Deep Tracks – Iron Maiden Edition

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Digging for Deep Tracks in the Maiden catalog can be a challenge. With classic albums like Number of the Beast serving nearly as “Best of” collections anyway, finding tracks that even casual listeners are not familiar with is a task. That said, we’re going discography spelunking, so grab your headlamp and some rope.

I have been listening to Iron Maiden since 1986’s Somewhere In Time. This was the pinnacle of their output during the 80’s. The songwriting on this album is top notch, and the production is clean, bringing all facets of Maiden as a band together. Amazingly, the band hit another peak in 2000 with Brave New World. After spending considerable time apart, they sounded fresh and exciting again.

My job here is not to remind you of all the great tunes that Steve Harris and co. have given us over the years but to open up your brains a little with some gems that may get overlooked for your usual Maiden playlist. Digging deep into the corners of a band’s output can serve a couple of different purposes. It helps to give the listener some context of what the band is attempting to convey. Albums tend to have similar ideas and musical tidbits that run throughout. Maybe you will hear something about a deep track that makes you think of one of your favorite “Best of”  tracks. Like, “Wow, that chorus on (Deep Track) sounds like (Best of)!” Also, you score big Maiden Nerd points when you know that “Sign of the Cross” is the opener to Virtual XI. These Maiden Nerd points are exchangeable at bars when you need to impress the ladies.

First on the agenda is the opening track of the aforementioned Number of the Beast. “Invaders” is a great example of Maiden in early form, closer to the more aggressive punk influences than the epics of later years. With the aggressive intro and the no frills structure, the song moves quickly and sets the stage for the rest of this album. While songs like “Number of the Beast” and “Hallowed be Thy Name” get all the deserved attention, “Invaders” holds its own in the Maiden catalog.

Moving along the way to 1990’s No Prayer for the Dying, we find the worthwhile track with the unfortunate name of “Public Enema Number One”. This whole album can be looked at as a string of Deep Tracks. After the synth heavy 80’s came to a close, Maiden took a different approach to their production and songwriting. Gone were the slippery smooth production and electronic elements, and in their place was a more raw approach to the recording process. Although this mostly added up to a lackluster reception from Maiden fans, including me, there are a few playlist-worthy tunes on this album. “Public Enema Number One” has a chorus that is catchy and stays with you. The lyrics stand out because of the contemporary theme as opposed to the history lessons of 80’s Maiden.

No discussion of Maiden is complete without including the dreaded “Blaze Era”. There are some surefire duds in this part of the catalog, but “The Clansman” is NOT one of them. Taking the Epic Maiden staples of quiet middle sections and long crescendos and combining them with familiar source material, (Braveheart), Harris crafted a great tune that even features the famous William Wallace war cry, “Freedom!!” Blaze deserves some credit for carrying a song like this the way he does. No, he is not Bruce, but he doesn’t try to be on this song. He owns it, and owns it well. In fact, “The Clansman” was a staple of the live Maiden set for years after. For that version, check out the Rock In Rio disc.

Moving on from the Blaze Era, Iron Maiden made a huge “comeback” in 2000 with Brave New World. “The Fallen Angel” is one of the most rocking examples of how tight and creative Maiden can be. With Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith rejoining the band after extended absences, Maiden proved that they could still kill us as a 6-piece band without mucking up their sound. Listen to the guitar riffs under the chorus. That pull-off riff underneath the vocals is still a technique that is copied to this day. They may not have invented it, but they sure owned it. I put this album and this track up there with anything they produced in the 1980’s.

Finally, I am going to dive deep into 2003’s release, Dance of Death. I want to give credit where credit is due to Maiden’s skin-banger since 1983, Nicko McBrain. He finally receives a songwriting credit on an album, and also decides to bless us with his double-bass pedal prowess. “Face in the Sand” once again abandons the history lesson lyrics and deals with current events of the time, namely the Gulf War. The lyrics may be current and topical, but the heavy use of synths and the beginning of the song bring us back to a time in the mid-80’s when this was a staple for Maiden. I love the inclusion of the keys. It adds a dynamic that allows for all three guitarists to come in and out of the tune tastefully and to contribute lines that improve the whole.

Now that you have seen and heard my 5 choices for Iron Maiden’s best Deep Tracks, tell me what you think. Are these too “mainstream”? Too Deep? Is my Maiden knowledge too elementary? Do you not want any extra Maiden Nerd points? Then I will take them.

(Photo Via WikiMedia Commons)

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  • Vote for Jeb

    I still can’t believe that Dance of Death art is real.

    • CyberneticOrganism
    • I still think this is a strong competitor:

      http://media.therion.se/2014/04/theli_vinyl_white_1.jpg

      And this is the white vinyl version. Atrocious:

      http://vinyliciously.gr/images/uploads/THERION—THELI-2014-White-3.jpg

      • CyberneticOrganism

        Okay I’m done now. Sorry.

        http://i.imgur.com/ZhnY8vs.gif

      • Vote for Jeb

        Haha, I dig this album, but that’s some atrocious art too.

