure that this is likely a standard on every Jukebox in Hell. Do you seriously think the Devil listens to Deicide or Akercocke? Because he doesn't. He listens to this.
Reminding you that metal is in fact just a more abusive form of rock and roll is the wailing bluesy taint that intros "Another Life", a hammering joint that features a nice echoing spin to Di'anno' vocals, and a stream of bleeding melodies over the plunking pumpkin bass of 'Arry. I was only about seven years when this damn thing came out, but even then I was jealous of what high schoolers must have done with their sweeties behind closed doors when this thing was playing, because it's hot like melted wax. "Genghis Khan" is a ripping instrumental with some savage, pumping guitar rhythms that easily transport you to the fields of conquest that its titular figure once grazed upon. And at 1:00 minute, the song becomes GO TIME, as in bang your unworthy head you sodden fuck! "Innocent Exile" finds an amazing medium between the band's hard rock blues grooves and titillating sense for raucous metal melody. Combined with the badass, on the run from the law lyrics, I cannot help but envy the outlaw, the trucker, the motorcycle man, or any other marginalized stereotype the song evokes within me.
And lo, though the album had by this point long since earned its keep, it is far from finished with you. "Killers" introduces the unforgettable, solemn and steady bass line bristling with quiet guitars before the forward trot below the harmonic debauchery, and then the chorus which is like a mighty punch in the groin that would fell a hundred Goliaths. This functions better than "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor as a psyche-up for a fight, sportlike or to the death. After this, "Prodigal Son" surprises with its river rolling, homely clean guitar tones and Di'Anno vocals that cut through the night like a a radio in a lone trucker's cab beneath some twilight, open desert. Might not be as heavy as the rest of the album, but it still kicks a severe amount of tail. "Purgatory" is a nice early speed/power metal number with a fierce and unforgettable chorus that sails across the abyss like a beautiful hell-kite, aglow with subterranean lightning, and "Drifter" features that sick, descending guitar line intro, though as much as I enjoy the song, it might be the one thing here I don't find entirely captivating or perfect.
Of course, being that I had the US release, I was also entreated to the delightful "Twilight Zone" in between "Killers" and "Prodigal Son", and what can I say...it's a perfect track with more of Di'Anno's, excellent echoed wailing, and one of my overall favorites on the disc, with guitars that burn straight past your defenses into your metal soul.
Killers is certainly a strong case for the original Maiden being every bit the contender that its next incarnation would prove to be. Proof that this is one of the few bands to easily weather periods of two distinct, excellent vocalists (but not three, sadly). But beyond that, it is one of the very best of the early 80s heavy metal offerings, with songs and production that have survived, intact, through almost three decades. I don't appreciate every waking second of the album with equivocal lust, but it's fantastic, and easily one of the band's better efforts. If by some anomaly you have yet to avail yourself of its charms, I suggest you make it so, lest you feel the burn of eternal shame as the rest of us avert our eyes from you, avoiding you like a bearer of plague.
Highlights: Perhaps the heaviest album of all time to feature the word 'cuddle'?
Why is this album so underrated? It's really strange that this album is so often passed up in favour of albums like Number Of The Beast and Powerslave, especially as the primary reason for that is often the perception that they have less filler songs. The irony is that the opposite is true - a couple of exceptions aside, almost every song on this album just plain works, period. And even the weaker ones are pretty good in their own ways.
Like the self titled debut, Killers is a deeply atmospheric album with a great deal of the same rawness and grittiness and real, down to earth urban feeling that also characterised its predecessor, although the former of those two is somewhat reduced due to the much more polished production. While not as clean or as well produced as Number Of The Beast this is certainly less obviously raw than the debut. There's nothing wrong with that per se, and the heavier and stronger guitar tone actually helps for obvious reasons, but it does mean that the atmosphere, while still very strong in the same way as the debut, is a little less potent.
Nevertheless, this is an extremely well done album. The first song, The Ides Of March, is absolutely perfect and sets the mood brilliantly. Quite dark, almost menacing in a way, and very similar to what came before, but the improved production really accentuates the guitars. The riffs, while simple, are excellent, and it's such a truly heavy metal opening. The solo is also fairly simple, but again there's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't rely on a cheesy or poppy melody at all, which is another thing I love, and that I wish Maiden had kept on doing rather than just adding melodic riffs that you can't even headbang to right in the middle of their songs in order to make them more accessible to weak people, often not even genuine metalheads but hard rock fans and the like, who couldn't sit through real consistent heavy fucking metal riffs. This is something they unfortunately did do later, and it became so overdone that it often felt like they were just trying to become more popular and gain fans outside of the metal community in order to make more money - which is exactly what they did do, except they got away with it because they managed to keep a respectable image and still be fairly heavy, and were never accused of selling out, even when they should have been, because they hardly ever wrote love songs or anything that genuinely sounded too hard- rockish except to really trained ears. So they got away with writing pathetically stupid songs infested with horribly cheesy melodies designed to appeal to dumb and easily impressed people that somehow managed to become "metal" classics such as Aces High(in case any of you are thinking I'm off my rocker around now, I'm not, and I'm not joking either), Two Minutes To Midnight(not kidding here either), Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter, Run To The Hills, and Holy Smoke. Predictable, simplistic songs with pop-influenced melodies designed to appeal to people too stupid to look past their insipidity. Killers has none of this shit. Even the two singles(Purgatory and Twilight Zone, and the latter wasn't on the original)have pretty much nothing along those lines. The former does have a melodic clean sounding break that does seem like a prelude to the kind of poppy bullshit they'd overuse later, but this isn't a major problem as it isn't overdone here.
Anyway, long rant aside, that this manages to keep a consistent level of genuine heaviness along with excellent songwriting and great use of(more subtle)melodies and a respectable amount of grittiness with a dark atmosphere and NOT be too commercial is a testament to the band's skills and abilities and, at this point at least, their lack of any real pretentiousness. After the brilliant opener, Wrathchild kicks in, and this is a great song, a true classic and still played in Maiden's concerts to this day, for a bloody good reason: it's fucking great, real heavy metal despite its popularity. Di'Anno's voice here fits it perfectly; while Bruce sings it ok, I'd say Paul is much better suited for the atmosphere. It's a little short, but in a way this is more of a strength than a weakness. Rather punky in its own way, which is an interesting point that's often overlooked; yeah, we all know that Maiden's first two albums are punk influenced to one degree or the other, but the way they combined punk, rock, and metal together is what's so incredible. It's an element they sadly lost with Number Of The Beast for the most part, and after that record - well, just forget it, because it was then that they began their epic proto-power metal style, which was still good but lacking something essential that these two records have in abundance: real grittiness, urban atmosphere, and no fucking pretentious bullshit. Of course one could just as easily make the argument that their later style was simply different, and in its own way actually better due to the(somewhat) more complex songwriting, greater epicness, and more creative use of melody. That's a fair point and not one I entirely disagree with, but I still feel that they lost something after this record.
