Killers: Album Discussion

I'm glad the kept the original style, for authenticity but also it means they won't do stupid things like make spelling mistakes or put photos from different eras in.
Is that a US press? (sorry I'm watching the video with no sound)

The sticker is unfamiliar to me, I can't remember if there was stickers on the European presses.

EDIT: I just clicked another link from the side bar there and I see that the European ones had a japanese style OBI strip.
Killers (1981)
  • One thing I think Maiden do that makes their discography so much more orderly is the way that they only have songs. No separated interludes and intros, just full and completed songs. Interludes can be cool as part of albums, but when looking at whole discographies they drive my OCD up a wall. Maiden have never done that. Yeah, "Ides of March" is short and works best when accompanying "Wrathchild", but it's still an excellent song in its own right. It works on its own. It's short, sweet, and concise.
  • The opening trio of the album are so fucking hype. "Ides" sets the tone perfectly, and "Wrathchild" delivers the punch. What a driving rocker. And then to follow that up with "Murder in the Rue Morgue" is just excellent. When the drums kick in it grabs you in a headlock and rapidly assaults your senses until it has your blood on its hands. And I mean this in a good way.
  • I should say though that I was very tempted to subtract a point from my rating for "Wrathchild". I know lots of people love the production on Killers, and it's definitely more polished than the debut and I don't really have many qualms for it overall, but it's not perfect. On "Wrathchild" especially it sounds like there's a fucking vacuum cleaner that got caught up in the recording and it bugs the hell out of me. I decide against removing a point though, because it's not really the song's fault and it's such a great song anyhow.
  • "Another Life" is where things go from great to average, though. It's not a bad song. It just doesn't go anywhere. "Drifter" is similar, but the issue is that I just completely zone out whenever that song comes on. Maybe it's a defense mechanism. And that carnival part of the instrumental section. Not good. The solo that precedes it is nice though.
  • There are some other "lesser" songs on here that straddle a solid line between 'great' and 'weak for Maiden'. "Prodigal Son" has some cool moments (the back-to-back solos!), but some of the twangy acoustics don't hit quite as I'd like, but not enough for me to really call it bad. (And the ending reminds me of Bob the Builder.) "Innocent Exile" feels like it's gonna go nowhere at first, but actually manages to bring it back for a strong instrumental outro. "Twilight Zone" is an interestingly unique Maiden song. I'd like it more if either the verse's vocal melody wasn't so ramshackled together, or if Paul was a better vocalist who could take a poorly written vocal line and make it work (see: Matt Barlow, Bruce Dickinson). "Purgatory" was almost in the same tier as the other songs. It's not as bad as I once thought, in all honesty, but I also think it squanders some of its potential. The ending especially disappointed me.
  • But there are two more truly great songs on Killers that help to balance what is a bit of a mixed bag. "Genghis Khan" is a fantastic instrumental. Three acts, no true guitar solo, just groove and bite and power. And there's the title track.
  • Paul isn't perfect on this album, but I truly gained a new respect for him because of "Killers", the song. There is so much nuance in his performance. It's like a true masterclass is sing-acting. He's got little gleeful delights as he sings of murder that land somewhere between Jack the Ripper and The Joker. Also "God help me what have I done" - he sings this in such a mocking tone. I always felt like this was a psyche break between the evil, destructive nature of the narrator and his sober, remorseful self. No. No it's not. It's an insane murderer mocking remorse. He enjoys his actions. Truly great storytelling on his part. Bruce, for all his greatness, couldn't have done it like this.
As a whole, it's definitely not a perfect album. I enjoyed it more now than I have in years, and there's nothing terrible in it. It's a mixed bag from average, bottom of the echelon Iron Maiden, to fiery early kick-ass Iron Maiden. Probably still my least favorite of there albums but maybe I'll surprise myself.

  1. The Ides of March - 9/10
  2. Wrathchild - 10/10
  3. Murders in the Rue Morgue - 10/10
  4. Another Life - 5/10
  5. Genghis Khan - 10/10
  6. Innocent Exile - 7/10
  7. Killers - 10/10
  8. Prodigal Son - 7/10
  9. Purgatory - 6/10
  10. Twilight Zone - 7/10
  11. Drifter - 5/10
Total: 74%
Oh man…Another Life, Purgatory, Innocent Exile and Drifter are phenomenal songs 10/10 for me and Twilight Zone is excellent too.
Some day that young padawan will grok it in the fullness but I doubt I'll be around to witness it.
Hmm, if the best song on every album gets a 10/10, then the rating only reflects the consistency of the album and nothing else.
Hmm, if the best song on every album gets a 10/10, then the rating only reflects the consistency of the album and nothing else.
If the best song on an album doesn't jump out to me as a 10 then I won't rate it as a 10. See also: Jugulator, Death Magnetic.

