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 fourth installment. [And here’s the firstsecond and third.]


#6: A Matter of Life and Death [2006]: When Iron Maiden made the decision to play the entirety of A Matter of Life and Death on the road, I applauded that choice. Dance of Death had been a disappointment on the whole, after a great Brave New WorldDoD didn’t have the same cohesion to it, despite its excellent highlights. When 2006 rolled around and the band released “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” as the single1, I was admittedly extremely worried. But Maiden delivered, and A Matter of Life and Death is one of the most complete records they had produced since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son and easily the best of the post-reunion era.

Iron Maiden - A Matter of Life and Death

A Matter of Life a Death features some of the band’s best sound on a Maiden album since the 1990s. After the blowback from fans about how bloody loud Dance of Death was, the band actually made the decision to not even get it mastered, instead letting the Caveman do an in-house mastering job. While this is still a point of contention among fans, I think that this was a fantastic decision, and when played next to its more modern kin, the album simply sounds great. It’s got a live feel, with Bruce’s vocals being far more stripped down and further back in the mix than he may ever have been prior to this. I love Nicko’s drum tone here, and my only wish is that Harris’s bass sounded a bit more like it did in 1983 than it does here.

And as far as long records go, A Matter of Life and Death is worth nearly every minute of its 72 minute run-time. If I had to choose one track to drop it would be the opener “Different World,” which is the blandest of the songs on this record. But this OK opener is followed up by the great “These Colours Don’t Run” before merging into one of the best modern Maiden tunes ever: “Brighter than a Thousand Suns.” “Brighter than a Thousand Suns” is indicative of why this album is such a success; even the epics on this record—a place where modern Maiden is guilty of letting things bloat—are executed with alacrity and grace. “The Longest Day” is a step up from “Paschendale,” while “Brighter than a Thousand Suns” shows Dickinson’s lyrical breadth in full bloom and doesn’t even bother hiding the band’s progressive leanings.

2006 AMoLaD Band

The final three songs on A Matter of Life and Death are the feather in the cap of one of the band’s best albums. “For the Greater Good of God” fits the mold of the modern Harris epic, with introspective lyrics, a 9:25 run-time and a long bass intro—but the formula shines here, while the song sets a grim and dour tone. “Lord of Light” features an epic build, an extremely good chorus, and a crescendo on the back-end worthy of Maiden‘s best songs. But for me, “The Legacy,” a song which I’ve always interpreted as critical of the lead up to the Iraq War (note: baseless speculation), is the perfect ending to the album. While it features the oft-ridiculed acoustic intro of the band’s modern material, the mid-paced verses with vocals from Dickinson that sound like they’re being sung through a megaphone are perfect. The whole thing carries a weight and finality that finishes the album off with the drama and gravity it deserves.

A Matter of Life and Death may be the band’s most underrated record aside from The X Factor. Fans complained about the cohesion of the material (that is, that the material was too cohesive.. whut?), they argued that the album was too quiet (use your fucking volume knobs, that’s what they’re there for!), and they complained about the fact that the band played the whole album on the road. None of that makes sense to me. The pinnacle of an album as an art form is not that it has three songs we all remember and love, but instead that it works as a cohesive whole with a feel and structure all its own. The material on AMoLaD was not only well-written, which means the songs generally stand alone, but the record was built with the kind of flow that knocks records from great to excellent. This album represents the pinnacle of the band’s post-reunion material, and a record that I place equal to (or even above) records that are widely considered the band’s classics.


#5: Powerslave [1984]: If there is a record that I would argue is canonical for the Iron Maiden‘s fan base as the “Best. Record. Ever.” it’s definitely Powerslave. I have a theory about this (shocking, I know). While Maiden had been successful for quite some time, Powerslave was the record that really broke them into the minds of American fans. This “American fans” bit is important, because it’s rarely Brits who tell me that this record is the jewel in Maiden’s very metal crown; it’s almost always 45+ dudes from the U.S. who say this. Why? Well, I suggest it’s largely because this is the first Maiden record that most of these dudes heard, and it was the one that really launched the band into the stratosphere in the U.S. market. They toured so hard in the USA that Dickinson burned out and showed up with acoustic tracks, suggesting that what would become Somewhere in Time should just take it down a notch or “come up with [their] Physical Graffiti or Led Zeppelin IV” as to not stagnate.2 But due to this absolutely life-consuming work the band put into promoting this record, Powerslave is the Iron Maiden record for a lot of people. A sort of collective primacy effect.

Iron Maiden - Powerslave

And if I’m honest, there are some pretty good arguments for Powerslave ranking pretty high on everyone’s lists, it certainly ranks high on mine. A better start to an album is extremely hard to come by: “Aces High,” “2 Minutes to Midnight,” “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra),” and “Flash of the Blade” rattle off pure enjoyment as they pop out of the speakers. I love how these tracks feel, with trademark gallop, and a riffy, tom-heavy Nicko McBrain giving the album an energy that the band’s later material simply doesn’t have. These tracks are fast, energetic and written with a precision still admirable. The Dickinson-penned “Flash of the Blade” is probably at the top of my list of songs I’d love to see Maiden perform live, and the guitar harmonies in that song are memorable, beautiful, and among my favorite moments on an album ever. Speaking of which, I think this might be one of the best-produced albums the band put out. Martin Birch definitely knew how to produce Maiden by the time Powerslave rolled around, but there’s a special balance and weight on the low end here that works great, and the Marshall-driven guitars work beautifully. If you can get yourself an original version (not one of the 1998 remasters), you can hear the whole thing just breathe and pop and awe; it sounds so good.

The b-side has always been a bit less thrilling for me, however. While I love the title track, like “The Duellists” and think “Back in the Village” is pretty good, I have never been able to stomach “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” At 13:41, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is bloated, clunky, and may be the only classic epic the band wrote that I don’t like. I have been harassed and regaled with tales of this song’s glory for my whole life, and I cannot get into it for the life of me. And it’s because of this albatross around Powerslave‘s neck that I have trouble placing this album higher on the list, and how I can definitely not get on board with the deification of Powerslave that happens every time there’s a discussion about Maiden albums.

1984 Powerslave Band

Still, though, while I think “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” is a black eye on Powerslave, it is a magnificent record. The classics on here are undeniable and rarely has an a-side been so strong that it almost outweighs a lagging b-side. I can absolutely see why people loved this album when it hit. I can imagine that my mind would have been blown if I was a 17 year-old metalhead and not a 2 year-old Cranky Metal Toddler—but the beauty of time is distance and perspective, and distance makes me realize that Powerslave isn’t perfect. Just y’know, 90% perfect, and a classic in its own right. (Then again, “the top 5 Iron Maiden albums” and “a classic in its own right” are pretty much synonymous. I guess that makes that sentence a bit redundant.)


