Theatrical, heavy and fast, Iron Maiden’s debut album created a blueprint for the metal album.
When people recall albums that fall into the category of “Greatest Debuts of All Time”, there are always the same names; The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, or Beastie Boys, to name a few. One that rarely comes up, if ever, is ‘Iron Maiden’ by Iron Maiden. Perhaps the last true British heavy rock band to still be going strong, with as much power and intensity as they originally had.
Released at the beginning of the the New Wave of British Metal movement, ‘Iron Maiden’ doesn’t feature the operatic stylings of Bruce Dickinson, he wouldn’t appear until 1982’s breakthrough smash ‘The Number of the Beast’. While Dickinson’s voice has become as synonymous with Maiden as their mascot, Eddie, this is the first of two albums to feature Paul Di’Anno. The difference in the vocals is astounding, Di’Anno has a much rawer and scowling voice, almost punk at times, which truly did aid the beginning of the Maiden that we know today.
Characteristically 80’s metal themes permeate the album. From stalking female prey in ‘Prowlers’ to the darker and emotional side of prostitution in ‘Charlotte the Harlot’ (the first of the “Charlotte Saga”, a character who appears throughout Maiden‘s career). The incredibly theatrical ‘Phantom of The Opera’, Maiden’s homage to the Gaston Leroux classic Gothic novel, is the captivating halfway point of their debut. It showed Maiden had a scope and vision, fair beyond that of their peers, and one they would push to the limits further in their career.
Clocking in at just under forty minutes, it’s the shortest Iron Maiden album, but by no means does this take away the power of a record that was released thirty five years ago. Being one of a few acts to actually penetrate music’s upper echelons from the New Wave of British Metal scene and changed the way a generation could speak for itself, it gave them the ability to not take shit. Part of the reason for this may be the near punk aesthetic to the majority of the songs, enabling the media to associate the band with the more main-stream (well, much to their chagrin) punk movement.
Ending an album with a song that’s not only the same title as the album, but your band is almost too perfect. Iron Maiden were sending a message, one that says “We’re here whether you like it or not. Fuck you.” And such as the lyrics say in this war cry, “Oh Well, wherever, wherever you are, Iron Maiden’s gonna get you, no matter how far”. Iron Maiden certainly can’t be fought. Not even after thirty-plus years.