On the 4th of September Iron Maiden will release its 16th studio album. This new platter is slated to be a double-disc monstrosity by the name of The Book of Souls, and I’m sitting around working on my review of it really hard. In honor of this, I’m going to take 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. Also, here’s a refresher on objectivity for all of you and your voice lesson teaching mothers.


#12: Virtual XI [1998]: Virtual XI is, as far as most are concerned, Iron Maiden‘s absolute lowest point. While I actually enjoy Blaze Bayley as a vocalist—as I’m sure longtime readers of the blog are aware—this record has problems, including his vocals at times. In the scope of the band’s career, songs like “The Angel and the Gambler” and “Don’t Look to the Eyes of the Stranger” shouldn’t even be named in the same breath as Maiden‘s most mediocre output. But I’m going to argue that while poorly executed, the record’s finest moments—which were for the most part written in tandem with Janick Gers or Blaze Bayley for you Steve Harris apologists out there—suffered more from bad production than bad songwriting.

Iron Maiden - Virtual XI

The problem with VXI is best exemplified by the song “The Angel and the Gambler.” My operating theory is that in 1998 there wasn’t a single voice in the Iron Maiden camp that could contradict Steve Harris; a man known for his stubborn determination, innovative bass style, and unfortunate football fandom. Bruce Dickinson? Gone. Adrian Smith? Long gone. Dave Murray? He’s like the world’s nicest dude, never said a mean word to anyone in his life… not a likely candidate. Nicko? He’s a drummer, no one gives a shit what he thinks. Janick? New guy. Blaze? Well, Blaze was, at the time, the least popular vocalist in the world of heavy metal being kept in the band by Harris. Harris’s control of the band was complete. Even Rod Smallwood had been overruled on Blaze being in the band, and long-time producer Martin Birch had hung up his monitor earphones leaving Steve to (not) edit himself. Atop Mount Maiden, ‘Arry ruled with an iron fist. And his will was law.

Thus, “The Angel and the Gambler.” There wasn’t a single voice to tell Harris that the song needed to be cut down. The track is 9 minutes and 53 seconds of one chorus—and not even a catchy chorus at that. Four notes repeated ad nauseum for almost 10 minutes. Ever record music? It takes a long time. There is no way that anyone could play this track enough times in the studio to be able to make it perfect and not come out on the other side thinking “What the hell is it that we’re recording, here?” It’s almost comical, like Sideshow Bob and a yard full of rakes; but one thing it ain’t? It ain’t good. “Don’t Look to the Eyes of a Stranger” wasn’t a particularly shining example of Harris’s genius either. Long, slow and uninteresting, this track makes it to 3 and a half minutes and then takes a 5 minute diversion into a terrible chorus. The guitar solo gives a momentary respite in the last minutes, but beyond that? Not much.

This same stubborn determination is also why the band never tuned to a key better for their new lead singer, who was swimming in the deep end of the vocal pool, so to speak. Blaze is a baritone, and his style from Wolfsbane was barky and aggressive. His vocal control on held notes goes off, and it’s far more clear on Virtual XI than it was on TXF, but the band didn’t lend him a hand. Instead, they put out a record where the vocals can sometimes veer into the uncomfortable when he’s trying to hold a tone for a longer time.

1998 VXI Band

But contrary to popular belief, VXI is not without its charm. “The Clansman” was a Harris epic that actually ruled. The Murray/Bayley penned “When Two Worlds Collide” was actually a very cool song that previewed the best of what Blaze would have on offer for his solo band and even featured a long-eschewed gallop [and, by the way, if you’d like to hear how Blaze sounded when allowed to sing this song when it was down-tuned for his range, you can find an awesome rendition of it here]. Final track “Como Estais Amigos,” a poorly named but well-written song about the Falklands War, features some of the most interesting writing on the album. “The Educated Fool” features a cool and progressive riff, and an almost ’70s prog influenced chorus that I still love. And I genuinely enjoy “Futureal,” a ripper that’s still among the band’s best album openers.

It doesn’t help that VXI is hampered by one of the worst production jobs that Iron Maiden ever had. This is the last time that Nigel Green was in control of the production process, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. The album is flat, and it’s hard to listen to, and I don’t think that people make the realization that these songs didn’t pop for them because the production didn’t pop. One of the tricks of production is getting the production out of the way of the music, and Virtual XI is an album where the production is very much in the way of the music. When it’s all said and done, I think that Virtual XI was a record that would have been a lot better under different circumstances, and I’ve always longed for a remixing and remaster of it. As a whole it suffers and is inconsistent, which doesn’t put it so high up the list.


#11: Dance of Death [2003]: Dance of Death is one of the more maligned records from the band’s post-Blaze period, and there are some very good reasons for that. Firstly, the production isn’t particularly stellar, and in many people’s minds, the record was simply a huge step down from 2000’s reunion record Brave New World. Still, it’s certainly not the band’s worst album and it has its fair share of good stuff on it. In fact, some days I’d say that it’s a better record than its predecessor in terms of its peaks—and for me Dance of Death contains some of Maiden‘s best post-reunion material. Unfortunately, the valleys of Dance of Death are deep and long, indeed.