#4: The X Factor [1995]: The X Factor is Iron Maiden‘s most controversial record. With a nigh unknown vocalist, who sported a tone and tenor totally unlike Dickinson, and right in the middle of the high-tide of grunge rock, Maiden launched an album that broke the mold of its own sound, while still managing to not be commercially viable. TXF is dark, it’s slow, it’s long, and it was a statement that the Maiden everyone knew and loved had changed. Unlike Virtual XI, which I’ve never met a person who wouldn’t rank it in their bottom 5, The X Factor has instilled a type of deep loyalty with a subset of Maiden fans—of which I am obviously one. My placement (or lack thereof) of The X Factor up to this point has turned the comment fields of these posts into a non-stop festival of ad hominem attacks, outraged cries, admissions of logical inconsistency and desire to conform to the group consensus, and threats of mob violence. And I’m sure you will all double down on the personal threats, whining, and self-righteous indignation when you see that I’ve put TXF at number four on this list. I’ve gone back and forth on this for a really long time; but no matter how far down my list TXF has fallen, it always creeps back in to the top tier.

Iron Maiden - The X Factor

The X Factor is one of the few records from a band where I am willing to make the “counterfactual album” argument in conversations with other fans. Not the ridiculous “this is so much better than all the other music being released” argument, but instead: “think of this as not being an Iron Maiden record” argument. This isn’t because I don’t believe that this stands up to Iron Maiden‘s other albums—I personally think it’s among their best records and would have been comfortable putting it anywhere in the middle third of this list. But I am making this argument with the hope of changing your perspective on the record and to help you to understand (at worst) why like it so much, or (at best) appreciate it more than you do. The X Factor is an extremely personal, heavy, and difficult record from an emotional perspective. It’s that deep, emotional side and the subtle progressive drive which have kept me coming back to what I think is an unfairly disregarded and misunderstood record.

First, The X Factor is loaded with difficult material, insightful and often times quite depressing. It manifests a feeling of the world of inexpressable misery, loneliness, heartbreak and a loss of faith. From a personal perspective, Harris had gone through a divorce and the songs that were written after Bruce left were reflective of, to a certain extent, the end of two of the most important relationships of his life. I might be wrong, but I suspect he may also have been breaking away from his own faith, which also reflects in the lyrics. Songs like “Judgement of Heaven,” (“A lonely cry for help / reaching out for help to anyone / a silent prayer to God to help you on your way / I’ve been depressed so long, it’s hard to remember when I was happy / I’ve felt like suicide a dozen times or more”)  and “The Unbeliever” (“All of my life / I’ve run astray / Let my faith slip away”) reflect these crises of faith in oneself or one’s God. The Bayley penned “2 A.M.” offers up a harsh look at the bitterness of life in terms very real to way too many people (“Life seems so pathetic I wish I could leave it all behind / This canvas chair, this bed, these walls that fall in on my mind”).

While the lyrics in Maiden have often been dark or had a cynical take on things, the energy with Blaze in the band was much more raw and open than anything their previous vocalists could muster. Even when writing about fiction the tracks are “Lord of the Flies” and “The Edge of Darkness” or “Man on the Edge.” The war epics? More like stories of soldiers suffering from PTSD (“Fortunes of War”), or the utter futility and waste (“The Aftermath”), or how the world throws up its hands and shifts the blame on “Blood on the World’s Hands,” which features one of my favorite lyrical moments at the end of the song, where Blaze finishes the song with “Someone should…” These songs are often quite slow, they’re dour and grim and specifically they’re really minimal and austere. The X Factor uses more white space in its mix than the band ever used before or since. This is the closest that Iron Maiden ever got to doom metal.

1995 TXF Band

All of this put together, The X Factor flows and it flows well. As a whole, the record moves with a remarkable grace, given that its songs are often lumbering giants. Like the albums that followed it, The X Factor has a long run time, and it’s made up of songs with acoustic intros, bass interludes and lots of chorus repetitions. But The X Factor works, and it works because it’s so different from anything the band had done before, and it works because it was suited for what Blaze was good at. For a fan breaking out this album after a 15 years of fandom and hearing Iron Maiden in this state, this record must have been a shock. It certainly doesn’t help that this record has weak, flat production, chaired by Steve Harris and Nigel Green. But that never mattered to me nearly as much as the songs have mattered to me. TXF is the first record that these guys wrote that touched me emotionally as well as musically. Its darkest components, as well as its flow and consistency, have kept it among my most-listened-to Maiden albums. I’ve gone through periods where I have trouble listening to it—be it Blaze’s shaky vocals or the production or simply that the feel is so depressing and rough—but I always come back to it.

By ranking The X Factor here I’m claiming that it’s a better record than widely-regarded classics. I stand by that claim; but I also claim that it is so much different when comparing it to Piece of Mind or Powerslave or Killers or even Virtual XI, that such comparisons become nearly irrelevant. I don’t think Blaze was ever a great fit for Maiden. He was never helped by the band’s refusal to tune down, and it was never reasonable that Iron Maiden could replace Bruce with someone whose range was simply several steps down from his. But Blaze was the guy Maiden (and Steve) needed for this record, in this moment, and it’s that tiny window and that perfect confluence of factors which makes The X Factor excellent and among the very best Iron Maiden has produced.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. What is it with Maiden and singles, anyway? I swear that in my memory, they’ve only once or twice had one of the best songs on the album as a single. What on this earth possessed them to release “The Angel and the Gambler” as the single from VXI? Or “Bring Your Daughter… to the Slaughter” from No Prayer for the Dying? Or even “Can I Play with Madness?” from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son? It’s like more often than not they choose one of the worst songs on the record to be the single.
  2. So apparently not donning berets and doing a coffee shop tour with some chill acoustic rock.

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  • I love AMOLAD!! And I Love X Factor…but better than Powerslave? mmm…. The magic of Iron Maiden. Every fan in the world have diferent best songs and diferent best albums. Best band ever! Sorry for my english. :P

  • Grumpyrocker

    I believe The Legacy is -as you suggest – about the build up to the Iraqi war. I think the lyrics are a direct attack on George Bush Jr and more pointedly British Prime Minister at the time Tony Blair. AMoLaD is in my top five, perhaps even top three.

    As to Powerslave, I love many of the songs on it. But as a whole album it’s never quite worked for me. Don’t know why.

    I really like the X Factor too and would rank it quite high. As you said it’s a very personal record for Steve, but there’s also some very good playing on it. And Edge of Darkness is a ridiculously good romp retelling of Apocalypse Now. My only issue with it is the mix – solos are fine but the rhythm guitars are just too low in the mix. Otherwise, a very good album.

    • tomasjacobi

      “rhythm guitars are just too low in the mix”.
      Yes!

  • AndySynn

    I also love AMOLAD. Yes I do.

    Also your previous column started me rethinking and re-evaluating my love for Brave New World… and I can’t say you were entirely wrong in your assessment!

  • george

    AMG is X-Factor dark? ;-)
    Jokes aside, i was always drawn to xf’s doomy atmosphere, but you failed to mention that Gers was more involved in this record!
    Also, i’ve been to amolad tour and the album sounded fantastic live. This is a personal favorite and the best from the reunion era. Well done.

  • Chris Timbó

    First to say Powerslave should be higher?
    But I guess I understand your choice since Rime of the Ancient Mariner don’t make much of an impact on you. Maybe its my favorite because it resonates so much with me, like the crown to an excellent album. To finish with Rime, for me, it’s the pinnacle of what metal stands for. And I’d like to give another shout out to Back in the Village. Don’t understand why people have a problem with that since it’s a downright fun track…

    • sssgadget

      Back to village is my 3rd favorite from that album. Fast and catchy.

