Iron Maiden (1980)
Read the full review:
This is simply an entertaining heavy metal song. It has very fast paced riffage (though it's not thrash-metal) which gives the song its spunk. The electric guitars are very good here, though I think they shine better on other parts of this album. (Although, the electric guitar solo is brilliant in the middle of this.) The melody is good for heavy metal (that's a compliment because heavy metal doesn't always need a good melody). This is marks a solid album opener and quite an excellent intro for Iron Maiden altogether. It's heavy metal but it's not pretentious or cocky, and it's enjoyable, accessible, and spirited. What else do you want?
Er... is a punk song! Not heavy metal! Hah! (Early punk is a genre that I really like, much more than heavy metal in general, so maybe that's why I secretly hold this heavy metal band's debut in such high regard.) I like the punk riff a lot, and the beat. The electric guitar stuff in here rules!!!! Electric guitar doesn't always turn me on considering that I'm an egghead, but this does. Again, though, this is punk. These guys certainly are professionals. This punk is in pristine condition!
Remember Tomorrow 9/10
This totally rules, and I don't care what anyone else has to say about it! That's surprising because this is a ballad! It starts out relatively quietly with some very light acoustic guitar strumming. The melody is quite appropriate though not remarkably hooky (it excels at what it tries to accomplish, which is much more than I can say for a lot of bands). The song metamorphoses several times into louder bits and then back to the quieter stuff again. The end of it is a louder jam-type section. I must say that they prove that they are talented even when they do that. When I hear a lot of bands trying to constantly switch between quiet and loud, it's danged awkward. This, however, was done with tact. Hey, this isn't actually a stupid band!
Running Free 8/10
Er ... a new wave song? Does this sound new wave to anyone else? The drum beat resembles those Adam Ant songs. But, the guitar crunches and the singing style (the typical heavy metal scream-sings) and the electric guitar solos are undoubtedly heavy metal, though. Wow! What a unique song! That said, I don't really think it's a great song, because I don't really find it that aesthetically pleasing or so incredibly spirited, but this is verrrrrrrry interesting.
Phantom of the Opera 10/10
This is more of that heavy metal that we thought we were buying when we bought this album! (And, no, this isn't the song that starts out with those organs! That's Andrew Floyd Hamster.) It's amazing that despite that this is a 7-minute song, it manages to totally rule all throughout. This kinda proves that Iron Maiden were a great band not just because they could shred guitar. This song actually has interesting development with several distinct sections. The first is a quickly paced heavy metal song with some really impressive guitar work and heavy metal singing (with somewhat of an awkward vocal line, I think) but it doesn't suck. The second part is my favorite that's based on a nice, jumpy loop! The third part features a rather inspired electric guitar solo (that leaves bands like Kiss in the dust with dirt caked on their face paint). The fourth is an interesting electrical guitar loop that sounds like classical music! These are all instrumentals and they all manage to keep my interest. And the guitar playing is really nice! Again, this sort of stuff doesn't always turn me on, but heck, if all heavy metal was like this, then I'd definitely be a metal-head. Well, maybe not, but ... hey, I thought about it.
This is a largely instrumental song (that's decidedly heavy metal) with some pretty impressive instrumentals on it! But, I don't know, maybe because it is the song after "Phantom of the Opera," that I just don't think it's as good. It just doesn't sound as inspired! It has adrenaline pumping through its veins, though. That's all their is to like about *some* heavy metal, anyway.
Strange World 7.5/10
This has kind of a creepy atmosphere, but what makes this song notable is (and I'm sure that I'm not the only person with this opinion) the flaming electric guitar solo near the beginning of it. Other than that, I kind of find this song boring. There are other electric guitar solos in the song, but they're not nearly as engaging as that intro solo. So, the song gets duller as it crawls to its conclusion. That's never a good look.
Charlotte the Harlot 7/10
Here is another heavy metal song that's almost thrashy (I don't know if I totally like that part, because it's not, well, great or particularly spirited or moving). It slows down, though, and turns into another ballad! This is the second time they did that without sounding totally awkward or stupid! (Styx can't do anything as graceful like that to save their lives, even though that's what that band exists for.) Anyway, I actually like this song more for what it tries to accomplish than how much I genuinely enjoy it, which is kind of weird for a heavy metal band. The problem is that the melody isn't interesting whatsoever.
Iron Maiden 8/10
I guess in keeping spirit with Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden decided to have a song called "Iron Maiden" in their eponymous debut album. Nevertheless, this really isn't the best song in here. It's very spirited, though, which is something that I can definitely appreciate again without being stupid, cheesy, or cocky. It just doesn't capture me like some of these other songs did! Oh well, not every song by Iron Maiden can be great, can it!
