On September 4th, Iron Maiden released its 16th studio album. This new platter is a double-disc monstrosity by the name of The Book of Souls, and now that I’ve received my physical copies, I’m going to be re-listening to it a dozen times with lyrics in hand. So, while we’re waiting on this I’m taking advantage of the moment to do something I’ve wanted to do for a very, very long time: a huge Iron Maiden retrospective, spanning the band’s entire studio discography. Here’s the final installment. [And here’s the firstsecondthird and fourth.]


#3: Somewhere in Time  [1986]: I have to admit that for a long time Somewhere in Time was among my least favorite Iron Maiden albums and ranked among the records in the band’s discography that received the fewest spins. I always felt like the album had more awkward moments and filler than other records from the same era in the band’s career, like SiT was just a stepping stone for Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; as Opeth‘s Heritage presaged the transition to the much more cohesive Pale Communion or Tull‘s Songs from the Wood developed a sound which was better executed on Heavy Horses. While I still hold that Somewhere in Time fits the bill of Maiden finding its footing before producing a better record, I’ve actually grown to adore Somewhere in Time. Not only do I think that the art is some of the best of its era—with the ’80s futuristic Eddie being one of my favorite incarnations of the band’s mascot, and one of those amazingly detailed pieces of art you’d never see again in a post-vinyl era—but this album is laced with under-appreciated gems.

Iron Maiden - Somewhere in time

What likely threw a lot of fans for a loop was the fact that this album featured synths so prominently. In an era when people apparently really did beat each other up because of synthesizers, it has been related to me that this was seen as the band “selling out” or losing their metal cred. I, of course, think that the use of guitar synths is charming, even if it dates the hell out of the sound. When I listen to Piece of Mind or The Number of the Beast, I don’t think of the band as sounding particularly like the early ’80s from a production standpoint. However, the harder you try to jam the newest thing into your music, the more your music sounds like the era when that newest thing was getting popular; and Somewhere in Time sounds like 1986. Furthermore, Adrian Smith—likely the most pop and rock-oriented of Maiden‘s songwriters—had three complete songs that he’d written alone end up on this album: “Wasted Years,” “Sea of Madness,” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.” These songs add a poppy element, particularly “Wasted Years” and “Sea of Madness,” and this added a tone that I don’t think people had ever associated with Maiden up to this point.

Somewhere in Time also is a record that defied the band’s tendency of b-sides that didn’t quite live up to the a-sides of their albums. The Number of the Beast and Powerslave both feature b-sides that aren’t quite as good, but while Somewhere in Time doesn’t feature any of its most well-known or well-loved songs on the back half, it features four songs that are excellent deep cuts. ‘Arry’s “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” and Murray’s token addition “Deja-Vu” are both slightly awkward lyrically, but musically spot on. “Stranger in a Strange Land” is a mid-paced beauty that features a great groove, a fantastic pre-chorus and one of the best choruses on the record as well as H’s trademark guitar work—creative and playful, using way more interesting chord structures than straight power chords. But the crowning glory on Somewhere in Time is the epic “Alexander the Great,” an epic often overlooked unfairly and which has never been played live by the band. The song has a great build, a massive chorus, and features the band’s most interesting progressive solo at about the 4 minute mark.

1986 SiT Band

Put all of this together with the well known and well loved hits here, “Wasted Years,” “Heaven Can Wait,” and “Caught Somewhere in Time,” and Somewhere in Time is a real corker. Loaded for bear with a unique feel and great tracks, I’m surprised it’s not more universally loved. The one strike against it is that across the board the lyrics are a bit wonky or awkward. “Alexander the Great” is not a poetic showing by any means, “Deja-Vu” is slightly ill-conceived, and H’s lazy end-rhymes on “Sea of Madness” and “Wasted Years” have always caused my skin to crawl. But these little things don’t detract from the whole of what is an awesome, and often underrated, record by a band that was gearing up for something even more special.


#2: Piece of Mind [1983]: I’ve spent a lot of time aching about the records in the middle of this list. When you start ranking albums, the bottom ones are simple; turning phrases like “vocal chords in his scrotum” and “an old man shaking a crooked finger at society” make those blurbs a pleasure. There’s no question that piling on a crappy record is the easy part. The middle records, though? Those are hard. When albums are neck-and-neck, the decisions to move one or the other up or down feels rather arbitrary, and that takes a lot of time and a lot of thought. Piece of Mind at the number two spot? That didn’t take much time at all. From the beginning 1983’s finest album and Nicko McBrain’s bombastic introduction to the world has been ranked here, because Piece of Mind is a brilliant record.

Iron Maiden - Piece of Mind

I’ve always been partial to Piece of Mind and I consider it the second best from the classic period, and the best of the pre-keyboards era for sure. Starting with why it’s best is easy: the songs, the songs, the songs. I’m not sure what happened during the writing process, but the tracks on this record absolutely gelled into one of the most finely riffed and interesting heavy metal records of all time. From opener “Where Eagles Dare,” an iconic and undeniable track, the record walks listeners through amazing riffs, stupendous solos, and a drumming sound that would become iconic, with Nicko riffing away in the background. “Revelations” (which you’ll be surprised to hear is the second-most-frequently live track from this album) lilts forward before getting heavy, “Still Life” has an intro that reminds me of the tone of “Remember Tomorrow” before turning into something way more sinister, and the epic “To Tame a Land” is a great example of ‘Arry’s dominant and fascinating bass guitar style, which I referenced in my description of the band’s self-titled record.