Iron Maiden - Dance of Death

First, I think it’s important to point out that Dance of Death is just as much a victim of its production as VXI, though with different problems. The record is the base of the decision the guys in the band made to not master follow-up A Matter of Life and Death, because it ended up flat and really, really loud. Listening to this album next to the production on albums like PoM or SSoaSS—hell, even compared to FotD—the production here is simply not up to snuff. In retrospect, this is probably less Kevin Shirley’s fault than whoever mastered the damned thing, but one has to wonder how a band with the clout of Maiden could even produce a record that sounds like this.

This doesn’t keep the record from knocking out some really excellent tracks. While the opening salvos are basically what you expect from a post-reunion Maiden record, truly amazing tracks followed. Two of my favorite Maiden songs ever are here: “Montségur,” a riffy Dickinson/Gers/Harris ripper that hearkens back to an energy of a different age, and “Face in the Sand” which saw the Smith/Dickinson writing team turn out something really special. Dickinson’s lyrics are artful and interesting, and there’s a flare and deft touch here that one doesn’t see in metal very often. And aside from the great lyrics, the song itself has an amazing build and an inspiring chorus.

2003 DoD Band

Unfortunately, the whole record cannot live up to the strength of these two songs. While title track “Dance of Death” has a cool chorus that uses the three guitarists well, it’s monotonous. “Gates of Tomorrow” and “New Frontier” are both OK, but bland, and closer “Journeyman” never impressed me, even though it was a nice song. But the real low point here is Steve Harris’s immensely bad “Age of Innocence,” which has lyrics that make him sound like a very bitter, old man1, and quite frankly it isn’t much of a song, either. Even the Iron Maiden forums—famous for its “In Defense of Quest for Fire” threads—didn’t bother to defend that track.

All-in-all, though, Dance of Death has some great stuff on it. “Paschendale” is an excellent epic, while “Rainmaker,” “No More Lies” and “Wildest Dreams” are fun songs. And with peaks like “Montségur” and “Face in the Sand,” I do keep on wandering around to this record.


#10: Killers [1981]: Putting Fear of the Dark as far down the list as I did was something I figured would step on a lot of toes, but this is the bombshell I’m going to drop that will make (particularly older) fans drop their jaws. That’s right, I think Killers is among the bottom third of Iron Maiden‘s material. Ironically, the band themselves have always maintained that Killers was better than their debut, and despite kicking their vocalist out after it, I think it’s always been considered to rank among the band’s best. And Killers, in some ways, was an improvement over the debut album (see: the production); but the album never quite clicked with me like the band’s other material.

Iron Maiden - Killers

For one, I actually think Killers fits the mold of a classic sophomore slump. Iron Maiden had all the material that the band had been flogging on the road for the years prior to getting picked up, and Killers was written from scratch. Second, and this simply shows my bias in the types of material, Killers still sounds a lot more like ’70s hard rock than heavy metal, and while I love Di’Anno’s vocals on this material, he never commanded the microphone like Dickinson did after him. Those two things put together conspire to simply drop this record in frequency of spins, which is easy to do when a band has produced as much material as Maiden has.

OK, all of that out the way: Killers is a record that I’ve come to appreciate as I’ve gotten older. Maiden weren’t wrong about the production, which is so much better than the debut—fat and punchy—and it has an energy I love: the energy of a young band who knows they’re doing something special. While the guitars are thin by modern day standards, they blend perfectly with Harris’s trademark bass sound, and the drums sound fantastic with Burr’s feel and phrasing fitting the material perfectly. “Killers” and “Purgatory” rank as two of my favorite songs by the band ever, and “Genghis Khan” is one of those deep cuts I’d love to hear the band perform live.

1981 Killers Band

Killers has an undeniable energy to it, and I can see why fans who were into this era’s material felt disappointed when Dickinson joined the band. Di’Anno’s attitude was simply more punk rock, and this material is more blues rock inspired than the band’s later material would prove to be, too. This creates a sound that genuinely separates this album and its predecessor from the band’s later material, and I’ve always had more trouble connecting with this material. In some ways it’s hard to rank Killers at #10, because it’s still such a good record. But since I’m so godawful sick of “Wrathchild,” I feel like it’s justified. And be warned, it doesn’t get any easier from here on out. ‘Cause these Iron Maiden guys don’t suck.

 

Show 1 footnote

  1. And what we call in political science a “low information voter”
Tagged with →  
Share →
  • Killers at #10?? Now we’re officially in a blood feud. The arrogance! The insolence!

    • Oh calm down.

      • If I was in Europe I’d lead a mob of angry villagers to burn down your castle.

        • Good thing I’ve been bathing in the blood of virgins so that no one can kill me.

          • Let me try a few times. I’ll bring beer and nachos.

          • Kronos

            Huh, I had you pegged for a unicorn blood kind of guy.

          • Martin Knap

            don’t worry, they won’t bug(ger) you too long.