The most incredible thing here is the lack of filler. Remember how I said that earlier? Well, it's absolutely true; after the awesome Wrathchild, the equally brilliant Murders In The Rue Morgue kicks in, and it's another aggressive, almost brutal ass-kicker with a beautiful and atmospheric intro, which is then followed up with what at the time must have been some of the fastest riffing ever. That punk like aggression and power was an essential element of early Maiden, and one of their most overlooked strong points, I would say.
But it doesn't stop here, because then we have Another Life, which, if one chooses to nitpick, is not quite up to the level of the preceding three songs, but is still really good. Then comes Genghis Khan, a great and fucking heavy instrumental metal attack showcasing the band's skills without being too flashy. Innocent Exile follows, and it's another very atmospheric and well done song. Truth be told, these are less good songs than the best songs on Number Of The Beast, but they're also less good songs than the best songs on this same album, and you can't have everything.
Then comes the title track, which is amazingly awesome in every way imaginable. The bass dominated intro is one bone of contention I do have, because it goes on a bit too long, and Paul's screams actually aren't all that brilliant. But when it gets heavy at around the 1.00 minute mark it gets really good. From then on it's several minutes of heavy metal at its best. The almost clean sounding melodic riff from 2:18 to 2:28 is unfortunately very obviously a precursor to the all of the overused melodic and not at all headbangable riffs that would virtually ruin the heaviness of some of their later albums(at least for me), but here it works, for two reasons: it only lasts 10 seconds, and it's a prelude to one of the most classically heavy fucking metal riffs in the whole of heavy fucking metal ever. Seriously, that riff from 2:29 to 2:39 is just...well, one of those riffs, the kind that when you hear loud makes you bang your head until it hurts and/or go completely bonkers. It's that metal, and really shows that Maiden were heavy as fuck well before The Number Of The Beast. The rest of the song is brilliant too, and also features one of Paul Di'Anno's best performances ever. He's really genuinely menacing here, and he should be: he's taking the perspective of a demented serial killer. This song must have influenced many thrash and later even death metal acts out there due to its subject matter, heaviness, speed, and aggressiveness. An absolute masterpiece, no doubt about it. Hell, if this was the only good song on the album it'd be worth buying for this song alone. But it isn't - in fact, every other song up to this point has been either good or great too. Can you say the same for Number Of The Beast or Powerslave? I think not.
After this work of brilliance, however, is when things, to some extent at least briefly go downhill with the weird and not all that metal "Prodigal Son". It's supremely atmospheric, I'll give it that...a lot like Strange World from the first album. But that song was the weakest song on the debut in my eyes along with Sanctuary, and the debut was so amazingly filled with such an atmosphere on every single one of its songs that one completely unheavy song didn't matter - everything else was so good that I didn't care. Here, though, Maiden try something more along the lines of a power ballad like Remember Tomorrow, except unlike that fantastic song, this isn't a typical power ballad at all. It's dominated by acoustic guitars which are interspersed with heavy distorted riffs every now and then, and has several sections where the guitars are completely clean, most notably the first verse. It picks up a little later, but it's just so...well, weird, for Maiden at least. It just doesn't sound very much like anything they'd done before, or would try again for that matter, and that makes me think it was the product of an idea they had: they wanted to try something different, and in that respect they certainly succeeded. But did they execute it well? I'm not sure...and that's part of the problem with this song. I don't hold anything against it per se, and there are some good moments on it, but I don't really care for it all that much either, and the preceding seven songs were all far better.
Anyway, moving on, we then have "Purgatory", the only original single from the album, which unlike a lot of future Maiden singles(which, despite their commercial status, are often beloved by almost all Maiden fans for some reason, who seem to be incapable of seeing their often fundamental flaws and lack of much real metalness)is actually a pretty good song. Its use of melody is neither cheesy nor overdone, and creates that same intensely powerful atmosphere, very urban and gritty and harsh(and not clean at all), that made early Maiden so great. The lyrics are(as far as I can tell, don't quote me on this one)something about a ghost, and all of his memories, and also something about love, although I'm not sure what the exact meaning of the song is. Nice, and I mean that seriously, because here it really works. It's dark, quite cold almost, and even the clean melodic riffs don't ruin the song - in fact, they help it as they make the atmosphere even more potent.
"Twilight Zone", the bonus track which became the album's other single later, is another very well done song with no real problems. I'm not sure what it's about exactly but again it's very potent and real, completely down to earth, and quite similar to Purgatory in a lot of ways, but there's nothing wrong with that.
Finally, we get "Drifter", which unfortunately is the only song on here that, like Prodigal Son, never really clicked with me. It's about a cowboy going from place to place and singing to help people's spirits, or something along those lines, and while it works as a closing song, it just isn't all that interesting. There are hardly any really memorable riffs here, and it's quite predictable and repetitive. It's a bit of a shame as almost every other song on here is either good, great, or fantastic, but considering that's true I suppose it doesn't matter all that much. Still, I would have liked the last song on the album to be a good one at least.
So there we have it, a highly underrated album that is still quite definitely a piece of metal history. While not as important or as revolutionary as the debut, as most of the greatness on here comes from taking the same excellent formula that worked brilliantly there and doing it again, it's still a great metal record to say the least, and the number of consistently good songs on here that work without being either too commercial or remotely cheesy is amazing. I'm still trying to understand why Maiden couldn't have written their later brilliant epics without becoming cheesy, pretentious, and far more commercial - they succeeded at creating a fantastically potent atmosphere here just as they did with the debut, and that album had Phantom Of The Opera, an epic song that was astounding and not at all commercial, pretentious, or corny. This album doesn't have any epics of that kind, but nevertheless the material here is of overall extremely high quality and the album has only two weaker songs. Out of 11 songs, I'd call that a bargain.
