Iron Maiden – Piece Of Mind

September 7, 2012 in Artist Rewind, Reviews by Kylie

Iron Maiden
Piece Of Mind
1983

Fresh off their conquering of the world with 1982’s The Number Of The Beast, we return to Iron Maiden acquiring the final piece of their “classic” lineup: drummer Nicko McBrain. And Nicko immediately makes his presence felt with the ludicrously complex drum beat in the opener, “Where Eagles Dare.”

It’s a bit of an oddball as far as Maiden openers go, being more along the lines of a Black Sabbath feeling, heavy, mid-tempo track rather than some blistering speed metal. The instrumental midsection can only be described as epic. “Revelations” follows up as a bit more progressive, with numerous tempo and feel changes (and live versions even feature Bruce Dickinson playing guitar!), some amazing harmony lines, killer riffs, and great lyrical imagery typical of a Bruce composition (and this is his first to appear on a Maiden album).

Flight Of Icarus” is a bit of a letdown. The outro solo is killer and the chorus is soaring, but the song plods along far too slowly and controlled for its own good (an opinion shared with the rest of the band, outside of Bruce and Adrian, who wrote the song). “Die With Your Boots On” and “The Trooper” bring back the relentless riffing fury from The Number Of The Beast as straightforward speed metal. The latter is in the upper echelon of elite Maiden tracks, while the former is more of a lost gem.

Still Life” opens with some hidden, subliminal backmasking (OK, overt backmasking) of Nicko telling all the evangelists who branded the band as Satanists “…don’t meddle with things you don’t understand.” Another underrated classic. “Quest For Fire” is probably the worst song Maiden has done, mixing a plodding guitar riff and excessively goofy lyrics. There’s a decent harmony line in there, but little could save this song. However, I’m a huge fan of the other alleged “filler” song: “Sun And Steel.” I’ve always had a hard time figuring out why so many panned the song when it features a great Adrian Smith riff and some great lead work. Sure, the lyrics are bit simplistic, but not every song needs to be “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”

To Tame A Land” (originally titled “Dune,” and listed as such on some very rare pressings, but author Frank Herbert would have nothing to do with heavy metal bands…especially heavy metal bands like Iron Maiden) closes the album in grand fashion. It builds from an airy melody to another Sabbath-esque riff to a blistering harmony and solo section (the highlight of the album).

As for non-album tracks, we have a studio version of “I’ve Got The Fire” and Maiden’s biggest US hit (yes, seriously), their cover of Jethro Tull’s “Cross-Eyed Mary.” While both are good (with the exception of Bruce botching the cover in “Cross-Eyed Mary”…it’s “she signs no contracts, but she always plays the game!”), neither are particularly earth-shattering or really warranting a scavenger hunt to find

So, we have a solid followup to a genre-defining classic that, while a solid slab of metal, does have a few missteps. However, the good is really freakin’ good.

 Kylie’s rating: 4.5 out of 5