Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs – ranked! | Iron Maiden

30. Burning Ambition (1980)

Famously no fan of punk – music he described as “against my religion” – bassist and founding member Steve Harris has at all times denied its affect on early Iron Maiden. But how else to account for this intriguing, compact curio on the B-side of Running Free, an ideal gene-splice between metallic, Thin Lizzy and, effectively, punk?

29. Coming Home (2010)

If calling Coming Home a ballad is pushing it a bit, it’s as near a ballad as Maiden are more likely to get, a sign that – had they wished – they might have aced AOR. A considerate reflection on touring and what you may name the philosophical pleasures of aviation, full with stadium-sized refrain.

28. Empire of the Clouds (2015)

The longest tune in Maiden’s catalogue, a posh, 18-minute cinematic, episodic leviathan that tells the story of the British airship R-101’s closing voyage. The work of the singer, Bruce Dickinson, who spent a month composing it on piano, it’s the sound of a band declining to relaxation on their appreciable laurels and pushing into the unknown as an alternative.

Bruce Dickinson and Janick Gers at Wembley Arena in 1993.
Bruce Dickinson and Janick Gers at Wembley Arena in 1993. Photograph: Stuart Mostyn/Redferns

27. Hell on Earth (2021)

2021’s Senjutsu is a double album that’s finest devoured in full – proof that, almost 50 years after they shaped, Iron Maiden are in a exceptional inventive purple patch – however should you needed to choose one observe, it could be the Harris-penned nearer Hell on Earth: plaintive and explosive, with a killer vocal.

26. Dance of Death (2003)

“Let me tell you a story to chill the bones …” opens Dickinson in hammy fashion that has extra to do with horror movies than Dance of Death’s precise inspiration, Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Dickinson carried out Dance of Death stay dressed because the Grim Reaper, summing the observe up: it’s knowingly preposterous and genuinely gripping.

25. Sea of Madness (1986)

The Somewhere in Time LP generated a level of controversy amongst Iron Maiden diehards for its flagrant use of – gasp! – synthesisers, however the notion that this newfound curiosity may blunt their sound is demolished by the Adrian Smith-penned Sea of Madness: prima facie proof that the album is under-rated.

Gers with band mascot Eddie, in 2005.
Gers with band mascot Eddie, in 2005. Photograph: Mick Hutson/Redferns

24. The Longest Day (2006)

Harris summarised 2006’s acclaimed LP A Matter of Life and Death as “heavier than we’ve ever been”, which definitely matches The Longest Day. Among Maiden’s multitude of struggle epics, it could be essentially the most brutal and horrifying – it definitely doesn’t sound just like the work of multimillionaires of their 60s.

23. 22 Acacia Avenue (1982)

The lyrics of the two-part saga of Charlotte the Harlot, a form of metallic equal of the Police’s Roxanne, haven’t aged terribly effectively – “All the men that are constantly drooling / It’s no life for you, stop all that screwing” – however the music on 22 Acacia Avenue is taut, dramatic and completely thrilling.

22. Running Free (1980)

Founded on a warp-speed tackle glam’s glitterbeat, Running Free is Maiden’s early, Paul Di’Anno-fronted years in miniature. It’s sharp, punchy and based – regardless of the lyrical references to LA, which sound just like the wishful work of somebody who has by no means been additional than Leytonstone. east London – in a want for escape from grim city actuality.

21. The Evil That Men Do (1988)

Most of 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son LP – an idea album – was suitably proggy, however The Evil That Men Do kicks towards that specific pattern. Relatively quick and straightforwardly onerous hitting, it sounds appealingly like the essential essence of Maiden in concentrated type.

20. Blood Brothers (2000)

With due respect to the unfairly maligned Blaze Bayley, there was no mistaking the upswing when Dickinson returned after seven years to the vocalist’s position on Brave New World. You can hear it on Blood Brothers: the verses have a touch of people about them, the refrain is pure emotive singalong, that appears to tangentially reference Dickinson’s return.

19. Alexander the Great (356-323BC) (1986)

Unfairly overshadowed by the historic epics on their earlier LP, Powerslave, the closing observe from Somewhere in Time is much better than its fame suggests, with impeccably detailed lyrics: “He spread Hellenism far and wide … he paved the way for Christianity”. They have by no means performed it stay, which appears a disgrace.

Paul Di’Anno (centre) with Dave Murray and Steve Harris at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980.
Paul Di’Anno (centre) with Dave Murray and Steve Harris at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980. Photograph: Pete Still/Redferns

18. The Clansman (1998)

Iron Maiden’s years with Bayley as frontman are under-rated, however even their loudest critic ought to have a spot of their coronary heart for The Clansman – Harris-penned, Braveheart-inspired and Bayley’s most interesting second. If you could have Dickinson, there’s an amazing 2020 stay model.

17. Wrathchild (1981)

Dickinson is clearly Maiden’s biggest vocalist, however should you wished to listen to what Di’Anno dropped at the band, then Wrathchild – the saga of a person trying to find his absent father – could be good proof. Fuelled by a rasping, believably street-tough grittiness, it offers in a noticeably completely different sort of rawness and energy.

16. Flight of Icarus (1983)

The observe that launched the Piece of Mind album, Flight of Icarus was a barely abstruse alternative of first single – it doesn’t have The Trooper’s grab-you-by-the-throat high quality – but it surely’s improbable. The Immigrant Song-like chug bears a hovering refrain, and the lyrics apparently view its doomed hero as a logo of freedom and rise up.

15. Wasted Years (1986)

Lyrically, a deeply odd, anomalous Maiden observe, on which Smith appears to be questioning the purpose of being within the band. Conversely, he units this burst of existential self-doubt to the sort of nailed-on refrain assured to maintain Maiden in enterprise for the foreseeable future.