To sum up, another absolutely essential Maiden classic. If you want overdone cheesy epics with absurdly over the top singing and weak guitars, this isn't for you. If you want songs about slaying dragons, Egyptian Pharaohs and dogfights, this isn't for you. If you want lame hard rock posing as metal with obscenely dumb lyrics this certainly isn't for you. But if you want real heavy fucking metal with powerful lyrics, real grit, a superb urban atmosphere, genuine heaviness(as opposed to pussy hard rock 'heaviness')and NO FUCKING PRETENTIOUSNESS, then this is a definite must have.
Less than a year after the debut, Harris and the band strike gold with Killers, an album that’s packed with magically delicious heavy metal. The vibe is cooler, the atmosphere much more chill, and the tone of everything from Di’Anno’s voice to the tick off the cymbal sounds superbly crisp and rich. Compared to Dickinson, yes, Di’Anno doesn’t have a huge range, but he’s much more focused this time around to smash expectations gambled off the first album. His voice this time around shows much more attitude, personality, control and, thanks to proper mixing, melody next to the harmonious lead attacks by Smith and Murray. On that midway conclusion, the guitar duo’s sound has improved much over the months, as well. Going from sloppy and uninteresting to powerful, melodic, Smith and Murray show great friendship as they kick off one another in nailing twin leads. The tone is grainy and warm, integrating well with the comfortable, jazzy atmosphere brought about by Di’Anno’s soulful voice.
Well, the showmanship aspect of the band improved tremendously, and the show tonight would be the best one put out this far. However, Di’Anno shortly after the release of the debut realized that he suffered (or according to him, was blessed) from Douchitus, scientifically known as Thinkus Biggitus Dickus, or Bloody Wanker Syndrome according to English metalheads. This may explain his spectacular performance on this album, as he sounds not only like a capable singer, but also very pompous. Over the following months, he began sucking Iron Maiden into his own void and acting like the driving force while Harris still held the title as founder and creative controller of the band. He drove the band over the edge a couple of times with his pretentious attitude and over-the-top character, which went against most of the band members’ ethics.
The band feared him more than he gave a shit about the band, but during the recording sessions for Killers he was surprisingly reserved. His stares into the blank abyss could only be matched by Vietnam veterans, which scared the shit out of the band. Murray, with all his skill and wisdom, hypothesized that Di’Anno’s egotism turned him into a monster on the inside. He could be tamed if given time, but the band wasn’t as hopeful as Murray, who knew Di’Anno would be blinded by fame to pursue either a solo career.
In that result, the band would be saved from potential slaughter; remember now, Harris needed to stay alive most of all to have those three daughters everyone loves.
Blasting off with “Killers,” the fans instantly recognize Harris’ signature, bobbing bass tone as it glides forward in the grooviest fashion. Alongside the gritty guitars, the tone feels much warmer and heavier than before, with a stylish persona to go with it. Sometimes the bass rides the rhythm with the guitars, but a lot of times it’ll find itself on its own carrying the rhythm while the guitars cocked back before launching themselves forward in a chaotic whirl of merciless harmonies. “Innocent Exile” hits the spot with this as Harris twirls his basslines before letting Smith and Murray capitalize on the scene, mesmerizing the listener with spot-on precision and heavy-hitting heavy metal excitement. Killers is more of a fun album that hopes to make the listener relaxed and along for the ride. In the car, the bass is especially grumbly and acts as a deeper and more serious edge to the music. In this respect, the guitars are much like kids attempting to have fun and prove that they have what it takes to slay the competition.
Burr in the back really has his drumming tight as bubble wrap. The hats have a clingy sound to them, but the rest of the kit hammers along nicely. I especially love how the double bass really has this galloping sound, like a horse charging toward you at record speed. The tom and cymbal crash combination is sometimes overwhelming, like so much force is hitting you. “Prodigal Son” is the real slow, ballad-type song on the album that works with these crashes, but then you have the rest of the album where Burr gets out his pit-pat-pit-pat speedy drumming, keeping up well on the sidelines next to his lead counterparts. The mixing on the album is very touchy, with extra caution not to bury the vocals or accentuate the guitars like on the debut. In the car, the combo is fabulous when blasting at peak volumes, and as for the fans in this concert, they were caught well off guard.
The band knew the careful recording process paid off, as the fans were going berserk. Maiden tore through their previous classics “Phantom Of The Opera” and “Running Free,” but focused on the new songs; stellar show of force was given with the tuneful “Drifter” and the sing-a-long “Murders In The Rue Morgue,” before going all out with “Genghis Khan.”
Alas, a minute had passed before Murray made a sudden miscalculation. By playing “Genghis Khan,” which happened to be a complete instrumental, the spotlight wouldn’t be centered on Di’Anno, who couldn’t keep his monster egotism held for too long. Dickinson later on could just run around like a monkey using the stage as his playground in front of tens of thousands of fans, but Di’Anno wasn’t going to stoop to that level. No, he believed the band wouldn’t be anywhere without him – an expendable bunch of baboons.
Immediately, he went into a fit of rage that looked like a common stage act, but it quickly descended out of control as he started swinging his mic at the band and the crowd. “Genghis Khan” abruptly ended during the riff that Papa Roach ripped off so the band could calm him down, but it was far too late - Douchitus is the leading cause of band break-ups, and a picture of Di’Anno is in the dictionary right next to the word. The crazed frontman located a conveniently placed axe on one of the props, fervently grabbed it, and started wailing away at the members like a maniac. The band members rushed for their lives back to the van with instruments still grasped in hand like rifles in a war zone. The fans still considered this part of the show, but the band knew this was do or die while Di’Anno couldn’t give two squirrel farts more about the fans to go back to them. He had one night to take out our boys, and our heroes understood Murray well as he explained to them that tonight would be their only shot to take him out, too.
The lines were finally crossed, the stakes were set, and the dawn of a new Maiden was upon us.
The police insisted that they capture Di’Anno first, to show him the error of his ways, but the band decided against it. Regardless, justice would have a take first whether the band liked it or not. They’d net him, but he’d most likely hack away at the net, which is when they’d unleash riot police on him with CS gas-
In bursts Di’Anno, who quickly slays the few policemen standing in his way of retaliation; his eyes blood-red and his hair standing up like Donald Duck on crack. Choosing to discard the axe, he throws it like a Scotsman at Burr, who quickly dodges before it slashes Smith and effectively brings him down to the ground. Burr at this point grabs some of the firearms still scattered on the ground as Harris quickly jabs at Di’Anno’s face with his monolithic bass guitar – the groovy basslines surging through it even without the presence of amplifiers! Murray quickly reacts with a drop kick and a solo burst from “The Ides Of March,” knocking Di’Anno out of the station as the boys rush trying to fireman-carry Smith into the van. Di’Anno recovers, dashes for the axe, and gets the last cackle as he destroys the rear window of the van while our boys drive off into the city.