      • Grumpyrocker

        And a sequel to NOTB’s The Prisoner.

        • Christian P

          Really?

          • Grumpyrocker

            Yes both songs are about the British TV show The Prisoner. This line “Questions are a burden, And answers are a prison for oneself” is a direct quote from the show.

          • Christian P

            Nice! Thanks for that info

  • Grumpyrocker

    When I was studying for my A Levels we were doing Coleridge’s work in English Lit, so knowing the lyrics to Rime of the Ancient Mariner was quite handy for that part of the exam.

    • sssgadget

      Rime is the epicest song I have heard from my teenage years.

      • Yurt

        And the Live After Death version is just about the most epic thing committed to vinyl in that entire decade :)

        LAD was actually my first Maiden record. The whole thing, but especially Rime, blew my little 13-year-old mind. Powerslave/Live After Death/Somewhere.. had always remained my favourite Maiden era.

        • Grumpyrocker

          Yes the bit where the pace picked up again and we started to get fireworks in the lighting rig is just perfect.

          • Iain Gleasure

            This is what NOT to do if a bird shits on your head!

          • Grumpyrocker

            And Bruce gets the name of Queen Victoria’s husband wrong in his pre-song monologue on the DVD.

    • GrandmasterB

      While Harris is clearly well read and appreciates poetry, his lyrics are largely devoid of poetic elements, leaving very little to the imagination. Dickinson’s lyrics on the other hand, can be very imaginative — I still have no idea WTF Revelations is about.

  • sssgadget

    3 – Piece of Mind, 2 – Caught Somewhere in Time, 1- Seventh Son

    • TheNihilist

      3. Somewhere in Time, 2. Piece of Mind, 1. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

      • Grymm

        3) Somewhere in Time
        2) Piece of Mind
        1) A Real Live/Dead One

        Calling it now.

        *TROLLFACE*

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Yes, the monologue bit in Rime of the Ancient Mariner sucks, but come on, the stuff surrounding it is top-tier Maiden. It’s great. SAILING ON AND ON AND NORTH ACROSS THE SEA! It’s better than Blood Brothers at least.

    • I love every minute of that song!

      • tomasjacobi

        Me too, but the buildup that starts with the “The curse it lives on in their eyes” line and culminates with the guitar solos is some of the greatest music ever.

        • Jan

          This, so much! The build-up is tremendous and the pay-off is ecstatic. A transcendent moment, like the instrumental pay-off in Seventh Son and Powerslave’s space rocket launch of a solo.

        • Hideous destructor

          “Then down in falls comes the raaaiiin!” Who can help but start headbanging like a loon at this point as the solo kicks in?

      • Grymm

        OPERA IX DID IT BETTER!

        *RUNS*

        Okay, I agree… it’s an awesome song, save for the dialogue (that’s just too much fluff).

        • GrandmasterB

          That “fluff” consists of the verses of the original poem. Back in the day, my 10th grade English teacher allowed me to play the song to the entire class when we were learning about Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

        • Hulksteraus

          The dialogue is directly from the poem… You can call Coleridge many things, but fluff??!!

          • Grymm

            Ah, let me reiterate.

            The poem itself isn’t fluff (it’s Coleridge, for cryin’ out loud), but rather, the peformance of said dialogue, along with its accompanying instrumentation, took an already long song and made it feel THAT much longer, if it makes any sense at all.

          • tomasjacobi

            If you take away the monologue part of the song it doesn’t work. The build-up that comes next works so great BECAUSE it comes after a “boring” part (in brackets because I don’t find it boring, rather slow and moody).

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Me too it could go another 13 mins as far as Im concerned!!
        Theres a lot of crazy talk on this blog at the moment

    • RuySan

      Yes, monologue aside is a great epic, worthy of being along other greats as Alexander The Great or Fear of The Dark.

      Don’t know why AMG doesn’t like it. Maybe he spent too much love on X-Factor and now he doesn’t have any more to share.

      Sorry, AMG. Accept my most sincere hug.

    • Ernesto Aimar

      You have got to be kidding….that monologue is essential to the song!

  • hallowed

    I agree with these choices. X Factor will always be in my top 5 Maiden
    list. At the time of its release, I’ve been listening Maiden for almost
    7-8 years but X Factor just clicked on the first listen and the first time I saw Maiden live was with Blaze in 1995. Also AMoLaD is my favorite of the reunion albums. For some time now I’ve listened both AMoLaD and X Factor more often than any of their 80s albums.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    “A Matter of Life and Death is (…) easily the best of the post-reunion era.”

    *Hint hint* Book of Souls?

  • i’m not agree with some of your choices, but respect. Congratulations for this maiden best of article. good joob as always.

  • Jose Villanueva

    As a english could said, you have bollocks Sir. X-Factor over Powerslave woho. But full respect for your arguments, it’s a fact that the X-factor understimated for most part of the fans….and even by me. As a long time follower of Iron Maiden (since FothD) it was so hard to aceppt Baily as a new singer. Still believe that most part of the album is written with Bruce in mind and it has one of the worst productions on Maiden albums….but this trend has make me play the album again. (and some ideas on the X Factor are used with better results on AMLD)

  • Alexandre Barata

    I love how you’re giving such amazing explanations about your choices in the list. Still, you’re wrong

    • Grumpyrocker

      How can opinions on works of art – which by their nature are subjective – be wrong?

      • “You’re wrong about opinions too!”

        • Grumpyrocker

          Haha :)

        • I totally disagree. LOL.

      • Alexandre Barata

        As opinions are personal, and his opinions aren’t mine, for me they’re wrong ;)

      • TheNihilist

        The nature of subjectivity does not imply that it is failsafe.

    • arturotestarudo

      That list don’t makes any sense for me… Fear of the dark #14, X-Factor #4… But i respect the right of people to make his own choices and fail :)

    • chris

      Yes. The whole Rime of the ancient mariner and Killers not clicking.
      Dear god. For a site that praises itself on metal sophistication i just shake my head.
      If you dont like Rime you cannot like Maiden. It contains the classic Harris e c d chord progression that is like 50 percent of their songs. The usual e minor guitar harmonies. A mid paced gallop.
      Sure it has an augmented chord in the middle.
      Then it has the signature harris melody on the g string while pedaling on the d.
      Again used in numerous songs.
      Its a blue print of a harris penned maiden song.
      Never on this site have i seen a more ignorant comment about a bands musical stylings.
      Now this is ill conceived.
      With all of amg bleatings over how the x factor is a work of genius may he take a dose of his own medicine.
      Re listen to killers and reconsider rime.
      For you amg are no true maiden fan with those glitches in your head.
      And dont go on about your love of the band blah blah.
      I am sure there are many even more dedicated and verbose then you.
      But hey it does not click.

      • Ralph Plug

        “If you dont like Rime you cannot like Maiden.”

        What?

        • AndySynn

          Don’t even bother trying… don’t you love it when people TELL you how you’re allowed or supposed to like a band?