Read the full review:
Ides of March B
I suppose we're supposed to beware this song! I'm not too afraid of it. This is just a one-minute and forty-five-second instrumental with some power chords and rumbling drums. There's some really cool riffage here that I can't imagine is too original, but I don't care. The electric guitar solo isn't too flashy and actually does more than we ever needed to provide a melody. Yes, it's very pompous indeed, but that's the point. It's entertaining and doesn't come off as too cocky. Awesome.
Oh yes, here it is. Done exclusively in their typical style... none of that weird punkish stuff that we got in their debut. A thundering song with quick riffs and a vocal performance that sounds like Alice Cooper. The riff is officially ballsy and the electric guitar soloing going off fantatically in the background. Interesting thing about that guitar solo ... it seems more interested in providing sound effects than going off on some cocky discourse that nobody but pure “metalheads” would appreciate. Something that's certainly in the same league as more “tasteful” bands from the era like The Police and Dire Straits.
Murders in the Rouge Morgue B
It starts out a little slow, but it turns into a very fast metal song. It's so fast that it might almost be thrash-metal! The melody is fairly normal for heavy metal (i.e. it's not the best), but the instrumentation is solid and convincing. The singing is absolutely cheesy, but in a good way. Who doesn't love this singing, anyway? They're also not repeating the same old thing forever more ... there are plenty of different ideas in here. That said this isn't so convincingly pompous and exciting as the previous song, of course ... and I'm trying to convince myself why they even bothered with that introduction.
Another Life A
Pure electric greatness. That busy drumming that opens the song is just minor greatness compared to that electric guitar duet they give us afterward. What drive this song has! That beat is so furious that it's hard to refrain from turning up these volume nobs! Oh, but my ear drums are too sensitive for that! Those riffs are actually catchy, which helps me enjoy it even more. But these guys with their frikin' electric guitar solos .... wow, are they good. You're probably well aware that I'm an ABBA fan who liked their piece of wussy-cheese “Rock Me” and I really don't care for heavy metal... but here's something that's worth it's weight in gold. I'm a-gonna listen to it again.
Genghis Kahn B-
A heck of a lot of pointless riffing at the beginning. I like hearing the noise and the rhythms as much as anyone else would, but if that's all you have then ... well, what's the point of it? Technically good playing, but I've criticized Rush for doing similar things so Iron Maiden's gonna get it, too. There's a good albeit sudden texture change in the middle when it starts doing something more interesting. The waling electric guitars in the forefront play this great, echoey thing ... I do wish there was a bit more of that in here.
Innocent Exhile B-
I'm going to have to reiterate what I said about the previous song. This song is a lot of noise without doing anything particularly notable. Except there's there's their fantastic guitar chops, but that's old news and they're not really doing much that I haven't heard before. That guitar solo in the final third is fingermelting, though! Naturally, this is a well-played song and they are definite professionals. They were smart enough to bring in a few nice instrumental changes here and there. But there's not much that'll get me off my seat. I woulda applauded after that guitar solo, though!
I think I used to appreciate this song more, but ... wow those tight guitar riffs don't go unnoticed easily! I might have wanted something a little more melodic, and I don't think that was too much to ask. But even what they have here is entertaining and very exciting. They have plenty of ideas for riff changes and everything flows very well into each other. Again, with the wonderful guitar solos! It even has a nice atmosphere (that I had previously reported as 'evil' though I don't really hear that anymore except for that hilarious laugh he does in a few spots). Even a pop aficionado like me can't help feeling like I have to bang my head up and down with these furious beats! That singing is wild, too! He has quite a capacity to scream-sing just like a good old heavy metal singer should.
Prodigal Son C
This is where not having all-that-interesting melodies really comes to bite you in the butt. This is a lighter song ... like a halfhearted attempt at writing a ballad, but they sped up the pace and put some electric guitar licks in there, because they knew it was boring. The melody is really feeble, and that's the obvious thing they should have worked on before going to press. The fact that they made this go past six minutes give us the impression that it was just filler. Even the electric guitar discourse in the middle seems lacking. Sorry, guys... I like the ending, at least. They were good enough to not rely on fade-outs.
Alright! Back to the regular heavy metal stuff. This one's fast, furious and the singing is loud and wild. Unfortunately some of the crisper instrumentation makes way to some muddled stuff that really compromises the effort. ...I mean, I guess metal doesn't have to be clean, but this one's messy and not a whole lot of fun. Also, having a melody couldn't have hurt.
Twilight Zone B
A lot of heavy guitars, and more of what you'd expect. Of course, these guys do tend to pack a punch, and this song is utterly no exception to that rule. They come up with some fast and complicated riffs, but I do wish they would take a moment to come up with and interesting vocal hook or a cool atmosphere. This album is suffering severe saminess to anyone (like me) who doesn't speak the language of metal.
