A Devil’s Dozen – Iron Maiden – Volume 2

Welcome to volume two of our Iron Maiden double Devil’s Dozen, wherein we highlight the best songs from one of the best discographies in heavy metal. If you missed volume one, you can check it out here.

 • • • • •

WHERE EAGLES DARE

[Piece of Mind, 1983]

Another literary tale, this time a WWII spy epic by Alastair McLean (and a pretty damn good early Clint Eastwood film), brought into song, “Where Eagles Dare” is probably my favorite song from the underrated Piece Of Mind. The album opener and one of the longer songs on Piece Of Mind, “Where Eagles Dare,” like “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner,” seems to broken into distinct movements and is a prelude of things to come. Iron Maiden’s willingness to experiment with epic songs like nothing they had previously done before begins with “Where Eagles Dare.”

[DAVE SCHALEK]

 • • • • •

PASCHENDALE

[Dance of Death, 2003]

Starting in the Blaze Bayley years and continuing the trend post-reunion, Iron Maiden upped the ante on the epics, and none is as epic as “Paschendale.” Opening softly with a cyclical descending riff atop a lone stuttering hi-hat cymbal, the song kicks in after each of the first two verses with the same descending figure, now delivered with the force of an artillery barrage. Subtle keyboards lift the track further into the epic, through a soaring chorus and into the neo-classical instrumental bridge. Eight-and-a-half minutes of war-themed martial glory, “Paschendale” is arguably the best Maiden song of the new millennium.

[ANDREW EDMUNDS]

 • • • • •

REVELATIONS

[Piece of Mind, 1985]

Iron Maiden’s always shown abundant skill and panache when it comes to dishing out hook-filled intros for their songs over the years. Case in point, the snag-then-shove alliance of riff and percussion that begins “Revelations” and makes it so instantaneously addictive. Of course, the best thing about the Bruce Dickinson-penned “Revelations” is that there are a couple of excellent versions of the same song. There’s the original progressive metal chronicle found on Piece of Mind. That’s a 100% classic track — unquestionably powerful. But then there’s the definitive version of “Revelations”; the powerhouse, Herculean, and far more epic majesty you’ll find on the Live After Death version of “Revelations”. That’s where you’ll truly find the “The venom that tears my spine”. That’s where you’ll view “The Eyes of the Nile are opening — you’ll see”.

[CRAIG HAYES]

 • • • • •

RUNNING FREE

[Iron Maiden, 1980]

As long as it took for me to become an Iron Maiden fan, it took even longer to become a fan of the Paul Di’anno era. Oh, I had heard the songs – I just wasn’t impressed. That changed when “Running Free” popped up on a tribute album. I went back to the original, and soon after, was finally a believer. Their debut single is also one of their more atypical tracks, with lyrics still based in reality but loosely based upon Di’anno’s rebellious youth rather than anything of historical significance. Still, you can hear the roots of what would become their signature: solid riffs and leads played over galloping rhythm tracks.

[DAVE PIRTLE]

 • • • • •

CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED

[The Number of the Beast, 1982]

The Number Of The Beast has three of Maiden’s best-known songs, and each is rightfully considered great, but alongside those, “Children Of The Damned” is often and unacceptably overlooked. Beginning as something like a ballad, with Dickinson’s air-raid chorus leaving no confusion as to why he was there and Di’Anno wasn’t, “Children” really shines in the second half. There, Harris’ bass leads the charge through whole-note drum crashes into a galloping solo section and a closing section as epic as anything the band had done before (and equal to much of what came after). It’s pure heavy metal done perfectly.

[ANDREW EDMUNDS]

 • • • • •

MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE

[Killers, 1981]

In my many years of Maidenry, no song has sprung unbidden into my mind as often as “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Why you ask? Preceded by clean guitars and dulcet bass tones, you might mistake the track for Killers’ first softee. You’d be wrong, and in that deceit lies the song’s brilliance. Di’Anno’s vicious vocals track close to the guitars’ memorable undulations; here lurks unforgettable melody. Clive Burr fuels the fire with punkish pugilism, imbuing the track with a beautiful, reckless abandon. Piles of dynamics and smoking leads seal this song’s victory. Edgar Allen Poe’s ode to anxiety and self doubt is represented in righteous fashion. Someone call the gendarmes.

[ATANAMAR SUNYATA]

 • • • • •

SEVENTH SON OF A SEVENTH SON

[Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, 1988]

The title track from Iron Maiden’s best album – fight me! – finds the band flexing their prog chops while never fully forgoing the Steve Harris-anchored muscularity that had long defined them. As is the case with so many of Iron Maiden’s songs – which is part of what makes them such an untouchable band – the chorus, infectious though it is, is the least remarkable thing about the song. The quiet voiceover section that builds so patiently is a lovely piece of texture, but then, friends, it leads inexorably to the song’s final perfect (PERFECT) three minutes, where the band rockets through an unforgettable all-together solo section. It’s a synchronized race for the finish line, and one of the all-time best demonstrations of technical skill bent to the purpose of sympathetic songwriting. Perhaps no surprise that it would be another 12 years before the band released another great album.

