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Iron Maiden I : A Guide To Starting A Perfect Discography - 90%

DanielG06, March 1st, 2021
Written based on this version: 2014, 12" vinyl, Parlophone (Limited edition, Reissue)

Iron Maiden is my all-time favourite band, and I will proudly fanboy them until the day I die. First of all, this album was the first Iron Maiden album that I listened to, and arguably this is the album that single-handedly turned me into a metalhead, so it holds a pretty special place in my heart. For 1980, this was extremely complex and intricate heavy metal, but still it never gets boring, whether you prefer the shorter, punkier 3 minute cuts, or the epic 7 minute anthems, this record has plenty of variety and still keeps things fresh, it holds up fantastically more than 40 years later. The production might be a bit one-dimensional, which is especially noticeable on songs like Sanctuary, which sounds quite dry, and I think this record doesn't have the production-wise touch that its successor had, so it doesn't have as much of a classic melodic heavy metal feeling as Killers. Despite this, the lineup worked with what they had, and the result was phenomenal. The drums sound great; the guitars a little bit thin, but honestly I've grown to love the sound, or maybe I've just listened to this so many times that the old-school crunch of the guitars is burned into my brain.

The performance from every member is tight and about as virtuosic as metal could get in that period. I don't know what Dave Murray was on at the time or even nowadays, but he is my favourite guitarist of all time, and the single reason I picked up the guitar. All of his solos are perfect, the melodies are fantastic and sound way too ambitious and smooth for a guitarist in his 20's. Clive Burr was a beast; his beats were machine-like and I don't think he misses or botches a single note during the entire 40 minute runtime. Dennis Stratton does a good job on rhythm guitars, but of course Adrian Smith is light years better, a necessary lineup change that happened a few months after this was released. Paul's voice is great, he may not have had the piercing range that Bruce Dickinson has, but Paul Di'anno definitely could sing. Steve Harris is probably my biggest influence as a songwriter, his basslines are amazing, and he plays with his fingers! That makes his brilliant playing even more impressive, considering how fast some of the riffs are, particularly on Transylvania and Phantom of the Opera, a song that I wanted to talk about for a minute.

Phantom of the Opera is a masterpiece, the track has an exceptional amount of sections and solos that all blend together unanimously, and regardless of whether some of the material is primitive, the fact that any band could have a song like this on their first album is a feat in itself. The song is emotional, driving, consistent, addictive and memorable, the haunting melodies sound epic and even medieval, this song really is a timeless classic that any metalhead should recognise. It's outstanding. This sense of melody and articulation is carried out in other great songs such as Strange New World and Remember Tomorrow, some more of my favourites. These tracks are just insanely beautiful, and underrated too. Some of these songs were just written to be played live, you have the massive Running Free, Charlotte the Harlot, and the title track, which I was lucky enough to see them perform in 2018 in London (best night of my life). These tracks are fast, thunderous, anthemic, powerful, and although they have a very classic rock and roll vibe, they were very heavy songs at the time, in a time before Bathory and Hellhammer and Possessed and Sepultura and Exodus and even Venom. I think the reason these songs stand the test of time so well is because of the colossal impact and influence that they had on the genre.

I think the majority of the album is a great blend of old school metal and very melodic, potent twists. Even on the first song Prowler, the band presents an original style of songwriting that was unheard of that the time, no other band was doing the things that Iron Maiden did, even Judas Priest was just starting to figure it out, and all of the other bands in the entire world were just playing rock, riff after riff and chorus after chorus, and that isn't an exaggeration. Priest and Maiden really were the first bands to incorporate kickass melodies in their music that really hit hard, with this album possibly being the first of its kind. Anyway, I don't think I really need to say more. With its perfect bridge between riffs and melodies, I think this is an essential for any metalhead. If it bores you, that's fine, I'm sure there's a Limp Bizkit or Black Veil Brides album you can go listen to.