I get mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I think the melody here is a tad better than it has been lately, and the instrumentals are much more crisp sounding. Those parts where they play some busy, complicated riffs works well overall. They slow things down to deliver a more atmospheric section, which was a nice development ... something I sorta wish they expanded on. Anyway, this is a smart piece although I can't say it's getting me that excited. (After all, what is metal that's non-exciting.)
The Number of the Beast (1982)
Read the full review:
Here we have a metal song that holds together well and I like listening to some of its developments, but it doesn't offer much in terms of melody. There are a number of nice, tight riffs here and there, but some of them seem very stupid. Like a Kindergarten kid made them up. That might have even worked in a sense since metal can be a dumb genre, but it lacks excitement. It's just a lot of screaming and guitar. Not the sort of way I expected this album to start.
Children of the Damned A-
But it gets better. I actually enjoy this. Here, they're giving us a ballad, and there are actually a number of nice melodic bits. When that huge, heavy riff comes in, it's really awesome. Very well done. In the middle they go into a sequence of power riffs and a running drum beat. It gets almost operatic there, which is certainly a nice sound for heavy metal. At the very end, they deliver their typical finger-melting electric guitar solos injected with speed. Unlike “Invaders,” this is actually exciting and entertaining. I get caught up in the drama. That's good!
The Prisoner A
This song actually has a bit of drama in it. We hear some melodramatic, Orwellian drama about some prisoner who is apparently claiming that he is a free man! ... I AM NOT A NUMBER!! ... OK, then some heavy riffs come up, and they take us on their pompous thrill ride. What's metal if it's not pompous? Anyway, this song is genuinely convincing and entertaining. The flow is perfect... they're smart enough to change the textures around constantly, and it flows remarkably well. Furthermore, it's so fresh sounding that I hardly ever notice that it's six minutes long. Good, tight riffs that are meticulously calculated.
22 Acadia Avenue A+
A metalhead might have trouble accepting that I think this would work as a Broadway tune, but I'm so bought on that idea that I'll argue this until I'm blue in the mouth. ...But I love noting that aspect of it, because that'll just mean that the song actually has an excellent vocal melody and extremely well-developed structures. This is damn entertaining stuff that's also intelligent. Of course, Iron Maiden have awesome electric guitar chops, and I like that “aria” they give us in the middle.
The Number of the Beast B-
Listening to that previous track so much I became disappointed that this title track wasn't nearly as delicious. The melody is quite a bit dumber and the development isn't quite as exciting. I like the growl, he's giving at the beginning although Iron Maiden's previous singer was probably better at that. ... But then he gives a crazy scream, so it's OK. ...Geez, these lyrics are horrible. If my parents caught me listening to this when I was 14, I would have been in biiiig trouble. Only I understand that these lyrics are utterly ridiculous.
Run to the Hills B
I love that chorus... “ruuuuuun to the hills!!!” Also more than worth mentioning is that wail in the guitar tones they give us with that riff at the beginning was a good idea ... like that guitar actually had a voice, and it actually outshines the lead singer quite a bit. This is a fast paced song that's a lot of fun. The overall experience seems like it should have been more riveting, but I'm impressed with it.
Just knowing what they were doing in their previous tracks makes me disappointed with this one. Technically, the playing is perfect of course, and I'm even hearing a classical influence in their chord progressions. The overall tone of this, however, is constant, and the melody isn't so good. Their riffs are tight, but not even that's catchy. Their hearts were surely in the right place and I appreciate it, but I'm not enjoying it. Sorry.
Total Eclipse C+
Yeesh... I can't get into this one at all. I'd even call this one a tad boring. Like the previous tune, they have wonderful guitar playing and it's interesting to follow this. But this melody is absolutely bland and I'm not enjoying this at all. I'm even surprised to find that the pace is even too sluggish, which I thought would be the last thing I'd accuse Iron Maiden of being.
Hallowed Be Thy Name B+
A fitting closer, and it's substantially more interesting than the previous few songs I heard. I'd imagine cutting this by two minutes would have improved it substantially (it's seven minutes long, and it repeats quite a bit), but what they have here is good anyway. The melodies are good and the riffs are interesting, more or less. ...I'm going to have to throw it out there that my favorite part of the song is the beginning with the chiming bell and light loop they're giving us with the guitars. That's a neat atmosphere. Of course, the song never gets uninteresting ... just long.
Piece of Mind (1983)
Read the full review:
Where Eagles Dare B+
That Clint Eastwood movie? ... Er, I guess this is based on the movie. (Here I go thinking that's a coincidence.) My overall impression of this song is good although it surprisingly doesn't do a whole lot to excite me. The guitarist keep on crunching away and the mood is pretty much stagnant throughout its entire six minutes. But, for the most part, they know well enough to change the harmonies and rhythms around a little bit. That fireworks-like sequence that pops up a few times worked out particularly well.