The entire plan went straight to hell. Smith thankfully made it to the emergency room on time, Murray, Harris and Burr were exhausted, and Di’Anno was still on the prowl in the streets. The city wouldn’t rest peacefully tonight unless our heroes put him out of his misery for good, but that sophist asshole won’t go down without taking the band with him, either. No one was prepared for this douche move, but now blood must be shed for the survival of not only Iron Maiden, but the NWOBHM movement as a whole. Police interference already proved too costly; the time for diplomacy was never an option. With drumsticks, guitars slung on backs, and magnums in hand, it was time for a new Maiden to rise from these scarred ashes; Dave Murray was pissed for the very first time.
At the cost of Burr, Di’Anno was defeated. The remaining members will reconstruct Maiden with an even better line-up and sound. They’ll make it so that no one member could dominate the band ever again. With two minutes to spare before midnight, the boys headed back to the gig for some well-deserved refreshments.
Killers is a NWOBHM album of exceptional quality. If Paul Di'Anno hadn't been so fond of the old nose candy, I think he could have a had a great future with Iron Maiden. However, along came Bruce Dickinson, and the rest is history. But before that happened, he really did some good work on this project.
"Ides of March" is a great opener, but surprisingly short. I hadn't looked at the timing of the track before I heard it, and when it came to an end, I thought, that's it? But you don't really have much time to lament the shortness of the opener, because "Wrathchild" really kicks it into high gear. I really think this is Paul Di'Anno's finest moment. His vocals actually kick major ass on this tune, and it's too bad he couldn't sustain that kind of quality all the time. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" sustains the adrenalin rush, with an almost punk-style frenzy. I don't think the vocals are quite as good here, but there is a nice snarly tone at work on the tune." Makes me wonder if the guys had been listening to a lot of punk (or mayber just Queen's song "Sheer Heart Attack").
I could go on track-by-track, but I won't. The thing that one notices on the first listen of this album, though, is how high the energy level is throughout. The guitars tear along at breakneck speed, and the drums and bass are right there with them. I mean, it's not Megadeth, but for the time, they were really on fire! As on the debut album, the guitar work is of exceptional quality, maybe even better than the first one. Welcome, Adrian Smith! Also, as I write this, and "Genghis Khan" is playing, my hat goes off to the amazing drums of Clive Burr. Wow. The combination of those glorious guitars with that super tight drumming is, quite simply awe inspiring. In fact, I would have to say, "Genghis Khan" is the best track on the record. That being said, though, I don't think there's a bad track on this album. If Iron Maiden's career had ended with this album, they could still have held their heads high.
Since I've given props to pretty much everyone on this album, I would be remiss if I forgot to mention Steve Harris's kick ass bass playing throughout, most notably on the excellent "Innocent Exile." Not to simplify too much, but every member of the group gives his all on this album. If the first two Iron Maiden albums were the only ones that existed, I would have said that they had set the bar about as high as it could go. However, "Number of the Beast" was about to come along, and that showed that that bar still had another notch or two left above it.
“Killers” is the second studio album by Iron Maiden, and their first concept album, as most of the songs are about murder of some sort. The album was the first to feature Adrian Smith as one of the lead guitarists, and was the last studio album to feature Paul Di’Anno on vocals.
I would describe this album as being plain crazy. Much psychotic darkness can be found on the album, which makes this a very interesting listen. I found that this release, “Somewhere in Time” and “Brave New World” had the best solos of Iron Maiden. The solos on this album range from sheer speed to powerful echoing solos. The echoing solos are more common on this release, being on Wrathchild, Another Life, Genghis, beginning of Innocent Exile, and Purgatory. Sadly, the only time I recall hearing the echo effect on later albums was Where Eagles Dare, off of “Piece of Mind”.
The band probably has one of their best performances on this album. Steve Harris is very prominent here, having three bass intros, plus his normal impressive bass playing. It is also worthy to note that Harris wrote almost all of the songs on this album on his own. Murray and Smith provide exceptional guitar work on this release, particularly on Innocent Exile, Prodigal Son, Genghis, and Killers. Di’Anno sounds a good deal better on this album than on the previous release, and sounds great on everything except Twilight Zone. The highlights of Di’Anno on this album are Killers, Purgatory, Wrathchild, and Innocent Exile. Lastly, Clive Burr, yet again, proves his impressive drumming skills.
The album has a good, but short instrumental opening called the Ides of March. The song is like a catchy marching beat with some soloing to keep it interesting. The first actual song on here is Wrathchild which is easily the most popular track on here, and for a good reason. The song starts off with one of Maiden’s best bass lines before the rest of the band joins in. A very raw highlight. Di’Anno provides some really catchy singing, with some very dirty guitar work. Next up is Murders in the Rue Morgue. The gloomy opening of this song is very misleading, as the whole thing is very upbeat and catchy. Nothing particular to mention, just a very good song.
Another Life is a rather overlooked track, featuring some great solos and a great vocal performance by Di’Anno. Both the instrumentals and the lyrics of the song remind of a crazy murderer’s thinking process, making it a wild ride. Genghis Khan, another overlooked track, is an amazing instrumental with a really dark solo and some drastic tempo changes. The first half of Genghis features an appropriate Middle Eastern sound which is rather “groovy”. Genghis is tied with Transylvania when it comes to the best Maiden instrumental. Next up is my personal favorite on here, Innocent Exile; yet another overlooked track. This song is heavy at first with some mid tempo riffs and singing, but the second half is absolutely amazing. The second half is when the song speeds up and some phenomenal soloing begins. These solos are simply the epitome of shredding goodness. Murray and Smith deserve a medal for the lead/rhythm collaboration here.
The title track is pretty incredible. The dark bass intro, Di’Anno’s screams, the dirty guitar, the solo, all of it is spectacular. The pure aggression present during this whole song makes it one of Maiden’s toughest works. This title track is also what I consider Di’Anno’s best performance with the band, due to his evil sounding voice here, and his wild screaming and laughter. Prodigal Son is a ballad that sounds rather out place on here. As another user stated below, most of the song sounds like Iron Maiden trying to do some Beatles cover, which doesn’t turn out so well. Aside from a beautiful solo, the song is extremely average.