I'm assigning the rating I feel as I listen to each song. And I'm stressing that this is done without any comparisons to songs on other albums. AKA, I'm not overthinking the ratings. Hence why I said I'm sorta taking these albums in their own vacuum. Not really, but I'm not stacking the rest of the band's discography against them.

So that leaves me with a fairly accurate final rating of the overall album.
Having embraced Metal music in 1980 when I first heard the original Iron Maiden album, 1981 brought another milestone in my life. I liked a lot of Metal bands by 1981 but Iron Maiden were always my favourite, so I eagerly awaited the arrival of Killers and I was even more excited, because in 1981 I would go to my first gig. You guessed it, Iron Maiden were the first band I ever saw live on the Killers World Tour. I saw them at The Royal Court theatre in Liverpool and I was right at the front of the stalls. Looking up from where I stood, there was nothing but a short gap between me, Adrian Smith, and a 20ft high stack of speakers. I struggled to hear for days after that gig and I loved every second of the experience. These guys were beyond cool. It's another great album, though I've always found it slightly more of a mixed bag than the first album.

First, let's talk about the great points of the album. The songs are all excellent and in many respects, they seemed to take their level of musicianship to another level. These songs were far more polished and crafted than the slightly rough and ready feel you got with the original album. Wrathchild is the one that everyone seems to think about as it has stayed in the live set fairly consistently, but I remember that it was Purgatory that really blew me away at the gig. Truth be told, I'd be more than happy to hear virtually any of them appearing in a live set, but I doubt we'll ever see that happen because they weren't written for Bruce's voice. If you're doing a live set with so many albums to choose from, why choose songs that may not show you at your best? This was another album that showed Iron Maiden were a cut above anyone else at the time.

Bad points? Objectively speaking, the production on this album was much better on this album compared to their first, but in a way, it lost something as a result. The original album may have been a bit rough around the edges in terms of production, but that roughness is what helped to give it so much energy. It was like a barely controlled wild animal, whereas Killers was almost sanitised by the superior production. It was a production that probably suits Bruce more than Paul, so although I think the songs are all great, it never seems to capture the raw excitement of the first album to me. I think the other problem was songwriting. Paul was never exactly a prolific songwriter, Dave and Clive never really contributed much and I remember reading an interview at the time that said Adrian was prevented from writing songs for that album due to contractual reasons. That left an awful lot on Steve's shoulders and although I think he wrote some great songs, the album suffers from not having the variety of other albums.

I couldn't imagine a better album cover. The Eddie used on the first album looked Punk, but this Eddie was firmly Metal.

This is a great album by any normal standard, but as an Iron Maiden album, it's up against an awful lot of great albums. It always surprises me how far down this comes in my personal ranking of the albums, which in itself shows how strong they've been over the years.
Curious info about the songs in Killers (the quotes are from Steve):

The Ides Of March (Instrumental) - ''We used to play this through the P.A. before we went on. Then we went right into ''Wrathchild''.

Wrathchild - ''The guitar fills around the vocals were from Adrian. Originally they weren't there but when Adrian joined the band he decided to put them in''.

Murders In The Rue Morgue - ''This was a bit of experiment. I never played harmonics on the bass much before that, but with the mood of the intro, it felt really natural to play those harmonics. We wanted to create a mood and then to hit it with the riff. The vocal melody is pretty much the same as the riff - that's to give them both more power''.

Another Life - ''I really enjoy the harmony parts on this one, and the intro fills by Dave are really good''.

Genghis Khan (Instrumental) - ''This was another song where there could have been a vocal melody on top, but it felt good as an instrumental. A vocal would have cluttered it up. Originally it was written to depict the feeling and sound of Genghis Khan's army going into battle. It felt better to not have any solos''.

Innocent Exile - ''That was one of the very first Maiden songs. It was an old stage favorite. That opening bass riff was originally played on the guitar - it was written on the bass for the guitar. The bass was originally playing crashing chords behind it. Then we switched it around''.

Killers - ''Paul wrote the lyrics to this one. It felt really natural for him to scream at the start of the song. The lyrics on the video are totally different than what came out on the album - we weren't happy with them''.

Purgatory - ''That's quite an old song. In a slightly different form it was called ''Floating''. Then we changed the lyrics and a couple of bits in the middle section''.

Drifter - ''The slow section in there is one of Dave's blues things. The different parts in this song really flowed together. It wasn't a song that was done in separate sections. On this one I pretty much knew what I wanted''.

bonus -> Twilight Zone - ''Dave came up with the main riff, while I wrote the melody line and the lyrics''.
Album average: 8.1

Less standout moments than the debut, but an enjoyable listen with fantastic performances that represents NWOBHM’s finest.
Classic transitional album: half of the songs have clearly been discarded from Iron Maiden, the other half are a completely different style and are heading to The Number of the Beast-style.