          Although I do love his use of portentous and overblown phrases like:

          “For you, AMG, are no true Maiden fan!”

          • Ralph Plug

            It was a little less portentous and overblown without the use of interpunction, but I see what you mean.

      • beurbs

        I like that you discussed musical elements of the music… many critics and YouTube reviewers (such as everyone on Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Metalsucks and The Needle Drop) never discuss musical elements once in their whole output and can’t explain what a chord is.

  • You’re spot-on about Powerslave; it was then that I really began listening to Maiden.

  • TheNihilist

    I am very pleased with the AMOLAD rank, but although I understand the point of view, and all the dark of TXF, I expected something more of the review. The Edge of Darkness, The unbeliever, 2 am, judgement of heaven and sign of the cross, the album has an unusually number of very good songs for the modern maiden albums, but 4, hmmm… I like your expanation of the adoration of powerslave, I’ve never understood the high rank of this album until now.
    Finally, I see than you has the same three gems in the top. It could not be otherwise in the list of serious fan.

  • tomasjacobi

    “If I had to choose one track to drop it would be the opener “Different World,” which is the blandest of the songs on this record.”

    Right you are. I skip it 9 out of 10 times when I listen to the album.

    • Wilhelm

      Yep, that chorus is pretty terrible.

  • Roquentin

    Speaking of The X Factor, I wish “Virus” had made it onto the record as well. Great song.

    • TheNihilist

      That song not even fit with the Virtual XI.

    • tomasjacobi

      It is a good song, but one thing The X-Factor doesn’t need is a longer running time… And I like cool singles/b-sides and I don’t think they should always be crammed onto the albums. It’s great when there are treasures to be found for the dedicated fans!

    • Pagliacci is Kvlt

      At least it made it onto “Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada.”

      • Roquentin

        I had actually forgotten about that. Kudos to you for the reference and to GY!BE for including that rant on their debut EP.

  • Lars Barres

    Since Maiden has been around so long, I think in general most people’s top albums by them corrolate with the first few records they heard from the band. I’m 50 and Killers was my intro, so that will always be my fave, followed by the next few CDs with Bruce ( I like the debut, but it would rank probably around 7-8 for me).

    In truth, I haven’t spent much time with any of their albums past Seventh Son since my interests were leading me to other bands/subgenres. I’ve only listened to the Blaze records a few times each as he just sounds like a fish out of water to me with Maiden (though I did enjoy his first two solo CDs quite a bit back at the time).

    Anyway, it’s been interesting reading your comments, they make me want to delve into the albums I haven’t spent much time with, which is a good thing.

    • Grumpyrocker

      True to some extent. I got into the band around the time of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. For me it’s the best metal album ever recorded. And my memories of that time and the record will always be connected.

      However I love the post-2000 stuff and I feel A Matter of Life and Death and The Book of Souls deserve a place alongside Seventh Son.

    • I don’t know, it also doesn’t really play if someone’s just too young… My parents didn’t even meet yet when say, Powerslave was released. Also, the first two records I listened to were Fear of the Dark and Brave New World and those are definitely not my favourites.

      • Lars Barres

        There’s no hard set rule to it, I’m basing it on people I know, and the majority of them fell in love with Maiden based on the first record they got.

        Since I’m so old, I don’t know what it’s like to be a young listener discovering a band with a huge back catalog. My youngest friends are in their late 30s, so my perspective is one of an old fogey’s. So as always via an international forum featuring readers of all ages and viewpoints, YMMV.

    • My favorite albums are all technically “before” my time to a greater or lesser extent. But that AMoLaD and TXF came out when I was still younger and picking up new Maiden albums means that I probably gave them more of a chance than a lot of people.

    • Jolly_Rogers

      I’m 44 years old, and my top 3 is: 3) The X Factor 2) Seventh Son Of a Seventh Son 1) Somewhere In Time.
      Those are my most beloved albums. I know people worries about that, but I really love the X-Factor.
      Sorry for my gammar mistakes, I’m an Italian reader of this amazing blog.
      Thanks AMG for your very interesting chart!

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Well said. I’m nearing your age, Lars, and it’s only now that I’m starting to listen to Maiden. In fact, right now I’m streaming AMOLAD for the first time, and liking it (great drum and bass sound; nice riffing on Brighter Than a Thousand Suns, etc.). Next, I think I’ll listen to Powerslave… for the first time ever.

      Thanks. AMG. I’d probably have kept ignoring Maiden if not for a good guide like this.

  • I suddenly realised why I don’t like Powerslave as much as other people – it’s too happy! (And Rime of the Ancient Mariner is my favourite song on it…)

  • Wilhelm

    The x factor over Powerslave, and Rime is not good. I fail to see the logic here. I do agree Brighter Than a thousand Sun is one of their best songs ever. I was just listening to AMoLaD and forgot how amazing that album is.

    A Blaze album almost made it to #1, you have balls lol

    • I love all the songs on TXF and think it’s an extremely engaging album. I love nearly all the songs on Powerslave, but find Rime to be boring. Even so, the rest of the album is damn good. I think the logic is pretty straight forward: I like consistency, and I find Rime of the Ancient Mariner to be ill-conceived.

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        I see where you think the song may have faltered.
        – It starts abruptly, with a basic riff rather than a buildup like most Maiden epics.
        – The middle section (the quiet bit) goes on for a bit too long
        – It feels more like the sum of its parts than a cohesive whole – the verses before the Coleridge quote (“Day after day…”) are OK but the riff is basic. Afterwards, in the verses about the crew’s death, the song picks up speed and sounds more like an epic, but it took a while to get there. The section after the quiet bridge is magnificent, along with the soaring leads and really cool post-lead riff, but then it goes back into the rather bland main riff and ends rather abruptly. For a 13 minute song, they could have made the outro a little more cohesive.

        But this is just extreme nitpicking on my part. I still enjoy the song and I can still look past its faults.

        • Wilhelm

          It sounds like a big epic poem in the form of music, which is exactly what it is. There are no faults, that creaking boat shit gives me the shivers every time.

      • Wilhelm

        FoTD was my first Maiden disc, although when I was formally introduced to the band, Blaze took over with X-Factor (I even saw them on that tour, and didn’t know most of their songs). There is a certain charm to it, I’ll admit, and I applaud your defending opinion of it but Blaze..I dunno man, he’s just not my favorite singer. I dig the introspective part it, but the songs just go on forever; some editing would have made a huge difference.

  • Jan

    About that comment section vitriol: I hope my comment (‘you are clearly absofuckinglutely insane. :) But seriously …’) didn’t add to the pile. With the phrasing, the smilie and all. I mainly read movie blog comments, this site has one of the few music comment sections I’ve read so far. It’s weird to see the same fan zealotry here as when Batman ‘fans’ hijack Nolan debates. I love heated arguments as to whether Star Wars / Empire or Powerslave / Seventh Son are the best incarnations of those things we enjoy. But all of that should obviously be in good spirits and with actually engaging the arguments that are being made.

