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IRON MAIDEN

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.81 | 377 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

FragileKings
4 stars Iron Maiden was one of the first bands I got into back around '82/'83. My friends' older brothers were bringing home all this hard rock and heavy metal and I found it really appealed to me. I remember my friend playing me some tracks from Number of the Beast and I was seriously hooked. But at the age of 12, my income was limited to a weekly real estate paper delivery that paid only $25 a month and cassettes were usually $9.99. However, it's thanks to my meagre budget (and the fact that my mother insisted that I put most of the money in the bank) that I was forced to buy cheaper cassettes ($6.99 to $7.99) and that is how my first Iron Maiden purchase came to be not Number of the Beast but their debut, Iron Maiden.

For a 12-year-old, the shorter tracks were the easier ones to absorb and get into: Prowler, Sanctuary, Running Free, Charlotte the Harlot, and Iron Maiden. The simple song formula, the heavy metal guitars... if there was anything progressive about these songs it went straight over my head. Hey, I was into heavy metal, not progressive rock. I hadn't ever even heard of progressive rock.

But there was something there in those longer songs that captured my attention. Remember Tomorrow had slow parts that weren't sappy. The bass guitar stood out. The electric guitars were mellow but effective at creating an atmosphere. The drums were subtle and controlled when necessary. Then there was the heavy chorus and rapid-paced solo part that abruptly stepped on the breaks and brought the song back down to the slow pace for the chorus. The change in dynamics appealed to me.

Then there was Phantom of the Opera. What an unusual song! Mostly an instrumental, this was not a lengthy jam session or guitar solo indulgence but rather a song that was crafted after a symphonic fashion. It was heavy metal but I could imagine a symphony orchestra performing this music (OK, at 12 years of age I didn't imagine this - I was probably closer to the age of 17 by that time). How many other bands were composing instrumental passages that were about the melody and building on the music rather than just music to support a guitar solo? Black Sabbath Volume 4, which I also procured for a cheap price at this time, came to mind.

Then how about the instrumental Transylvania, a kind of continuation of the Phantom of the Opera vein, segued into the melodic and mysterious Strange World? This was again metal with a symphonic feel composition-wise and a slow song that was not a sugary love song but a voyage to some imaginary place that crossed Greek women of ancient times in togas and holding grapes with an extraterrestrial sea and distant space vessels gleaming in the sunlight of a pink sky. Well, that wasn't exactly what the lyrics were about but that was the image that Strange World gave me and it has stuck ever since.

I have to say that it is very much thanks to this album that early on I learned to appreciate that hard and heavy music didn't have to be all AC/DC and Van Halen or a four-minute, ass- kicking like Judas Priest's Screaming for Vengeance and some tracks off Black Sabbath's Mob Rules. Because I encountered this creative approach to heavy music early on it was easy for me to appreciate the genius of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, or pick out the brilliance of Metallica's Master of Puppets. Iron Maiden by Iron Maiden taught me that heavy metal could be compositionally creative and expansive, not just about energy and technical skill.

I give it four stars for the four longer songs I mentioned above. This may not be the taste of many prog heads but if you are OK with progressive metal then I think this album holds some great examples of some of the early works in true progressive heavy metal.

FragileKings | 4/5 |

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