Iron Maiden – Killers

Iron Maiden - 1981 - Killers

Killers by Iron Maiden

Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Type: Studio Album
Release Format: CD
Original Release Year: 1981
Label: Sanctuary Records, Metal-is Records
Issue of Album Being Reviewed: CK 86209

1. The Ides of March (1:45)
2. Wrathchild (2:55)
3. Murders In the Rue Morgue (4:18)
4. Another Life (3:23)
5. Genghis Khan (3:09)
6. Innocent Exile (3:54)
7. Killers (5:01)
8. Prodigal Son (6:12)
9. Purgatory (3:20)
10. Twilight Zone (2:33)
11. Drifter (4:49)

Paul Di’Anno – Vocals
Adrian Smith – Guitars
Dave Murray – Guitars
Steve Harris – Bass Guitar
Clive Burr – Drums

Produced by: Martin Birch

There aren’t many bands out there who can put out a classic debut album like Iron Maiden and follow it up with another Killer album (pun intended) that is just as or even more legendary (they actually continued to do this with each successive album in the ’80s). Killers was the first Iron Maiden album for many metalheads back in the day just based on the album art alone which, like all of Maiden’s albums through No Prayer for the Dying, was created by the master artist Derek Riggs. Before even listening to the music Iron Maiden has appeal and that is only boosted by the awesomeness of the music contained on each record. If Maiden was all about album art, I’d highly doubt they would have one of the largest and most devoted fan bases in the world (Rush and Metallica are their closest rivals).

Moving on from the Killer album art (pun intended again), Killers is a step above the debut album with the renowned Martin Birch making his debut as producer for Iron Maiden on this album and Adrian Smith replacing Dennis Stratton on the six strings to bring us the classic Murray/Smith guitar duo that is so essential to Maiden’s sound. The lineup is rounded off with returning vocalist Paul Di’Anno who puts out an even better performance on this album than the last, the late skin-basher Clive Burr who’s loose drumming style helped define the first three Maiden albums, and the mastermind on the bass Steve Harris. Iron Maiden were a dangerous band even before they solidified their lineup as can be heard through the music.

The album has, in my opinion, one of the best opening songs for an album with the instrumental track The Ides of March. Clocking in at a little under two minutes, the song builds up, goes through a solo and winds down with missing a step or boring the listener all the while setting the standard high for the rest of the album. The track was originally a piece called Thunderburst from Samson’s second album, Head On, being co-written by Harris as well as the members of Samson which included Bruce Dickinson who fronted the band before Iron Maiden. Immediately following The Ides of March is album’s most iconic song – Wrathchild. The song has one of Steve Harris’ many signature bass lines as well as ripping solos from Smith and Murray and one of Di’Anno’s best vocals performances. It’s no wonder the band still plays it live, but unfortunately it is also the only song that has remained in the setlist since the ’80s.

The album doesn’t lose any of its momentum from start to finish with the band laying down classic after classic like Murders in the Rue Morgue, Genghis Khan, and Prodigal Son. Two of my favorite cuts from the album are the title track, Killers, and Purgatory. The first time I heard the title track was on YouTube listening to the live album Maiden England before it was reissued and remastered this year. It was instantly a favorite of mine from the live album with Bruce’s screams during the “Yeah!” part in the intro and Steve Harris’ monster bass line (one of the first things I learned on my bass guitar). The album version blows away the live version. Bruce may be the superior singer, but no one can sing the song quite like Di’Anno did here where he sounds like he is coming for you with an axe much like Eddie on the cover. The second song, Purgatory, simply kicks ass. The whole band puts on a relentless performance with Clive Burr and Steve Harris keeping rhythm while Smith & Murray’s dual-guitar attack assault your ears and Paul Di’Anno sings one of Maiden’s catchiest songs. Too bad Maiden hasn’t played the song live since Di’Anno was in the band because it is one of the best from that period!

Killers is definitely an essential Maiden album and it has some of the less recognized songs of Maiden’s ’80s catalog. Unfortunately the album gets eclipsed by the two monster albums it is sandwiched between and gets forgotten save for Wrathchild when it comes to Maiden’s live set. I’ve seen Maiden twice on the Maiden England tour (once in 2012 in Irvine, CA and again this year in San Bernardino, CA for the Battle of San Bernardino) and they were over the top both times but the setlist was mostly hit songs from the Dickinson era with some stuff they haven’t played in awhile. I’d love to see them again for one of these era-themed tours, especially if they played some of the other stuff they haven’t touched since the ’80s (like songs from this album or two of my favorites: Still Life and Infinite Dreams). I can’t imagine any metalhead who hasn’t seen the cover of this or heard Wrathchild but I can imagine a lot of people who don’t know anything past Wrathchild from here. If you are one of those people, go pick it up! You won’t be disappointed.

Keep it heavy and look out cause Eddie’s coming for you!

Ratt’s Song Picks: Wrathchild, Killers, Purgatory

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