    I disagree on a lot of your list, but a) that’s part of the fun of critical analysis of art, rather than playing the confirmation bias game, and b) your X-Factor analysis makes me reconsider an album I hadn’t given any serious consideration so far. I have been listening to Maiden when it came out, but only for a short while and not much. Too fascinated with Black Metal at that time, and into non-metal stuff, later.

    The weeks leading up to Book Of Souls have been a total blast though, because in anticipation of that I took a deep dive into Maiden’s discography and have re-discovered many songs I remembered but hadn’t gotten my head around back then. Seventh Son eluded me up until now (except for the stellar title track), and boy, did that change (now I’m enjoying pretty much all of it). Also, this worst to best / discography analysis was the best kind of commentary to that experience. Can’t wait for worst to best places 3-1 and the Book Of Souls review!

    • Worldeater

      Your post really sums up my feelings about the whole feature and the diversity of it. Seventh Son still eludes me though. Brave New World and A Matter of Life and Death on the other side are on my daily routine now!

  • Iain Gleasure

    I think one of the biggest problems inherent to you, AMG, doing any best of list is that you value consistency and flow alot more than other people with your albums. That’s not wrong, but it does make such lists more controversial.

    In regards to The X Factor I think two things should be mentioned particularly as to why many other people don’t like it like you. 1. “This is the closest that Iron Maiden ever got to doom metal.” Exactly, and most don’t go to Maiden for Doom and there are plenty of people who just don’t like doom. And 2.”But Blaze was the guy Maiden (and Steve) needed for this record, in this moment, and it’s that tiny window and that perfect confluence of factors which makes The X Factor excellent-” Yes, but that window and that need were small and always will be. That the album in some ways was made for a short, specific period damages its longevity for me.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    Ah, you’ve summed up my thoughts about A Matter of Life and Death almost perfectly – I just love Different World because that chorus is so soulful and Adrian’s lead is excellent.
    Brighter Than a Thousand Suns is undoubtedly one of Maiden’s best songs ever – it’s dynamic, dark, heavy, melodic and moving. Even the repeated chorus works wonderfully because of the tone change that explodes into the heavier sections. Also, Lord of Light is soo underrated – that chorus and backing riff is gut-wrenchingly powerful.

    Also, Powerslave’s title track is special to me in that it has Dave, Adrian and Steve’s best lead work EVER. Dear God, I could write paragraphs on the lead section alone. It’s so damn perfect – the slow, calm lead by Dave, the excellent melodic bass by Steve, the thunderous blitz of Adrian’s guitar, progressing into an epic lead harmony and finishing off with a majestic flourish by Dave. The only thing that came close was the title track of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Iron Maiden has a lot of excellent leads, but this stands out above the rest as one of the pinnacles of lead guitar history.
    *fanboy gush ends*

    • Carl Anderson

      Well, I’m just pleased to know that other people rate AMoLaD so highly. I thought it was brilliant when it came out, I’m kind of irked that more of those songs haven’t shown up in concert videos, and I don’t understand why more people don’t rave about it.

      • Ralph Plug

        I reviewed it years ago and ranked it 100/100, and I still stand by that score. It’s the best thing they have ever released, together with Seventh Son and Piece of Mind.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I liked Different World when I first heard it. Infectious guitar lead, for sure. Maybe some find the lyrics too fluffy? It bleeds optimism and some days you’re thankful for a song like this. A heartfelt attempt by the band to find the positive in a world of heartbreak (if that doesn’t sound too pompous). The vocal work is great — he hits those notes and hangs on to them.

      • Refined-Iron Cranium

        That’s how I feel about the song. It’s a lot like Wasted Years with its positive message (“when you see the simple things, to appreciate this life its not too late to learn”), but it does come from a darker perspective and in that sense it really picks me up if I’m feeling down about life. The chorus harmony is really what makes the song to me. I would love to sing along to it in concert.

  • Iain Gleasure

    I’m going to say ahead of time that Piece never was top 3 for me. Many of the songs in the back half don’t work for me and only The Trooper isn’t clearly outdone in other Maiden songs. Even though AMG loves his story and consistency I think the second half of the album takes a big dip and the whole album never had the punkish energy of The Number of The Beast or the polished classic Maiden of Powerslave.
    And yes, I think Powerslave is better than Piece of Mind.

  • Iain Gleasure

    The Longest Day is in no way superior to Paschendale.

    • Puts Paschendale to shame.

      • Chris Timbó

        No it doesn’t. While the Longest Day is good song, Paschendale, for me, ranks along any epic song of Maiden, except, of course, Rime, which is unbeatable.

    • Hideous destructor

      This. The longest day is the only song on the album that I can’t stomach. It starts so promisingly with the ominous verse but then the chorus comes in, and then comes in again, and again… Love the album though. The last four songs are so very very good.

      Powerslave is a tricky one. The first two and the last two tracks are monumental. I also like the duellists and back in the village is OK, but the other two are filler. Number 5 on my list.

      Excellent defense of X Factor. I consider it underrated, but probably like it less than you AMG. Some good tracks: first 4 plus judgement of heaven and edge of darkness, but overall I find it a bit of a slog.

      • Iain Gleasure

        Eh, I don’t dislike The Longest Day really, I just think Paschendale is much more passonate and really just better in every way. Plus Paschendale extends itself beyond one battle and to the whole war

        • Hideous destructor

          Fair nuff. Obviously I agree that paschendale is superior, but AMOLAD is overall a better album than DoD.

      • tomasjacobi

        I agree about The Longest Day, except I do like the song. They should’ve waited with the chorus until after the 2nd verse and they should’ve only done one chorus a time. It’s not a bad chorus, but they drive it into the ground…

  • eloli

    The main reason I can’t stomach XF is not Blaze Bailey, it’s actually Steve Harris. This is, to my knowledge, the first record he had complete creative control, and it shows: overtly long, boring tracks that would benefit greatly from sensible editing and a sound that can only be described as complete and utter shit. The guitars sound thin and flat, they’re completely swallowed by the bass, the drums are sloppy and lifeless, and Blaze’s voice is buried in the background, which is kind of a good thing, since most of the time he’s singing on an uncomfiorable range and sounding like he’s reading the yellow pages… man, I can surely picture Steve on the control booth shouting to Blaze “good ’nuff, mate, next song” after every first take. Scratch that, it also hapenned with Dave and Janick, and especially Nicko, who wasn’t really given even time to mic up his kit.
    This album sounds so dull and lifeless that it’s not even funny… I might consider myself a serious doom fan, but really, this is not even close to doom, simply because the fat, bass heavy doom sound is an intentional product of careful recording, not the unintentional byproduct of some megalomaniac with fried ears let loose on a studio. As a serious doom collector (400+ original trad, death and funeral doom CDs on my collection) I take real offense in anyone even mentioning this album as doom like.
    I might concur with the dark vibe and how Steve tried to take the band on a different direction, but the result was extremely poor, and that wasn’t poor Blaze’s fault.
    Fun XF related story:
    Last year, I got a pretty big tattoo on my back. My tattoo artist, who’s a little older than me and a NWOBHM lifer, insisted on working while listening to Maiden. The first album we listened to was XF, and my first thoughts were “well, maybe this is my chance to approach this album with fresh ears”. As Lord of the Flies started, I begged for an album change… the pain in my ears was much worse than the pain on my back. :D

    • tomasjacobi

      It’s certainly not “Doom Metal” as in adhering strictly to the genre usually labelled doom. But doom is an apt description of the mood of the album.
      Somewhat unrelated I was just thinking the other day that the main riff in the title track on The Book of Souls is actually a straight-up doom riff.