        • SelfIndulgence

          My torch is lit and I am ready…..now to cross that ocean.

          While I do tire of Wrathchild as well The Ides of March always gets my blood moving. I can listen to this album endlessly, but I will skip Wrathchild.
          Also Killers is one of my top Maiden tracks and probably the reason I was in the Di’Anno camp for too long (along with Remember Tomorrow).

          You do have to realize when these albums came out for me the music scene was different and there was no online community. Everything was cheesy rock mags, word of mouth and your local record store. For me these albums became a part of my make-up and playing them takes me right back in time to feelings and places I had forgot. For others who may have discovered Maiden later (when they finally started to receive radio play) their opinion may be very different if they grew up with Bruce (Bruce Bruce….ugh). So it is interesting to see this through someone elses eyes….no matter how wrong they may be.

          • Carl Anderson

            Yes, OK: “Remember Tomorrow” is quite good. I remember being in a band that covered that; and we sucked :) but the song was quite good … not _quite_ ruinable even by us. ;)

        • Grumpyrocker

          If you were in Europe we’d value your opinion on Maiden higher. :)

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I have my pitchfork ready!

      • Carl Anderson

        I’m actually on board for this! I’ve never though “Killers” was as good as its rep would have it. This may be an effect of coming to the band relatively late in the game, and not having been bowled over by what might have seemed more amazing at the time …. On a slightly separate note, while I’ll allow lots of the “classic” albums have good performances and songs, I actually have a lot of trouble getting past the productions on many of them. Though this itself may be the effect of feeling that the ’80s were a fairly traumatizing time in music …..

        • That’s funny, the production is often the best part of those records. From Piece of Mind to Seventh Son: amazing production across the board.

          • Carl Anderson

            Yeah, so thinks everyone but me! Go figure. I just think many of those classic albums sound a bit … thin. I don’t like Harris’s bass tone in many instances. I mean, in general I like aggressive, mid-rangey bass tones, but on the classic albums his just doesn’t sound to me like all it could have been. Perhaps its just an artifact of the time with which I don’t get along …. Meanwhile, I know loads of people who hate the sound of the recent Kevin Shirley albums, but I quite like those. Go figure. ;)

          • tomasjacobi

            I don’t understand the Kevin Shirley hate either. DoD was too squashed, but that was Steve Harris’ fault. AMoLaD sounds a little too “dry” to me, but that’s about it; otherwise I like how the post-reunion albums sound.

          • Carl Anderson

            I remember an interview with Shirley in which he said that someone had given Harris a somewhat hamfistedly squashed mix of one album or another to listen to in his car, and Harris liked it and insisted it be released. Maybe it was DoD? Anyway, it seems to me that good ol’ ‘Arry is quite good at some things, but best not left in charge of others. :) AMoLaD might have benefited from some _light_ mastering touches (some subtle compression and perhaps EQ on the mixdown can usefully provide a bit of “glue” on things), but I think it’s clear that a band with dynamics like Maiden isn’t served well by squashing, whatever Harris may be thinking in his car! :)

          • tomasjacobi

            It WAS DoD. I mentioned it in another comment here.
            I think the band realised themselves that they went too far with the over-loud production on DoD, since the following albums (including the new one) have been more dynamic.

          • Carl Anderson

            So you did! There are so many comments here now, I can’t be sure I’ve seen the right ones without searching the page for key words! :D

          • Thiiin? Nah, man, use your volume dial!

          • Carl Anderson

            :D Clearly, I’ll have to give them another go. Naught to lose … :D

    • ALSO BANNED: Howard Dean

      That took me by surprise, as well. That’s a great record.

      Then again, most of Maiden’s discography is filled with corkers.

      This is tough. I don’t envy the job of making this list.

    • TheNihilist

      Killers > Iron Maiden

    • The Metal Pigeon

      is that line from conan the barbarian?

  • Grumpyrocker

    I am honest enough to admit I liked The Angel and the Gambler the first time I heard it. Had an instant hook. I grew to hate it. It might have worked if it was a heck of a lot shorter.

    Argued the toss for where I’d put he albums in the last article, so I won’t treat that ground. But I pretty much agree with the things you’ve said about these albums.

    Dance of Death is a confusing album for me. Some of it is really really good – Paschendale, Rainmaker, Montsegur. Just superb stuff. But I’m very bored of the title track and was disappointed to hear it rolled out at the Final Frontier gig I was at rather than another track from the new album. Journeyman is tiresome too.

    Re Virtual XI – I’m always amazed when Janick gets stick from some of the earlier fans. There was a period where in songwriting terms he was keeping the ship afloat. Harris wasn’t a happy man during the Blaze period, in the middle of divorce and personal loss – and Janick’s contributions were really needed.

    Never been much into Killers myself. I really like Prodigal Son though.

    • YES YES YES. Seriously, Janick gets so much shit, and I think his two contributions are easily the best songs on the new album as well! He’s been one of my favorite writers in Maiden since The X Factor for sure.

