Iron Maiden

Raw Power Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald


The title - fierce, the album cover - brutal. These would be a prelude to Iron Maiden's sophomore release, and it was obvious that the band was back and ready to raise hell all over again. With a new guitarist and a new energy, this effort would put the band on a world tour, and begin the rise to their rightful throne at the pinnacle of heavy metal music.

Killers kicks off with an instrumental, "The Ides of March." One instantly notices the improved guitar. This would be because former guitarist Dennis Stratton was replaced by ex-Urchin guitarist Adrian Smith. While I mean no disrespect to Mr. Stratton, Smith was and is exponentially better.

From there we go to one of Maiden's biggest hits, "Wrathchild," a timeless rocker about a vengeful man looking for the father who abandoned him. It's around this time that the listener, while taking a break from the furious rocking that is required for such a song, realizes that Steve Harris and company have learned from their earlier mistakes.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

When compared to their eponymous release, everything seems a lot more improved. The guitar is more fluid while retaining a thrashier sound, Di'Anno sounds more into it, and Harris' famous bass lines are at top form.

Although the album is technically not a concept album, each song seems to share a common theme: killing. Yes, even the instrumentals, which are aptly named "The Ides of March" (a day - March 15 - in which Julius Caesar was assassinated) and "Genghis Khan."

To me, the album hits its high point at track seven, with the title track. It's an absolutely ferocious track that makes "Phantom Of The Opera" seem like a ballad. Everything from the brutal lyrics made all the more evil by Di'Anno's sinister singing ("You walk through the subway/My eyes burn a hole in your back/A footstep behind you/He lunges prepare for attack"), to the brilliant dual guitar attack of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. The band then slows it down with the next track, a calm ballad called "Prodigal Son."

However, it hits its zenith with the underrated ninth song, "Purgatory," one of the fastest, heaviest, utterly blood-curdling songs ever (if the band is reading this, I beg them, please play this song live!) and it doesn't let up until the final note.

In fact, out of all 11 songs on this record, the only weak point would be the last song, "Drifter," which many fans claim to like, but I just can't enjoy for some reason. But, to each their own.

This would be the final full LP for lead singer Paul Di'Anno (he'd do one other live mini-LP with the band, Maiden Japan), before he would leave due to throat problems. While it's never a time to crack out the champagne with a band member leaving (with exceptions, of course), he would be replaced with the greatest singer the world has ever known (journalist neutrality be damned!). Still, when deciding which early Maiden album to give a listen to, it should be Killers for everyone.

Rating: A-

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© 2004 Riley McDonald 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.