Thursday, 19 November 2009

CD Review: Killers, by Iron Maiden (1981)

Adrian Smith replaces Dennis Stratton on guitar, and Maiden unleash a set of 11 songs to quickly build on the growing underground momentum generated by their self-titled debut a year earlier.

More importantly, Martin Birch joins the band as Producer, a relationship that quickly became instrumental to the band's success.

Killers is in several ways unique among Maiden's early, career-defining CDs. The number of songs is highest among all their early CDs; the tracks are all generally short in length; and a couple of them fall noticeably short in quality.

It is interesting that two of the three stand-out tracks on Killers are instrumentals: The Ides of March and Genghis Khan. The Ides of March, usually a short-enough instrumental to be ignored, is such a perfect definition of heavy metal that it is far more important than its length would suggest. It is also a brilliant display of controlled and thunderous drumming, courtesy of Clive Burr, married to the soaring lead guitars of Smith and Dave Murray. And Genghis Khan, perhaps more than any other track in the early Maiden catalogue, demonstrates what the band's dual-guitar sound meant.

Wrathchild is the other brilliant track on Killers, a perfect follow-on from Ides and in its own right a driving, fast-tempo, guitar-powered anthem.

The rest of the songlist includes several solid tracks. Although none of them succeed in hitting the bull's eye, Another Life, Killers, Purgatory and Drifter are the equivalent of the essential below-ground foundation that Maiden's career was built on. In these songs are found the many dueling guitar harmonies and unique tones that forever defined the Maiden sound.

Several other tracks simply fail to click altogether, specifically the manic Murders in the Rue Morgue and the plain boring Prodigal Son.

Killers sounds noticeably more polished and better produced than Iron Maiden; and Di'Anno's vocals, on his last Maiden studio album, are less punky, more operatic and at the same time more strained. He would be replaced by Bruce Dickinson for the next outing.


Clive Burr - Drums
Dave Murray - Guitar
Paul Di'Anno - Vocals
Steve Harris - Bass
Adrian Smith - Guitar

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. The Ides of March - 10
2. Wrathchild - 10
3. Murders in the Rue Morgue - 6
4. Another Life - 8
5. Genghis Khan - 10
6. Innocent Exile - 7
7. Killers - 8 *see below*
8. Twilight Zone - 7
9. Prodigal Son - 6
10. Purgatory - 8
11. Drifter - 8

Average: 8.00

Produced by Martin Birch.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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