    • tomasjacobi

      I sort of like the 4 minute edit of The Angel and the Gambler they made for the video back then.

  • Juan Esteban Mendoza

    Finally! Someone agrees that Dance of the Death is not a good record. As for Killers I can understand why you put it so low, their debut was vastly superior and it only has 2 songs that I return to regularly “Killers” and “Purgatory”. However I still disagree with Virtual XI being so high. I’ve never really enjoyed that record and “The Clansman” is the only song I would save from that record. It would’ve been interesting to see a Maiden record with more participation from Blaze Bayley, it could’ve make for an interesting listen.

    • Juan Esteban Mendoza

      Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of tribute albums, but I love Steel Prophet’s cover of “Purgatory”.

  • Grumpyrocker

    I think The Educated Fool is my favourite Blaze-era song, absolutely love that track.

  • groverXIII

    Dance Of Death has some of the best awful album art ever. It looks like something out of a cutscene from a first-gen Playstation game.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Nice. Always thought of it as the cover to one of those PC games you’d find in a bin at Staples for $9.99 in the early 2000s.

    • Mike

      I found a version that only has Death on the cover, so I use that one instead of the stock version.

    • Mike

      This is it.

      • Wilhelm

        This one is better, but still not the best Eddie. AMG should do a ranking on maiden artwork.

      • This was an alternate cover that was released with one of the singles, I think. Good stuff.

    • Michael Staugaitis

      I remember reading that the artist was far from done with it and it was pretty much a mock-up. The band went ahead and used it and the artist asked that his name be taken off of it. Something to that effect.

  • george

    First fo all, i enjoy Blaze a lot. Yes i do. Virtual XI is an album i can’t explain why i like so much, i might be the only one. It’s simple and yes it was about time someone said it openly: It’s 90% a Harris solo album!
    DoD can’t keep me interested for the whole listen and Killers…
    Now listen AMG. You write you like the whole album and you give it 10th place. Take it back or i’ll send a drunk -out of tune- DiAnno to sing Wasted Years out of your window… for eternity

  • El_Cuervo

    I pretty much agree with all of this so far

    • André Snyde Lopes

      No matter how much you agree with this, AMG will forever think of you as the guy who likes NeO. ;)

      • Kronos

        Bad taste dies hard.
        Don’t you like Deafheaven or something as well, Cuervo?

        • El_Cuervo

          Hey man. I’m not cool enough for Deafheaven but I am cool enough for NeO

          • Just barely though. Just barely.

          • Kronos

            Bless you.

          • FutureBeyondSatan

            It was only cool to like Deafheaven in 2013. Now it is just a pink dust collector upon the shelves of the weak.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “(…)for you Steve Harris apologists(…)” proceeds to be a Blaze Bayley apologist. You’re making it easy AMG!

    Also, Killers below X-Factor and AMoLaD is just blasphemy beyond reason.

    • tomasjacobi

      Nah, that’s about right. The X-Factor is hands down Maiden’s best ’90s album and AMoLaD is the the best one of the post 2000 albums; I really like the new one so that might change, but it’s too early to tell.

      • André Snyde Lopes

        Saying X-Factor is the best 90s Maiden album is like saying Death Magnetic is Metallica’s best album of the 2000s.

        Killers is head and shoulders above anything they did from the 90s onward.

        • tomasjacobi

          Maiden has never sucked half as much as Metallica have been doing for 20+ years.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            Yes, however the objective of the simile was not to compare Metallica to Maiden. You say X-Factor was their best album of their worst period. I agree. That doesn’t carry any meaning when comparing it to any other period in Maiden’s discography.

            But worry not, AMG will most likely put it among the top 5.

          • tomasjacobi

            Good point about the Metallica thing :-)
            I do, however, consider Killers a “lesser” album. I like it because it led the way to greater things and you can see some of the ideas that would get developed on the subsequent albums, but at the end of the day it’s not an album I listen to very often.

          • André Snyde Lopes

            That’s fair enough.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Completely agree on AMoLaD.

        • Carl Anderson

          +1 on that. I had actually been kind of ambivalent towards Maiden for a long time — despite lots of people bouncing their jaws against the tiles and exclaiming “But! Maiden are a band that ought to just push all your buttons, and then some!”. I did, weirdly, really love some of Bruce’s solo stuff — like The Chemical Wedding. But, AMoLaD … I dunno; maybe it came along at the right moment, but I really like a lot of it, and it really made me start paying attention to Maiden in a way that I hadn’t previously. So … I reckon … it must have been pretty decent. :)

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            It is quite good. U actually got it at a K-Mart a week early, so many good songs there.

      • RuySan

        There’s not much consensus on post-reunion albums. DoD and TFF are actually my favourites, while BNW is the one i like less, even though The Wicker Man is an absolute ripper.

  • Mike

    I must be one of the very few that thinks DOD is the best of the post 2000 reunion period.