Even the tracks normally criticized as filler, I love. “Sun and Steel” has a bombastic and ridiculous chorus that only the pop-rock-loving Adrian Smith could pull off and it’s grown on me over the years. “Still Life” has gotten very little love over the years, but Dave Murray’s contributions usually seem to work for me, and it’s a great song with a strange, but fascinating topic and a really cool feel. And while “Quest for Fire” should probably be banned for school-aged children—due to perpetuating the ridiculous notion that, indeed, dinosaurs and humans ever lived on the earth at the same time—Harris’s bubbly bass, the ridiculous chorus, and the classic Maiden guitar leads have gotten to me after all this time. I wouldn’t throw myself in front of a bus to save that song, but since it’s not even 4 minutes, and I like it more than I’d normally admit in public, I don’t feel like it kills the record.

1983 PoM Band

And as a whole? Piece of Mind sounds vital, heavy and is a fun record. Bruce sounds remarkably good on this album, having developed as a singer since The Number of the Beast, and I’ve always loved the guitar tone here. Murray and H have such a classic tone that Marshall-driven sound from this album absolutely defines “British heavy metal” for me. While the flow here isn’t quite along the lines of AMoLaD or SSoaSS, I’ve always felt like the consistency of the record and the high quality of the tracks made me want to listen to it from front to back, never skipping anything and always loving the sound.

Piece of Mind wasn’t the band’s most aggressive or most progressive material. The record doesn’t burn out the gate like Powerslave or have the world-shattering high points of The Number of the Beast. And for a lot of fans who started with latter and waited for the former, Piece of Mind has always seemed like an afterthought; as Druhm put it, the record was released so quickly after he discovered The Number of the Beast that he didn’t have time to anticipate its release. But I say that the combination of great songs (“Flight of the Icarus,” “Where Eagles Dare,” “The Trooper”… need I say more?), consistency from start to stop and a newly vitalized rhythm section with the addition of Nicko, this is close to as good as it ever got.


#1: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son [1988]: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is as good as it ever got. This album is most perfect heavy metal record ever produced. From Dickinson’s opening strains to bracketing lines which end the album, this record is an unassailable work of genius. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is one of those rare moments when stellar songwriting meets album flow, creating something that defines why we even listen to albums as a whole. Unlike any other Iron Maiden record, there are no notes out of place, there are no unnecessary lines or things that could have been edited out to tighten things up. From the incredible artwork to the excellent production, this album was charmed.

Iron Maiden - Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

I’ve spent a lot of time trying to analyze precisely what it is about this record that nails it, and the answer I’ve come to is that I think it’s where they finally perfected their own formula. To say that Maiden had a formula would be disingenuous, of course, but there is a certain balance between the rangy and progressive (“Infinite Dreams,” “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”), the poppy and immediate (“Can I Play with Madness,” “Only the Good Die Young,” and “The Evil that Men Do”) and the heavy and epic (“The Prophecy,” “The Clairvoyant”). Each of these tracks contains, to a great or lesser extent, these different aspects of the band, but they bleed through these different songs and the balancing act is done with grace and alacrity; it’s varied, but cohesive.

Missing, too, are the cheesy and half-baked ideas that resulted in “Quest for Fire” or “22 Acacia Avenue,” replaced instead by the pinnacle of Maiden‘s lyrics in the 1980s. Every song is laced memorable, cool, and interesting lyrics, held together by a diffuse theme embodied by the name Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. “Moonchild” sets the tone (“I am he, the bornless one / The fallen angel watching you…”), but it’s carried through by amazing tracks like “The Evil that Men Do” (“Love is a razor and I walked the line on that silver blade / Slept in the dust with his daughter, her eyes red with the slaughter of innocence”), or “The Prophecy” (“Suffering and pain / Impending disaster / Souls cry / The devil’s laughter / I heard the cry of the seven whistlers / Lucifer smiles, looks on and waits…”). Bruce delivers these lines with a spitfire passion and gymnastic grace, and his performances bolster the perfect balance between fantastical and poetic, walking the line on the silver blade that so many metal bands fall on.

1988 SSoaSS Band

Compositionally, I think that Seventh Son also includes Maiden‘s best songwriting. Not just the balance of styles, but the sharpest riffs, best hooks, and most entrancing guitar solos. With the backing of keyboard—but without the over-the-top guitar synth of Somewhere in Time—the dual guitar leads take on a nearly neo-classical sound, and everything resting in a bed of synth, fitting perfectly into the composition; it’s meticulous. “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son,” a massive epic which features Bruce knocking out that tongue twister dozens of times, is so compelling because of the perfect guitar work and build. “The Prophecy,” one of my favorite songs ever, is mid-paced and features a slow intro, but convinces with its epic solos and gorgeous outro (without mentioning Bruce’s fantastic vocal performance). Maiden made better use of their signature harmonies and epic guitar work on Seventh Son than on any of their other records, and I could go on for hours about how it all works so well.

All of these different factors, of course, combine to make Seventh Son of a Seventh Son a magical record and a triumph for the band. The production is excellent, the songwriting is tight, and I don’t think Bruce ever sounded so good on album before or after. While the sound is really wet with keyboards, and therefore not as immediate as Powerslave or Piece of Mind, this record succeeds where they didn’t with the sheer quality of songs, riffs, and consistency. This album has come to represent for me everything that I think heavy metal should be: its epic scope, its melodic genius, its perfect coherence, its dynamic range of 13 and its 44 minute run time. There’s no way I could ever rank another Maiden album above this one. But then again, I can’t ever imagine ranking another album above this one.

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  • ghost whistler

    This is actually quite depressing. NOt that i dislike these albums, far from it.

