Tuesday, 1 March 2011

CD Review: Piece Of Mind, by Iron Maiden (1983)

The Number Of The Beast may be Iron Maiden's most famous album; but it is Piece Of Mind that represents their creative, artistic, and influential peak.

Likely the best album to emerge out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and also the most complete pure power metal album, Piece Of Mind is a masterpiece of brilliant dual guitar harmonies augmented by Bruce Dickinson's towering vocals. On tracks like Where Eagles Dare and The Trooper, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith make an indisputably strong claim as the best ever metal guitar duo.

The album is a non-stop showcase of complex melodies housing guitar solo artistry, setting the new standard for metal guitar achievement. The guitar wizardry is matched by the songwriting, as Steve Harris reaches the apex of his storytelling set to music, not yet encumbered by the bloating that would start to weigh-down future albums.

Nicko McBrain kicks-off the album with an unstoppable drum assault on Where Eagles Dare, which turns into an astounding, mostly instrumental top speed journey showcasing Smith and Murray as precision metal guitar gods, seemingly effortlessly reinventing the genre. On The Trooper, the duo up the ante with a further display of pyrotechnics married to an invincible melody to create one of metal's all-time great anthems. Where Eagles Dare and The Trooper, both written by Harris, can each make a strong case as song of the decade. That they appear 20 minutes apart on the same album is testament to Piece Of Mind's gigantic influence.

Die With Your Boots On is the other classic track on the album, more of a complete band effort hooked onto a stellar chorus, but still allowing good time for a searing instrumental passage with Smith and Murray spreading their guitars over the battlefield. Flight Of Icarus builds on a rumbling Harris bass foundation with Dickinson's vocals soaring as high as the lyrics. Still Life and To Tame A Land are merely great; Revelations and Sun And Steel keep on delivering terrific music, despite some self-indulgent fat on Revelations. Quest For Fire is the only selection that is simply good.

The image of a straight-jacketed Eddie chained in a mental hospital holding cell is justifiably one of the most famous of Maiden's covers; and Piece Of Mind is one of heavy metal's all-time classic albums.


Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Dave Murray - Guitars
Adrian Smith - Guitars
Steve Harris - Bass
Nicko McBrain - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Where Eagles Dare - 10 *see below*
2. Revelations - 8
3. Flight Of Icarus - 9
4. Die With Your Boots On - 10
5. The Trooper - 10
6. Still Life - 9
7. Quest For Fire - 7
8. Sun And Steel - 8
9. To Tame A Land - 9

Average: 8.89

Produced and Engineered by Martin Birch.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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