Written By Jason Voorhees
Considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, Iron Maiden has carved their legacy in stone despite very little mainstream efficiency.
Instead the band has mastered the underground platforms In an effort to forge an army of loyal fans and support. The band's success is due in large part to their energetic coma induced live performances that have become legendary in the metal industry.
Throughout the years Maiden has produced a catalog of some of the greatest metal albums we have ever saw. With that being said, there is widespread debate on which albums belong among their best. In this week's addition we will attempt to put aside the doubt and face the critics head on while compiling our very own ranking of Maiden's top records.
So, take a journey back to Somewhere in Time; its A Matter of Life and Death as we take this Dance of Death into the Final Frontier with Iron Maiden...
10. A Matter of Life and Death (2006)
One of the top albums during their reunion era, this classic brought the audience to a warfront stage. While infusing themes of war, death and religion the record was a lyrical and musical masterpiece. It's a spirited mix of classic Maiden epic synergy and elite songwriting. There are plenty of stone cold hits as well as some sleeper stalwarts. Tracks like 'These Colours Don't Run,' 'Brighter than a Thousand Suns' and 'The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg' belong on the same level of their most beloved classics. It's truly those hidden gems though that set this album apart among their very best. This is truly one of Maiden's most underrated albums and it was no coincidence that they chose to play it in it's entirety during the debut tour. Solid effort and definitely among the best of Maiden's catalog.
9. Brave New World (2000)
The return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith marked the resurrection of Iron Maiden. And this album represented a return to greatness for the band. The highly anticipated release came on the dawn of a new millennium as all of the stars aligned. When all hope seemed to be lost, Maiden proved that they could once again rise to the top as they produced this timeless classic. Musically and lyrically it followed the bands prudent formula of galloping rhythms, blistering solos and mystified story telling. The result was another epic standout of heavy metal purity. Standout tracks include 'The Wicker Man', 'Ghost of the Navigator' and 'Blood Brothers.' There was not much filler here. Fans were ready and the underground giants definitely delivered on this one. Exhilarating album at the least.
8. The Book of Souls (2015)
Often mistaken for a concept album, Maiden's latest studio album has received widespread criticism. And this is the exact reason why the record belongs so high on the list. Iron Maiden has never been afraid to experiment and test the boundaries as far as creativity goes. 'Speed of Light' was an enigmatic anthem that returned to old school Maiden of yesterday and the sound was brilliant. The album boasts many other classic style tracks that pay homage to the band's roots. I sometimes see similarities between negative attitudes of this album and Judas Priest's conceptual thriller 'Nostradamus.' These criticisms usually center around the length of many of the tracks. However; it's the longevity at the album's core that has always separated Maiden from its competition. Best album in years hands down.
7. Somewhere in Time (1986)
A progressive classic from beginning to end. The album blends synthesizer laden music with Maiden's trademark gallop riddled rhythms. A colorful epic flavor of heavy metal madness. Another underrated record in their catalog, its sometimes the forgotten step child because its buried between two seminal giants. However; the album does not lack star power as it assaults the senses musically and lyrically. When it comes to Maiden, there is always going to be an underappreciated value to all of their work and 'Somewhere in Time' is no different. "Wasted Years" is among the bands greatest tracks of all-time while "Alexander the Great" ranks among their most prized sleepers. A must own for die hard Maiden enthusiasts and if you have never listened I challenge you to take a spin; you will be pleasantly surprised.
6. Iron Maiden (1980)
The birthplace for Iron Maiden made its bed in this raw edgy debut self titled thriller. The pioneers of the new wave of British Heavy Metal made a dazzling impression with their original style and sound. If it were not for the sound production this one could have landed closer to the top. With that being said, what the album loses in sound it certainly makes up with brilliant musicianship. The album also featured the band's first lead vocalist Paul Di'Anno who could absolutely wail on the microphone. The combination of Dave Murray's stellar guitar, Steve Harris' elite bass playing, Clive Burr on Drums and Di'Anno's jaw dropping vocals was exactly what the heavy metal world had been waiting for. Some of Maiden's most cherished songs make there home here; the band's very first instant classic.