    But that the implication that Maiden never bettered an album that’s nearly 30 years old is not something to be championed.

    Their reunion stuff has been, on balance, much better.

    However the solo on The Evil That Men Do is the greatest solo Smith ever did.

    • I think with editing, you’re right. But not as a whole. There are way too many tracks I’d drop. And remember, I like their newer material, having put AMoLaD at #6 on this list.

      • ghost whistler

        I’m not criticising your opinion, that’s fine. It’s just the idea that Maiden never bettered those years is a bit grim. Plus, I’ve heard them so many times. I love Somewhere in Time it’s a really solid proggressive effort and more diverse than SS, but it’s 30 years old!

        My biggest problem with SS is that it is a bit samey and the narrative was never articulated as clearly as I think the band themselves would have liked. It is still a superb album and better than so much else in the genre.

        • Samey!? omasdfölkjadsgfölkjsdgaölkjasdgölkj

          • Karmazov

            Nice Swedish keyboard man! I’m learning the language!

          • Great, now the NSA knows. Thanks a lot.

          • Karmazov

            Pfft, the NSA are too busy looking for Edward… But he’s Snowden in Russia.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            That´s not Swedish! Angry Metal Guy had a mild stroke and his head fell on the keyboard for a while because he passed out.

          • ghost whistler

            Arry loves a particular riff and he uses it a lot in that period.

            Don’t get me wrong I love the album, it’s just that i’ve heard it so many times. Not really a fair criticism I grant you but that’s life!

            For me Somewhere In Time is my preferrance. I think it’s a superb album. The production is a bit overdone (mid eighties, everything was), and Wasted Years is a bit cheesy, but the rest of it is superb. Why they don’t do more from it live I dont know.

          • I Stand with Samey 2016

    • RuySan

      Even if they never topped an album which has almost 30 years, their career has been brilliantly consistent, with amazing albums across all the decades.

      Compare this with the other big metal bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, Black Sabbath or Priest.

      I don’t mind if they never top SSoaSS as long as they continue releasing great stuff.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Like you say Iron Maiden´s career has been briliantlly consistent. Their highs can barely be equalled or bettered by other Metal greats and the lowest of their lows are stil way above the lows of any other band.
        Hell, the lowest of their lows are even above average for some other bands.
        Also, few bands can claim their newest output to be close to their “prime” output, not to talk about being on par with it.
        That said, The Book Of Souls is bound to knock down a place quite a few of the albums listed.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      If you read my list it would be even more depressing, because I´d place Seventh Son no higher than number five, and the ones placed better are all older than it!

  • anonbr666

    Agree with every word regarding 7th son!

    One of the best albums of all time. OF ALL TIME!!!

  • Karmazov

    It’s quite funny because this is my exact same listing for my top three Iron Maiden albums. I’ve always adored SSoaSS and PoM and revered them like godly creations. Thank you so much for these wonderful articles about one of my favorite bands all time. Iron Maiden, to me, is timeless and can be discussed at length. There’s just something magical about this band, in fact, I find it to be one of the unifying bands for metalheads. Everyone’s got that one Iron Maiden shirt… Well four in my case. These albums are all so near and dear to me and the recent material is as well. I am a defender of the Blaze albums and always have done and these articles helped strengthen my arguments! Thanks so much man! Up the Irons! The new album’s amazing and long live Iron Maiden!

    “Reincarnate and play the game… Again and again and again”

  • Logos

    I cannot disagree with your choices in the top 3. I guess that being a concept album, the songwriting is really tighter in Seventh Son. There’s also a certain melancholy to it that I really enjoy.

    All in all, it’s been a great series on Maiden’s discography. I only think that after almost a week dedicated virtually exclusively to Maiden, it will be rather anticlimactic if The Book of Souls receives a bad review. Looking forward to it!

    • I would be shocked (I do mean literally shocked) if AMG isn’t digging the Book of Souls.

      • Logos

        I guess so, but given his comments on how Maiden’s later material could do with some editing, combined with the fact that Book of Souls is a double album with the longest song ever produced by the band, I expect some complaints. :)

        • tomasjacobi

          I find that The Book of Souls feels shorter than Final Frontier because the songs are so much better.

    • TheNihilist

      I dont know, maybe is true than the modern maiden records need 3-5 years for be really appreciated (I enjoy very much TFF in the moment). He will regret in the future whatever he writes.

  • Michael Staugaitis

    I may disagree with a good portion of your rankings (Blaze stuff high, The Final Frontier far too low, your love of Janick, etc.) but Ssoass is far and away Maiden’s best work and I agree that is may be the greatest metal album of all time. I also agree with SiT being so high. That was my first Maiden album and I feel it is way overlooked as a whole.

  • eloli

    As much as I believe that anyone who dares to say that The X Factor is a better album than Powerslave should be sectioned on the spot, no questions asked, I’d like to take the time to thank the author of this series for an extremely well written, informing and fun piece of metal journalism, a rarity in our click bait site driven era. Thanks again, AMG, both for your commitment to quality content, and for not dropping the ball on your, shall I say controversial, opinions about our beloved Maiden.

    Also, I want to thank the AMG commenters. One thing that I truly enjoy about this site is the high intelligence and fraternal spirit within our community, and one thing this series has done for me is completely challenge the notion that classic Maiden is the best and the most beloved. For guys my age, probably, but this is the band that invented cross generation appeal in metal we’re talking about.

    Up the iron’s, everybody!

    • GonzO Rodrigue

      ^ What this guy said. I have *severe* disagreements with some of the choices, but still enjoyed the hell out of this series. Bravo!

