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Iron Maiden - Iron Maiden CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.85 | 590 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars If you, like me, thought that eighties metal had very little to offer you, and that an album with a zombified cover and such intelligent titles as "Charlotte the Harlot" and "Transylvania" should be used largely as coasters or Frisbees, then stop yourself and give this a listen, I think you (too) will be pleasantly surprised.

Now, "Prowler" does open up like a pop metal number. But it's a real good one, clever riff, great lyrics about feeling yourself in public (in a catchy as hell chorus no less). Except, this ain't no pop metal number, 'cause about a minute into it, it completely shifts gears, and the guitar solo ends up being playing in a different tempo. Art-pop-metal. Great start.

"Sanctuary" is a good number too, but why is it that every time I heard it, I think the chorus will go, "Breaking the law, breaking the law?" Maybe someone can explain that to me. "Remember Tomorrow" takes a few too many turns to be a real power ballad, but that doesn't stop it from being about as memorable as a pile of dog crap. But "Running Free" opens with an infectious, funky drum beat, and it all continues from there; it's a pretty catchy, toe tappin' piece of pop metal.

Designed to be the album's set piece is the miniature suite "Phantom of the Opera." At the surface it's an ode to dark, misplaced love, but at the core, it's a complex series of classical and medieval inspired riffs and blistering solos. In other words, this is perfect for headbanging to at home, or while you're on your dark warhorse, charging into battle against the Huns! It's the best song on the album, and so far, my favorite Maiden song besides.

"Transylvania" is a quick, two part instrumental based on a solid enough riff, and the first part sounds like a metalized Irish jig, and the second part contains some really kick-ass drumming. Cool. This slides flawlessly into the ballady "Strange World," which either has really cool, or really stupid lyrics. But never mind that, the atmosphere is real neat, very "Catch the Rainbow." So the solo is kind of David Gilmourish; some people like that.

Not necessarily a highlight, "Charlotte the Harlot" contains one of the most classic metal themes: a dirty girl. Okay, so it's no great shake, but I dare you to get the chorus out of your head. It can't be done! Probably. And the "quiet" part is a little much...maybe if it were shorter. Well, hey, at least they call poor Charlotte a harlot, which gives the song an antique feel, as opposed to a whore or something...oh, wait, they do call her a whore too. Uh, ignore that.

And we close with the title track, which takes us out essentially as we came in; another piece of solid art pop metal. Again, really nice chorus (gotta love that the lyrics are both evil and offhanded), and it takes enough twists to be interesting. Nice ending.

Now, I ain't gonna lie to you. This isn't the world's greatest album. On the one hand (almost) all the songs are entertaining. Of course, everything sounds exactly the same too. This album is even less diverse than Long Live Rock 'n Roll, which is, in its own way, a neat little accomplishment.

Also, the musicianship is both technically flawless, and absolutely throwaway. Technically flawless because, well, because it's technically flawless. Completely throwaway because, well, nothing here, barring the odd "totally awesome" solo has a lot of soul. There's less soul here than there is on a King Crimson album even, if that's believable. And no one is going to be with the band all that long, sorry to say.

In fact, you shouldn't even bother learning the names of anyone in this band...except for singer Paul di'Anno and bassist Steve Harris. Di'Anno, I think, gives the band a certain uniqueness; he's not what you generally expect from an eighties metal band singer (does he sound sorta like Mick Jagger to anyone else?). And Harris is simply an amazing bassist ("Transylvania," "Iron Maiden"). I'm glad he's the main mover and shaker behind the Maiden instead of the drummer of something. Er, not that the drumming's not good, it's great, as are the guitars. But I somehow think it would be harder to replace Harris.

Still, if nothing else, Iron Maiden can prove to you that decent music wasn't quite dead in the eighties. It can also prove that metal can be somewhat dirty, but still be noble; all sound the same, but remain interesting up till the last note. Great album, and an okay cover too, once you get used to it. Just be sure to hide it from grandma (or, put it in her sock drawer, whatever feels right).

(The re-release of said record includes all kinds of neato, computer dependent extra features that are utterly useless! Well, partly true. Partly because they're so hard to view! I could only lookit them on one computer out of many, and that was at work, so I have to be fast about reviewing this. There are plenty of snippets of later albums to be sampled, but you can do that anywhere. There's also a look at the Eddie Video Game! Cool, eh? The main attraction is the two videos of "Phantom" and "Iron Maiden" from the Rainbow, which are extremely valuable if you want to see Di'Anno take his shirt off. Both are good fun, if not necessarily standout in their own way (and neither finds syncing up image and sound all that important). They stick pretty close to the studio versions, but they're a bit more energetic...and "Phantom" is shorter. I don't know which is better; "Phantom" I guess. Diehard Maiden fans might want to raise the rating half a point for that, but all else need not bother.)

The Whistler | 4/5 |


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