Tuesday, 10 November 2009

CD Review: Iron Maiden, by Iron Maiden (1980)

There are few heavy metal CDs that have had a greater impact than Iron Maiden's debut. Rising out of the ashes of the punk movement in England, Maiden toiled in obscurity for five years before exploding out of east London in 1980 and ushering in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with a raw, energetic and stunning set of nine songs.

Barely produced (no producer was credited on the album), and recorded by the band in a matter of days, Iron Maiden overnight redefined what the sound of heavy metal can be. Using Black Sabbath as a foundation, Maiden added duelling twin guitars, sharp in-song melody and tempo changes, a thunderous drum sound, and a prominent bass guitar: a suite of remarkable innovations that entered the DNA of heavy metal and changed the music forever.

The album introduced the Eddie character as Iron Maiden's mascot, and the artwork of Derek Riggs -- two more major and long-lasting influences on the metal cultural landscape.

The songwriting, masterminded by Steve Harris, broke new ground: an emphasis on combining compact melodies with complex structures, and a mix combining short tracks with long, epic compositions, all underpinned by driving guitar solos that somehow combined insane speed with magnificent control and emotion.

Paul Di'Anno's vocals are unquestionably punk-inspired -- suitable for the era and forever associated with these songs, but Harris was in search of an operatic sound and eventually replaced Di'Anno with Bruce Dickinson. This CD is also the only Maiden record to feature guitarist Dennis Stratton. Although the band would go on to superstardom with Adrian Smith, Stratton's contribution to this CD was outstanding.

The entire album is a highlight, but special mentions must go to the ominous Prowler that so perfectly opened Maiden's recording career; the epic Phantom of the Opera that invented the heavy metal opera sub-genre; the thunderous drums that defined Running Free as the anthem for the new heavy metal generation; and the simply majestic Iron Maiden - never has a band before or since written a more appropriate self-titled track, recognizable for ever as Maiden from the opening note.

Iron Maiden is one of the foundation rocks of heavy metal, a raw CD that is most excellent and most influential.


Steve Harris - Bass
Paul Di'Anno - Vocals
Dave Murray - Guitar
Dennis Stratton - Guitar
Clive Burr - Drums

Songlist (rating out of 10):

1. Prowler - 9
2. Remember Tomorrow - 8
3. Running Free - 9
4. Phantom of the Opera - 10
5. Transylvania - 9
6. Strange World - 7
7. Sanctuary - 8
8. Charlotte the Harlot - 8
9. Iron Maiden - 10 *See video below*

Average: 8.67

Produced by Will Malone.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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