Iron Maiden

Paul Wong
four stars

Iron Maiden

Sony Music

To most, mention of the “80s metal scene conjures images of groupies, hairspray and makeup. The era can hardly be taken seriously when VH-1″s approach involves Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), a notorious player in the bombastic generation of arena rock, hosting his own show dedicated to metal or with Tommy Lee and his wife-beating, porno-filming misadventures. It”s easy to dismiss a whole genre based on bad exposure, and with the decadent decade returning to Hollywood in the form of a fashion a statement, credibility is waning with each eBay auction of a Poison shirt.

Amidst the toiletries, tapes and makeup compacts that comprise the time when neon colors were all the rage, there actually exists good music, influential music Iron Maiden”s music. Just ask about any present-day metal band from Marilyn Manson to Papa Roach who their influences are and Iron Maiden is at the top of the list. Even TRL favorite Sum 41 gives a nod to Maiden in the lyrics of their top single. Luckily for everyone whose 8-tracks wore out and records are scratched, or for those ready to experience the true roots of metal, these rock gods are re-issuing their entire collection of oldies on today”s medium of choice: CD. Spread across a few weeks, all 17 releases, counting studio and live albums, are being rehashed and redistributed.

Still maintaining an admirable career with a new album slated for late spring, it”s hard to pick a best of Maiden album when they continue churning out the tunes. Hailing from England and taking America by storm in the early “80s, Iron Maiden made a name for themselves with their expansive, guitar-based music. Their self-titled debut album”s first (also self-titled) track of dueling, howling guitars left the tonal calling card for the Brits” entire career: Speedy, intense, straightforward metal. Catchy, complicated riffs and killer guitar solos further their songs” melodies, dominating the trademark Iron Maiden sound. Combined with clear, comprehensible lyrics actually sung with dynamic range (as opposed to the current trend of hoarse screaming) Maiden took the simple concept of a rock song and expanded upon it infinitely, with critical acclaim accompanying every effort put forth.

Other groups of the era, and even those on the radio today, simply cannot claim the instrumental precision these masters explore in each of their releases. While the older albums contain Maiden in their prime and certainly their more famous tracks like “Number of The Beast”, “2 Minutes To Midnight”, and “The Trooper”, the releases of the last decade don”t disappoint either.

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