    • Chris Timbó

      Don’t fret, I’m on board too! Let’s make some noise for DoD! :-)

    • Neb Bojer

      It’s my second favorite after AMOLAD. But I can’t stand Wildest Dreams. I always skip that song and go straight to the Rainmaker.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Really hoping BNW is numero nueve. “WE’RE BLOOD BROOOOTHERS” x 1,467 is just insufferable and the one time I’ve been a little bored seeing Iron Maiden live.

    • You hate this site, don’t you?

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        No, I love everybody here and all of our commenters! If we include all 7000 likes on Facebook and everyone who comments here, I’ll bet I could belt out a hardy “WE’RE BLOOD BROOOTHERS!” to each individual one if I sang along to that song twice!

        • Hulksteraus

          HR manager Steel will be assigning you this task forthwith for your punishment :-)

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Don’t give HR ideas! That’s a dangerous game!

    • El_Cuervo

      Fuck you man. Fuck you.

      • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

        Rime of the Ancient Mariner is less of a slog than Blood Brothers!

    • El_Cuervo

      Dream of Mirrors, Blood Brothers, Brave New World, The Wicker Man, Ghost of the Navigator. I love all these tracks.

    • Chris Timbó

      Second that. The chorus on most songs of BNW are just one phrase repeated ad nauseum. That bugs me endlessly, even on songs I like.

      • Hideous destructor

        That’s the case on most of their songs from somewhere in time onwards.

  • I pretty much agree so far, although hmm Virtual XI… I still find it supremely boring.
    Still, I wasn’t even a forethought when many of these came out, yet Iron Maiden is the only ‘old classic’ band I genuinely really like. So, you know, there must be something special about the whole of it.
    Will there be a bigger fight the closer we are to the top? Looking forward to it:D

    • If by “fight” you mean catastrophic genocide, then yes.

      • Dogman

        Or perhaps a great big punch-up between everybody’s mothers.

  • d3ad13

    I’d love to see where you would tentatively slot “The Book of Souls” after it gets reviewed, but it might take a lot of repeat listens before you are able to give it a permanent spot. From what I’ve heard so far, I think it’s a considerable step up from Frontier.

    • TheNihilist

      I think the right slot is ahead NWO

  • Oscar Albretsen

    I was about 99% sure Killers would be somewhere in the top five, but I was pleased to see it at #10. Despite the neverending adoration I always saw for it, it just never floated my boat the way they started to on NOTB. As you mentioned, it was that 70’s hard rock vibe that just wasn’t what I’d be looking for if I got an urge to put on some Maiden. Balls of steel being willing to put it in the bottom third.

  • Danny Becker

    Glad I did not see X-factor on this list. I agree with everything on this list so far except Dance of Death. I actually think Dance of Death is better than brave new world, because it offers more diversity. Terrible artwork, next to Book of Souls unfortunately. Then again, Book of souls is clever because they made the artwork terrible, so they can say “don’t judge a cd by it’s cover” similarly to how you would never judge a book by it’s cover. Let’s be honest, Killers is nowhere near good as their debut. Period. End of story. When I interviewed Paul Di’anno, he even said it was a bad album. It does have purgatory, killers, Wrathchild on it, but everything else I agree is sophomore slump. I would replace Brave New world with Dance of Death or even dare I say Somewhere in Time. Brave New world also suffers from bloated time (out of the silent planet), and the only songs I listen to on that now: brave new world, wicker man, ghost ship navigator. That’s about it.

    Angrymetalguy: Are you going to place book of souls somewhere on your list after you properly review it?

    • RuySan

      I like Book of Souls artwork. Yes, the minimalism is very un-iron maiden, but it’s nice for a change.

      And at least we didn’t got anything on the level of DoD and TFF artwork.

  • Maiden is gonna be so pissed when they read this. Somebody’s getting a lifetime ban from the fan club.

    • André Snyde Lopes

      You should do an article on this yourself! Redeem this obscenity!

      • No chance. I’m nuking this territory behind me so that no one can ever write about it again.

  • crosskip

    Killers wasn’t really written from scratch though. Only Murders in the Rue Morgue and Prodigal Son were written between Iron Maiden and Killers, the rest of the material was already years old. Personally, I would rank it a lot higher, but I get why people don’t like it that much. It may be one of their most progressive records, with all the non-conventional song structures and time changes.

    • GertieCole

      “Twilight Zone” was written between the two as well, if I’m not mistaken. But yeah, hardly from scratch for the rest. Anyone who’s heard bootlegs of shows from 1979 (w/Doug Sampson on drums) at Ruskin&Arms and/or Music Machine would hear “Another Life”, “Ides of March”, “Wrathchild”, “Drifter” and “Innocent Exile”, sounding pretty much fully formed. In fact “Wratchchild” may have been the first Maiden song to be ‘officially’ released (excluding the Soundhouse Tapes) on the Metal For Muthas compilation. “Killers” may have made it’s debut at the 1980 Reading Festival with different lyrics, and “Purgatory” was called “Floating” at one time or another.

  • Kalsten

    I have a copy of Virtual XI that has a 3D cover. Do you remember, those that if you tilted a bit, the whole picture “moved”, giving a really cool 3D effect.

    It was the best part of the album.