For a song called “Revelations,” this is pretty boring! Revelations is arguably the weirdest book in the Bible (except according to Wikipidia it's actually based on an Alistair Crowley book, which is probably even weirder), and this interpretation of it is run-of-the-mill. I would have expected something meaner or eviler, but this song could have been about anything. (I'll give them the benefit of saying that a lot of metal sounded relatively tame in 1983 to today's standards, but “Revelations” is as musically tame as a pussy cat.) I'm giving this the due credit for having sound melodic ideas and for actually developing the song. It unfolds like a story, so it doesn't get monotonous at all. (That's worthy of a B in my book.) It just contains no surprises for its whole seven minutes.
Flight of Icarus C+
You know, the problem with these songs is that I am finding it too easy to wrap my mind around these. I had to listen to every song in Number of the Beast about three times while writing these track reviews (and that was after hearing the album a few times before writing those), and I listen to “Flight of Icarus” only once feeling pretty satisfied that I got everything out of it. The melodic ideas aren't very interesting at all, and the instrumentation aren't that extraordinary. Sure, the song is OK to sit through, surely, but it's shrug-worthy. Metal ain't supposed to be something to shrug your shoulders at!
Die With Your Boots On C+
I like that electric guitar solo, at least. I've been known to comment on an electric guitar solo nearly every time there's one present (especially when I'm generally unimpressed with the rest of the song), and I probably shouldn't. But I'll throw it out there. The electric guitar solo is cool. And just about the only thing about this I like. We have the usual guitars chugging along and an uninteresting melody. ...Really disappointed hearing something this dumb considering I remember praising their songwriting skills in the recent past.
The Trooper A
Hey, I like this song! I wouldn't call this innovative or anything, but it's tons more interesting than the previous songs ... and it only needed four minutes to make its point. It flows well and the (somewhat limited) chord changes are good ones. Those crazy operatic vocals are put to good use here. The vocal melody isn't that good, but I like the tone of that voice. There's an especially good sequence featuring a somewhat classical-tinged guitar duet. ...Most importantly, I'm entertained by this!
Still Life B-
I'd certainly say this is more developmentally complex than “The Trooper,” this time going after the same sort of musical-theater format that I reported in my Number of the Beast review. But I'm not that entertained by it. The melodies aren't catchy, and the song really lacks drive. There's some neat ideas with reversed vocals at the beginning (I suppose wanting to make it sound like they're speaking in tongues). I'll mention the electric guitar solo, again ... there's some really nice effects there.
Quest for Fire C+
Sheesh! Iron Maiden has always been known for their tasteful approach to heavy metal (in an industry inhabited by those who inspired Spinal Tap), but here they're almost getting close to that territory. But then again, for what this song is, it's pretty effective. Give them all their due credit for that chord progression, which actually makes me *think* of some ancient time. Of course the song is ridiculous, but metal-heads were already well used to that!
Sun and Steel B+
Those thrashy guitars make a better impression on me than much of these other songs (oh no... am I going to turn into a thrash fan? Say it ain't so!) But even more compelling than that are the musical ideas. There are a number of flashy chord changes, and that one vocal melody line they keep on repeating has a couple good hooks in it. Of course, it would have been better if they wrote a couple extra bars of melody ... but let's not complain, shall we? It's entertaining regardless.
To Tame a Lad B+
Famously based on Dune but Frank Herbert, who hated heavy metal 10000000000 times more than I do, threatened to sue Iron Maiden if they titled the song “Dune.” So, Iron Maiden changed the name, but kept the lyrics Dune-related. ...What they should have done, however, was keep the title, but make the lyrics about an actual dune. (“O thirsty pile of sand / thy po'er dwells in my hand!”) But anyway, this is one of the more complex tracks of the album. The musical ideas are quite good, too, starting out with a quieter atmospheric bit. Not too thrilled that they're only using two chords, but ... whatever. They suddenly bring in some crunchy metal guitars, which are always fun to hear. I wish their melodies were more interesting so that I could give this an A, but I guess that wasn't in the stars. It's a very well-structured song, though, and does well to tell that crazy old Frank Herbert story that only insane people understand.
Read the full review:
Aces High A-
Stylish! It begins with a slower pace and a scaling texture ... But quickly enough, the drum starts pounding away furiously and they start delivering some fabulously excellent riffs. These guitars are so tight, and their textures change constantly! The flow between these textures are seamless. This is a fun song! I suppose my only real beef with it is the melody isn't very memorable. (I do, however, like that spirited vocal performance, though!)