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      There´s an Angry Metal Mob with pitchforks and torches who would like to have a word with Angry Metal Guy regarding such high placements for the Blaze albums…
      I have to say that such ardent defense of “The X Factor” from Angry Metal Guy made listen to the album again after a long, long time. It will be a long, long time before I listen to it again.
      Alright, now I´m going to listen to The Number Of the Beast, Piece Of Mind and Powerslave in their entirety and in chronological order.

    • KingKuranes

      “Iron Maiden From Worst To Best: Number 8 Will Shock You!”

      • André Snyde Lopes

        In this case, number 10 is more accurate!

      • PJ Cannaday

        My top five Maiden (if anyone really cares)…..
        1 – Number of the Beast
        2 – Powerslave
        3 – Seventh Son
        4 – Piece of Mind
        5 – Brave New World

  • Jeff Kent

    Two words: Martin Birch.

  • KingKuranes

    Somewhere In Time has been brought to you by Jordache Jeans.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Seriously, that band photo…

      • Kryopsis

        They seem to be making fun of Harris but one day he will show them, one day he will show them all!

        • GrandmasterB

          He tried to warn them with the gruesome cover art…

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Looks like there´s a different ache other than Jordache!

      • Grymm

        “Can I play with cameltooooooooooe…”

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I wish I could upvote this more than once!

          • Ralph Plug

            I’m on it!

            *upvotes*

  • TheNihilist

    That is the real Maiden top three. No more choices, unless you are the run to the hills fan type or the virus fan type. Bravo!

  • Jón Aldará

    Ah, Deja Vu!

  • This was a righteous labor of love by the biggest Maiden fan I know. Great work, AMG! I can’t wait for the Worst to Best of Warrant!

    • André Snyde Lopes

      Give the people what they want:

      Worst to Best of Jørn!

      • Above you’ll see a list of things that shall never happen.

        • Kryopsis

          Is it because there can be no ‘worst’ of Jorn?

          • Kronos

            Sure is!

    • Morgoth

      I’d like to see AMG’s take in a worst to best of Rhapsody of Fire/Luca Turilli :P

      • Kryopsis

        They say that cheese doesn’t go bad, it just becomes different cheese. The same can be said about Rhapsody.

      • Oh man, that’d be a riot.

        • Morgoth

          I say do it! Pretty please? I hope to live long enough to see it one day, haha. I love your reviews, but those about RoF are the ones that I enjoy the most.

    • OzanCan

      You sir are a true Internet Sensation! xD hahahaha

  • tomasjacobi

    This was a great write-up. I don’t agree with the whole list, but your description of each album, and their strengths and flaws, was spot on!

    And it makes me happy to see Sun and Steel get some much needed love!

  • Dagoth_RAC

    Somewhere In Time was my first Maiden album. I won it on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ in 1987, the summer I turned 12. It was a big spinning wheel with like 50 little icons on it (anchor, boat, shovel, etc.). You put a quarter on an icon at the front of the stand. If the wheel stopped spinning on the same icon you had your quarter on, you won your choice of cassette tape. I had all the popular albums of the era already – Bon Jovi, Ratt, Cinderella, etc. I did not really have any interest in Iron Maiden. I had never heard them, but they were like the heaviest band in the world, right? It was just gonna be mindless noise and girls did not think they were cool and my parents would likely make me go to confession after listening to it, but … that album art was really cool, even on a stupid little cassette.

    I think that album broke my brain. I had never heard music like that before. I never even imagined music *could* sound like that. It was like I had been eating at Long John Silvers all my life and suddenly had a meal at Le Bernardin.

    While these days I would put Seventh Son ahead of it, Somewhere In Time still holds a special place for me high on the Maiden album listing. Not sure if Top 3, but definitely Top 5. It was not just a great album, it was an album that made me realize how great music could be.

    • PJ Cannaday

      Somewhere in Time was my first Maiden album too so i completely echo your sentiments. However – Number of the Beast is undoubtedly Maiden’s finest moment…..a classic, timeless metal album. I can’t stomach Blaze Bayley’s voice on either of the records he was on.

      • GrandmasterB

        Somewhere in Time was the second Iron Maiden album to which I subject my classmates at a time when 311 was king. I played the entire album in gym class and surprisingly, no-one requested that it be turned off.

      • Grymm

        Somewhere in Time was my virgin Maiden album as well, therefore it holds a special place in my heart.

  • De2013

    Great retrospective, AMG! What an epic tribute to one of the pillars of heavy metal m/ !!!

  • I concur with everyone else. Even though this list is clearly wrong, I enjoyed reading it and if anything, it made me want to listen to Virtual XI again, so thats gotta be worth something! :)

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I fell for the same trap regarding listening to The X Factor again.

      • Michael Staugaitis

        real bad idea. Every couple of years I give NPFTD a shot and it is still shit every time.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I can listen to No Prayer for the Dying and enjoy it. It might not be up to par with other Iron Maiden releases but it has quite a few enjoyable songs. Hell, side B is not half bad.
          On the other hand, I find The X Factor to be almost insufferable. Like it was actually trying to repulse me or something.

          • siegbran

            No Prayer For The Dying is for the most part very listenable and the cover’s cool too – actually with Maiden I’ve found there’s a very close correlation between album art quality and that of the musical contained within. I mean, the Killers cover…that’s badass.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Dear Angry Metal Guy:
    I don´t mean to make you angry (I guess you already are) but regarding The Number of The Beast, the B-side is better than the A-side. Way better.

