Monday, March 12, 2012

Iron Maiden: The 80's (Part I: Paul Di'Anno Era)

Post # 188
Iron Maiden are the band most responsible for taking heavy metal to new heights in the 1980's. They dominated the genre for nearly a decade, and perfected elements of heavy metal that became a stylistic core from which several other bands took inspiration. For now, I will take a look back at Maiden's early releases, those that featured Paul Di'Anno on lead vocals.

When the topic of landmark debut albums arises in heavy metal music, Iron Maiden's eponumous debut is almost always in the conversation. It was both a solid, consistent album, with several tracks that remain permeated in Maiden's live shows, as well as it was a genre-solidifying release. Iron Maiden raised the bar a little higher in the (N)WOBHM era as they showcased two guitarists who brought speed and technique with the lead guitar to a higher level. Although the band's line-up would change a couple times over their next few releases, the songs were primarily composed by bassist Steve Harris. Harris has always been the primary composer of music for Iron Maiden, so there is that element of continuity present on their first album.

Essential Iron Maiden tracks from their debut:
-Prowler (The first track gives you a shot of Maiden's essence right away. Lead guitar melody that excels at technique and speed in the same breath.)
-Remember Tomorrow (A favorite track of mine. Underrated, perhaps because it has a slower, melodic feel, but it is no less of a classic!)
-Running Free (90% of Maiden's shows are guaranteed to feature this song as an encore or closing number.)
-Transylvania (an instrumental classic for heavy metal!)
-Iron Maiden (A classic among classics. Shredding lead guitars, fast and heavy riffs. ESSENTIAL!)

Iron Maiden's second album was, overall, very consistent with their first. Songs on this album begin to take inspiration from literary sources ('Murders In The Rue Morgue'), a method that Iron Maiden would repeat here and there throughout their career. Guitar intricacies are still found abundantly on this album. Though this would be Di'Anno's last album with Maiden, he still sings with a lot of emotion, and played a key role on these two albums in Metal's early days.

These first two albums also featured Clive Burr on drums. Killers did, however featured the debut of Adrian Smith on guitar. He has been with Maiden for the majority of their albums since, and has proven to be a natural complement to guitarist Dave Murray.

Songs that I highly recommend from Killers:
-Wrathchild (A good high-tempo heavy metal tune, gets the album rolling after 'The Ides of March' instrumental intro...)
-Murders in the Rue Morgue
-Genghis Khan (An instrumental track. Seems to aim at replicating the feel of 'Transylvania' on the last album. I prefer the former, but you decide which is better!)
-PRODIGAL SON (On this track we get a multi-faceted musical experience from Maiden. They show their true potential best on this track. Clean guitar sections have a neo-classical feel, particularly reminding me of Ozzy's 'You Can't Kill Rock N' Roll' or Ace Frehley's 'Fractured Mirror'. Some progressive elements can be heard, too, perhaps foreshadowing a style they would expand on extensively throughout their career.)

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