2 Minutes to Midnight A
Wow... this is getting close to an A+. What's winning me over? It's the melodic qualities, surprisingly, and how well it sounds with the textures given off by these tight guitar crunches in the background. It's not noticeably different from other heavy metal (other than this isn't trying to be overly glamorous), but it's more effective in ways that I wouldn't have imagined possible. They way present and execute this song makes heavy metal seem like a fine art. (Or maybe I've been smoking too much punk weed, and it's all going to my head.) I'll reiterate: Don't you just love these textures? This is beautifully executed and a lot of fun to listen to. The only thing that's keeping it from an A+, I guess, is there's not enough *umph*.
Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) B+
Considering how impressed I was about the instrumental qualities of the earlier songs, I'm surprised that a pure instrumental wouldn't have a similar effect on me. Do I miss Bruce Dickinson's operatic vocals too much? Nah, I don't think so. The instrumentals are tight and technically impressive, but they don't give me the same pacing and flow that they did before. That said, I really love that watery texture they give us in the middle!
Flash of the Blade B+
I shouldn't be so impressed over a segment of this track where they're scaling around in a classical-music fashion. It's not a new idea in heavy metal, and I could certainly fathom something more impressive. But still, it's pretty cool! This is an entertaining metal track, but it's not as butt-walloping scrumptious as songs like “2 Minutes to Midnight.” I'm less interested in its melodic, and the guitar patterns, while still intricate and a “fine art,” aren't quite as striking.
The Duelists B
Oops! I find this one to be relatively shrug-worthy. The melody seems clunkier and the textures aren't nearly as intricate as they were in other tracks. Furthermore, it goes on for six minutes and I get more disinterested in it as it moves along. Of course it's too good to be dubbed as “filler,” but they do seem to be biding their time a little bit. It could have been shortened, or they could have thought of some more exciting ideas for it.
Back in the Village A-
At some point I'm going to have to mention that I wish this album was more diverse. (Yeah... I know... it's a heavy metal album, so I guess it doesn't have to be diverse. I thought I'd throw that out there anyway.) All I can say about this song is what I said about the others. I like the rapid guitar playing and their excellent evolving textures! This one's so good at that in fact that it comes close to rivaling “2 Minutes to Midnight.” The melody is even OK, and Dickinson nails that operatic delivery, just like we knew he would.
Ah here it is! Absolutely the most memorable song of this whole creation. This riff it is catchy as hell, and Dickinson delivers such an effective vocal performance that he sounds evil. I'd wager he never sounded this evil before. The guitars are in top-form here with tons of impressive change-ups and more intricate, finely-crafted textures that I'm still surprised to hear it done this well! The chorus, of sorts, keeps this on an uber-dramatic level (helped perpetuated by those vocal 'aahs' we get in the background). This whole thing ends, and a lighter, more acoustic part pipes up and they give is a cool guitar solo in the middle. There are plenty more intricate textures they give us in there ... and they gradually work back to that main theme to the conclusion. The seven-minute running length might seem like it's too much, but they actually had ideas for it. Cool.
Rime of the Ancient Mariner A-
...OK, a 13-minute running length is excessive. I don't care who you are. But they also have ideas for this one. I especially like they way it starts. The guitar sounds are bouncy, and it gives off yet another texture that I haven't heard them do yet in their careers. Dickinson's vocal melody is actually catchy, and I love some of those riffs the guitarists twiddle off. Lucky they don't just repeat the same two or three ideas for the 13 minutes! It gets quite a bit trashier in the middle. Initially, it's not as intriguing as the first part, but after it goes on for awhile, it becomes clearer how evil those guitar tones are getting! That ends at around the five minute mark, and it gets silent. Then, some lightly textured acoustic guitars start playing a simple pattern. We hear creaky sounds from a ship, and someone whispers an old poem. I appreciate this part, and I think it's cooler than some other critics are willing to give it. Surely, they didn't have to keep repeating the same few chords over an over again, but it doesn't come off badly. They also could have worked it better into the following song... it just ends abruptly and they play a completely new song. This one doesn't interest me too much ... I think the melody could have been better, and they're resorting to flashy solos. (Nothing against flashy solos, you know.) They end it the same way they started, which was clearly the best musical ideas they had for it! So, an A+ for this cool intro and conclusion, a B for the poetry in the middle, and a B+ for everything else. All in all, not too bad.
Live After Death (1985)
Read the full review:
Intro: Churchill's Speech
Screaming fans listen to a Winston Churchill recording. I had no idea he was still so popular! I read something on the Internet that a significant portion of the British public think Winston Churchill never existed. Ha! So much for the American educational system being the only crappy system in the West!