    • Yeah, you’re right. Funny. But it’s still uneven, which is the point.

  • Jose Villanueva

    Amazing, love to see Piece of mind and Somewhere in time so high. PoM is my favourite Maiden album, just one filler: Quest of fire, even NotB has Gangland and invaders.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    I may have had my disagreements with the placement of some of the albums on this list, but Seventh Son is undoubtedly the best they’ve done.
    I remember a few years ago, hiding the one copy of SSoaSS behind some pop albums just so nobody could take it before I had the money to buy it.

    Also, I’d just like to comment on how I think that Infinite Dreams is perhaps the best song this band has ever done. Everything from that beautiful first verse with the clean guitars to the monstrously powerful bridge – that scream by Bruce that leads into the heavy riff is one of the best moments on any metal record ever. It’s so fucking magnificent.
    Oh and the solo on the title track is lead guitar heaven.

    I really enjoyed this list; its been great to read your opinions on a band so many of us hold dear. Ruffle a few feathers here, make some others happy there, all done in superb writing – this is the reason I read Angry Metal Guy.

    Also, props for actually writing “From Worst to Beast” this time ;)

    • Alexander Lawrence

      Agree re: Infininte Dreams!

  • Eric

    Somewhere In Time will always be my favorite Maiden album. Even though it was Live After Death that first got me into them, Time was the first proper album I ever heard from them so the nostalgia factor is high but the songs are just so good as well. I had that thing on cassette (I’m 41, yes I’m an old bitch) and played it until it got so worn out I had to buy another one.

    • Phil Daly

      Same here. Somewhere in Time was the first Maiden album I bought (also 41) and the thing just holds a special place in my heart. Has there been a more bombastic album and concert opener than Caught Somewhere in Time? Also, that era’s artwork was gorgeous. I have the Japanese Stranger in a Strange Land gatefold and it’s just a thing of beauty. I think the one thing I’ve taken from this most excellent series is just how special a band Maiden still is to me and just how good they actually are. How many other bands have had a run of form like Maiden’s between 82 and 88? Also, how many bands can scale those heights, then put out a record as good as A Matter of Life and Death the thick end of 20 years later? It’s mind boggling.

  • Oleg Ryzhikov

    Man, I’m full of envy, how did you found the strength and the will to rank all IM cd’s, one on top of other? I couldn’t even decide, which ones are im my first 10, and which are in second!

    • Oleg Ryzhikov

      On the other hand, who am I kidding, of course Virtual XI is THE BEST!!! Don’t you think I’m a savior?! Don’t you think I could save you? Don’t you think…. la-la-la-lalalala…

  • Probably, I put Powerslave on Piece of Mind position of your list…but what a great list!

  • Wilhelm

    I disagreed with some of your choices, but the your top three are mine also. Seventh Son is just fucking amazing – the first time I heard Maiden was the “Can I Play With Madness” video and just that time period, the imagery, the artwork, the mystery, the SOUND has stuck with me; It might be the only perfect record in Maiden’s discography.

    The only thing that I’ll disagree with on PoM is that Sun and Steel and Quest for Fire are good tracks…they aren’t, they suck terribly…if at all possible, I’ll skip both of those songs. The good news is that this is the album that features songs like Revelations, Flight of the Icarus and still Life, so all is forgiven.

  • Worldeater

    First oft all thank you for your dedication and the work you put in this articles, it has been a pleasure to read them. I also enjoyed the comment section with its high quality contributions on the matter. Although I started my metal career as a youngster with albums like Powerslave or Piece of Mind, I soon was drawn to speed and trash metal and when the first wave of death metal hit me like a tsunami, I lost track of Iron Maiden. I took this feature as an opportunity to revisit albums I already knew and check out those I did not, which was a interesting and surprising journey. One thing I find rather odd is that i don’t like Seventh Son while many of the readers put it in their top three but that is the beauty of difference I suppose.

  • sssgadget

    Somewhere in Time was my first Maiden record. Damn I love the hell out of it. Next was Powerslave. The galloping riff of the Infinite Dreams is one of my top 10 favorite riffs by maiden.

  • sssgadget

    Oh by the way I think Iron Maiden reached to this much success is because of Steve Harris. Dat Bass is just out of this world. The only bassist close to Steve is Geddy Lee.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You are absolutely right, Iron Maiden is where they are because of Steve Harris. Not only because of his role as a bassist (one of the Top five greatest ever) but also because of his role as a songwriter and very likely most of all because of his sheer determination to push Iron Maiden to the top.
      Not to diminish the other members contributions, but the root cause of Maiden´s greatness is Steve Harris.

      • grooben

        Yes! He gets a bit of stick for bloated songwriting these days but has always been the beating heart of Maiden. No Steve = no Maiden. Think he needs Dickinson and Smith in the band tell him when his song ideas are crap though. Maiden has always worked best when those three share songwriting duties, with Murray and Gers chipping in occasionally.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          A strong engine needs some brakes.

    • That’s what I’ve been sayin’ this whole time! I made that point in the Iron Maiden blurb most clearly.

      • sssgadget

        :) I don’t disagree!

  • Hideous destructor

    Good choices. I’d swap the positions of POM and seventh son though. The first six tracks on POM are just Metal perfection. The last 3 are pretty awesome too.
    Seventh son is great, but I always feel like the concept wasn’t fully realised, especially when compared to something like operation: mindcrime which came out at the same time. Still, musically its incredible – especially love infinite dreams, evil that men do (which I own at kareoke, haha) and the title track. Less fond of moonchild and can I play with madness.
    SIT is more of a middle ranking maiden album for me. Always found it a bit of a cheese fest, though it does have its moments.

