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Iron Maiden - Killers CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.60 | 531 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
3 stars (Murders in the 3.5)

You know, I'm STILL not sure why this gets a 3.5. I mean, on my goofy lil' ratings system type line of thought, that's honestly not bad. Not bad at all. Some bands, Maiden perhaps included, never see anything higher than a solid four, so 3.5 is honestly not bad at all. However, something about Killers rubs me funny, and I feel like it SHOULD get a solid four...or a solid three.

I think in the long run it's a combination of things. For one thing, it sort of suffers from second side syndrome. Not that the second side really sucks, it doesn't. It's all very nice. It's just that the things approaching Maiden classics are pretty much on the first half. But, again, it's not that the second half is bad; I think it's just because, after hearing largely the same material for one and a half albums, even I get a little bored.

Still, the instrumental opener "Ides of March" is actually pretty damn sweet. It sounds kinda Sabbathy, truths to be told, but with about a ton more intelligence (would Sabbath quote "Bolero?"). This flows flawlessly into "Wrathchild," not a bad song either. Dig that solid riff moving quietly beneath the main song.

"Murders in the Rue Morgue," this week's pretentious literary allusion, manages to be kinda speedy and fairly memorable. But, it ain't as pretentious or literary as "Phantom," and without the twisting complexity of the earlier song, it never soars as high. "Another Life" is another speedy number, and there is definitely some clever riffage at its center. But it feels somewhat...incomplete? I dunno.

Quick, complex instrumental "Genghis Khan" is actually the song that got me into Maiden in the first place (true story), so I have a slight weakness for it. However, now that I'm more educated, I realize that it relies heavily on the instrumental parts of "Phantom." Which is not bad, per se, just not terribly original.

A little of the ole fun starts to slip out from under me "Innocent Exile" has a somewhat mediocre opening, but that bridge is pretty headbangin' in an...almost funky, dare I say it, way (all metal bands have to show blues roots at some point, right?). Cool ending. The title tune contains more cool riffage (although I wonder if we needed so long an intro), particularly the riff that precedes the chorus. Di'Anno gives a pretty "killer" vocal performance too. Whoops, made a funny.

Quasi-ballad "Prodigal Son" is the only breath of variety on an otherwise pop-metal album (with artistic inclinations). In the long run, it's not much worse than "Strange World." In fact, if it had been handled right, it might have been better, but speeding up the softer parts and Gilmour-izing the slower parts does not help in my book. I'm actually somewhat fond of "Purgatory" though. The verses are speedy enough to headbang to, and the chorus pretty darn catchy. Too bad it's so short (anyone notice these all seem to end the same way eith the drums going all "BIDDA-BIDDA-Boom-ping?").

"Twilight Zone" follows a similar pattern. The verses are toe-tappin' and tolerable, the chorus is almost great. Cool riffs at the center. Feels a little short at the end. "Drifter" is an energetic rocker, with a nice, layered riff holding it together, and some choice soloing near the end. Instead of being under-baked though, it's a little over-baked, with a bunch of parts being tossed together (dig the middle). Entertaining finisher, if a bit sloppy.

What's right with the record? Most things, to be honest. There are some pleasant melodies and riffs within and throughout, and everything is played to technical perfection, if a little...emotionless, more so than the first. But Di'Anno is cool.

So, what's wrong with the record? Well, it seems to me that the band (or just Harris, who can say?) was trying to streamline the sound. Like, compare this with the first record, and you'll already note that the guitars are cleaner, the production is tighter, and, the songs are shorter and leaner. So what's wrong with that? Well, first off, the album gets a little tedious on the second side, and more importantly, I liked all that weirdo garage rock experimentation. It feels like, in their rush to create "the perfect Iron Maiden product," the band looses sight of what made the first album so entertaining. And as a result, nothing here ever reaches the heights of "Phantom of the Opera" or "Prowler" or whatever.

Case in point: I can't honestly pinpoint a "best song" here, and that's neither a good nor bad sign (just...pick something on the first side, okay?). I mean, everything's enjoyable, everything's great, but nothing really, REALLY stands out. It's all kind of...shallow. Which is, again, really a pity, because the material here is so gosh darned even, that I feel if it had the first album's aesthetic, it would have been even better. Believe it or else.

So the sound is also becoming more uniform. Which, admittedly, didn't take long. But don't worry folks, we've still got Di'Anno, and he'll never, never, never leave us! Er, right? Uh oh...

The Whistler | 3/5 |


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