    • Alexandre Barata

      As awful as it sounds I believe it was the best part!

    • Owned it, actually. :)

  • Michael Staugaitis

    I loath the Blaze Maiden albums, but I did enjoy the two Blaze solo albums I have (Silicon Messiah and Tenth dimension? haven’t listened to them in ages, though). He was completely misused in Maiden and a really poor fit. I think you are right in your assessment that no one had a voice in the band besides Harris. They all seem too nice to stand up to him.

    • Tenth Dimension is one of the best metal albums of early 00s and severely underrated (Siicon Messiah isn’t half bad either)

  • Wilhelm

    I always felt Killers inferior to the self titled. It’s still a very good album. The angel and the gambler has to be one of the worst metal songs. I think vxi was the point where they either had to bring bruce back, or cease to exist. I’ve heard stories about objects thrown at Blaze while performing, poor guy.

    • RuySan

      I think Killers lacks the urgency and ingenuity of the debut, while still lacking that epic feel that defined maiden.

  • Maxim Kalacnuk

    Oh shit, I’m in AMG’s article (and my mother too – hope she’ll never find out!):-) I know there is no such thing like obectivity. But if it comes to Iron Maiden I become literally ANGRY METAL GUY (to those who don’t agree with me). I just can’t help it:-) Don’t get wrong, I think that your site is the best metal site on the internet.

    My Worst to Best: 12-10

    12.: Dance of Death – 7 good, 2 weak (Gates of Tomorrow, New Frontier) and 2 fantastic (Dance of Death, Paschendale) songs.

    11. : The Final Frontier – Hard to swallow but decent album.

    10.: Killers – Great, but not as great as debut.

    • Look at that, you pretty much listed all of the same records, except you whined about Blaze because you’re closed minded and a hater.

      • Maxim Kalacnuk

        No, it’s because Blaze sings really bad on Maiden albums and Virtual Xl is a terrible album:-) If i am closed minded and a hater, so you are too, because you hate Tim “Ripper” Owens.

        • Ripper Owens is a hack with no personality and no ability to do interesting things on his own. Which is not true of Blaze.

          • Maxim Kalacnuk

            It’s kind of a shame, but i’ve never heard Blaze’s solo albums. From which one should i start?

          • Start with Silicon Messiah and Tenth Dimension. Then stop. The third record is also half good, but those two albums are both excellent.

          • Maxim Kalacnuk

            Ok, thanks.

  • ronin1572

    I agree with where Killers is placed. I prefer the songs off the first album more and thought it was a more creative album. Dance of Death just has never resonated with me beyond a few listens, and I wish they would re-record some of Virtual’s tracks with Bruce for bonus material.

  • RuySan

    You should do this list about non-studio albums. You know, those hundreds of live albums and compilations.

    That could be fun.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    Whooooa, slow down there AMG – Killers at #10? I mean, I don’t think it’s their best, but it’s still a ripper of an album. But I guess it’s justified – it’s awesome (and I would have put it higher) but it does feel oddly ‘safe’ for a Maiden album – I think that’s largely because of the lack of a Harris epic.

    • It’s tough with the middle third, isn’t it? Because they’re _good_ records, without the flaws of a FotD or DoD or VXI.

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        You’re telling me. Although I have a pretty good idea of what your top 3 is the way this list is going (and I suppose I’ll certainly agree with 2 of them). But keep up the great writing, your opinions are always enjoyable to read and discuss.

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        Late reply here, but since your review of Dance of Death made me re-listen to the album, I’ve been *addicted* to Montsegur. I can’t even focus on the new album, because I can’t stop singing it myself! I honestly don’t know why I overlooked it before.
        Other than Paschendale, it’s probably their best history-related song. For a history lover like me, that means a lot.
        So thanks!

    • Hideous destructor

      Yeah I always felt it was the lack of an epic that brought it down a notch.

      But omg, No. 10? The outrage! It’s No. 9 on my list…

  • Nick Rzeczkowski

    I’m oddly okay with Killers at 10. I love the album, and personally think it’s better than the s/t, when your first 10 years as a band consists of some of metal’s finest, it’s unfortunately placed lower in the list. Maiden is a band where an album falling so far down isn’t a knock against the album, but a testament to how strong and consistent their material has been for such a long career.

    • ghost whistler

      I can’t think about Killers without conjuring up the smell of cider.

  • Where on this list would you rank an album of all Iron Maiden, except with Jorn as the lead singer?!?!?!?!

    • Don’t try to cause trouble!

      • Mark Wagner

        Best question ever, better question, with Russell Allen?

    • FutureBeyondSatan

      Ripper Owens would have ruled belting out The Clamsman.

  • eloli

    As much as I can disagree with the ranking of Maiden album’s I’m thankful somebody brings up the real problem with Blaze era Maiden: Steve Harris’ ego and his meddling on the sound of both XF and V11, when it’s a widely known fact his hearing’s been fucked up since the late 80s.
    Blaze might not be Bruce, but he’s a pretty good heavy metal vocalist with a strong NWOBHM vibe, anyone who has listened to Wolfsbane or any of his solo albums can agree with that.