Purgatory is another particularly good performance of Di’Anno, and is one of the faster songs on this release. The song is dark, like much of the album, but in an upbeat way. All in all, a fantastic vocally oriented song. Drifter starts out very dark, but quickly becomes way too happy. I found it a little repetitive as well, but the soloing is top-notch as always. There are problems, but good parts as well. In the end, Drifter is pretty solid, so give it a listen as you may like it. If your copy of the album contains Twilight Zone, give it a go. I personally think it doesn’t go anywhere, but some seem to really like it. The song is very fast paced, but I hated Di’Anno’s uninspiring vocals here.
Overall I would say that the highlights of this release are Wrathchild, Innocent Exile, Killers, Purgatory, and Genghis Khan. Prodigal Son, (Due to solo of course) Another Life, Ides of March, and Murders in the Rue Morgue are the average songs. (Average meaning the songs would be scored 75-85% if they were standalone, due to this album’s high standards.) I would consider Drifter and Twilight Zone the weaker tracks, though I much prefer Drifter over Twilight Zone.
In the end “Killers” is one of Iron Maiden’s greatest releases. Sadly, like “Somewhere in Time”, many of the best songs on the release are generally ignored by the band nowadays. This would be the last of the classic style of Iron Maiden, before they developed their definitive sound in the following releases. The departure of Di’Anno after this album brought an immense change to the band, as this allowed the more operatic Bruce Dickinson to become the vocalist. It seems the addition of Dickinson is what made Maiden’s signature sound so much different from the earliest releases like this one. Ultimately this album is like a different, more aggressive Iron Maiden, and proves that even without Dickinson, this band is nothing less than amazing.
In the progression that is Iron Maiden, this album is a critical step towards their goal of world domination. Its light years ahead of the debut, but not quite Number of the Beast quality yet, though some songs on here would rival some of the very best on that album. Killers, probably the best metal album ever when it was released, was an album that boasted the punky qualities of the debut, but also had a bit more of the serious leanings they would take after this album. Steve Harris (once again) wrote most of the music here. About 9 of the 11 songs, and had a big hand in the other two. Dennis Stratton is gone, and replacing him is Adrian Smith, guitar wizard extraordinare. It's impressive to see him and Murray duel back and forth, because they both rule. Di'Anno sounds MUCH better on here. More balls and conviction behind his delivery. While its not quite Dickinson in terms of quality, it is still very good, and comparing him to Dickinson isnt fair. They are two completely different styles. Clive Burr sounds as good as on the debut (not a bad thing). His rhythm is locked in well and he gets his job done. Anyways, onto the music. Let's see whats on hand here, shall we?
The album opens with the instrumental "Ides of March". It has a great melody and some harmonied guitars but its nothing to shit yourself over. The second song, Wrathchild, delivers. It is hard, angry and very punkish at times.
Now, Murders in the Rue Morgue is probably the most underrated Maiden song of all time. It sure as hell is my favorite off this album. The riffs are catchy, the lyrics are very realistic and thought provoking, and in some parts, it reminds me of Phantom of the Opera off the debut album.
Other outstanding numbers are "Prodigal Son", (another penned by Harris song) the mellowest song on hand here, but also the most heartfelt (not to mention also the best solo on the album), and the title track itself.
The title track has very much in common with what Megadeth would do 5 years later in the song "Devil's Island" off the album Peace Sells...But Who's buying?....Galloping thrash. Though Maiden doesnt quite thrash, this song is very speedy and has a very dark overtone. A standout indeed!
Iron Maiden would improve dramatically through all of their first 4 albums, until they hit their peak on Piece of Mind and kept it up for several years.
Following up the excellent debut album wouldn't have been an easy task, but it is a testament to Iron Maiden's skills as songwriters and musicians that they not only created another excellent album but one which improves on nearly every aspect of the previous record. It saw the replacement of Dennis Stratton with Adrian Smith, which in my opinion was a good decision and I feel had it not been for the arrival of Smith the songs on here would not be as good as they are. This would also be the last record with Di'Anno on it, which can be either a good or bad thing depending on ones opinion.
Musically, this picks up where 'Iron Maiden' left off. Still retaining a strong NWOBHM sound, it increases the punk influence to create a grittier sound than what came before it. The riffs have improved by a fair amount which is probably due to Adrian Smith arriving, and have a more 'savage' sound to them. They are probably more melodic this time around, which is certainly not a bad thing. The soloing has also improved, and has a sort of 'dreamy' quality to it at times. The bass plays a much more prominent role as the production makes it easily audible among the mix, and it even has some of it's own lines here and there, while the drumming is average. Paul Di'Anno's voice is still as gruff as it ever was, although on here he uses more of a range and utilises screams here and there.
The songwriting is a departure from the debut, in which it was mostly straightforward verse chorus structure with the exception of Phantom of the Opera. This time around they throw in a few breaks in here and there, as is seen halfway through 'Wrathchild', and introduce some more intros to songs. While unfortunately there are no seven minute epics like Phantom of the Opera this time around, the quality of the tracks as a whole more than makes up for it.
As for highlights, it is difficult to choose as every song has it's moments. 'Wrathchild' is a catchy song which starts off with a short bass intro before moving onto a midpaced melodic riff with soloing in between the verses. As said before, there is a great break halfway through before it returns to normal. The second instrumental of the album, 'Genghis Khan', cycles between fast and slow with the slow parts being a build up to the faster parts in most cases. The excellent galloping riff which comes a minute in is genius, while the lead out is great consisting of slow soloing. The title track has a brooding bass intro in which Di'Anno does some awesome screams which lasts for a minute or so before perhaps the best riff on the album comes in. The choruses are catchy and it has some more great soloing thrown in. Finally, 'Purgatory' is another fast song with some excellent melody.
To sum it up, Killers is indeed a lost classic. Unfortunately it is sometimes passed over for the debut album or Dickinson -era Maiden , which is a pity as some of their best stuff is on here and it is better than both the previous and following album.
Unfortunately, the Di'Anno era of Maiden is often disregarded by many fans world wide, which is hard to understand, as the band was churning out some great classic songs with alot of raw power and energy at the time. All in all, these albums sound heavier then alot of their other releases with Dickinson.
