Review score: 86%
Review Date: August 2013
Reviewer: Paul Jack
Source: Rock Hard Reviews
Cue gravel voice....
The year is 1980. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) is being born. Spurred on, of course, by an eponymous first album by Iron Maiden. Maybe there is a slight tinge of punk here too, but this album is melodic heavy metal all right. The start of something big! It also introduced the world to Eddie the ‘ead, Iron Maiden’s mascot.
Iron Maiden’s first album is a scorcher. Listening to it now, it still sounds fresh even though the album is an historic classic which helped birth the heavy metal movement of the 80s. We’re in pre-Bruce Dickinson days here, and Paul Di’Anno provides courser, raw vocals which complement early heavy metal.
The remixed nineties rerelease is good, and is a recommended purchase. I owned the original vinyl release and agree that the old recording sounded muddy. The rerelease is a great improvement. There are great tracks on the album Iron Maiden made by Iron Maiden, and the 90s release includes a live version of the single Sanctuary, a favourite concert encore number which was never made it onto an LP in the UK back in the day. (The tongue in cheek Sanctuary single artwork is funny, by the way, you might wanna look it up.)
Wish this was longer; Running Free is so good it deserves another verse or two, surely. The drums are reminiscent of – wait for it – Adam and the Ants (especially the bass and drum intro) – but this number has a great crunchy guitar sound with rolling chords all driven along by catchy, pounding drums. Running Free, Iron Maiden’s debut single, was to become another singalong concert favourite for many years.
Phantom of the Opera
Kicks off with a memorable high pitched guitar riff and then explodes into a fast track about Gaston Leroux’s tragic tale of the same name. The original novel may date from 1909, but this track always reminds me of a certain energy drink advert from the 1980s. Phantom is another fantastic track and showcases the musical style which would make Iron Maiden a massively popular band for many years to come. I’m going dub this track and musical style ‘melodic heavy metal’. So there.
Charlotte the Harlot
Was this inspired by a true story? Who cares? The title rhymes well. OK, I’ll get serious. Charlotte is another classic heavy metal track. Moving along at a fast pace it tells the tale of a fictional working lady and a tragic lifestyle. The switch from light, fast metal to slow melodic guitar in the middle of this track is genius, as is the subsequent sudden switch back to angry hammer fire guitars and an early example of a speed metal guitar solo. The story of Charlotte was to continue in Maiden’s massive ‘Number of the Beast’ album, but that’s a story for another day boys and girls.
Iron Maiden (not to be confused with that well known typo ‘Iron Maidon’)
The popular title track was to follow the band around from concert after concert for decades. Gruesome lyrics, and that awesome Steve Harris guitar sound which was to become so familiar over the coming decades. For anyone who doesn’t know what an ’iron maiden’ is, it is a medieval torture device consisting of a man sized box stood vertical and filled with spikes. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Whilst some say that the iron maiden torture device may be fictional, my parents would happily have described the heavy metal sound of Iron Maiden as a form of torture. Which made the music even more appealing to teenagers of course!
Forget Classic Rock, Iron Maiden’s first album is Classic Heavy Metal. My message to metalheads everywhere... Get it, listen to it, enjoy!
Track List (varies – watch out for Sanctuary missing from the original UK release)
- Remember Tomorrow
- Running Free
- Phantom of the Opera
- Strange World
- Charlotte the Harlot
- Iron Maiden