As decades pass and thousands of Heavy Metal albums are released, there will always be those select titles that are still left standing tall. Iron Maiden Killers is one of those select albums that reigns as a killer for me… 28 years after it’s June 1981, U.S. release. Killers epitomizes Old School Heavy Metal, plus Iron Maiden legitimizes the single word – Metal, as it’s very own sub genre. Whenever I think of “Metal” the first band that comes to my mind is Iron Maiden. I sometimes debate myself senseless, asking why isn’t Iron Maiden my favorite Heavy Metal band of all time? Then, I ease my confusion by just knowing that Iron Maiden is and forever will be a “core” band of mine. Killers essentially was faster and harder than many traditional Heavy Metal albums of it’s time… the great part is that Iron Maiden was just beginning to “touch upon” the progressive side of Metal Music, an attribute they became so legendary for.
Back in 1981, the Thrash Metal movement was the welcomed storm on the horizon… Iron Maiden was the baddest and heaviest outside of just a select group of their peers. Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Scorpions and Accept come to mind, when deciphering which Metal bands were as hard and heavy as Iron Maiden, back in 1981. Still, outside of Motorhead, Iron Maiden was about speed, the songs on Killers are overall – fast. Exceptions do exist, Prodigal Son is a slower paced Iron Maiden song without a doubt. The tempo being dictated by the acoustic guitars only magnifies the slender tempered sound of Prodigal Son. (Going back to the debut Iron Maiden album, Remember Tomorrow signified the flirtation with somberness that this legendary band would revisit in future albums, Prodigal Son carry’s over this assertion).
Backtracking to the intro of Killers, The Ides Of March, I insist that this was the sign of all Metal things to come on this prolific album. The Ides Of March is heavy, it is melancholy, dark and foreboding… in essence, a Metal prelude or warning if you will, that Iron Maiden was not fabricating or pretending. Twilight Zone is the song from Killers, where I feel Paul Di’Anno is at his giant best, vocally. Certainly, it is my personal opinion, as is the case with this entire article. Genghis Khan is the Metal instrumental that catapulted the musical identity of Iron Maiden, the trademark sound of this soon to be – historic Metal band. My eyeballs still pop open wide, to this very day, each time I listen to Genghis Khan.
When it comes down to musicianship, what honestly can be nit picked here? Iron Maiden as a unit on Killers made layering famous and vogue – basically instigating Progressive Metal from it’s dormancy. I cannot and never will find a fault with this legendary Iron Maiden lineup, Paul Di’Anno was the lead singer for this band in 1981 and a damned great one too… Metal case closed. Even back in the mid 1980′s, I never gave a damn about comparing Paul Di’Anno to Bruce Dickinson… what’s the point? Any seasoned Metalhead knew then and should know now, that these two lead singers are worlds apart with technique and range. In my Metal opinion, one is not better than the other, they are both unique and stylistically genuine. Paul Di’Anno gave the songs on Killers a mysterious tone, his vocals created a fog invading sound scape that bordered on macabre.
Murders In The Rue Morgue is my favorite song on Killers. Again, it’s speed, hard and heavy that this song illuminates. Paul Di’Anno never needed to hit the highest note on the planet to make Murders In The Rue Morgue an Iron Maiden classic, instead his fiery swagger is not just heard vocally, it is felt. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith unleashing their duo guitar leads proved that there was another one-two Metal guitar punch out there… alongside Metal guitar legends Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing of Judas Priest. Clive Burr on drums was not an enigma, he was THE drummer for Iron Maiden during the most important years of their maturation. And then, there is THE bass guitarist for Iron Maiden. To better accentuate my Metal point here, what Babe Ruth will forever be to the history of baseball, what the Mona Lisa will forever be to the history of fine art portraits, Steve Harris will forever be of equal importance to the history of Heavy Metal and Metal Music. Go ahead, listen or re-listen to Iron Maiden Killers… then listen really closely to the bass guitar playing of Steve Harris, hopefully you might just understand what I mean.