80s heyday … (from left) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain and Adrian Smith.
80s hey (hair) day … (from left) Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Nicko McBrain and Adrian Smith. Photograph: Ross Halfin

14. Children of the Damned (1982)

It says one thing concerning the sheer high quality of The Number of the Beast {that a} tune pretty much as good as Children of the Damned looks like one thing of a deep lower. It leaps from acoustic ballad opening, to crunching Black Sabbath-ish riffing, to warp-speed drumming and guitar pyrotechnics. Still utterly thrilling.

13. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1984)

On Powerslave’s prolonged, zero-fucks-given-for-the-dictates-of-fashion nearer, Harris’s love of prog rock was lastly given full episodic flower, full with spoken-word interlude, sound results and umpteen dynamic shifts by means of which the stress by no means lets up. A observe that helped kickstart a whole progressive metallic subgenre and briefly endeared Iron Maiden to a technology of O-level English academics.

12. Run to the Hills (1982)

A Top 10 hit and apparently a minimum of partly impressed by Frank Sinatra’s My Way – it’s all within the ascending main sixth intervals, it appears. For a band debuting a brand new singer, Maiden sound utterly imperious and swaggeringly highly effective; individuals who know they’ve discovered the lacking piece of the puzzle.

11. The Wicker Man (2000)

The return of Dickinson and Smith to Maiden was introduced in thunderous fashion, with one of many biggest album openers of the band’s profession. A easy however ferociously hard-driving riff, with a refrain designed to be joyously bellowed alongside to en masse, it introduced the overwhelming sense that the band had been working on full steam as soon as extra.

Steve Harris in 1987.
Steve Harris in 1987. Photograph: Chris Walter/WireImage

10. Fear of the Dark (1992)

Iron Maiden sounded worryingly listless within the early 90s. Exception that proves the rule: Fear of the Dark’s unbelievable title observe. Listen to the bedlam its intro causes on 2002’s Live in Rio or 2005’s Death on the Road: the noise of the gang is sort of as thrilling because the tune itself.

9. Paschendale (2003)

The biggest tune so far of Maiden’s second Dickinson period options one of many band’s everlasting themes – the futility of struggle – reanimated into eight minutes of detailed dynamic surges and horrifying lyrics: the protagonist finally ends up choking on his personal blood. “A powerful and stirring body of music,” opined Dickinson, not unreasonably.

8. The Number of the Beast (1982)

Iron Maiden’s contribution to the satanic panic led to by metallic’s curiosity within the occult was impressed by a nightmare; the results of watching Damien: Omen II. Vincent Price declined to offer the opening narration and extra idiot him: The Number of the Beast is a tacky-but-terrifying Hammer horror movie, completely wrought into tune.

7. 2 Minutes to Midnight (1984)

A radio-friendly observe that doesn’t sacrifice a scrap of Maiden’s energy, 2 Minutes to Midnight is a no-punches-pulled protest tune about struggle – riven with nuclear paranoia and replete with a reference to Belsen – that additionally options an air-punch-inducing refrain. And it’s nonetheless grimly related: in response to the Doomsday Clock referenced within the title, it’s now 100 seconds to midnight.

Live in Sweden in 2018.
Live in Sweden in 2018. Photograph: PYMCA/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

6. Phantom of the Opera (1980)

Much of Maiden’s debut appeared to talk of the world from which they’d sprung – a gritty tackle onerous rock born out of gigs in east London pubs – however Phantom of the Opera was one thing else: bold, prolonged and held collectively by a riff so simple it was, extremely, used to flog Lucozade within the mid-80s.

5. Powerslave (1984)

The sound of a band firing on all cylinders – Middle Eastern-inspired riffs, unexpectedly dreamy center part, intricate soloing – however Powerslave’s power lies in Dickinson’s pressing efficiency. You can recommend a tune a couple of dying Egyptian pharaoh realising that he’s mortal reasonably than a deity is faintly daft, however the dread in his voice makes it weirdly plausible.

4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

Iron Maiden’s again catalogue is filled with sudden adjustments, surges in energy and accelerations in pace, however essentially the most breathtaking of the lot could be the one at 7min 5sec in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, when its ominous chug and synth-assisted atmospherics unexpectedly give solution to a burst of all-out aggression.

At Ozzfest in 2005.
At Ozzfest in 2005. Photograph: Annamaria DiSanto/WireImage

3. Aces High (1984)

Powerslave – and umpteen gigs over time – opens with arguably essentially the most potent, aggressive, in-your-face Maiden tune of the lot. Aces High prices alongside at Motörhead tempo, concurrently deft and heavy. Its authors in all probability wouldn’t thanks for saying it, however the refrain is the sort of hovering uplifting masterstroke that pop songwriters would kill for.

2. The Trooper (1983)

The story of the Charge of the Light Brigade rendered into 4 minutes. The band’s trademark galloping rhythm has by no means sounded extra applicable and their harmonised guitar riffs have by no means discovered a extra memorable expression than right here. Less complicated than a few of Maiden’s historic epics, The Trooper’s forex is uncooked energy.

1. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

What places The Number of the Beast’s closing observe on the high of this listing? It options presumably the best recorded instance of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s twin guitars in motion, a construction that, in its shifts in tempo and temper, displays its condemned-man protagonist’s motion from confusion and “surmounting terror” to daring anger – vertical elevate off is achieved at 4min 33sec – and a improbable, edge-of-hysteria Dickinson vocal. If an alien, just lately arrived on Earth, wished to know what heavy metallic was, you would spend hours explaining its manifold complexities, or you would simply play them Hallowed Be Thy Name – they’d get the thought.

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