Inarguably one of heavy metal's most important and influential acts, Iron Maiden were at the forefront of the new wave of British heavy metal at the dawn of the 1980s. While Maiden remained popular for decades to come, SOMEWHERE BACK IN TIME covers the … see full wiki
Cons: Fear of the Dark would have made it complete.
The Bottom Line: I think that this has to be in the collection of anyone who dares to call themselves metal heads.
Few can disagree that one of the most influential bands to ever hit the metal scene is Iron Maiden. They continuously put out some of the most compelling and incredible music in the heavy metal field. They have done this with an intelligence that is too often lacking in this genre. Few bands would tread on the lofty literary ground that Iron Maiden uses as the source material for a lot of their music. Ranging from classic novels to important moments of history, the band has forged a real unique combination of interesting stories and some of the best heavy metal to be found anywhere.
Every aspect of the band oozes rock and roll. From the famous mascot Eddie, who graces every album cover, to there fantastic stage presence that is best exemplified by lead singer Bruce Dickinson and the twin guitar attack of Dave Murry and Adrian Smith. They have earned the title of legends in the world of rock and roll and keep adding to that legacy with each passing day.
This album is a greatest hits collection that consists of music from their first 7 albums. Some of it is done live and some is the studio versions but all of it will be listened to many, many times by lovers of rock and roll.
As you start the album you get the intro that Maiden has used for their concerts for quite sometime now, that is the "Churchill Speech" upon entering World War II.
"We shall never surrender" is the last line and a most fitting comment to a band that never did! And with that send off, the band flies off into their terrific ode to the RAF pilots, "Aces High." The racing, maniacal guitars put you in the cockpit as the dogfight rages on. Dickinson's soaring vocals also help to create an atmosphere that gets the adrenaline flowing just as might happen in the throngs of battle.
This is a great opener to their concert and one of many terrific tunes on this album. Originally it was on their Powerslave album but this live version came off Live After Dark.
The band continues along the war storyline with their epic tale of the atrocities of war "Two Minutes To Midnight." This slice of power metal that is also from the album Powerslave shows just how much of a force the dual guitar attack they have is. They way they trade the leads is a work of art. But that is something that is a trademark of the band and is almost expected from them. Along with that, the powerful growl of Dickinson takes you into the sickening sights that only a soldier can see. Some things in war are very hard to understand and Iron Maiden brings that idea to the forefront with this dynamic piece of music.
The band takes you back to the Crimean war next with their epic tale that is heard from the viewpoint of one of the dying soldiers in "The Trooper." Based loosely on the Tennyson's poem "The Charge of the Light Brigade," Iron Maiden uses the guitars once again to throw you in the middle of the battle. You can almost hear the horses galloping with the thunderous bass complimented by the thumping guitars. Not very often can you find such a great piece of rock and roll and with such fantastic lyrical content. Though it may not be everyone's cup of tea, these guys can really make you think as well as treat you to some great rock and roll. This is just another gem from a band that really knows how to perform educated metal.
"Wasted Years" from their Somewhere In Time album, contains some of the best soloing from the dual guitars that you are going to hear. Overall this song has a much lighter feel than most of Maiden's work due to the smooth vocals that are most uncommon for Dickinson. This is not my favorite song by them but it is a huge favorite at their concerts and is one of the songs that has remained on the set list for years. I prefer the live versions that I have heard as Dickinson's vocals are not as "refined."
Reaching back to the first album that featured Bruce Dickinson as the lead singer, listeners get the pleasure of hearing his fantastic voice sing the dark tale "Children Of The Damned." Taken from the book The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, this eerie tale is well depicted by the band with its use of acoustic guitars to set the stage and then building quickly with the addition of some very brazen electric guitar work that soars to a very heavy metal climax. With Bruce's broad vocal range also giving this song a brooding, hellish quality it is not hard to imagine the village where these kids ruled. It is another excellent example of there adaptation of a fine piece of literature to a very different medium.
It is by far the most controversial song that Iron Maiden ever did. It drew the wrath of religious groups because of the subject matter. Parents cringed when they heard their kids listening to a song called "The Number Of The Beast." Starting off with a British actor named Barry Clayton speaking from Revelations in the Bible about the beast, fiery hammering guitars begin this evil tale that is based in part on the poem Tam o' Shanter by Robert Burns. After years this magnificent metal song has finally been given its rightful place as one of the greatest works in the history of hard rock. An interesting note on this song is the vocals by Dickinson. To get the right feel, the producer Martin Birch made Bruce sing it again and again until he got him to produce the guttural growling quality that makes this song so forceful. Now, a lot of the death metal bands today give credit to Dickinson on this number as one of the major influences in the singing technique that is today called the death growl. This song is now ranked as one of the best heavy metal tunes of all time and rightfully so. It is classic in all aspects of the metal scene.