Aces High A-
What a good idea to start the live album out with a butt-whomping selection from their butt-whomping Powerslave. I guess most bands concentrate on the recent material on their live recordings, so I guess that just means they picked a good time to release a live album. They play those guitars just as well in the studio as they did live, so I guess I have to feel jealous of this audience!
2 Minutes to Midnight A+
“Aces High” was the first song off of Powerslave and “2 Minutes to Midnight” was the second. It also happened to be one of the most brilliantly melodic songs from the album. (And I'm not using the term “melodic” loosely... I really find this melody catchy and memorable.) I'm not much of an electric guitar guru. Frankly, sometimes, I don't even care for it. But it's clear these guys are complete masters at it. The guitars crunch beautifully, and even the solos are thrilling. And not to be dismissed is Dickinson's operatic vocals, which helps make the song sound “evil.” ...Yeah, that's the sound they were going for, after all.
The Trooper A
Dude. These are great song selections. I remember this was one of the highlights of Piece of Mind, and it's a great piece of entertainment no matter how many times you listen to it. For the most part, this seems played about the same as it was in the studio. It's the same length, though I think the electric guitar solos had more personality in the studio version.
Ah, this is where we start seeing why so many fans consider Live After Death to be Iron Maiden's greatest work. Songs like “2 Minutes to Midnight” and “The Trooper” were great to begin with. But the studio incarnation of “Relevations” was ho-hum and rather slow. This version is nothing if it isn't butt-whomping, and it surprisingly manages to hold its own among those other biggies. They picked up the pace quite a bit (I get the feeling that, at one point, they were about to explode). The guitar solos are more exciting. And it's great to hear the audience cheer during those sparse power chord sections. Somehow that brought more life to it.
Flight of Icarus A-
Jeez, dude! This was an even bigger improvement than “Revelations.” Instead of that turgid instrumentation of the studio version, they bring out the crunchy guitars, power chords and pounding drums. Dickinson's singing like it's the apocalypse That's exactly the sort of pompous production this needed. Listening to the original version again, I don't think I ever would have predicted that it would improve to such an extent! Brilliant!
Rime of the Ancient Mariner A-
Wow, a full blown version of this song! It was 13 minutes in the studio version, and it's 13 minutes again. Just like the studio version, it comes in different sections. The first part is another butt-whomping heavy metal part. They keep the middle part with all those creaky sounds and poetry. This section was probably done better in the studio... The audience noises are too audible. But it's no biggie. The intro and conclusion make up for everything.
Yay!! I'm going to go ahead and make the brazen decision that this is the greatest song of Iron Maiden's career so far. (I haven't closely listened to their subsequent albums yet.) Give me the studio version to this, though. The original sounded like Dickinson was the devil and those vocal 'aaahs' that we had in the background were part of his evil forces. The vocals just aren't of the same quality, and I do miss those ahhs. But anyway, those are nitpicky little things. Nothing can detract from the pure musicianship on display here. “Powerslave” is where their guitar crunches are at their mightiest. The rhythm is at its rockingest. And the melody is at its catchiest. The song's coda takes them about a minute to perform. They're like the Beethoven of heavy metal.
The Number of the Beast B+
Ha... I think I underrated this song in my studio review. But I'll be forgiven in the end. I still think this is a slight improvement. Perhaps the original was a little too clean and predictable. The live setting made this grittier and the guitars were acting a little more spontaneous. One thing they didn't fix was the melody, which sounds too much like a nursery rhyme.
Hallowed Be Thy Name B+
Still good, but I'm feeling a bit underwhelmed now. It's wasn't the world's greatest song to begin with, and I don't see quite marked improvement over the original. The entertainment value certainly hadn't diminished, but this doesn't have me bouncing around like the others did. Oh well.
Iron Maiden B+
The first time on the album they took something from their debut! I suppose this gave all the Maiden fans a chance to hear what it would have sounded like if Dickinson was with the group at the very beginning. For some reason his vocals are very light in the mix. The guitars crunch along loudly just as you think they would. Though I've got to appreciate some of those “mathematical” licks those guys pull off. Why do I think they're mathematical? I'm studying engineering, and I'm going to engineering school, and that's driving me crazy!
Run to the Hills A-
More proof that these live songs are better than the studio incarnations. I don't remember being that impressed with the original. The memorable chorus has that epic sound that embodies all that pompous nonsense that all metal bands in the '80s were trying to achieve. More surprisingly, I'm still enjoying this album. You know... double heavy metal albums aren't my cup of tea. I might be a fan now!
Running Free B+
Another song that originated from the debut. I reported that the original sounded Adam-Ant-ish. They took all that silliness out, I guess, because this fits in well with all the other pieces of metal mayhem. The original song was only three minutes long, but they extended this one to more than eight minutes. ...All that time is dedicated to some audience participation. (He tells everybody to get on their feet. Were people sitting down???) Anyway, this is good as hearing audience participation always is. You can either skip the track or pretend you're standing right there in the stadium. Gotta admit Dickinson is good at riling up his audience. Even if he's just asking certain sections of the stadium to cheer, he did make me laugh a few times. Nice!