Killers, Iron Maiden's second offering rips into you and doesn't let up until the end. It seems to start off a little slow with the intro "The Ides Of March" which gives the album a nice atmosphere to start off with, despite it being a very short instrumental. From there, without a pause, it rolls directly into "Wrathchild" which is a great rocker with some great riffs and hooks. Next up is "Murders In The Rue Morgue" which starts off slow, but soon picks up to breakneck speed which has the ferocity to rip your fucking face off. "Another Life" comes up next which has some great guitar parts and instrumentally sounds excellent, the only complaint at all about this song and about the album for that matter is that the lyrics here aren't very inventive, just the same few lines repeated over and over again. "Genghis Khan" is an excellent instrumental played at top speed in the vein of "Transylvania" from their first release which gives way to the bass driven classic "Innocent Exile" which is one of the best songs I've ever heard from Maiden and then the excellent title track which features one of the best vocal performances Paul Di'Anno's ever given along with some great harmonic lines from both Adrian and Dave, Steve ripping up his bass like a madman and Clive giving an all out assault on his drums. The remaining four songs rock along nicely with that classic sound and intensity only Iron Maiden could muster. with the exception of "Prodigal Son" which is just as good, but more along the lines of a slower ballad like song. The album closes ferociously just as it opened with the classic "Drifter" which has some excellent hooks, riffs, and a great shout along chorus.
Essentially. this is a flawless classic Iron Maiden album with the whole band in top form and giving one of the best performances of their lives. Di'Anno's vocals especially stand out here.
The only other Maiden album with Paul Di’anno is an absolute rarity in metal, in that it takes the success of its predecessor and repeats it, without a really broad stylistic deviation. As far as I’m concerned, it’s basically a continuation of the first album. In some cases that would be a bad thing, especially considering the likelihood of poor songwriting and repetition, but Iron Maiden makes it work magnificently. Unfortunately, while Killers does take the best aspects of the first album with it, it also takes the same primary fault of that album as well. Inconsistency.
Just like with their self-titled, the songs on Killers can be divided into two basic categories: the classics and the fillers. The former, of course, are the reason for the album’s inherent awesomeness. “Wrathchild” is lead-filled and has a killer groove. “Killers” has a lot of awesome guitar work and cool vocal lines. “Drifter,” a personal favorite, is infectiously catchy and has great vocal hooks. Other highlights include “Murders in the Rue Morgue,” half-ballad “Prodigal Son,” and the sweet instrumental “Genghis Khan.” These songs all exhibit immense creativity, classic riffing, great leads, and even better vocals than the first album. The rest of the songs, however, are the reason for the mediocre score. They’re decent songs, but generally unmemorable. The intro track “Ides of March” is completely unnecessary and boring to listen to, even for being so short. Even worse is “Another Life.” I forget the name of it every single time I play the album through. Seriously, it just doesn’t go anywhere. The same can basically be said for “Innocent Exile” and the slightly better “Purgatory.” These songs just aren’t up to the quality as the other half of the album.
Similar to their first album, a little over half the tracks are worth listening to, while the other half is MIA in the quality department. But that classic half is definitely worth the time. This album is far from disappointing, despite my negative comments, and should be regarded higher than it usually is.
This album is definitely, as Ultraboris pointed out - a lost classic. It is one of the more obscure Maiden albums today and is hardly spoken of in league with the rest of their catalogue. The songs on here are catchier and at the same time more energetic and aggressive than the debut. The more rock-ish elements have been shelved and the punk influence has seemingly increased. The vibrancy and speed shown here at times was a well-needed catalyst to the thrash revolution. The songwriting is stronger and more varied than the debut – this can be attributed to the entry of Adrian Smith and exit of Stratton, his contributions can be clearly seen here.
This album marks the exit of Dennis Stratton from Iron Maiden and Murray brought on the incredible Adrian Smith. This is of course, rather unfortunate – because some of the bands strongest material showed up here. The production on this album is clearer and heavier than the self titled. This album also marks the beginning of the bass-heavy production Maiden are known for. Paul Di’Annio’s vocals this time become even better. Murray and Adrian together make a very tight pair here, the riffing clearly betrays punk influences and the soloing is tight and tasteful. The guitar section with Adrian’s entry became all the more excellent, which is instantly recognized by the listener. Clive Burr manages to drum along to any rhythm given by the guitars no matter how strange or sudden, Clive truly is a master at the art of drumming. The bass-heavy production also brings Steve’s bass to the fore. This isn’t quite the bane people would attest it to be as Steve is quite adept at handling the instrument. In my opinion, the bass-heavy sound actually gives Maiden part of their distinctive sheen which sets them apart from the rest.
Everything on here is a classic. This is the only Maiden album to feature two instrumental tracks – The Ides Of March and Genghis Khan. The Ides Of March is an excellent intro to the album with amazing soloing throught it. The riff of course, is taken from Samson’s ‘Thunderburst’. Genghis Khan is more like a continuation of ‘Transylvania’ in that its heavy and moves along at breakneck speed, also the distinct melody that would later pop up in ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ and ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ shows up here in 1:46. ‘Wrathchild’ is a relentlessly catchy with an irresistible chorus. This song is MADE to be played live. ‘Murders In The Rue Morgue’, ‘Another Life’ and ‘Innocent Exile’ are all faster memorable numbers. ‘Killers’ is another career highlight from early Maiden, this song changes riffs and tempo fast and manages to sound both maniacal and catchy at the same time. The soloing section here absolutely stomps over everything in sight. Paul Di’Annio especially lets it rip, sounding truly like a homicide-obsessed youth.
Then, there is a marked departure from the norms the album has set. ‘Twilight Zone’ is a more relaxed, incredibly memorable track with an excellent vocal performance by Paul and a superb albeit slightly cheesy chorus. It’d fit very well into an 80’s glam bands catalogue. Maiden have never again attempted to write a track of this kind, which makes this track all the more distinctive. ‘Prodigal Son’ also follows in the relaxed vein, this is one of Maiden’s best ballads and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with ‘Remember Tomorrow’ from the self titled. This song is what ‘Strange World’ from the s/t could have been. ‘Purgatory’ returns to heavier pastures and its twisted, reckless riffing scream punk. The speed at which the band changes tempo, shifting from a softer segment to a heavier part becomes quite frightening at times. ‘Drifter’ sums up the entire album during the five minutes it lasts and tops it all off with an insatiable chorus and riff, it truly deserved its place as a setlist staple.
In conclusion, this album deserves much more recognition (much like its predecessor) than a passing reference during an IM discussion. The influence of the first two IM albums on the metal scene then was immeasurable. The speed and energy shown in these two releases proved to be the most influential in the formation of thrash. Sadly, this was Maiden’s last album with Paul. Although successor Bruce is a talent of far greater propotions, one wonders what would have happened if Maiden had continued with Paul and stuck to this very style. What could be the next genre Maiden would land up in as a result of continued evolution of this style? Thrash? Possibly.