      • Best song on the album btw, once again being provided by Janick Gers.

        • Grumpyrocker

          Yup as I said in another of these entries, Janick kept the band afloat in songwriting terms when Steve was going through a rough patch. Janick’s been a consistently great team player since he joined the band.

      • eloli

        I’d go with “dark” rather than “doom” when describing the mood of the album.
        Also, as I mentioned elsewhere, this is an album that would really benefit with a re recording and some song editing, something that can’t really be said about VIX, nothing could salvage that turd.

        • tomasjacobi

          The production IS an issue, I’ll give you that. But as much as the album might need it, I don’t believe in rewriting the past. The album is what it is; some people hate it and some of us love it despite its imperfections.

          • eloli

            You’re absolutely right on that one.
            My main problem is that Blaze got way too much hate back in the day for this album being such a huge failure, when the obvious culprit was Steve. Something a lot of people forget about Bruce’s triumphant return with BNW is that the album was produced by Kevin Shirley and Steve had two strong personalities on the band to counter his ego… I have my doubts that album would’ve turned any good with Steve calling the shots and Bruce’s voice buried in the mix.

          • tomasjacobi

            We can agree about that.
            Someone wrote a comment here or maybe somewhere else recently that said that one of the conditions for Bruce to return was that an outside producer be called in. I don’t know if that’s true, but it makes perfect sense to me.

          • eloli

            Didn’t know that, and makes a lot of sense to me… a lot of issues in XF are pretty simple things that a good outside producer would’ve picked up and fixed on the spot… for example, both Lord of the Flies and Man of the Edge, the supposed stronger rockers in the album, are a tad slow and sound kind of deflated, especially the former, a minimal metronome tinkering fixes both tracks, IMO.

    • I actually agree with you that this is largely about Harris and not so much about Blaze. The record needs a remix, frankly, and I think listening to the later Blaze material you can hear that with a great producer he sounds really good.

      But I can also say that I’ve grown fond of the weird mix and production in its own way. The album feels weirdly barren and austere because of it, and I think it works for the material. It’s not like “self-hating misery” depression, it’s like the kind where you’re sitting in a room with a single chair, white walls, shitty carpeting, a 12″ in TV in the dark, bathed in blue light and a bottle of Jack: a meeting point between asceticism and misery.

      • eloli

        As much as I can agree with you this album could really use a remastering, that wouldn’t fix the substandard performances problem, especially Blaze wise.
        If there was ever an album that justified a full re-recording this would be it, since there are strong songs hiding there, somewhere.
        Blaze may not be Bruce (nobody is, after all) but he’s a pretty strong traditional metal singer, Wolfsbane and his solo albums prove it.
        Re recording this album with some key transpositions to better accommodate Blaze’s range and some smart editing here and there would make this album really shine… we can only dream what Martin Birch or Kevin Shirley would’ve done with this material.
        Out of respect for your opinion, I listened to the full album yesterday twice, and even if I can agree with you on some points, especially, the new musical direction, I just can’t get into this album. A shame, really, since back in the day, I thought Blaze was a much better choice for fronting Maiden than the other generic power metal castrati that were considered for the job. Anyhow, in my book, Maiden’s on that league of great bands that no matter what they do, nothing will taint the legacy of their early records.

        • I don’t necessarily disagree with you on these points; I just think enjoy the record a lot as it is. Warts and all.

          The point about smart editing is absolutely something that every single Maiden record after 1989 is desperately in need of. I’ve considered sort of doing it myself, but have never taken the time.

          • eloli

            Well, should you ever do it, let us know, I’m sure your edited versions of post NPFTD albums would be much stronger. :)

      • Josh Lind

        “Barren and austere” — right on the money. This album doesn’t attempt the usual Maiden goals, and so it only fails if measured against those goals. It is a success on its OWN terms.

  • Lasse Momme

    what’s really strange about this article series is that I think it’s made me realize just how much of Iron Maidens discography I can’t fucking stand. It’s absolutely insane how consistently those fuckers manage to push their record length too far by 15 or so minutes. after having listened to their newest record, the entire 1 hour 30 bleedin’ minutes of it, I think it’s safe to say that I don’t think I will ever truly be a Maiden fan.

    until I watch them live again, at which point I will loudly proclaim Bruce Dickinson to be the greatest front man in all of metal to anyone bothering to listen to me.

    • Iain Gleasure

      You sound a bit like a broken man

      • Lasse Momme

        Not really, I just value the art of not absolutely saturating your records with material and being able to realize that making a song with all of the ideas you came up with isn’t necessarily the best idea to come up with.

        I would argue that pretty much every Maiden record has at least 30 or so minutes of good material. Problem is that they get so cluttered with unnecessary bullshit that it completely ruins the experience for me.

        • Iain Gleasure

          What I meant was you said you couldn’t be their fan but you seem to become one whenever you see them live.

          • Lasse Momme

            They are incredible live, have been every time I’ve seen them. Alcohol could have something to do with it, but I honestly think most of it is because they don’t play filler live, they stick to what the fans know and love and Bruce really is an incredible front man. He controls a crowd like no one I’ve ever seen.

            After the show I’m riding high right up until i sit through one of their 1 hour long records and I come right the fuck back down

    • It’s certainly true that Maiden hasn’t learned to edit themselves and that this is bringing down the quality of their new material.

      • Lasse Momme

        here’s the thing though: they’ve been doing this since the 90’s, when can we start looking at it as not just a “new material” problem? I would argue that pretty much every single album they’ve made since 1992 has had content problems. Like I said in another post, Maiden probably has at least 30 or so minutes of good material on every record but since fear of the dark they’ve made records that overstay their welcome to an absolutely ridiculous degree more often than not. I really wish they would try to just make one good 40-45 minutes record, instead of these absolutely insane double cd releases with over an hour and a half of material.

        • But the records everyone hates are the records after No Prayer for the Dying. Look at people’s lists: 1980-1988: brilliance. 1989: mixed reviews, but mostly just an argument about the songs not being there. 1992-2015: Everything else on the bottom half of the list. And what’s the difference? While the writing style has changed, the primary difference is that Maiden’s records have gotten suuuuuper long. So I agree, make a 45-50 minute record and I’ll bet you that Maiden is still pumping out genius records to this day.

  • Gloomer88

    I am sorry AMG but you are so wrong with ROTAM, its just a clissic and having watched it over a million times on the Live after Death DVD, Its Nickos best drumming he dances all over that kit, Murry/Smith are on fire Harris at his best and Bruce sings for over nine minutes, that last line” we must love all things that god made” still gives my chills on its delivery. BTW I am loving this and giving all Maiden CDs are huge run, amazing job.

