To close out October, I have made a list of my Top 10 Iron Maiden songs. Recently, I have been listening to a lot more Iron Maiden, and I can safely call it one of my new favourite bands; along with Queen, Muse, Queen’s of the Stone Age. And while I have not listened to all their songs, I have listened to enough to know my Top 10. This list is not ranked in anyway, these are just my favourite songs from the band. Let’s do this!
1) Wasted Years
Focusing on the subject of Homesickness, I like this song because it has very relateable lyrics.You can relate to what the band is going through in the song. I love the start of the song, great guitar to get us excited, then the drums kick in. The Badassitude levels are rising from that point onwards.
2) Brave New World
Based on the story of the same name, this song is a more recent Iron Maiden release. the album pretty much picked up right where the “classic” lineup had left off on 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; and a lot of the influences of that album (probably my favourite Maiden Album). The multi layered guitars and keyboard are back, bringing the band back from the dark age that the band endured back through the 90’s. The vocals of singer Bruce Dickinson; who left in 1992, actually got better since he left the band after 1992’s ‘Fear of the Dark’. Great tension building in this song as well.
3) Where the Wild Wind Blows
From their newest album, The Final frontier, this song blends acoustic and rock sections. The softer tones of a Bruce Dickinson in his prime are welcome in this song, as well as his Operatic heights as we have grown accustomed to. Just a nice song; despite being pretty long, it is a breeze to listen to. But then again, being long is one of its weaknesses as well, it feels too long, unnaturally slow in my opinion. However, the lyrics, and the theme of the song about Nuclear Fallout are pretty cool
4) Alexander The Great
Simply put: The best history lesson ever. It tells the life story of the Historical figure, Alexander the Great. It is a great work of art and you also learn stuff too! I like the Guitar solos, the drum beat welcoming us into the song, the quick singing of the words. It is a brilliantly produced song, with some fantastic guitar work from Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, probably one of my favourite guitar solos, lasting one full minute. It truly is something to listen to.
5) Phantom of the Opera
I like this song. Mostly because it is one of their first, and it is a great comparison piece. It has a lot more of a punk sound, and sounds comparatively simpler than some of the later hits the band would have. It is also interesting to note that this version of Maiden has an almost different line-up to the famous line up today. Not that the people in this version of the band are not famous at all; but definitely less well known. While definitive heavy metal, there is a bit of a punk rock sound in there. It is interesting to see how the band’s sound has evolved from their first album.
6) Rime of the Ancient Mariner
This song is similar to Where the Wild Wind Blows, in that it is a long, progressive piece. In fact, it is the longest Maiden song, at almost 14 minutes. In many ways, it shouldn’t work. But it actually does. I believe that is due to what the song basically is, a musical retelling of the poem of the same name. And it works so much better, it flows so much more smoothly than Where the Wild Wind Blows. That is probably why, even after 30+ years from it being released, it still holds up. While a song like ‘Where the Wild Wind Blows’ will probably be forgotten, Rime of the Ancient Mariner will stand the test of time, just like the poem it is based on.
7) Flight of Icarus
From 1983’s Piece of Mind, this Maiden song retells the famous Greek tale of Daedalus and Icarus. For those who don’t know the tale, I’ll give you a brief synopsis. Daedalus was shut up in a tower to prevent his knowledge of his Labyrinth from spreading to the public. Daedalus set to work to fabricate wings for himself and his young son Icarus. He tied feathers together, from smallest to largest so as to form an increasing surface, and gave the whole a gentle curvature like the wings of a bird. When the work was done, the artist, waving his wings, found himself buoyed upward and hung suspended, poising himself on the beaten air. He next equipped his son in the same manner, and taught him how to fly. When both were prepared for flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high, because the heat of the sun would melt the wax, nor too low, because the sea foam would soak the feathers. The son then flew too high, and fell to his death. And the song manages to tell this tale very well, with great guitar work, drumming, and group singing. One of Maiden’s strengths is retelling classical stories or Historical events, and this is no exception.
I would probably consider Seventh son of a seventh son to be the best album of Iron Maiden. Just my personal opinion. I like the concept of this album, and this track is the perfect way to introduce that concept. Moonchild starts off slow and unassuming with it’s acoustic guitar, before the synth and guitars kick in, giving it a very lush intro. The synth just adds to this song, and the mysticism that the album holds, it’s slightly creepy. The song then kicks into regular Maiden awesomeness. It’s a good start to its respective album, with a menacing edge to it. I’d go as far to say that this is the darkest song on this list, which I like. The laugh at the end seals this track, and gives us a taste of what is to come for the rest of the album.
9) The Prisoner
From the Album ‘Number of the Beast’ I feel this one is a tad underrated. It is a song about the famous ITV show ‘The Prisoner’. You’ve probably heard of it if you’re British like me; it was very popular in the 60’s, and still has a big cultural impact today. It even got a half arsed American remake with Ian McKellen as Number 2. What I like about this song is it’s simplicity. There are no synths, it’s just your standard array of rock and roll instruments. And the song, for me, is very memorable and is catchy as hell. The first guitar bit at the start is just awesome. I feel that this one has the best lyrics out of all the songs I have listed. It tells the story in it’s own way, without resorting to using lines from poetry to make up sections of the lyrics, like some Maiden songs (Not that there’s anything wrong with that).
10) The Prophecy
The final song I wish to talk about in this insanely long post is ‘The Prophecy’ from Seventh son of a Seventh son. Probably my favourite song on the album. In my mind, this is the best sung song, with Bruce Dickinson’s loud voice, and all the backing vocal bits he does is just awesome. The synth at the start is incredibly chilling, and fits in with the theme of it’s album, and the song progresses through fast, slow, loud, bombastic, and quiet segments. What really makes it is the ending, where the equally chilling synth is replaced with the acoustic guitar, strumming calmly as the song ends. Truly a great song. Give it a listen, as well as all the others on this list.