    • ghost whistler

      Blaze isn’t a bad singer, it’s just he was totally the wrong choice.

  • Monsterworks

    If someone asks me “what is your favourite Maiden album” the answer without flinching is “Killers”. Ironically I haven’t listened to it for a long time but I just always found it the most consistent set. And Di’Anno…well I just liked the way he screamed better than Bruce (except The Number of the Beast title track, I’ll give him that). This was the album that grabbed my attention and got me into Maiden even though it was circa 1988 during the Bruce heyday.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Killers worse than The X Factor? Really? I checked the date and it´s nowhere near April 1st, so this isn’t an April´s Fools joke. But it must be a joke anyways.

    • Not my fault your taste in music sucks, dude.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        If liking “Killers” sucks, then yes, my taste in music sucks. But Blaze era Maiden albums suck harder than a nuclear powered vacuum cleaner.

        • MelbCro

          And where may a gentleman purchase one of these nuclear powered vacuum cleaners?

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            Any good old nuclear powered home appliances store. You might want to avoid Russian or Japanese brands like Chernobyl or Fukushima.

        • I like Killers, I just don’t like it more than other records by the greatest band in the world.

  • TheNihilist

    16. Virtual IX
    15. No Prayer for the Dying
    14. Dance of Death
    13. The Final Frontier
    12. Number of the Beast
    11. The X factor
    10. Powerslave
    9. Iron Maiden
    8. A Matter of Life and Death
    7. Fear of The Dark
    6. The Book of Souls
    5. New World Order
    4. Killers
    3. Somewhere in Time
    2. Piece of Mind
    1. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son

    • MelbCro

      New World Order? Its Brave New World mate

      • FutureBeyondSatan

        No Iron Maiden list would be complete without throwing some Minstry in there. ? .

    • That is a SMOKING hot take on the new Maiden, dude. Ricockulous.

      • TheNihilist

        Actually from 12 to 1 all albums are good, the difference between each one is very short. Man, not as crazy as killers 10.

        • Eh. Yeah, it’s absolutely way crazier than Killers at 10.

    • Worldeater

      In which direction i have to go through this list in order for it to make any sense … forwards, … backwards … sideways … oh my gosh .. Powerslave at place 10? In all infinite dimensions where Rick and Morty dwell … this is not possible!

      • TheNihilist

        Maybe aces high, two minutes and powerslave are the most repeated maiden songs. By the way, Flash of the Blade is amazing. However I agree that 12 to 6 are subject to discussion,
        it is the toughest part of the list.

  • Mauro Bossetti

    AMG: what’s your opinion on Killers remastered (1998)?

  • Danny Becker

    I wrote a review for Book of Souls angrymetalguy. I would like to submit that for my blogging consideration here. Where shall I send the review? Email?

    I can review here and there. I listen to mostly more commercial metal though.

  • MelbCro

    Wow, didn’t expect to see Killers just yet. For me its definitely the weakest of the 80s albums but still an awesome album. I’ve never understood the hate for Dance of Death, I love that album from start to finish. Its catchy as fuck, probably the last album of theirs where I’ve felt that about a Maiden record.
    My standings so far
    15. No Prayer
    14. Virtual XI
    13. Fear of the Dark
    12. The Final Frontier
    11. A Matter of Life an Death
    10. The X-Factor

    • Chris Timbó

      I agree. DoD is by far my favourite after Bruce came back. If Journeyman wasn’t on that album, I would rank it on my top 5 overall. That song annoys me to no end. At least it’s the last track.

      • MelbCro

        Brave New World is still my fav of the come back albums, but DoD is the clear number 2 for me.

  • Étienne Parent

    Well I must say that I’m ok with Killers at #10, I’m just a little surprise to see DODeath so early because I, while far from my favorite, really enjoy this album! Very nice reviews though, very interesting to read. I’m eager to see the rest of the ranking, I wrote mine before starting to read, just to compare. X-factor MUST be next imo, just never liked this album. We must admit that this band have one hell of a discography! Just can’t think of a better OVERALL discography for a band that have, lets say, 10 or more albums !!!!

  • ghost whistler

    I would hope Killers and Iron Maiden do rank low, otherwise what does that say about the band progressing?

    DotD is a bit long at times, but it’s a better album than you give credit for IMO, certainly compared to AMoLaD.

  • Innit Bartender

    My old pal from high school, the person single-handedly responsible for introducing me to metal in the first place, used to hate Killers. He constantly said it sucked. But then, he also said that Motorhead’s Orgasmatron sucked. He had his ideas, you know. As for me, nowadays I barely leave my “Maiden Comfort Zone” that spans from PoM to SSoaS. I’m old and lazy.

  • tomasjacobi

    “The record is the base of the decision the guys in the band made to not master follow-up A Matter of Life and Death, because it ended up flat and really, really loud”
    I seem to remember Kevin Shirley saying in an interview that the mix they ended up using was a really smashed and loud one he made for Steve Harris to listen to the album while driving in his car. Steve liked that mix so much that they ended up going with it. So while the album is officially mastered by Tim Young, the dynamics had most likely already been crushed in the mixing…

    • “Steve liked that mix so much that they ended up going with it.” Omg. Just. Augh.

