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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.