  • anonbr666

    Rime of the ancient mariner is my favorite Maiden song, and because of that, Powerslave is in my top 3 albums (1st being SSoaSS and 2nd CSiT).

    AMoLaD is amazing, but I just cant enjoy the X-Factor. It does not “click” for me.

  • Grymm

    I have to come clean…

    On my personal list, The X Factor also ranks pretty far up too, for similar reasons. It was a very dark, depressing record, and if I’m not mistaken, wasn’t Harris’s dad also ill around the time of the album’s recording? One thing I AM annoyed with is the omission of “Sign of the Cross”, which is easily the best Blaze-era song there is (that guitar melody before the final chorus always moves me).

    • Hulksteraus

      Yep, agree, awesome song, and edge of darkness as well.

    • It’s funny, because I think it’s the most uncontroversial song on the record, I didn’t really feel like I had to mention it. I love it, I think it’s an amazing song and truly great epic. I also am sick of all the guys talking about how it would’ve been better with Dickinson. That’s the whole “those records would be better if it weren’t for Blaze” thing, and I don’t think that’s true. I think those records would’ve been better if it weren’t for Harris’s complete control over the creative process–including the production.

  • ronin1572

    For me, choosing the best album is more about passion for the songs, than production or consistency. While you make some good points with X Factor and I do feel AMoLaD is their most consistent post reunion album. I return to albums like Powerslave or NotB despite any filler because the songs just hit a sweet spot for me.

    • I get that _kind of_, except that I’ve always had passion for albums. Like, a record that has a few great songs but isn’t consistent is always a let down for me. Obviously you need the perfect mix, but I see albums as being wholes, and if you can’t produce a whole that’s entirely good, then you’re not quite succeeding and maybe should have reconsidered certain parts.

      Obviously this is entirely subjective. But it’s one of the reasons that I believe long records are simply more likely to fail. Increased chance that your B or C material made it instead of only your A material, and that brings down the whole.

  • Osama Bhatti

    I’m a big Maiden fan, but I never bothered to listen to anything post Seventh Son, or before Brave New World even though I own all of their studio albums (though I did give Fear of the Dark a spin once; I didn’t care for it) But now I kind of want to listen to X-Factor….. It better be good…..

    • It’s special. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it. A lot of people don’t like it for a lot of reasons.

  • Oberon

    Man on the Edge is one of my favorite Blaze era songs, especially after rewatching Falling Down.

    I’ve mostly agreed with your rankings so far, and willing to wager that Piece of Mind and Seventh Son are going to be your top 2

  • Great to see the love for The X Factor. Easily a top 5 album for me but Dickinson is my least liked Maiden vocalist. The X Factor is clearly the blueprint Maiden has been following for every subsequent release and they never matched its depth or intensity. I believe the most overlooked point of the Maiden catalog is that TXF is the album that has influenced their reunion albums above any other.

    Such a shame Bayley was never given a proper chance to succeed with the band. The tracks he performs live with his own band sound fantastic since they tune properly for him.

    Powerslave doesn’t come close to the greatness of POM, SIT or SSOASS which are the three best Dickinson era releases by far.

  • Maxim Kalacnuk

    Mine Worst to Best: 6-4
    6.: Brave New World – The comeback album was better than everybody expected. Rich, colorful, strong.
    5.: Somewhere in Time – Nostalgic, melancholic, strange songs. I love all 8 of them.
    4.: Powerslave – Flawless. Perfection from start to finish.

  • Tim Whittingstall

    I’ve always though that Powerslave was bookended by 2 amazing songs on each side, with Rime being the best of the four. I would probably call it Maiden’s second best song after Hallowed. I can’t even imagine being a Maiden fan and not worshiping it.

    • Josh Lind

      Yes! That has always been my opinion…two killer openers, two amazing closers, and some pretty good tunes between. Although, obviously I love to listen to the whole thing. Piece of Mind is a more even album (and has better use of backing vocals), and I would ultimately rate it higher, but Powerslave is a genre-defining album with some metal monuments.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I tapped out as a maiden fan when Bruce left and didn’t get back on board till AMoLaD. As a result I totally skipped the Blaze era….

    I’m halfway through X Factor right now and….Im enjoying it…a lot.
    Its a strange, jarring and enjoyable feeling when the not Bruce vocals kick in. I’ve noted the positive comment to X factor on this blog before but I don’t think I would’ve ever gone out of my way had you not done this retrospective, so cheers.

    I’ve been enjoying all the butthurt,
    I think someone knocking RotAM was the last straw for Steel Druhm. I suspect next time we see him it will be at the head of an angry, denim clad, mullet hair-do’d mob :)

  • Come here. Come closer AMG. Remember when the X Factor was released? Yeah, you were a teen, and you were all “I’m sad, life is hard” and you so hardcore loved— X Factor.

    That’s fine, I’ll let you have that. But your attempt to make it legit, an album about actual darkness, is pretty sad. Because we all know that the Downward Spiral came out in 1994 and crushed, absolutely crushed, expectations for things on that subject. It’s not like they were the only band in the wake of that fucking record. Come on man, you can’t possibly believe that this was any more than an attempt to piggyback on the wave, the tidal wave, of depressing crap that followed 1994 and trent reznor’s … massive zit burst. You can love this all you want, that’s fine. Just don’t claim it was all some… deep seeded need from the band. It was fucking money. It has always been fucking money.

    • Wilhelm

      Even though I’m not a big X factor fan, this argument is fucking incredibly stupid. First, X Factor, even though it is dark, sounds nothing like NIN.. secondly dark rock music was nothing new or inventive at the time and thirdly, Blaze is not whiney trent reznor clone. I can’t defend everything Maiden has written, but I will defend their Honor.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      nurse nurse, come quick he’s on the computer again…

    • Yes, it’s about the money: that’s why Blaze isn’t in the band anymore. But given the biographical stuff going on in their lives at this time, I think the material they produced was reflective of that. And I think it’s crazy to call them trend-followers in this case. In tone and feel, The X Factor was the exact opposite of The Downward Spiral. Only in the fact that they were both ‘dark’ and were recorded using ProTools do they share anything.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        They sing in english too

  • SelfIndulgence

    Interesting to read. I always felt the Steve was trying to reach back to the Di’Anno years when he hired Blaze, but it just didn’t work for me.

    As for Powerslave it has some amazing tracks, but it doesn’t break my top five (yes I get hate for that too). I did buy it when it was released and saw the tour, but it and SiT always had a more commercial feel to them and they finally saw some serious radio airplay for the first time ever. Not that it’s bad for the band. Just the Van Halen like videos (everyone wanted to be VH in the early 80s) complete with spandex, poor tour merch and new fanbase seemed off to me.

    Piece of Mind….now there was an album and a tour.

  • doom-erik

    Interesting read, and good arguments for your choices, although I agree to disagree :)

    Although “objectively” I probably should love AMoLaD, and at least hold it as the best of the nu-Bruce albums, for some reason it just does not do it for me. I can’t really put my finger on it, more than perhaps the fact that the songs on the album (like on The X Factor, as well) are just too similar (and the choruses are way too repetitive).