    • Josh Lind

      I agree that Seventh Son isn’t quite as fully realized as a concept album, but it’s a massive and beautiful album. What is great about the concept behind it is simply that it is Maiden’s own. I’m not wading through Dune or Coleridge or Tennyson etc. Not that I don’t like those songs I am referencing, but Seventh Son is a daring and cohesive piece of work.

      (Incidentally, Operation:Mindcrime is my favorite metal album.)

  • earthling

    “However, the harder you try to jam the newest thing into your music, the more your music sounds like the era when that newest thing was getting popular..” That is just genius! We’ll forgive Maiden though. But then again we forgive them for too many things..

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      Nothing dates music like going for the “latest” anything…

      • See: metalcore. Never has an entire subgenre sounded so much like a span of 5 years.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          And five years from now we will be able to say the same about those “metalcore with electronica” geniuses.

  • Eric Freely

    This was an excellent read, start to finish. Lot of things I feel the same over, and others not so much, but still I enjoyed all of it regardless. Iron Maiden seems to follow a bumpy road, and what I mean by this is that every record has few songs I absolutely love, and others I couldn’t give a rats ass for.

    I think Book of Souls is about the only release where I dislike one song, and given that It’s 92 minutes I’d say that’s fucking incredible.

  • Ingvar Árni Ingvarsson

    Yup, completely and utterly agree.

  • Kryopsis

    I probably disagreed with you more in the past week than in the past several years but I appreciate that each position on the list is very well reasoned. I respect your opinion and will actively defend your right to spout your weird Metal heresy until the day I die! Honestly, it was exciting to read a completely different interpretation of the entire Iron Maiden discography. As much as I dislike ‘A Matter of Life a Death’, your description made me eager to give the album another chance. Although ‘Dance of Death’ remains the last Iron Maiden album I enjoyed and I will fight anyone who disagrees that ‘Brave New World’ is the pinnacle of Heavy Metal perfection, there can be no objectivity in matters of aesthetic judgement. Ultimately, while I can read biting criticism of ‘The X Factor’ and ‘Virtual XI’ pretty much anywhere else, only Contrarian Metal Guy seems to be willing to defend one of the most maligned singers in Heavy Metal history.

    • If I could change a historical fact, I’d likely change the way that TXF and VXI were produced. Give ’em Andy Sneap and see how those albums sound.

      • Sneap is great when “left alone.”

        • My point is more just that he produced Blaze’s first three albums and they all sounded great, even if they were y’know, overmastered.

  • Yesss. I think I totally agree with the top 3! And many thanks for writing these monstrous pieces, it has been fun. The comments, too. (Is this how people feel when they watch reality tv?)

  • grooben

    Loved these pieces AMG, and totally agree with 1st and 2nd. Your passionate defence of X-factor has also done the impossible and persuaded me to give a BB-era Maiden album another chance. Nice work, sir.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I think something is missing….”LiveAfter Death”, best live album ever which contains improved versions of every Maiden classic up to “Powerslave”, specially “”Hallowed be thy Name”. I still have goosebumps every time I listen to that song on stage.

    Plus, it’s the best rendition of Eddie

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Hi five brother!!

      • Hulksteraus

        +1

  • Iliast

    Other than minor quibbles, this is such an immense and solid piece of review work that I have nothing other than kudos to offer. Placement aside, the criticisms are dead to rights. I fully endorse the placement of both NOTB and Powerslave for the precise reasons you cited. Well fucking done.

  • Iliast

    Also, I now want Steel Druhm to do a Mercyful Fate/KD series.

    • OzanCan

      For the everything that is unholy! That should be done!!!!! m/

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    How about “Iron Maiden album covers Worst to Beast”?
    That would be awesome too.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Depictions of Eddie might be more interesting. I’ve always loved the aces high in the cockpit Eddie. The Trooper and mummy Eddies are classic too.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        The covers edition must include singles covers!

        • Grymm

          Only one word to say about that idea…

          • Hulksteraus

            Or should that be HELLL… YAAAAAAAASSSSSS!!!

        • SelfIndulgence

          I was reminded of all the picture disc vinyls I bought when they came out. I bought every single ever in picture disc format and every album. Brought a tear to my eye because I had to sell them all due to a struggle with poverty for a few years (food or metal). Biggest loss was my autographed Number of the Beast album that the band signed including Mr. Burr.

          The collection of Eddie art for Maiden songs is excellent and it would be great to see a feature on this in the future.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Too bad you had to sell your stuff…

          • Alexander Lawrence

            Such a loss indeed… been down that road mate… nothing to my name except an account with 50p in the bank…

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Since Slayer´s Repentless is coming out soon, how about a similar feature on Slayer´s discography?

    • This has been in the works for a long time. We’re gonna have to wait for another big-time release before doing something like this again. I’d love to see Fisting or Druhm do a Queensryche retrospective. :D

      • You really want us to be sued by Mr. Tate, don’t you?

        • That’s the plan!

          • I’ll leave that to the Doctor. I’m not going back to listen to all those post-Empire atrocities. I’d do a comprehensive Judas Priest retrospective though.

          • Josh Lind

            Bring on the Priest! I’m already impatient!

          • Monsterworks

            A Priest retrospective would be great. While I know Maiden well, I know Priest intimately (ooh er) so that would be a lot of fun as a reader. I went back and read your Redeemer of Souls review and it is accurate. I think on balance it was more disappointing than Book of Souls but that is because I care too much.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        Then make them! You can force them to do it, right?

