Iron Maiden: individual album judgement by yours truly

karljant

Ancient Mariner
Ok... With a new decade on the horizon (since 2/3 of 2020 went down the drain due to this COVID thing) let's start a brief update while looking back on the songs (an then some) that make all 16 Maiden albums. So it's only fair to start from the beginning:

IRON MAIDEN - IRON MAIDEN (2020 re-listening):

1- Prowler:
The only "complaint" I have on this one is that it's kind of an odd choice for opening the record. Other than that this song simply rules! The dual guitar work is top notch, the chorus is really open, the rash bridge and following fast section and solos are exciting... To sum it up: every trait you expect from a great early Maiden/ DiAnno era song. 8.25/10

2- Remember Tomorrow:
Excellent build, quite dramatic (and even epic to a certain degree) and when the whole thing explodes it's really intense. Once again the change of pace and the bridge are on point and the soloing is also superb. Only minor drawback is when it comes to drama, Maiden still lacked a bit of experience in this area by this time and when I think of their first two albums the main word that comes to my mind is energy and excitement (with one exception we'll talk about really soon) so It somehow gets displaced of my mood when I pick their debut to give it a listen. Other than that great material. 8/10

3- Running Free:
Ah! A radio friendly tune with some edges of punk rebellion and attitude! Plus a great sing along to play live. Is there much more to it than this when it comes to this track? Little... the bridge, licks, solos and variations are interesting enough to support the main focus of the song: its addictive nature. And that's really fine as far as I'm concerned! 7.75/10

4- Phantom Of The Opera:
Remember the whole "Maiden still lacked a bit of experience when it came to drama" thing I said before? Scratch it for the next 7 minutes. This song is an exception structure and mood wise when it comes to DiAnno era Maiden and excels in every single aspect and hue it assumes (and it wanders through a crap load of them in merely 7 mins) in such a unearthly, godlike fashion it should be forbidden to be done so in a debut album. Everything here is absurdly good but damn from the 3min 24sec mark till it returns to the main riff this is one of the best things ever done in Rock. An absolute masterpiece and easily on my top 10 by the band. 10/10

5- Transylvania:
The solos are great on this one but what makes me really like this instrumental are both the superb dual guitar harmonics and the excellent blend of folky yet metal as hell riffage that serves as its support. Great Stuff! 8.25/10

6- Strange World:
Speaking of ambiance building this song survives merely on that but does it so acutely it's enough to thrive wihile shining immensely on that point alone. Honestly... the whole song has this chilled down and yet mysterious feel to it, all transpiring through a surreal smoke cloud. Really unusual for Maiden (of any era) and really cool! 8/10

7- Charlotte The Harlot:
I must confess that although I always kinda liked this song without paying it much attention it really grew on me lately and I really don't know why. I think it's about it's "no compromise" attitude: a wicked riffage, great bass line and disruptive chorus alongside a seemingly out of place bluesy bridge. And who would guess this odd stew would taste this great? 7.75/10

8- Iron Maiden:
Well of course this is the most overplayed Maiden Track ever and that has its toll. But despite its over simplistic and even boring drum line on the verses, the harmonies are infectious, the chorus is ok and the bridge is absolutely gorgeous (that bass doodle!). So with that in mind I think I must give this song the love it lost due to repetition trauma. 7.75/10

Bonus stuff/ Original B' Sides:

Sanctuary:
This my friends should be the openning song for the album and leaving it outside the tracklist on the original version (with the exception of the US release) is simply blasphemous. Sanctuary encapsulates what Maiden were all about in its early rawest form: aggressive, refreshing, non conforming while spicing its music with delicious details that bands that had the previous traits normally weren't able to compose back in the day. Another absolute classic. 9.5/10

Invasion:
Kind of the same vibe of the previous one yet less polished, this oldie's frantic pace still gets me hooked every time I listen to it. Great punch, speed and once again... that bass! 8.5/10

Burning Ambition:
Well, this is far from being a typical Maiden song and while not being a bad track it sounds a bit meh overall. And while featuring some cool details, it's far from being a great Maiden track. 4.5/10

Overall an excellent debut. One of the best in rock history to be fair. And the cover is a win hands down with Derek Riggs creating the initial album appearence of the iconic mascot named Eddie. Production is kinda crappy but it gives a certain edge to its punk like vibe so I don't mind it a lot. 8.25/10
 
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srfc

Ancient Mariner
Haven't given my tuppence on this album yet, so since I'm listening to all the albums in advance of Senjutsu, I'll give it now.

First thing first, production is GREAT. Suits the vibe of the songs, I wouldn't change a thing.

Prowler - 9, musically top notch, sleazy lyrics lose it a point. Glamourizing a flasher in a trench coat has not aged well. It probably still sounded pathetic in the 70s when it was written.

Remember Tomorrow - 10, an all time classic Maiden track, great section having a heavy riff instead of a chorus

Running Free - 10, perfect first single from Maiden, signature drum beat, great hook for the chorus, introducing Maiden's twin guitar melodies

Phantom of the Opera - 10, an all timer and genuine contender for Maiden's best track, nothing else needs to be said about Phantom [SOUNDEFFECTS] TORTURE ME BACK AT YOUR LAIR! [/SOUNDEFFECTS]

Transylvania - 10, Maiden's best instrumental, great energy and hooks, and nothing superfluous which instrumentals can tend to suffer from (to be fair to Maiden theirs don't), brilliant segue into Strange World

Strange World - 10, unique psychedelic track from Maiden with some brilliant bluesy solos, if that's Dennis on the second one he even steals the show

Charlotte the Harlot - 9, similar to Prowler point docked for dated lyrical content, this is even worse, the soulful verse with lyrics such as " your drawers are off colour too" is particularly excruciating, however, the music is brilliant enough to turn somewhat of a blind eye to it

Iron Maiden - 8, Still Maiden's best riff, especially when the harmony kicks in. Otherwise a very simplistic track that really only serves a purpose in the live arena where it becomes a 10/10 with the energy of being live and the pantomime of the reveal of the big Eddie
 

Yax

Ancient Mariner
I had sort of forgotten how great this album is. The production isn't that great, although the remaster is better than the original screeching release. That being said, this doesn't sound worse than the earliest Saxon or Accept albums. It's a perfectly okay sounding budget album in 1980.
The songs are all killer, no filler. They obviously lack the finesse of modern Maiden, but I can't see how this album could have been better in the sense of what it aimed to do, apart from the production. It's terrific.
 
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