During the early 80s Iron Maiden was greeted with a measureable supply of core fans, and simultaneously established their identity with their unique and progressive approach to rock/metal. This album is often given mixed reviews by the Maiden faithful, and often gets passed up in favor of their debut album. While both the first album and this one are loaded with similarities, there are a good number of changes that give this one the edge over it's predecessor.
The first and most consequential change is the addition of axeman Adrian Smith to the fold. His melodic style is a radically different approach to soloing than the crazy pentatonic shredding that Dave Murray tends more towards, and the result is a competitive spirit to the guitar solo sections that rival the dueling guitars that Judas Priest are known for.
There is no shortage of great riffs and rapid changes in feel in this album, which is basically a concept album of sorts. "Wrathchild" is probably the most well known track off here with it's driving guitar rhythm and Di'Anno's over the top vocal performance, which Bruce struggled to recreate in the early 90s live. "Murders in the Rue Morgue" is an up tempo and quasi-punk influenced hommage to the Edgar Allen Poe classic detective story.
Songs that highlight the Maiden emphasis on melody are in full display on here as well. "Purgatory" is probably the most catchy song from this era of Maiden, loaded with two guitar harmony lines and other hooks. "Innocent Exile" has a memorable theme in the guitar between the verses, although Steve Harris' bassline steals the show at the beginning.
We are also treated to not 1, but 2 amazing instrumental tracks on this album that adds fuel to an already raging fire. "Genghis Kahn" is structured very similarly to Transylvania, but with a highly active drum beat that sounds at times like a military march, and others like a high speed drum solo. "Ides of March" is a short prelude that kicks off the album, and has some great lead guitar work.
More progressive tracks include "Another Life", which sounds heavily rock influenced, and has a load of changes in texture and feel. This song is easily recognized by the well placed drum intro in the toms. "Drifter" is cut from the same line, but is introduced with an intricant lead guitar riff. The middle solo section reminds me alot of the one found on "22 Acacia Avenue". "Prodigal Son" is an impressive and quasi-folk sounding acoustic ballad that has electric fill ins that pop in and out of seemingly nowhere. The intro figure in the acoustic guitar is unforgettable. "
However, the most amazing and classic track on this entire album is the riveting title track. This is a song that showcases all the talents that were present at the time. Paul Di'Anno gives the vocal performance of his life, ripping out the high wails and getting down and dirty with his lower range, basically playing the role of a psycho to a tee. Adrian and Dave trade harmonic lines and leads with amazing precision, Harris flies up and down the fretboard of his bass effortlessly and Clive makes one hell of a racket on his kit.
In conclusion, this album is an underrated classic that deserves more attention. Fans of traditional metal will love this, and even the more intellectual metal head of the progressive vain can find alot to grab onto here. This ranks as my second favorite album by Maiden after "Somewhere in Time". I aquired it 10 years ago from a former band mate and it still enjoys regular play in my CD player, and even occasionally influences my own band's compositions.
Here we are with the follow up to their great debut Iron Maiden; for the second and last time we can hear the screaming voice of Paul Di'Anno, but, differently from the previous one, he is not at his best this time. Despite this, the overall sound of the album is not bad even if, having heard certain tracks of the debut album, some expectations are not met with this one. I cannot exactly state what is not working here: it just seems it is a little flatter than Iron Maiden and not as involving as that was, though it is still good. Also, the heavy rock influence which could be heard on that one is a little less audible here, as their sound is more decisely steering towards heavy metal; well, actually they are defining what heavy metal is.
Another positive note is that lyrics are starting to get more serious and smooth along the album: the main themes here are about killers (yes, you could have guessed it), murders and death in general; this last one, particularly, will return in many following albums - Dance of Death and A Matter of Life and Death just to mention some of them.
I don't care much about the brief instrumental opening The Ides of March, which is quite mediocre compared to other instrumental pieces they have done; after that we get right into the album with Wrathchild which, despite being so famous, is a little boring in my opinion. Murders in the Rue Morgue is better and has quite interesting lyrics too, about a typical psychotic killer, which cannot tell if he really killed two girls or not.
Then we get to three 3-minutes tracks: Another Life, Genghis Khan and Innocent Exile.
Another Life has very short lyrics and a quite disturbing riff: I don't know exactly what it is and if they wanted it to sound as it actually does, but it has the power to raise some evil thoughts inside you; if you like it or not really depends on your personality and your mood in the moment you listen to it.
Genghis Kahn is another good instrumental, but I still have to compare it with Transylvania and the latter wins; the following track is Innocent Exile, which passes away without leaving any particular emotion.
We are now to the title track, Killers, which is the best one on the album: great screaming, nice riffs, interesting lyrics and, mostly important, that irony about death which is so typical of Maiden and I like so much: good work from Paul Di'Anno here; the next is Prodigal Son, the not so good ballad of the album.
The following Purgatory raises the pace once more and has a nice melody and powerful riffings, in the style of Aces High, even if not so fast and appealing; Twilight Zone is a bonus track which still goes under some rock influences and Drifter, the last one, is not memorable, too.
Conclusion: the follow up to their great debut, still interesting but not as good as that one.
Highlights: Murders in the Rue Morgue, Killers, Purgatory.
After rapidly gaining a massive following from thier debut album and extensive touring that included dates headlining for Judas Priest, Maiden returned to the studio within the year to record thier sophomore album 'Killers'.
A couple of thing need to be mentioned before continuing. This album is the last with vocalist Paul Di'Anno, which is a shame because he was a truly excellent singer. It also marks the arrival of Adrian Smith, and I'm sure you all know just how important this change is to the band.
The album contains everything you'd expect from the boys; incredible basslines driving along a twin quitar attack that assaults with blistering solos on nearly every song, backed by some excellent drumming by Clive Burr, all with Di'Anno's ballsy and aggressive vocals thrown into the mix. The band throws riff after riff at you, mercilessly demanding you submit to the sheer awesomeness of it all.
The songwriting has matured by leaps and bounds in such a short amount of time, especially lyrically. Songs such as "Murders In The Rue Morgue" showcase the progression of the lyrics, while tracks like "Killers" - which feature what is arguably one of the coolest riffs ever - show how the band has come along musically. The instrumental "Ghengis Khan" is another great example, firing riff after riff at you in rapid succession, leaving you short of breath and wanting for more.