I bet you were wondering where all the songs from Killers went. Well, here it is! “Wrathchild” was one of the best songs from that album, and here it is again! Perhaps this doesn't seem quite as exciting as the original, but it's still well-played and an enjoyable piece of metal.
22 Acacia Avenue A+
This was easily one of the best songs Iron Maiden has ever done in their entire studio careers, and this is likewise as awesome. The original had a theatric quality to it, so it makes sense that they would want to perform it live. What attracted me to the original was the constantly changing textures and Dickinson's showman persona. Of course that's all there with flying colors! This is incredibly entertaining!
Children of the Damned A
I described this song as a ballad in Number of the Beast, but here it sounds more like a dramatic performance. Dickinson's wild, operatic bellows completely captures that moment. It's very epic. The melody to begin with was very catchy. And they find some time to deliver a few finger-crazy electric guitar solos. Just a lot of show-offey stuff instead of those melodic solos they sometimes give.
Die With Your Boots On B+
I might also have underrated the original, but I do think this one is better. They picked up the pace quite a bit, and it's another example of the grittier live sound being superior over the squeaky clean studio copy. This still doesn't have a great melody or anything, but at least it's played with much more spirit! Plus, there are really excellent guitar solos throughout this. That dark, evil sounding guitar, in particular, sounds really awesome!
Phantom of the Opera A
An appropriate album closer, indeed. The seven-minute epic that's not the Andrew Lloyd Webber song (although I *do* like that Andrew Lloyd Webber song... don't get me wrong). It's a thunderous conclusion with so many great guitar licks that it's sure to please air guitarists of in all walks of life! (Did anyone else see the documentary Air Guitar Nation? Yeah...)
Somewhere in Time (1986)
Read the full review:
Caught Somewhere in Time A-
Hey... there's synthesizers for the first time ever in an Iron Maiden song. Hey... I like those chords that it's playing! And some real guitars come in, as if you would expect anything differently. That pacing was a little slow, wasn't it? You see, Iron Maiden realize this and they suddenly jerk up the tempo and do their usual stuff! That's to say they play incredible, complex guitar patterns with nice chord progressions and a number of “interludes.” In fact, the guitars seem a bit cleaner than they used to...
Wasted Years A
...This song bears a slight resemblance to a Styx song that shall go unnamed for the sake of us all... Hey, this song is strangely pop for them. I mean, that melody is actually something that might come off OK on the pop radio. I think that's the first time I ever said that about an Iron Maiden song! That's not a drawback or anything ... just an observation. Besides, I like that the melody is catchy! The guitar patterns continue to be simply stated though very fun to listen to, and the song develops very interestingly. (For example, I still have to marvel at the fact that Iron Maiden is a group that actually writes endings to their songs as opposed to boring fade-outs.)
Sea of Madness A
A little more thrashy and violent this time, and its atmosphere is much darker. AND I LIKE IT! Somehow, Dickinson found a catchy melody to sing amidst those guitars that are doing their own busy things in the background. There's even a more jangly bit in the middle... it's a little weaker than the heavier part, but again, I like the fact that they think of ways to make their music interesting!! So, once again, Iron Maiden has succeeded in creating a vastly entertaining song! This one's a little better than the three that preceded it, because I prefer this atmosphere.
Heaven Can Wait A-
I have to mention how this song opens! A synthesizer, some light electric guitar strumming and noodling reminiscent of Dire Straits? Say it ain't so!!! (Oh wait... I like the intro!) After that, naturally, a more typical Iron Maiden song pops up. The chorus is very poppy! But the rest of the song contains that typical, incredibly busy Iron Maiden instrumentation standards. There's a little bit of stadium-chanting in the middle of this... It's not bad. But the thing I'd rather pay attention to are those guitar textures, which consistently dazzles all throughout this seven-minute song.
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner B
Do you know what the beginning of this reminds me? THE ALAN PARSONS PROJECT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brutus!... Oh wait. I like Alan Parsons Project. I forgot who I was for a moment! But I think it's safe to say that most of their fanbase hated Alan Parsons project, and I can sense how they felt about this. Naturally, they would turn it into a more typical metal song. Although it is a little tame, isn't it? Starting to sound a bit like Rush, are they? Despite that, I really like how much they're able to mess with the textures of this song even though it somehow it managed to get a tad monotonous in the middle... thanks in part to that pounding drum. Maybe they didn't need to make this six minutes long....
