Iron Maiden are without doubt one of the most important Heavy Metal bands in the entire history of the genre, if not the most. Formed in the East End of London on Christmas of 1975, Iron Maiden first came to prominence in the early eighties as the most promising act of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) movement and built up a formidable reputation as a live act. Signed to EMI and releasing their debut album in 1980, Iron Maiden went on to become a truly world class metal act throughout the entire 1980s and their name became synonymous with Heavy Metal itself. The next decade was less kind to the group and the 1990s proved to be a troubled time for the band’s fortunes. But with the return of vocalist Bruce Dickinson in 1999, the new millennium saw Iron Maiden resurrect their fortunes and win back their reputation and pivotal role within Heavy Metal.
Starting point/introduction to the band
I’ve chosen two starting points:
1. Number of the Beast (1982) – commonly considered their finest album by fans and critics alike, this album is not only the first to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson, it also features some of Steve Harris’s finest songwriting, with songs such as ‘Children of the Damned’, ’22 Acacia Avenue’, ‘Run to the Hills’ and ‘Hallowed be thy name’ showing just what an accomplished set of musicians they were.
2. Live After Death (1985) – this live album contains many of the best known tunes from their classic period and it also captures the infectious spirit of their live shows and in particular Bruce’s charismatic stage presence.
Classic opening moment from the video of Live After Death, captured at Long Beach Arena, featuring the Churchill’s Speech opening to great Battle of Britain song Aces High:
Can I Play with Madness, the video of one of the singles from the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son album:
an example of the band’s early period with Paul Dianno:
And finally a single from one of their more recent albums:
Also worth checking out:
1. Killers (1981) – a bit better produced than their debut and a great example of their early, more punky style with first vocalist Paul Di’anno
2. Piece of Mind (1983) – a rollicking set of tunes and almost as vital a Maiden album as the uber-famous Number of the Beast
3. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988) – Maiden at their most progressive, it’s a concept album and it features keyboards but it’s still classic Iron Maiden and dealing with weighty themes of good and evil, life and death, religion and rebellion. Ok, all of that is standard Maiden territory (standard territory for Heavy Metal come to think of it) but never have Maiden sounded so self-assured and ambitious.
4. Dance of Death (2003) and A Matter of Life and Death (2006) – I’ve not heard them myself but the word on the grapevine is that these are the best of the rejuvenated Iron Maiden of the 2000s.
What to avoid
Avoid the albums they did with Blaze Bayley (X-Factor and Virtual XI) – this is not classic Maiden, they sound like a different band entirely and the albums are not popular with fans. Also avoid Fear of the Dark (1992) – there maybe a couple of good songs but the ill-advised experimentation leads to an unfocused, sprawling double album with some very unmemorable songs for the most part.
Last edited by goth metal raver; 27-05-2011 at 22:16.
nice one Gothman!
i love their material from the 1980s, actually saw them live for the first time at a festival here in Perth in January, awesome live performance!