Killers – Iron Maiden

Killers

Iron Maiden

EMI

1981

Hey guys, it’s Metal Music Thursday! Ok, I’m never going to actually follow through with that concept.  Even if I had the alliterative idea on Monday, I’d still never make that a weekly topic, unless it was someone’s sole job here (Any takers? Volunteers?), but no, I’m not going to write about Metal every thursday.  So, yeah, Iron Maiden!  Fuck Yeah!  Now, I’ll paraphrase the Wikipedia Entry on this album, because I’ve never become obsessed about this band, and therefore, know next to nothing about them.

So, the album was the first to feature Adrian Smith on guitar and the last with Paul Di’Anno on vocals.  This means almost nothing to me – unfortunately, although these people are extremely talented, these names are some I will never remember.  I may like Iron Maiden, but they’re not a band that I find has an extreme artistic value.  To me, they’re art is for the purpose of rocking the hell out, air guitarring, and just having fun listening to them (which is a great compliment.  It’s more than I can say about so many bands and singers out there).  My point is though, that Iron Maiden, to use English terms, seems to be a Stock Character.  Most of the songs are uptempo metal with songs about war, religion, and mainly dark ideas.  Not to mention their mascot Eddie.   So, what I’m trying to say is that I’m not going to look to Iron Maiden as expressing basic emotional truths; instead, I’m going to listen to them when I want to bang on the dashboard of my car, driving with my knees because my hands are too busy soloing.  And therefore, I don’t particularly care about who is in the band as much as I do the awesomeness that they create.

Their second album begins with the instrumental “The Ides of March.”  What I do like about the band is that they seem very educated.  The Ides of March of course refers to the day of the assassination of Julius Ceaser.  Basically, the song is a short track solely devoted to opening the album.  This is apparent not only by the lack of lyrics and the length, but also the music.  Numerous tom fills on the drums, a short basic guitar solo, and musical lines reminiscent of fanfares, “The Ides of March” serves as a quick intro into this kick ass album.

Their most popular song off the album, “Wrathchild,” fills the second spot.  Opening with an awesome bass line (which is in every Iron maiden song pretty much), the verse kicks in quite fast.  Di’Anno has a very distinctive voice, very aggressive, yet kind of high-pitched for a normal metal band.  At least by today’s standards, so this observation isn’t very relative at all.  The guitar licks follow normal minor pentatonic scales.  While they don’t sound very difficult to play, they’re still very entertaining.  It’s a short song (which is why it was a single), and although it’s not one of their best by any standards, it was quite popular at least.

A better song quickly comes up, the gothic “Murders in the Rue Morgue.”  Based off of an Edgar Allen Poe story of the same name, I again want to point out that the author of the song (Steve Harris, the bass player) is at least semi-educated to be writing about a classic piece of literature. (Sidenote – I’ve never read this particular story of Poe’s, and as a matter of fact, I don’t like Poe anyway).  The intro tricks the listener into thinking it might be a slow song.  Psh, this is Iron Fuckin’ Maiden.  Although it’s a very melodic guitar in the beginning, the song jumps into a quick-paced narrative about, well, two murders in a morgue.  While the verses feature mainly power chords, the chorus actually has riffs that mimic the vocal line, which is pulled off really well.  What I do like about Iron Maiden is the guitar solos.  They’re never just “Hey, we play super fast!” They keep them pretty speedy, but also lyrical.  Plus, every now and then, like right before the solo, the band pulls out two-guitar harmonies, which always sounds cool from them.

“Another Life” starts with more tom-fills and a bluesy guitar.  Then jumps right into a decent solo.  Once the aggressive vocals come in, the song really becomes interesting.  The band is never afraid to provide musical interludes, and mess around with different lick to break the song up.  Both of these aspects are rampant throughout “Another Life.”  The “breakdown” features awesome bass playing.  Oh, and “breakdown” is in quotes because nothing really breaks down – it just changes the chords.  Maybe it’s more of a wordless bridge.  But whatever.