5. Killers (1981)
Although it would mark the end of Di'Anno on vocals, it did usher in the era of Adrian Smith. The duo of Smith and Murray gave Maiden their very own KK. Downing/Glenn Tipton montage and the results paid instant dividends. There was more harmony and inspiration which invoked more energy. It seemed that the group had graduated from jayvee as they joined the ranks of varsity lore. And even though the record was Di'Anno's swan song, he was leaving the band at his absolute peak and this album signified that feat. From the inglorious intro "The Ides of March" through the galloping glory of "Wrathchild" to the raucous "Murders in the Rue Morgue", the album was filled with metal magnitude of top line proportions. This was where Maiden made their jump and there was no turning back.
4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)
This conceptual masterpiece saw Iron Maiden embrace their progressive style as they perfected the brand. As concept albums normally do, the album takes the audience on a visual journey that's more real than your most remembered dreams. Honestly, when I first heard this album I had nightmares for two weeks; that's how powerful the trance centered core screams as you listen to the album in its entirety. Its no wonder that this was one of Maiden's most successful commercial endeavors as the album charted high all over the world. An album that's littered with top notch hits and zero filler. Sounds like an excellent recipe for success to me. Tracks like "Moonchild", "The Evil that Men Do" and "Clairvoyant" provide chills while the title track is a nine minute marathon of non stop attitude. Top notch metal album from start to finish. A grand slam home run.
3. Piece of Mind (1983)
Some fans and critics say this is Maiden's best pure album. There is definitely something that can be said about the songwriting and literacy of their lyrics. Nicko McBrain made his debut behind the drums and provided a new element; that which elevated the band to new heights as they were rising to superstardom around the world. One significant characteristic that stands out is the technical tightness of the band as a whole. While its predecessor put them on the mainstream map, "Piece of Mind" truly showcased their elite status as artists. It also marked a transition from classic metal to a more progressive and novel approach. The band was maturing in front of our eyes and were truly successful in making that jump. This was the straw that stirred the drink for many years to come.
2. The Number of the Beast (1982)
If we were doing a popularity contest this one would definitely take the cake for Iron Maiden. In fact, this album is mentioned whenever top heavy metal albums are discussed. A wall to wall cataclysm that sent Maiden over the mainstream threshold and onto commercial success. The debut album for Bruce Dickinson represented the bands breakthrough. Although Di'Anno was an elite vocalist in his own right, Dickinson simply had more range and his stage presence was contagious. You can hear that endless energy throughout the album. Too many hits to list, this was definitely Maiden's calling card of epic stardom. This timeless classic is owned by heavy metal maniacs all over the world. Definitely one for the ages and one that I can still listen and jam to from beginning to end at capacity volume.
1. Powerslave (1984)
How do you follow up a record of magnitude like 'The Number of the Beast'. That answer is easy...just perfect the formula. That's exactly what Iron Maiden did when they released this bombshell. Many would consider this as a controversial pick for top album but not the true experts. These metal enthusiasts consider this the definitive album of Maiden's entire catalog. A fierce collection of big dick energy, the record consists of several top of the line giants. There are a smattering of hidden gems and sleepers. And then there's the encore "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." Wow. There is really not many words that can describe this epic giant. Not only is this Iron Maiden's Mount Rushmore, it also features some of the most elaborate artwork penned to an album cover. Phenomenal album by a killer band!
Thanks so much for taking that journey with us as we chronicled the best of the best of Iron Maiden. We certainly hope that you have enjoyed this new segment and challenge you to send in your picks; so that we can rank your favorite band's catalogs. In the meantime, we hope that you will check out Kevin Law and Johnny E Thursday evenings from 7PM-9PM as they play your favorites from past and present. I also would like to wish you and your families best wishes and pray for your continued safety during these unchartered times.
As we leave you...please enjoy this timeless classic from the Powerslave album. Until next time...rock on mates!!!
Leave a Reply.
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.