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Another success for Maiden - 90%

raZe, August 8th, 2002

With the release of 1982’s “The Number of the Beast”, Iron Maiden got a big breakthrough in the world of metal, and the future of the band seemed bright. It was a little setback, then, that drummer Clive Burr decided he didn’t want to continue as a part of Iron Maiden anymore. Due to “musical differences” he called it quits. This was very sad, especially since Burr was one of the greatest drummers at the time. Steve Harris & Co. didn’t give up, of course. Members of Maiden had come and gone for years, so they quickly looked around for a new drummer. They found Nicko McBrain. With drumming skills much better than his name, he would prove to be a staying member of Iron Maiden.

1983 saw the release of “Piece of Mind”, Maiden’s fourth studio album. An album that is a little more laidback than its prequel, it proved to be Maiden’s biggest seller yet. It all kicks off with a short drum intro from McBrain, probably to prove that he’s as great as Burr (Personally, I don’t think he can beat Burr, but he’s still good), before the guitar-riff begins. ‘Where Eagles Dare’ is playing, and it’s great. A mid-paced song based on the movie of the very same name (with Clint Eastwood and all), and featuring a rather lengthy instrumental mid-section , where you can hear gunfire. The main guitar-riff is godly, both in the verse/chorus, and its offspring in the instrumental sections. As usual for Maiden, the chorus is very memorable, and all in all it’s almost the best song on the record. Track two, ‘Revelations’, has got to be the best song on the album. The opening riffs are great, the song itself is great, and the ending is perfect. It’s a ballad, though occasionally fast-paced. The intro verse is a passage taken from the Bible, probably from Revelations. The whole song is very melodic, and the verses/chorus are wonderful. Dickinson wrote the song himself, and proves beyond a doubt how good a songwriter he really is. For further proof, look up on his two latest solo studio albums. ‘Flight of Icarus’ is the third song, and it too is superb. It was the first single off the album, and is based on the legend of Icarus. A kind of slow-paced song, but it still packs a punch, and of course a melodic hook or two. It’s really a song not easily comparable to other Maiden songs, and it stands out as a really memorable track. Dickinson shines on this with his excellent vocal delivery, and the end guitar-solo is kickass.

Number four is ‘Die With Your Boots On’. This is a faster song, though compared to “Number…”, it’s not really fast at all. It’s very cool, and the chorus is a real singalong one. And don’t forget the excellent guitar solo! Really cool stuff. The song that the majority of people will say is the best song on display here, is ‘The Trooper’. And it IS great. From the twin-guitar attack at the beginning, to the in-your-face verse and the galloping rhythm, it’s a real treat. I think the two solos in this one is two of Maiden’s greatest ever. So what do we have so far? Five GREAT songs, almost perfect every one of them. It’s too good to be true, right? Of course it is. Otherwise I would’ve rated it as high, if not higher than ‘Number…’. Track number six, ‘Still Life’, is sort of the title track. It begins calm, with a nice accoustic/lead guitar intro. A problem is that I found Dickinson’s vocals here not quite as good as he usually is. When he tries to sing nice and calm, he doesn’t quite succeed (he would in later years, though, especially on “Brave New World”). Overall, a good song, but nothing special, really. It just doesn’t have that “punch” that most Maiden songs have.

Then we have ‘Quest For Fire’. Hardly a killer song, it features a very simple rhythm pattern, and stupid lyrics. It’s really cheesy, and I wish it would’ve been left off of the album. It’s just another ‘Gangland’. Good news, then, that the b-side ‘Sun And Steel’ is better. It’s featured on the remastered version of “Piece of Mind” as track number eight, and it’s a good rocker, with a catchy chorus, and an interesting verse. Not really much else to say about it. This album’s epic track is the last; ‘To Tame a Land’. Lyrically, it’s based on ‘Dune’, and it would’ve been named after it too, if it weren’t for the jackass author of said novel that didn’t want a band like Iron Maiden to represent his sacred work. Anyway, the song has a bit of an Egyptian vibe, no doubt because of the lyrical content (y’know, dunes and all that). The structure of the song changes several times as it goes on, and all the instruments gets it their way. The numerous solos/twin guitars, the bass, the drums; it all comes together in this song to make an outstanding epic. Dickinson is actually shoved into the backseat. But what he does here is great still, even if it’s an instrument’s song. It was actually Harris’ favorite song for years.

Ok. So what we have is another great album from the best band in the world. I rate it lower than “Number…” because of the weaker second half, and the slight laidback feel of the album. This would be turned around with “Powerslave”, luckily. Still, nine out of ten ain’t bad, is it…