Iron Maiden's biggest hit has to be their ode to the plight of the Indians during the expansion of the United States and the invasion of their land by the white settlers. Starting with a drum intro that sets a kind of tribal feel, the song is really dramatized by the vocals of Dickinson backed by a very disturbing guitar that echoes his singing. It gives you the feeling of being in the open plains as then the guitar duo takes over and puts you on the back of a horse galloping as fast as you can as Bruce advises you:
Run to the hills, run for your life."
You can imagine the pursuit at your heels as Maiden takes you on this journey that is a race against time and a struggle for survival. Again, this is getting to be a line in every songs description on this album, it is a classic piece of heavy metal that is one of the greatest songs of all time. Not bad for a song based in part on the movie Soldier Blue.
The song is from their first album originally but here you get the live version from Live After Death of the grand piece "Phantom Of The Opera. This one gets the benefit of having Dickinson on vocals which adds a depth and range that original singer Paul Di'Anno could only wish he could accomplish. Once again they reach into the literary world for their inspiration and come out with an epic version that is both lyrically intelligent and musically phenomenal. This version has an extended guitar section where the pair of Murray and Harris duel continuously for the leads and it makes for some of the best guitar work you are going to get from these guys. Its majestic and gothic qualities are something that seems fitting and totally in character for a tale that takes place in an opera house.
The next song comes from one of my favorite albums Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. The title comes from a speech in the Shakespeare play Julius Caesar. It is the very powerful "The Evil That Men Do." Roaring guitars fill your ears as Dickinson relates how perilous the balance is between good and evil. This great song is one that stands well on its own but is really out of context away from the concept album where it originates. It is still a fantastic work and definitely worthy to be ranked as one of their greatest hits.
"Wrathchild" was originally on their Killers album but you get the extreme metal live version here featuring Dickinson on vocals instead of Di'Anno. I like the newer version as it has the added energy of being live and the quality that Bruce adds as the lead singer. This is one of their loudest and most brutal songs and it is even more so when they are on stage. This is one that will make you turn up the volume a notch or two or maybe even 4 or 5 as it is metal that is meant to be listened to loud and proud!
The second song off the Seventh Son album is one of my favorite tune that Maiden does. It highlights both their musical abilities and the underrated vocal range of Dickinson. It doesn't get any better than "Can I Play With Madness." Using a little more melodic structure than you have come to expect from the band this catchy song still manages to carry the fire as the two guitarist seem to really relish the chance to show their stuff in this new direction. The song is about a kid who seeks out a prophet to help him with his nightmares and ultimately doesn't listen to what the wise man tells him. I think that sonically this is the best song they do, at least on this album since it doesn't include Fear of the Dark!
The title track from "Powerslave" is a sly bit of wit on the part of Dickinson. Here he uses the downfall of the Egyptian pharaohs to tell of his disillusionment with the music industry. You can hear the anger in his voice as he sees the parallels between the two. But this band is also based on the abilities of their magnificent pair of guitarist and you are not disappointed. They are as strong as ever and together almost overwhelm your ears with their powerful onslaught. This is a gripping song that is as sweeping and rich in its delivery as anything in their very deep discography.
Returning to the album Number of the Beast, the band gives you a look at what it is like to know you are about to die with the grand "Hallowed Be Thy Name." Moving from a slow piece to a fiery rocker, Dickinson carries this song with his vast vocal range and his aggressive style of singing. This piece has a flavor of something out of the world of classical music with an electric update. The medieval feel adds just another dimension to this extraordinary work. This is one of the songs that I hope to see them perform live as it is so great on so many levels. So few bands can produce this quality of music period, let alone as often as Maiden has been able to do throughout their career.
The band ends the album where it all began, kind of. They send you off with a live version of their self titled theme song, "Iron Maiden." The original goes back to their very first album but Dickinson, who became the true voice of this band, helps to make this a song that belongs to the band now as well as at the beginning. This take on the song is about as close to thrash metal as you can get. They tear through it with a gusto of a band that knows how good they are and how far they have come. So it is only fitting that they end it with the song that started it all for the band.
I have avoided doing a review of Iron Maiden because I was not sure that I could do them justice. They are to me, the heavy metal gods and a band that has made the world of music a much better place. I do not go very long without having at least a dose or two of Maiden. It is habit forming to say the least and I am a true junkie that will never be able to kick it!
Great Music to Play While: Exercising
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