I’m not doing an entire series where I review Iron Maiden’s studio albums because I don’t have all of them, but I have some of them, so might as well review what I have, right? First up is Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut album, which was released in 1980. The record store I bought the debut and Killers (1981) at had the price sticker on the albums, so I left them on because I didn’t want to risk ruining the cover. Founded by bassist Steve Harris, the line-up also included Dave Murray on lead guitar, Paul Di’Anno on lead vocals, Dennis Stratton on rhythm guitar, and Clive Burr on drums. Iron Maiden is one of the many bands that came out of the new wave of British heavy metal, but they’re one of the few that still kicks a**! Without further ado, let’s get on with the music!
Before, there was screeching on the guitar, now there’s wailing on the guitar, which makes sense cause the song is called “Prowler.” What’s awesome and confusing about Iron Maiden is that their songs are made up of multiple different parts, so it sounds like two (sometimes three) different songs. At the one minute and 46 second mark, the tempo speeds up and it’s total chaos, before it slows down to the original tempo about a minute later. Not a bad track to start the album; who am I kidding, it’s a dang awesome track to kick off an album! “Out of winter came a warhorse of steel / I’ve never killed a woman before / But I know how it feels.” I love those lyrics from “Sanctuary,” and actually the lyrics in this song have a haunting vibe and I’m down for it.
Not many lyrics for “Remember Tomorrow,” but this song is more about feel. There’s the soft parts, the chaotic parts, and the in-between parts; which they do in five minutes and 30 seconds. Di’Anno channels his inner Mr. Nice Guy on this track, instead of his usual tough punk guy persona. “Running Free” is mostly known for repeating the title over and over again, but props to the rhythm section for that groove, and rest in peace Clive Burr! I hated parts of “Phantom of the Opera,” where Di’Anno was jumbling a bunch of words together; you need a lyric book to understand what he’s singing. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the long instrumental section because it was only three minutes, which is nothing compared to the instrumental sections Maiden does now. Multiple things were happening at the same time, from the guitar parts, the bass, and drums, it was like a heavy metal orchestra.
The first time I listened to this record, I used the lyric book the album came with to determine the song order. Based on that, “Strange World” was supposedly next, so I had the lyrics ready to go. Then about three minutes in, I was like, “dang, how long does it take to start a song?” That was in February 2021, so flash forward to May 2021, I looked up the album on Wikipedia and found out that there’s an instrumental before “Strange World” called “Transylvania;” my mind was freaking blown! I’ve made peace with “Transylvania” since then, now that I know what the heck was going on. It also makes a nice transition into “Strange World,” which is cool.
Here’s the thing about Di’Anno’s vocals, he’s not the best singer in the world. He doesn’t have a whole lot of melody, but at least he’s not monotone. Similar to “Remember Tomorrow,” “Strange World” is all about the feel with the enchanting guitars and delicate bass line. “Charlotte the Harlot” is my favorite song on the album because the chorus is so dang catchy, and yeah, it’s about a prostitute, but who cares! I love the mood change with this song because it starts off intense like “I want you, let’s make love,” then morphs into a heartbreak song, but not for long! “There was a time when you left me standing there / Picking up pieces of love from the floor / Well Charlotte you left me alone in there / To make your ends as a bloody whore.”
You know, for a track called “Iron Maiden,” it’s not very good! I don’t remember much, except for these lines in the chorus: “Oh well, wherever, wherever you are / Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far.” It basically repeats the chorus and first verse over and over again. I think a few of their tracks were like that actually, but I got more annoyed with “Iron Maiden.” If you’re going to have a good instrumental section, at least have good lyrics to back it up.
Is this the best debut album of all time? No. Is it worth giving a listen? Yes. The debut of Iron Maiden shows the band’s potential and gives a taste of where their long instrumentals will go on future records. I could barely understand a word Di’Anno was singing, so it’s a good thing I had the lyric book, or else I would’ve been clueless. Maiden’s first two albums have a punk vibe because of Di’Anno’s vocal style: not much melody, but has attitude and it’s very straight-forward. I’m not a fan of punk singers, but I dig what Di’Anno brought to Maiden during his short time with the band. I’d give Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut 4 out of 5 stars.
Take care and see ya real soon!