Iron Maiden

Raw Power Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In the early days of Iron Maiden, the key word to describe the band was "change". Their lineup was in a constant state of flux until 1983; in the case of their sophomore album Killers, out was guitarist Dennis Stratton, in was Adrian Smith. Also out was producer Will Malone, in was Martin Birch, who knew more than a thing or two about producing hard rock albums.

The two new additions to the Iron Maiden family proved to be well chosen. Birch removed the sonic sludge that marred the band's self-titled debut and introduced a far more crisp sound to the production. Smith's guitar work also seemed to fit the group well, acting as a perfect match to Dave Murray's fret work.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Yet there is something about Killers that leaves me a bit unfulfilled. Yes, it's an improvement over Iron Maiden, and any progress is something to be heralded. But while there are some great performances on this disc, there is still one thing missing from Iron Maiden's sound - and that's vocal muscle.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: with no disrespect meant towards him, Paul Di'Anno just didn't seem like the perfect fit with Iron Maiden when you compare his vocal style with the kind of music the band was cranking out. Listen to tracks like "Killers" or "Drifter," and you almost expect to hear a vocal line come out of the speakers to knock you on your butt. Yet Di'Anno just doesn't seem to have the kind of power the material demands - and while his work on Killers is better and more in the forefront, it still just wasn't enough.

The sad thing about this is it takes away from some of the power of the music. Tracks like "Wrathchild," "Murders In The Rue Morgue," "Twilight Zone" and "Another Life" show some serious growth in the band's songwriting skills over the course of a year. More impressively, the two instrumentals on this disc, "The Ides Of March" and "Genghis Khan," are ample proof of the musical excellence that Iron Maiden was producing at this stage in their young career.

I hate sounding negative about an album like Killers - I mean, I do own it, I do listen to it with some regularity, and I do enjoy the music on it. Likewise, it does stand out as the better of the two releases that Di'Anno appeared on. While it's still worth owning, it does strike me as the audio equivalent of Chinese food: it will satisfy you while you're listening to it, but in the end, your cravings remain.

Rating: B-

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© 2004 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Raw Power Records, and is used for informational purposes only.