Stranger in a Strange Land A-
Wow... is this even metal? .........Well, of course it's metal, but the only metal albums I've been listening to in the course of the past few months has been Iron Maiden. And I'm tellin' ya, this doesn't even seem like metal. The guitars are actually playing long notes. And those drums are playing slowly, too. Again, there's a Dire-Straits-like noodly bit in the middle. What is Iron Maiden trying to pull???? .... Oh wait, I forget who I am. I don't really like metal as a general rule. And anyway, I think this song is pretty dang good anyway! It has good flow, a catchy melody (with an always enjoyable operatic vocal performance from Dickinson), and these guys are great guitarists no matter what they're playing.
This entire introduction is very Dire Straits. They must like Dire Straits! Of course, after about 30 or so seconds they bring in their typical thrashy part with a ton of geetars! I like the melody... although they've certainly been more impressive than this. The song doesn't develop as impressively and this seems a bit ho-hum, honestly.
Alexander the Great B
Epic! The melody is catchy and the song development is quite good... Actually a little more closely tied to early Genesis than what you would think, and not so much of those merciless guitars. But that shouldn't be a surprise to you by now! Again, the big complaint I have is just the running length. I feel they repeat a few sections a little too much and the piece begins to grow rather stale. Nine minutes was a little too long, honestly... and they're not exactly dazzling me with ideas. Even that guitar solo strikes me as “ho-hum.”
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
Read the full review:
This is a pretty entertaining opener. The guitars are very rapid, and Dickinson gives his typical operatic vocals. I remember the guitars being much harder and more impressive in their previous albums. This seems a little more like they're on autopilot (which is a general concern throughout this album). The melody is pretty catchy, though, and there's some appeal to this incredibly polished sound. The six-minute running length is a tad long, but it doesn't seem that much. The crazy laugh at the end is great!!
Infinite Dreams B
This song starts out as a ballad, but it quickly turns into something a little harder. It's very tame if you remember their earlier albums, but it isn't bad... Speaking as someone who doesn't like metal too much (especially death metal), this is a little too tame for me. (I never thought I'd say that...) In a way Iron Maiden had dropped the ball. We want them to be more exciting, dang it! But there are a few good texture changes and so the song develops well (apart from the general fact that this could have been cut easily by two minutes), and it's well-polished. It's tasteful, but not so much exciting.
Can I Play Madness B+
It's a little more exciting than the previous song, and this is just about the right length. (This is the general three-minute pop song standard length.) The guitars are played very rapidly and sound so incredibly polished! Indeed, if you liked their rawer guitar sound, you're going to feel lost with this disc... The melody is OK, but the chorus is a little dumb.
The Evil That Men Do A
Finally something that makes a great listen! It rocks pretty hard and has a very catchy melody. In the end, most of these heavy metal songs are starting to sound alike, but this one in particular has me tapping my toes in a most agreeable fashion! (I'm a nerd... sorry...) The four minute running length was just perfect, too. Neither too long nor too short.
Seventh Son of a Seventh Son A-
A 10-minute song, but it has all that epic quality that so many of their fans adore! And as far as 10-minute metal epics go, I can't imagine there are too many others that can surpass this one. The first half or so is a sort of anthemic, guitar-ridden part with operatic exclamations of the song title. The middle section consists of a much quieter, atmospheric part where they deliver some poetry. It's more electronic oriented than their attempts at such things in their past (notably those fake vocal aahs). It's not terribly interesting, but I'd imagine even their biggest fans appreciate a break from all this metal! Of course, they end it with some violent guitar licks. It's probably the least interesting part of the song, which is surprising considering you'd think the poetry part would be ... but there they were doing something a little different.
The Prophecy B-
Listenable and inoffensive, but it's neither memorable or particularly exciting. The guitar licks are good as usual, but we know they've done better (even in this ultra-clean sound they're going after), and the melody isn't memorable whatsoever. The end is kind of nice, though, where they go off on an acoustic medieval tangent. It's actually a bit like elevator music, which I'm sure was distressing to some Maiden fans, but as I said earlier, at least it's something different.
The Clairvoyant A
MUCH better. The chorus is memorable, the guitars are more furious and the rhythm changes keep the thing fresh and flowing throughout. Much closer to what Iron Maiden had been doing in the past (with a very excellent guitar duet in the middle). Just four minutes long, it's more than enough to make a great impression and get out before we even hint about growing weary.
Only the Good Die Young B+
This is a good closer with an OK melody... The guitars are very bombastic, which is of course the whole reason anyone listens to Iron Maiden to begin with! They even have one of those loud, overextended codas that they did in previous albums ... you know those endings that I once said were the heavy metal equivalents to a Beethoven ending. ... Oh man...
Movie Reviews | Short Stories | Message Board | Contact Me