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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Iron Maiden

Killers

Review by Rick Damigella

Set the way back machine for 1981. The New Wave of British Heavy Metal was on and the brightest stars of the era were Iron Maiden. Let me preface this by saying, I am a die hard fan of Bruce Dickinson, but there is something about the first two Maiden discs with vocalist Paul Di’Anno that are just inescapably awesome. Their self-titled debut and the equally amazing follow up, Killers, featured Paul Di’Anno whose sinister and growling vocals belted out the lyrics of horror movie fanatic Steve Harris. The album title, subject matter of repeated themes of murder and death, and the gruesome effigy of band mascot Eddie on the cover helped give this album a place in the pantheon of heavy metal.

Produced by the legendary Martin “Head Master” Birch, Killers expanded upon the framework set down by their first album and would pave the way for Iron Maiden to dominate the world of heavy metal in subsequent years. If you are new to the band and wish to delve deeper into Maiden history, this is an album worthy of your listen.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Ides of March
They lead off with a blazing instrumental intro featuring the twin lead guitar assault of Dave Murray and newly added axe wielder Adrian Smith (replacing Dennis Straton). This acts as an opening for the next track.
Wratchchild
This is the story of a bastard child of a “queen” and “dad he’s never seen” as yelped out by Di’Anno. The signature sound of Steve Harris has one of its best recorded examples in the opening riff.
Murders in the Rue Morgue
A nice stroll through the streets of Paris turns into a gruesome slaying of two women. This is inspired by the Edgar Allen Poe short story. It’s one of the best early examples of Smith and Murray’s twin axe attack that would become Maiden’s benchmark.
Another Life
A Steve Harris number, this has the dark themed element of the protagonist contemplating ending his life as sweet voices in his head call to him.
Genghis Khan
Certainly the leader of the Mongol Hordes and ruler of the largest empire in world history was something of a killer himself and would have undoubtedly listened to heavy metal. This blistering instrumental would have made wonderful invasion music for the defeat of the Jin Dynasty (1211).
Innocent Exile
The subject of a wrongly accused murderer and being on the run from the law resurfaces with this Steve Harris rocker.
Killers
Easily the album’s best song, the bass, drums, guitars and Di’Anno’s scream coalesce into a galloping intro riff that gives way to a ferocious guitar riff. That riff ventures nearly into a speed metal cadence. Co-written by Di’Anno, the song begins from a third person point of view warning of the dangers lurking in the shadows of a subway platform and quickly takes an even darker turn, becoming a tale told from the point of view of the titular knife wielding killer describing his drives and desires for committing his heinous acts. It is the quintessential Paul Di’Anno song.
Prodigal Son
After all the violence and blood letting of the previous song, there is a much more toned down intro to this track that could arguably be one of the most mellow songs Maiden has ever done. That applies at least in sound if not in the subject matter and lyrical tone.
Purgatory
If the previous song’s protagonist’s soul was in the clutches of the devil, then this track’s point of view is told solidly from the place of which the song derives its name. The legendary half devil/half Eddie illustration by Derek Riggs graced the cover of this single.
Twilight Zone
This one is the tale of a departed soul longing for his lost lady love and desire to reunite with her, but remaining trapped in the Twilight Zone between the real world and the afterlife. Though no reference is made in the lyrics, the cover for the single featured a ghostly Eddie looming over Charlotte the Harlot.
Drifter
Here we have the timeless tale of the rocker out on the road to do his thing told only as Iron Maiden can. This classic features the twin leads of Smith and Murray who play off each other so well that even though this closed the album and thus the first chapter of Iron Maiden history, it lit the way for even greater Maiden moments to come.
 
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