Sound — 7
Iron Maiden's self-titled debut album from 1980 is a metal classic. From the first song to the last Maiden throws us the material that would make them one of heavy metals fastest growing acts during the early '80s. Steve Harris signature bass lines act as an engine that keeps it all together while Dave Murray's jaw-dropping guitar shredding layers on top along with Dennis Stratton's guitar work. Paul Di'Anno's voice and punk-rock attitude mix very well with the music and the line-up is completed by Clive Burr pummeling wildly on the drums. While being a great record the record suffers from two main flaws, and the first is the sound quality. While the song writing and the playing from all members is phenomenal the soundscape is not on par with Killers (not to mention the bands later releases). We're not talking lo-fi black metal here, but it leaves some room for improvement nontheless.
Lyrics — 6
Paul Di'Anno's singing strength could easily be summed up in one word: attitude. He is fantastic at conveying it. Technically he doesn't have much to bring to the table (some even say he used to shake his head to get a vibrato effect, although I doubt that's true), but he has tons of attitude and pretty good emotion too. I believe his best side is being displayed during the song "Iron Maiden" and generally in the heavier parts rather than in the mellow ones. I've always thought that Maiden's debut record would have made a great instrumental piece, but Di'Anno's voice admittedly adds to the record and lifts it to further heights. The only song he does not contribute to is the instrumental song "Transylvania." Regarding the lyrics and so forth I stand a little divided, but they are what I consider to be the albums second flaw. On the one hand there are lyrics about a flasher, a criminal and a prostitute, which seems a bit immature and not very needed. I bet the band thought it was fun though, and why not? Maiden have always had some room for rock 'n' roll silliness. For me the lyrics are pretty forgettable however. The phantom of the opera is a great subject for a song, and the first lines are great only to be ruined by "Yeah, I know that you're gonna scratch me, maim me and maul." Most of the lyrics are cheesily twisted and seem as taken from a collection of bad horror movies. A height lyric-wise is "Remember Tomorrow," which is supposedly a song Di'Anno wrote about his grandfather.
Overall Impression — 8
A few things about this record makes it so great. The first is doubtlessly the strength of the song writing. While it doesn't feature as many hits as some other Maiden records this is a very even record that still manages to keep a high form. The only song that becomes too repetitive is "Sanctuary," which is not present on the original British pressing. Through-out the recording has attitude, emotion and a lot of energy. The cherry on the top of the cake is the track list which so importantly both opens and closes with great songs ("Prowler" and "Iron Maiden" respectively). The best song on the album has to be "Phantom of the Opera" which features lots of great instrumental parts. The most underrated part of the record is most likely the lead guitar work during "Strange World" which makes me think of Gary Moore for more than a second. What really makes this album shine though is the variation and the great tempo changes, and the fact that you can feel the energy and the passion the band had through the recording. If one can look past the only slightly better than mediocre sound quality and the cheesy lyrics there's a real music gem lying underneath it.