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Epic, just epic AMG!

    Since you’ve been publishing these pieces I’ve been listening to so much Maiden that I’ve actually learned a few things.
    I’ve discovered that Final Frontier isn’t as I thought, my young sons favourite (SiT is) he only suggests putting it on because he thinks I love it… I also now have an appreciation for BB era Maiden. Fear of the Dark isn’t as good as I remember it to be. I didn’t realise that there was as much love for ‘Iron Maiden’ that there is and finally that Live After Death is in fact my favourite Maiden record!! I know it shouldn’t count but hey I like to make my own rules :).
    Thanks again for the effort. Amazing to think that a band that blew my mind as child in 19fucking83 can still hold my attention and esteem to this day.
    For what it’s worth, my updated list.
    1. Live after Death
    2. Number of the Beast
    3. SSoaSS
    4. Powerslave
    5. Final Frontier
    6. Piece of Mind
    7. Somewhere in time
    8. AMoLaD
    9. Killers
    10.Brave New World
    11 Iron Maiden
    12 Fear of the Dark
    13 Dance of Death
    14.No Prayer for the Dying
    ———————————
    Not including BB era as Im only just listening to them for the first time

  • MelbCro

    My top 3
    1. somewhere in time
    2. seventh son
    3. brave new world

    • I can’t really see ever ranking SiT over SSoaSS. BNW I have respect for, but I’m not really seeing it as a masterpiece.

  • SelfIndulgence

    You made it through AMG. Congrats. I couldn’t agree more with your top two choices. I have been listening to Maiden since day one and hands down these are my two favorite albums (Somewhere in Time was my favorite tour by the band).

    PoM is just a great heavy album that doesn’t get old, and SSoaSS is simply the one album where everything just came together perfectly. Many people like to bitch and moan about Maiden albums, but few I have met actually listen to the entire album or give it more than a few spins.

    So thanks for the read it has been enlightening to see how and why you made these choices.

  • Thanks for this series it was great.

  • Pumpy Pumples

    Good show, mate. I have to go back and read the whole entirety, but even in my piecemeal ogling I recognized you had reasons and deftly explored them all. While a couple blew my brains out…I am already appreciating some Maiden shit from a different perspective. Whoever is not open to that experience is the death of creativity. Currently kicking Infinite Dreams in the headphones right now…uhh fuck, Can I Play with Madness just kicked in. It’s all good…Up the irons!

  • savafreak

    I predict u gonna give The Book of Souls 4.5

    • You come around here often?

      • savafreak

        Just when I am not Angry enough, I come here to get my dose of Anger; It’s a great album their best since Brave New World, combining their newer adventurous style with touches from their glory heaviness days; reading your reviews of their past albums, I have a feeling u will be Angry no more and you gonna rank this one high. m/

      • savafreak

        And I was completely wrong, I feel like a microbe now! Still I stand to my opinion, it is a great album as I said, their best since SSOTSS, time will heal your scars man, Up the Irons m/

        • Love it! I’m not worried about your opinion. Think about how much of a bummer it is for me to write a review like that for my favorite band?

  • Synthetase

    “…Opeth‘s Heritage presaged the transition to the much more cohesive Pale Communion or Tull‘s Songs from the Wood developed a sound which was better executed on Heavy Horses.”

    Excellent examples. I get the same feeling listening to those albums.

    By the way, thanks muchly for the retrospective. It’s inspired me to dig a little deeper into Maiden’s discography. There’s so much goodness to be found!

  • Danny Becker

    We need more discography reviews like this from epic bands. I am compelled to point out that a popular reviewer on youtube, coverkillernation, said, and I kid you not, that BOOK OF SOULS is the GREATEST Iron Maiden album with only 7th son of 7th in front. Can you believe that jack? It should obviously have been the absolute BEST album. Why? It’s the only album by the band to be a DOUBLE-ALBUM. Now that’s confidence and dedication for ya. Heck, I’m almost positive that they wrote this to do something cinematic like Metallica’s through the never which runs coincidentally at ninety minutes as well. Am I onto something? Laugh now, because I’m also certain that Iron Maiden will play Book of Souls in its entirety. Where’s Sharon Osbourne’s eggs when you need her? Not those eggs, you pervert!

    • Col_Dax

      Sorry t say, but I remember reading a testimony of Bruce somewhere, that the’ll likely never ever play “Empire of the Clouds” in a normal live setting. So – no full BoS, no no…

  • Luke_22

    This has been a great read. I’ve held back on the commenting because in many ways this has been a crash course of Maiden history for me. Aside from owning a couple of their widely known classics I never grew up listening to Maiden, and just quietly, I’m ignorant to the larger portion of their discography. I’m not that old yet though so there’s still time. Thanks AMG.

  • 517H

    Dear Overlord

    I’ve been hanging for a greatest albums of all time list from you. And from the last paragraph it seems I got a sneak peek at the number 1 album on that list. Awesome. Never listened to Seventh Son so am buying it now.

    Also thanks for the hard work put into this series.

    Sincerely
    Peon #24601

  • Hulksteraus

    Can’t argue with these three, although for me it goes equal 1 (can’t choose between SIT and SSoaSS) and POM is third…

  • DaveSt

    That was an awesome, awesome series of articles! Kudos AMG.

    For some reason I have just never been able to get into Seventh Son as an album. I love some of the individual tracks (especially “The Evil That Men Do”), but I think the over the top keyboards sort of ruin the experience. The whole album just seems sort of “poppy”. I mean, it is still Maiden so it is better than most, just not my favorite. I need to give it another spin as it has been some time.

