The 100 Greatest Metal Albums of All Time

The most headbangable records ever, from Metallica's Black Album to Black Sabbath's 'Paranoid'

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Iron Maiden, 'Iron Maiden' (1980)
100
13/100

13. Iron Maiden, 'Iron Maiden' (1980)

At the end of the Me Decade, the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal revitalized the genre with flashy use of speed, melody and aggression. One of the turning points in this upstart scene was Iron Maiden's eponymous debut. Seasoned by years of club performances, the quintet combined the gritty heavy rock of UFO with the technical dexterity of prog groups like Genesis and Wishbone Ash. Steve Harris' fleet-fingered bass lines carried the melody instead of traditionally anchoring the rhythm, while guitarists Dave Murray and Dennis Stratton alternated between abrasive riffs and intricately arranged dual harmonies. With singer Paul Di'Anno providing a swaggering growl, Iron Maiden was at the same time confrontational ("Prowler," "Running Free"), moody ("Remember Tomorrow," "Strange World"), and in the case of the Jethro Tull–esque "Phantom of the Opera," theatrical. Iron Maiden set the stage for a glorious seven-album run in the Eighties that would see the band become one of metal's biggest acts. "It was probably one of the worst-sounding albums and we weren't happy with the production," Murray once told author Martin Popoff, "but for that time, it really captured the raw energy of the band." A.B.

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