The second instrumental is “Genghis Khan”; again, the band uses a historical figure as the title showing an education.  Wow, they really like tom intros don’t they.  Supposedly, the song is about military power, and the fear that comes from being overpowered.  It makes sense with the title and the frantic pace of the song, but I can’t say for sure.  It does feature very intricate musical themes, and even a delayed guitar.  I’m quite pleased that they kept the song instrumental; lyrics over the song might’ve worked but when something is this good, you just don’t mess with it.

This now leads into “Innocent Exile,” with an awesome bass solo in the beginning.  The story isn’t hard to figure out, as most of their themes can be summed up with their titles.  It isn’t exactly deep, which I’ve expressed before, but come on, they rock.  Not much else to say about this track, it’s one of the more forgettable songs on the album, but it still is decent.

The seventh song is the title track, one of the more popular songs.  The vocal screams in the beginning match up with the band kicking in – now, probably a clichéd rock trick, but it still sounds badass.  Who wouldn’t want power chords backing you up every time you scream?  The guitars behind the verses run at top speed.  One of the hardest things about learning an Iron Maiden song on guitar is keeping up with their breakneck picking.  Whichever hand one uses to strum needs to build up endurance.  While technically the solos and riffs aren’t very difficult, it’s the endurance which kills.  Unless of course, you’re Dave Murray or Adrian Smith.  But for me, who is more used to playing Beatles’ songs and difficult Van Halen songs on my left hand, the endurance thing really sucks.  Overall though, this is an awesome song.

“Prodigal Son” is unique for it actually uses an acoustic guitar!  Otherwise, yeah it has a long intro, tom fills (I’m going to mention the drummer is Clive Burr here, for I’ve already said that the drum fills are awesome, and he deserves to be name-dropped), and good bass lines.  The song is the closest to a ballad as we’re going to get.  It’s not really slow, but just slower.  The vocals are less aggressive than normal, though they do break into his half-screaming every now and then.  It’s a good song, and it’s nice to see the band augmenting their sound, even a little bit.

Next is my favorite song, “Purgatory.”  At slightly over three minutes, it’s a short song that feels even shorter.  The guitar riff is awesome, and the vocals are really showing off as well.  It’s actually a really catchy song with its “Please, take me away, take me away, so far away.”  The song, probably feels really short due to the fact that it’s got a few different parts to slice up the song, it’s arranged very well.  The band never lets up it’s speed or aggression during the track.  Honestly, I can (and have) listen to this song on repeat for multiple times.

They follow this up with the second best song on the album, “Twilight Zone.”  What’s always surprised me about these two songs is that this song actually features the word “Purgatory,” and the last one didn’t.  Which he actually pronounces “purg-ahg-tree.”  Overall, the song is more bluesy than most of the others, with the riff being based off of a simple progression (as it sounds like).  For the most part, the vocals are that way too, but the singer does go wild during the track.  he even breaks into a falsetto run.

Lastly, Iron Maiden ends with “Drifter.”  Vocals = awesome.  Drums = kickass. Power Chords = Check.  Bass riffs = cool.  Lyrics = self-explanatory.  Really the only unique thing about this song is that the words pertain the phrase “I’m gonna cuddle up with you tonight” which isn’t something you’d hear uttered by a metal band too often.  It’s a still an awesome song though, just rather archetypical.

Killers is, at most, a highly entertaining album by a highly entertaining band.  If you’re a fan of guitar solos, talented drumming and bass playing, and screeching vocals, you’ll love this band.  It’s ’80’s rock at it’s best.  While I wouldn’t look toward Maiden for any life-changing epiphanies, they will kick the ass of any lame-ass, hair-metal band that came during the rest of that decade (Warning: I probably will review Whitesnake at some time in the future; motherfuckin’ Steve Vai kicks ass.  And Whitesnake wasn’t that bad.  At least they weren’t Poison.  Or Warrant.).  But the really great thing about this album is that it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not.  And for that I’ll gladly throw it in my cd player when I feel like cranking up the volume and rocking the hell out.

Buy This Album

Official Site

Last.fm Page

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One Response to “Killers – Iron Maiden”

  1. […] who was sacked after screwing up live performances based on his love of alcohol and cocaine.  Regardless, this album has classics like “Wrathchild” and “Killers” that are fun and […]

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