        • I love Therion <3

          • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

            Same here, but that armadillo dog man thingy doesn’t exactly scream ‘epic atmosphere’.

      • I still question who thought this was good every time I see it. By far the worst album cover I’ve ever seen. This is another shitty one:

    • Scrimm

      Someone made a bootleg cover where they removed everything but reaper Eddie standing on the dance floor with the red smoke behind him. Looked ten times better.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Horrid. But I love this track.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rn1fOqB7RIY

      • That album have some great tracks but it’s so long!

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Agreed. Most of their newer ones have that issue. A little bloated.

          • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

            I still haven’t been able to sit through that 18 minute track on the new one.

      • Scrimm

        Me too. Overlooked song.

    • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

      It’s like they’d been rummaging for artwork in Blind Guardian’s trash can.

      • Vote for Jeb

        Or hired someone’s nephew from the local community college.

        • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

          Eddie standing there by himself in the middle of that Cardinal Syn (the fighting game) jester background would’ve done just fine. Buuuuuut no, they had to cram in the extras from Eyes Wide Shut.

      • W00t?!

        Blind Guardian covers are amazing!

  • What an interesting feature,Ruin! Welcome to the podium and thanks for sharing this. Since I’m on a Maiden binge, I will check these tracks.

    Invaders is so much fun. I don’t know if this one is “deep” because Powerslave is famous as fuck, but still. That riff is majestic:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2JCGerRKew

  • CyberneticOrganism
    • Omg, that kid is such a h8er, m8.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Can’t go wrong with a discussion about kick ass Maiden tracks.

    • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

      Gah, is that Gerard Depardeu?!?

  • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

    Oh fuck yes, Maiden. Hmmmm, deep tracks. I’ll go with this. Thrashtastic.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th16vNh5HDw

    • Killers is such a great record and Purgatory is one of the best in that one.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Lfe4T2wqSo

    • Scrimm

      Underrated gems on this album.

      • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

        This album always seems to be missed, sandwiched in between the first album and cunting Number of the Beast. So it goes.

        • Scrimm

          I’ll take it over the first any day, And only Bruce and a couple tracks make me pick NOTB over it.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Well, Hallowed be Thy Name will always fucking slay.

          • Scrimm

            That, of course. Also love Children of the damned and 22 Acacia Avenue.

        • i’ve noticed the same thing and it’s a shame. Killers definitely features the band’s fiercest work

          • Paul Di’Anno killed in that album (pun semi-intended). The guitar work was incredible and yet it still have the charm of the first one.

          • killed good or bad? because i have a feeling many people overlook any NON-Bruce material

          • Oh, no no. It was very good! He still have the gritty harsh voice but it goes better with the melodies and the rhythms.

        • I always vastly preferred Killers to their debut!

        • Ted Nü-Djent ™

          I’m guilty of that. Not so much under rated as overlooked.

    • It’s strange, this and Somewhere in Time are my favorite albums by them.

      • Also, Killers is some sick ass artwork. One of my favorite t-shirts that I own.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Kick ass murder art for 1981 kills!

  • Scrimm

    As much as I worship this band, I strongly dislike Brave New World.

    • album has one major flaw: repetition of the hooks

      • Scrimm

        That’s a big one, but the songs just annoy me in general.

  • Strange World (Iron Maiden), Total Eclipse (NotB), Coming Home, Isle of Avalon, Starblind (Final Frontier doesn’t get near enough love)

    • Boss the Ross

      Nice list.
      Final Frontier is an amazing album. Where The Wild Wind Blows is in my top 5 Maiden songs.

  • Scrimm
    • Still Fucking Life. Maybe my favorite Maiden track ever. I don’t understand why it isn’t more popular.
      .
      .
      .
      .
      I just . . . don’t understand.

      • Scrimm

        Me either, It’s better than a lot of their “hits”

  • JamesGrimm

    Never been a fan. before my time i guess.

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Before most of our time.

      • Scrimm

        Timeless.

        • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

          Perfect.

          • JamesGrimm

            Ya the NWOBHM always seemed to big and alien for me to get.

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Well, maybe it’s time for another go?

          • Vote for Jeb

            He should at least check out Diamond Head.

          • Or Satan!

          • JamesGrimm

            ..?

          • JamesGrimm

            Eh.

          • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

            And Budgie.

          • Boss the Ross

            And Saxon.

          • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

            Saxon’s still killing it after all these years. Biff is what, 300 years old?

          • Boss the Ross

            Denim and Leather! Brought us all together!

          • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

            On the killing grounds!

          • JamesGrimm

            I had that thought when I was like 13 or 14. N ow its wwwaaayyyy to big and just a little boring. I’m still trying to get through In Flames discography let alone Maidens. lol

          • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

            Shit, get rid of the In Flames shit and go back to Maiden. What band has their first seven albums be fucking amazing?

          • JamesGrimm

            Mhm, maybe someday.

          • JamesGrimm

            Im a pretty big fan of melodeath and all its variations. Goin through a prog deth phase right now though.

          • Running Wild?