  • ghost whistler

    It has to be said Kevin Shirley is a shit producer.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    I really like this Maiden countdown thing!!

    It surprises me that you haven’t mentioned the song “Dance of Death” itself, which to me it’s among Maiden’s best. Anyhow, I totally agrre that overall the album has very low valleys, but the highs IMO are so impressive that I still preffer this album over AMOLAD, TXF and even Killers! If the songs New Frontier, Gates of Tomorrow and Wildest Dreams had been cut down from the album, it would have been almost perfect!

    Totally agree that Iron Maiden (the album) it’s way better than Killers. But, since I’m arriving late here….there’s no way I can see Virtual IX or Frontier better than FotD, even when I also agree on the weak points of that particular album.

    Furthermore, I can’t agree more on your preface to this countdown, your dissertation about Iron Maiden’s importance. Horns high to that!

    • Michael Staugaitis

      To each his own, but I can’t listen to the Dance of Death track without thinking of Spinal Tap and Stonehenge. It is like a poor rewrite to Number of the Beast to me.

  • Worldeater

    This feature is awesome and the cherry on top the sweet cake which is AMG!

  • Lasse Momme

    Fucking Killers at number 10?? I’m sorry mr Angry, but as we say in the street: “you are on straight dust, homie”

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I had killers at 10 on my list. What an incredible career maiden have had. In making this list you can start at 1, work backwards, get to 10 and still be listing albums you love! Personally I always preferred killers to the self titled. DoD is a great record Paschendale alone makes it worthwhile, but I agree it sits about 10/11 in their catalog.

  • Danny Becker

    All of you are delusional if you think Killer is greater than their self-titled album. HOW? Killers has so much filler in that album including a mind-blowing 3 instrumental tracks for what purpose? The only tracks I listen on Killers are Wrathchild, purgatory, murders in the rue morgue, killers. I listen to every single track on Their self-titled debut. You can actually make a case for their self-titled to be the absolutely most consistent album with ZERO filler. The only album to also achieve that is 7th son. Yes, even number of the beast, and powerslave had one song I don’t listen to.

    • doom-erik

      Love the debut album, but mostly because of three stand-out tracks (Phantom, Strange World, Remember Tomorrow). Those three are enough to make it one of their very best. I actually think Killers is more even, and has a better production, but there are no stand-out tracks (the two instrumental tracks are probably the best ones).

    • doom-erik

      Btw, apart from Genghis Khan and Ides of March, which is the third instrumental track you are referring to?

      • Danny Becker

        i guess I got it wrong? Thought there was a trio of instrumentals, no?

  • doom-erik

    12. The X Factor
    There are a lot of decent songs on here, and I like the dark mood, but the problem is that more than half of the album sounds like the same song over and over again.
    11. Dance of Death
    A very uneven album, with some of the best songs since Smith/Dickinson rejoined (Montsegur, Rainmaker, Face in the Sand, Paschendale, the title track), but also some bad ones (Wildest Dreams, New Frontier, Gates of Tomorrow, Age of Innocence).
    10. Fear of the Dark
    I really liked this album when it came out, but it hasn’t aged very well. It kind of bores me now. If I made a mixed tape of Maiden songs, Afraid to shoot Strangers is the only track from this album that has a chance of being included. A few other good tracks (Fear is the Key, Childhood’s End), but a lot of weak stuff (with The Apparition being one of the worst songs the band ever recorded).
    Actually I’m starting to think I should swap places with Dance of Death…

  • Carl R.

    It’s good to know that someone out there don’t think that Virtual Xi wasn’t the worst maiden album

  • Thrasymachus

    Wow! The As Live As It Gets version of When Two World Collide is absolutely awesome!

    This and Lightning Strikes Twice are my favourites from Virtual XI.

  • Mattzzz

    I hardly disagree with your list so far surprisingly, but to nitpick your critique on Killers- a reasonable argument for why you rank it low, but the entire album, short of Prodigal Son and Murders in the Rue Morgue (standout tracks imo) were all written 1975-1979(80) much like the first record! Not disagreeing with its placement still. ;)

  • The Guardian Devil

    I Remember seeing Maiden on the ‘X-Factour’ tour… the band that sold out places like the Birmingham NEC (Maiden England) now playing the 3,000 capacity Wolverhampton Civic Hall… I managed to get right at the centre front and it was an incredible gig.

    Live, they had downtuned to acommodate Bayley’s voice and it worked so much better and having just listened to that link of ‘Two Worlds Collide’ it really makes you wonder why they didn’t do that for the album tracks. Maybe Bayley would be more appreciated as a singer if they had played in his key as opposed to Bruce’s.

    Would he still be in the band? probably not, but his time with the band might be more fondly remembered.

    Also; Bayley’s version of Fear of the Dark was awesome live!