|Review: Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden|
Year released: 1995
Originally released in: 1980
Genre: Heavy Metal
Review online: September 5, 2014
Reviewed by: MetalMike
This is where it all started. Iron Maiden, the most famous and successful Heavy Metal band to emerge from the NWOBHM movement, put out the legendary demo, The Soundhouse Tapes, got signed to EMI and released this, their self-titled debut album and showed thousands of other bands it could be done. They also laid down the blueprint for what would become a canon of classic albums. It is all here; the acrobatic guitar work, the galloping bass, epic songs based on literature/history, all wrapped up in some of the most melodic and catchy songwriting ever to grace Heavy Metal. It should come as no surprise that Maiden still feature songs from this album in their live sets today despite a career featuring 15 albums worth of material.
This album, and its successor, Killers, sometimes gets the short shrift from fans because of Paul Di'Anno's vocals. No one, including me, will argue the fact that Bruce Dickinson is the more talented vocalist and his joining of the band for Number of the Beast directly coincided with Maiden's jump from talented leaders of an underground movement to a band known around the world. But what is most certainly true is that Di'Anno brought an energy and Punk attitude to the music that directly impacted the shift from the stodgy, sophisticated Hard Rock of the late 70s to the speedy, raw music we've come to know and love today as modern Heavy Metal. Say what you want about his limitations but his voice perfectly suited early Iron Maiden.
As I said, the things we've all come to know and love about Iron Maiden can be heard on Iron Maiden. You've got classic rockers like "Prowler" and "Running Free" with great riffs, Steve Harris' oft-imitated, never-duplicated bass and sing-a-long choruses. "Phantom of the Opera" begins the trend of epic-length songs that delve into subject matter more intellectual than the typical "wine, women and song" fare of the day. It paved the way for songs like "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and "To Tame a Land." The Dave Murray-penned "Charlotte the Harlot" created one of Maiden's most enduring characters. And if someone asked me for one song that embodied the NWOBHM sound I'd have to give "Sanctuary," with its prototypical Iron Maiden riff, strong consideration. Iron Maiden isn't all perfect and the slower parts on songs like "Remember Tomorrow" and "Strange World" are a bit anachronistic when compared to the rest of the album while the instrumental, "Transylvania," at 5:30, is about three minutes too long. But that's it, the rest is gold.
You can't call yourself an Iron Maiden fan and not own this album. It may not possess the shine of later works but the raw energy and fire of the young band is undeniable. A mandatory release.
Note: Multiple re-releases of Iron Maiden's albums have appeared over the years. Reviewed here is the 1995 Castle Records 2-CD reissue featuring "Sanctuary" on the main disc with a bonus disc of B-sides and covers.
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