    I understand the point of cohesiveness, but that doesn’t have to mean all songs have to sound the same. For instance, Powerslave and Piece of Mind also have a sound and an atmosphere than connects all the songs on respective album, but every single song is different from the other. I don’t know, maybe I just haven’t listend to AMoLaD enough…

    I am not American, and I heard NotB and PoM before Powerslave, but it is still my favourite with Maiden. It took a couple years for it to secure the number 1 position, though.
    I do get the feeling that it is not as popular here in Sweden as some other of the classics.

    But for me every song is great, and all of them have a wonderful instrumental part (the ones in Powerslave, The Duelists and Flash of the Blade especially comes to mind) that really shows the band at its peak when it comes to bass- and guitarplaying. Interesting that you don’t like RotAM, but I find it refreshing that you take up that song and not The Duelists or Back in the Village that most people use to mention as the fillers on this album.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      I agree, there’s no filler on Powerslave it’s pure gold!

    • jammindude

      The choruses on AMOLAD are too repetitive???? Did you really just say that? Have you heard the rest of the Iron Maiden albums?? I’m the first one to point the finger at Maiden’s “lazy choruses”…especially everything after Powerslave… but AMOLAD is NOT one of those albums. In fact, you have to get all the way to track eight before you hit a song that repeats a single phrase 8 times in a row. That trend is almost non-existent on all other post-PS albums. AMOLAD is one of the least offenders of the “lazy chorus” in IM’s entire catalog.

      • doom-erik

        Maybe there are worse offenders, but AMOLAD has its shares of “lazy choruses”, as you call them.

        “Please tell me now what life is
        Please tell me now what love is
        Well tell me now what war is
        Again tell me what life is

        Please tell me now what life is
        Please tell me now what love is
        Well tell me now what war is
        Again tell me what life is

        For the greater good of God [x8]

        Please tell me now what life is
        Please tell me now what love is
        Well tell me now what war is
        Again tell me what life is

        For the greater good of God [x8]

  • doom-erik

    Here is how I list number 6-4:
    6. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
    5. Iron Maiden
    4. Somewhere in Time

  • One More Thing

    I appreciated the detail and personal application for the TXF portion. Your logical approach and interpretation of the album helps me to see it in a different light. It can be very difficult to hear a record from a band whose sound you’ve come to expect to be a certain way, then get something very different, and then still find a similar level of enjoyment. You did a great job explaining your view and now I’m going to go give TXF a listen with fresh ears and an open mind.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    Different world has always been one of my favourites from AMoLaD. It’s more like an epic pop song than a metal track. It sets the album up nicely. Listening to the album for the first time in a while, it is a long album. I’d say if you were going to drop one off that album for me it’d be “These colours don’t run’. I’m just waiting for bright than a thousand suns when it’s playing…Though it is a great song…

  • I woke up this morning to my RSS feed and the headline was “Internet goes ape-shit over AMG’s Iron Maiden album rankings…” I came here to see what all the fuss was about, and at that moment, a very large pile of orangutan poop fell out of the sky.

  • GonzO Rodrigue

    Reasons I can no longer take this list with any modicum of seriousness: Fear of the Dark, X-Factor, and Matter of Life and Death.

    If anything, I’d have swapped Fear out with AMOLAD. For starters.

  • El Gran Pez

    I agree heartfully with everything said about A Matter of Life & Death. That said, it did took a while for it to gain that status. At first it what so strange with the dismal atmosphere and what I call eclectic mature Maiden compositions… I didn’t catch up instantly but could tell there was substance and some serious business going on, so eventually I came to love everything about the album because it is so unlike any other Maiden album.

    The fact that I liked The Final Frontier so much when it came out, even thinking it might the best since Seventh Son, was due to the multi-faceted nature of the tracks, there was not this unique sinister atmosphere as in A Matter of… You had fun ol’ Maiden tracks along with proggy oriented songs, and the band sounded great, with new energy. However the album truly cannot be compared in terms of compositions and overall quality to A Matter of Life and Death.

    With all that said, I think this mo fos just dropped a huge one with The Book Of Souls… It might be up there with A Matter of… If not truly the best since Sevent Son… I have been listening for 2 weeks probably about 600-700 times by now and… it has it all! Waiting for the review, wouldn’t mind a track by track breakdown.

  • Ralph Plug

    I applaud you for ranking X-Factor so high on this list, and I think you’re absolutely right for doing so. It’s a terrific record, which is unfairly maligned for being different, and for not having Bruce on it. One of the best albums they’ve put out, and it’s a shame so many people shove it aside without having truly listened to it.

  • jammindude

    Angry Metal Guy…I love that you put TXF so high on the list. Completely an underrated and overlooked classic. But to heap so much praise on the album…and not even MENTION “Sign of the Cross” (possibly a top 3 all time Maiden song)????……For shame, my friend.

  • Bradley Roberts

    Whilst I had listened a fair amount to Maiden over the years, and listened to a few albums many times, I had never listened to The X Factor before so could listen to it with an open mind. I have to say now, it seems like I agree with AMG, it is a very good album and Blaze’s voice can be very impressive at times, so this blog can take the credit for me trying the album out.

  • martinitime1975

    Xfactor higher than Powerslave? I like X FActor and Blaze, don’t get me wrong, but you should be institutionalized for some shit like that.

  • markus o

    “Rime of the Ancient Mariner is bloated, clunky, and may be the only classic epic the band wrote that I don’t like”. and probably my favourite song EVER. :)

  • dblbass23

    When Powerslave hit….I wasn’t that 17 year old metalhead…..I was a 15 year old metalhead. And my mind was FOR SURE blown by this album. I loved it. I saw the Powerslave tour in February of 85 and haven’t had the chance to see them again since then. But I remember it like it was yesterday. Powerslave is probably in my top 3 Maiden albums.

  • John Goumaras

    I don’t share your enthusiasm about TXF (it has its moments but it’s pretty weak) but I really enjoyed the article as a whole.
    AMoLaD is the best post-reunion Maiden album, period. Great song-writing, there is a couple of fillers, yes, but OMfG what an album, equal to their 80’s masterpieces.
    I can’t argue about which Maiden album is the best (my favorite is SiT), but I am absolutely certain that VXII is their worst. I can’t listen to any of its crap. The band was staring in the eyes of extinction that time. No prayer…. has some epic moments that sound classic Maiden alright. VXII sounds like it was recorded on a laptop (and the song-writing is deadly weak).
    Fear of the dark is high on my list. But only on MY list. I can understand why some people don’t like it and I am fine with it….but it was my first Maiden record, lots of nostalgia here, I even enjoy the ”hard rock” moments of the album, I really have a good rockin’ time listening to these tunes (or is it maybe because I grow up with them? Who cares).

    Overall I enjoyed the article. Up the Irons.

  • Glad to see somebody else liked The X Factor. I won’t deny that Bruce is a superior vocalist to Blaze, but Steve’s bass intro in “Blood on the World’s Hands” sent chills down my spine when I first heard it in 1995, and it still does more than twenty years later.

  • Joe Rico

    How can you place X Factor ABOVE Powerslave? At bare minimum swap AMOLOD with X Factor. Then swap Powerslave and AMOLOD.That would be a good start.