      • KJM, Doom Hunter General

        Not when you’re a creaking fossil like me.

      • JamesGrimm

        lol

  • Hubert

    It’s weird, I’ve never liked Maiden or any metal from that time that I’ve heard, even though I dig early hard-rock/metal (Proto-metal?) like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Again though, only that what I’ve heard. I’m a complete poser when it comes to things before the 90’s.

  • Disgustache

    Maiden was the first metal band I couldn’t get enough of and still can’t. 8th grade me loves this article. Present me loves this article. All of my selfs love you.

  • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa
  • Boss the Ross

    To Tame A Land
    Gangland
    Quest For Fire
    Deja-Vu
    The Nomad
    When The Wild Wind Blows

    UP THE IRONS!

    • Poopypanty’s Hulk Poop Salsa

      Die With Your Boots On and Where Eagles Dare, too.

      • Boss the Ross

        Die With Your Boots On is on my top 10 Maiden songs list.

        The list goes on, i tried to just stick with five of what i considered deep tracks. and still couldnt do that.
        Iron Maiden is just that awesome.

  • KJM, Doom Hunter General

    ^_^
    Pardon the cord.(RFI)

    • upvote for the ticket and the Enterprise

      • BEARD OV GREAT DAWKINS

        Upvote for upvoting KJM

        • KJM, Doom Hunter General

          Up votes for all my friends!!!

      • KJM, Doom Hunter General

        That mouse pad is over 20 years old.

    • Guppusmaximus

      Holy fuck…The Centrum. I saw KISS w/ Ted Nugent, Judas Priest w/ Megadeth & Testament,Motley Crue w/ Warrant, Iron Maiden w/ Anthrax there. Good Times:)

      • KJM, Doom Hunter General

        My first show there was Dio/Twisted Sister in August 1984(the oldest stub in my collection).

        • Guppusmaximus

          You lucky fucker… Vivian Campbell on guitar and Vinny Appice on drums. That must’ve been loud as fuck! m/ m/

          • KJM, Doom Hunter General

            Glorious, even more so with the hit of white blotter I took an hour beforehand. Keep in mind, I had no idea what to expect outside of the tunes. When the 3-headed cobra appeared from under the drum riser…

          • Guppusmaximus

            Yea… you looked around to see if anyone else saw it too.

            http://www.reactiongifs.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/mind_blown.gif

          • KJM, Doom Hunter General

            The audience noise was reassuring at that point. “Ah good, it’s not just me”.
            Those lasers left a serious temporary impression on my retinas though.

          • Lacertilian

            Upvote for blotter

          • KJM, Doom Hunter General

            Strong yet clean, no tummy issues at all.

  • Guppusmaximus

    Such a BEAST of a topic *Ba-Dum-Boom-Tiss*

    What…No love for Seventh Son? Clairvoyant anyone?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lh6QPg5BGsE

    or their S/T “Strange World”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRfVqpQbXx8

    Lets’ not forget Maiden’s most overlooked & classic riff of all time:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQraxqfL8SI

    Or when a backwards vocal track most definitely was a sign of the Devil..lol

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWXE_j2mwqM

    And what a time in their career to pull off a killer cover:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hebZV0l0Lng

    • Boss the Ross

      A fine list sir, fine indeed.

      • Guppusmaximus

        Thank you… Maiden fan since I was 7 or 8 (dating myself) and bought Killers on cassette probably around the time it was first released. The Maxi-Singles were a joy because it showed just how diverse Maiden was compared to a lot of the Metal bands at the time. They had that British humor and didn’t take themselves too seriously except when it came to their original material and concerts. Little bit long winded…they were my idols!

        • Boss the Ross

          Hell yeah, their humor is what keeps it all together. They take their music serious, but in the end they have fun and enjoy what they’re doing. Maiden is, or at least should be, everyone’s idols.
          Irons have been upped for you good sir!

  • xengineofdeathx

    Always thought quest for fire was kick ass and doesn’t get the credit it deserves in Maiden’s catalogue.

  • Waynecro

    You know, I’ve never been able to get into Maiden. I appreciate the band’s contributions to metal, of course, but the Maiden sound is too cheesy for me. I like when other bands cover Maiden, though: Altar’s version of “The Trooper” and Cradle of Filth’s take on “Hallowed Be Thy Name” come to mind. I just can’t jam to Maiden.

    • Guppusmaximus

      Maybe you should try ‘Killers’ or their S/T as both albums have more of a Crossover feel. ‘Prodigal Son’ is another deep track that fucking… Kills! {pun intended}

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxWsDJjsFKI

      • Waynecro

        Thanks, man. I’ve heard pretty much all of Maiden’s stuff–hell, I even played a lot of it in various bands back in the day–but it doesn’t work for me. I think I like what they’re playing, just not the way they’re playing it.

  • landregan

    Love your picks…I feel like ‘Judas Be My Guide’ doesn’t get enough love.

  • Here’s a few more amazing tracks by Iron Maiden:

  • tigeraid

    I can dig it. And I maintain that Dance of Death is one of Maiden’s best-ever releases.

  • …failing…