[DANHAMMER OBSTKRIEG]

 • • • • •

WRATHCHILD

[Killers, 1981]

Believe it or not, there was a time when Iron Maiden could write a song that was less than five minutes long. Raw, menacing and under three-minutes, “Wrathchild” is as direct a kick to the teeth as Maiden has ever made. With its iconic bass intro, a simple, but relentlessly driving riff,  a snarled chorus, and the greatest scream DiAnno ever put to tape, “Wrathchild” perfectly captures the essence of the young, rough and raging band that Iron Maiden once was.

[JEREMY MORSE]

 • • • • •

2 MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT

[Powerslave, 1984]

Powerlave‘s second track is a fitting foil to the the galloping, melodic glory of “Aces High.” This paean to nuclear annihilation features some of the band’s most brilliantly restrained riffs, pushing heaviness to the fore and rocking with infinite finesse. Bruce Dickinson’s vocals mirror the instruments’ murderous focus with a raspy, mid-ranged delivery. Soaring unrestraint appears in the chorus, of course, and Maiden keep the hooks in sight at all times. “2 Minutes to Midnight” is emblematic of Powerslave’s mastery; the band could still turn on a dime and deliver a classic ripper. Beware the furiously flaccid music video for the song, however. It totally ruins the vibe.

[ATANAMAR SUNYATA]

 • • • • •

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

[The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Barry Clayton doing his best Vincent Price (for a lot less money). Clive Burr’s tension –filled hi-hat. B-Dick peeling the paint with perhaps his finest scream on record. Even Steve-O gets a solo in. “The Number of the Beast”, with its 6-6-6 chorus, is what really sold a lot of us on Maiden all those years ago. In the age of the PMRC and Satanic Panic, hell, if the rubes were getting frothy about this band, and because of this song, well then it was definitely something that we needed to investigate further. In hindsight, the idiotic reaction to such a completely innocent song is all the more laughable. Miss the point much?

The music video kinda rules and kinda doesn’t. A dancing couple in formal dress with 6-6-6 flash cards and a wolf mask. Twelve-foot Eddie shambles onstage and kinda stands around. A guy in a red jumpsuit and a devil mask leaps around a lot with a tinfoil pitchfork. But when we were young and impressionable, you best believe this shit ruled hard.

[KYLE HARCOTT]

 • • • • •

RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER

[Powerslave, 1984]

“Alright, after you write down “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner,” choose 23 other Iron Maiden songs.” So said the instructions from Morse in throwing together this giant sized Devil’s Dozen. How can this song not be included? I’m going to go out on a limb: this is not only the best song from Iron Maiden, it’s also one of heavy metal’s best songs. A baroque epic worthy of the Samuel Coleridge poem that it’s based upon, “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner” got this 16-year old metalhead interested in English literature back in 1984 like no high school English class ever could.

[DAVE SCHALEK]

 • • • • •

THE TROOPER

[Piece of Mind, 1983]

For all intents and purposes, “The Trooper” is the entire essence of Iron Maiden boiled down into 4 minutes and 11 seconds. Historical narrative (lyrics based on the Charge of the Light Brigade)? Check. Perfectly memorable, harmonized main riff? Check. Galloping rhythm? Check. High-end vocal wail? Check. Plus, it inspired a delightful signature ale.

On a more personal note, I was aware of but largely indifferent to Iron Maiden for many years. “The Trooper” changed all that when I finally heard it for the first time – approximately 16 years after it was released. That kind of power is reserved for only the greatest and most sacred of musical compositions.

[DAVE PIRTLE]

 • • • • •

HALLOWED BE THY NAME

[The Number of the Beast, 1982]

Death in life would be a recurring theme in the many and sundry Tales of the Iron Maiden, but it was on the closing track of The Number of the Beast that Steve Harris most poignantly pondered it. “Hallowed be Thy Name” plumbs our existential depths in the most compelling way, with each filament of the band’s multifaceted talent converging on their creative apex. From the rising repeat of “running low” to the solo and tandem leads exploding from the bridge off the last verse and into the iconic closing chorus, every element of “Hallowed be Thy Name” is the stuff of legacy; a seemingly endless string of “oh, wait, wait, this part right here!” Simply put, it’s the best song on the best album by the best band in heavy metal’s storied history.

[LONE WATIE]

 • • • • •

That’s all folks. If your favorite song didn’t make the cut, we’d be happy to have you make a case for it in the comments. Thanks for reading, and up the Irons!

 

 

Posted by Last Rites

GENERALLY IMPRESSED WITH RIFFS

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