The song "Twilight Zone" wasn't included on the original version of the album, but is a cool little track that makes a great addition to the remaster. As is the case with all the remasters, 'Killers' offers up a huge boklet chock full of rare pictures and an Enhanced CD section featuring videos for "Wrathchild" and "Killers", two of the albums best tracks.
'Killers' continues right where the debut left off, paving the way for the NWOBHM. Quite possibly one of the band's strongest releases, it shows enough progression to keep the formula from getting stale, and every step the band takes forward in the album is for the better. A very solid release, this classic belongs in any self-respecting metalhead's collection.
This right here is the second best thing Maiden ever did, second only to 7th son. This is pretty much straight forward NWOBHM, but this just might be the best album from that era heavy metal. I actually had to listen to the album a few times for I realised how awesome it truely is. With the addition of Adrian Smith, Iron Maiden really improved the overall musical direction of the band. Well what I mean is the guitar work improved alot and became even more enjoyable to listen to.
I mean seriously this guitar playing here is some the best you'll ever hear, and this album also contains what might be Maiden's best 5 song combo. The first five songs on Killers are perfect and with these five songs are the two best instumentals the band ever did. "Ides Of March" is the opener and this is usually used for an opener for live shows. Ides is heavily guitar driven with great layered guitar riffs with great drumming, and great bass playing by Steve Harris.
"Gengis Khan" is really great, because to me it contains the album's best guitar solo. The song itself goes through many changes, starting off little comlexed and fast, and then evens out and starts going into a steady tempo and then we come to the amazing solo, which is kinda subtle but it works perfectly here. "Wrath Child" is the first song on the album, which is just awesome, Paul Dianno really sings very well but you really shouldn't compared the guy to Dickinson. Paul is Paul, and Bruce is Bruce, but personaly I prefer to hear Paul singing on Killers/Iron Maiden era songs than Bruce.
I do think Bruce is the better singer of course, but I just think Dianno voice fits these songs better. Anyways "Murders In Rue Morgue" is excellent as well, kinda has a power metal vibe. The chorus is also probably the best on the album. The guitar melodies like mentioned before are complexed and very melodic, this great highlight and is a fan favorite, just awesome. "Another Life" is actually my favorite song on Killers, it starts off with a guitar intro and it kinda creeps into this guitar galloping epic. I really love chorus here it really is sung well by Dianno, great guitar solo and very structured piece of music.
I think song is about how your life could of been or what it should of been, I guess we can relate to these feelings. This really is one of the best songs Maiden ever wrote, defiante highlight for me. "Twilight Zone" which was a single from album, is quite nice and "Drifter" is which is overlooked, is real gem to. Anyone who likes cowboys or cowboy themes would probably enjoy this one. I usually think of the man with no name when listening to this one. All of the songs here are really good, pretty solid, well very solid would be more fitting term.
I can't believe this album doesn't get more worship for fans, it's an essential piece of heavy metal, and if you don't own it, consider your metal collection incomplete. Get this baby on vinyl record if you can, and play it for days until you can sing the whole album by heart. No Maiden fan should be without this one, highly recommended classic.
After the first album was released, the fans quickly screamed for another one. Somehow it seems Iron Maiden rushed out this album, as it's nowhere as good as the debut. The main problem is that many of the songs are difficult to remember, so the album becomes sort of a blur. I admit it now, I must listen to each song as I review them. On a good note, though, the sound has improved from the debut, while it still has some way to go before it's perfect.
The first track here is 'The Ides of March'. It's an instrumental, and really an intro to the rest of the album, as it's only a minute and a half long. But that doesn't get in the way of it's remarkable quality. It's without doubt the best intro on any record yet. Then it's show time, as 'Wrathchild' begins. It's an extremely good song, aggressive and a memorable chorus. Track number three is what I think is the best song on display here: 'Murders In the Rue Morgue' is a fast rocker with a deceivingly slow opening, and it's simply a testament to Maiden's incredible song writing skills. So far 'Killers' has all the quality the debut contains. But from song number four it goes a bit downhill. The name of the track is 'Another Life', and though it's cool, it's impossible to remember the damn song. It's fast and relatively simple, and worth hearing, but that's it. After that little setback comes 'Genghis Khan', another instrumental. It's a bit hard to memorize that as well, but it's an incredible track, with a haunting leadguitar twin solo in the middle. What you notice with the next track, 'Innocent Exile', is that Steve Harris' bass is even more present on this album. 'Innocent Exile' starts with a bass intro, and that's quite uncommon in any band. Except for that, there's little to say about this track. It's cool, but again it doesn't stand out in any way. It seems a good word for this album is "anonymous".
Now the album gets an uplift with 'Killers'. The title track is a great one, and especially the drums are impressive. An interesting fact is that the guitars are a bit ugly, something Maiden's not exactly known for. Luckily, it's only this song. As with most other songs, it's hardly easy to remember, but it's as it is with the movie 'Raging Bull'. I seldom want to see it, but when I first do, it's incredible from start to finish. Well, so this album isn't incredible from start to finish, but it's always better than I remember it as. Track number eight is 'Prodigal Son'. It's this album's answer to 'Remember Tomorrow' and 'Strange World', if not quite as good. Surprisingly, it's sticks in your mind from day one, a rather unusual thing on 'Killers'. So comes 'Purgatory'. It's an okay song only, but with a very cool middle section. Again, it's fast and furious, as many songs on this album, but fast and furious doesn't equal good quality, now does it. All in all, a rather pointless song. Track number ten is named 'Twilight Zone'. Okay, but nothing more. This is what most people would call a filler. Gruesome to say that about any Maiden song, but it's true. 'Drifter' is the very last song, thank God, for the second half on this album leaves something to be desired. This doesn't impress me at all. It could have been the worst song of them all, if it weren't for a nice middle section, where the song calms down. Also the drums are a bit better then average.
So, we have come to the end. It's a mixed album, where the memorable tracks are few and far between. If it had been any other classic heavy metal band, this album would have been enough, but Maiden can do much better than this. It's a cool record to listen to, but when the final track ends, it's as if you feel empty inside, because you can't remember much about it at all. I know this record is for someone their favourite Maiden album, but I just can't see why. So, it may seem that Maiden are one-hit wonders; one great album, and that's it. But that couldn't be further from the truth. A year on, Maiden would conquer the world with their third album, and be proclaimed Satanists at the same time. 6..6..6...