    I think Powerslave and Somewhere In Time are two damned near perfect metal albums, and Piece Of Mind isn’t far behind. This series has me digging out all of my old CDs (hell, some of them I only have on cassette) and listening again.

    Looking forward to the review of the new album as well!

    • dblbass23

      I pretty much agree with your take on the Seventh Son album. Though a great album….it’s just not as much of a kicker as others make it out to be…..and I blame that on the keyboards…or whatever they’re doing that sounds like keyboards.

  • doom-erik

    3. Number of the Beast
    Some of my favourite Maiden songs (Children of the Damned, 22 Acacia Avenue) but its weighed down by a few weaker tracks (run to the hills, gangland).

    2. Piece of Mind
    The first Maiden album I owned. Love lobotomized Eddie, the gatefold, the dinner photo – oh and the songs as well :) Probably my most played by the band. Revelations, Icarus, To tame a land, Still Life (my favourite song in the early days)…

    1. Powerslave
    The classic Maiden sound got perfected here, and there is not a single filler. Amazing instrumental parts in every single song. Just can’t get tired of it. One of the best albums ever made!

  • Here’s to AMG and the most well thought out personal Iron Maiden list I have ever read! Cheers!

  • IamRipper

    I agree with #1 and #2, but Powerslave and Number of the Beast would be 3 and 4.

  • I guess this means I have to listen to The X Factor again. I’m kind of afraid. Always with the challenging opinions, but glad to see my favorite as your #2! Will we be getting an epic review of Book Of Souls next? Be sure to share where it would fit in your list!

  • Maxim Kalacnuk

    Great work, hands down. This time mine Worst to Best will be without comments, because i would write quite the same things about this albums as you did.
    3.: Number of the Beast
    2.: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    1.: Piece of Mind

  • Ralph Plug

    This was great fun to read, thanks AMG. A thorough, well-written article about what’s definitely my favourite metal band ever. Now, on to that The Book of Souls review!

  • dblbass23

    There are a lot of good points that I really agree with throughout the article. But I really associate with Somewhere In Time …as it’s been sort of a grower album for me. I loved it when it came out but put it up and didn’t hear it for years and years. After pulling it back out it’s turned into one of my favorite Maiden albums. I actually like it way more now than when it was originally released.

  • Cedric D

    Wat, Heritage is about a million times better than Pale Communion (it’s better than Watershed too for that matter). But maybe that’s just me.

    • Joe Rico

      It’s just you.

  • Cedric D

    “one of those amazingly detailed pieces of art you’d never see again in a post-vinyl era” Somebody apparently has never seen any death metal album covers.

  • beurbs

    that was rad, now Priest!

  • Adrian Von Overlord

    We are on some different pages in regards to where some of these Maiden albums rank, but once I got to the top three, all I can say is I love you so much right now.

  • Axel Razorback

    i agree that “7th of 7th” is theirs best

  • Alexander Lawrence

    thoroughly enjoyed this list, waiting patiently until all was done.. I cannot but disagree with you on a couple of points though. The Final Frontier is the worst album I have ever heard the misfortune to hear, followed by Fear of the Dark…. No Prayer thus goes into spot 12, and the others move down. At the time it came out, I was first shocked, then intrigued by XFactor… It is NOT a bad album by any means but I resolutely REFUSE to even consider it as a Maiden album… and as for it being better than Beast or Powerslave… you smoked too much matey. virtual XI is another flop…

    I will probably never listen to those albums again.

  • Pedro Ordonez

    I almost had to cry when I saw XF placed so high. It is interesting how we agree on so many things and then that HUGE discrepancy. It must be so hard to rate albums, are lyrics important? How much? To me they are just an added bonus if they are cool. I was almost tempted to re listen the XF in its entirety but caught myself in time. Virtual XI? That is not even a maiden album, that year they released one called The Chemical Wedding, that is the real maidne album

    • Joe Rico

      Chemical Wedding is a Bruce solo album. Thats probably one of THE most Maiden albums ever recorded. Why they dont write material like The Tower these days is beyond me.

  • Philip Alexander Hassialis

    As per your comments for Quest For Fire: I am sure they mention the 1981 film and/or the amazing French comic La Guerre du Feu. Other than that, while I have *many* issues with your ordering I appreciate the fact that you plunge into the reasoning of why every album is where it is in this list.

    Also, huge kudos for defying the classic-era “axiom” that Bruce > Paul > Blaze, ergo, 14-15 are the Bayley albums and we take it from there, throw everything post Blaze after them and then start from 8 onwards to 1 to order the classic stuff.

  • Mattzzz

    Fantastically written series and it really fueled my desire to listen to some Maiden! Even though I was already listening..

    My top 5 records
    5. AMOLAD
    4. TXF
    3. POM
    2. BNW
    1. SIT
    All time favourite song from Maiden is a 3-way tie between Infinite Dreams, The Thin Line Between Love and Hate, and Revelations. That’s really splitting hairs though..

  • 3eyedjohnny

    Thanks for taking the time to rank and explain. I’m going to give X-Factor another listen and not be so harsh this time. Thanks.

  • Retsam5

    This list is dumb. I like all the albums listed here, but the best 3 are Piece, Powerslave, and Beast. In any order. Fear of the Dark could be argued as a better album than either Seventh Son or Somewhere in Time. good effort, but your opinion on metal stinks. Will not be reading your stuff any more. Not just from this posting, but your other reviews that also sucked or were totally off. Go listen to Beiber.

  • Solrac Avan

    THE EVIL! THE EVIL! THE EVIL CATMANDU!!!