Iron Maiden is one of the most influential metal bands in history, with over 90 million albums sold worldwide.
They published 16 studio albums (Iron Maiden 1980, Killers 1981, The Number of the Beast 1982, Piece of Mind 1983, Powerslave 1984, Somewhere in Time 1986, Seventh Son of a Seventh Son 1988, No Prayer for the Dying 1990, Fear of the Dark 1992, The X Factor 1995, Virtual XI 1998, Brave New World 2000, Dance of Death 2003, A Matter of Life and Death 2003, The Final Frontier 2010, The Book of Souls 2015), 8 live albums (Live After Death, Maiden England 88′, Live at Donington, A Real Live Dead One, Rock in Rio, Death on the Road, Flight 666, En Vivo!) and 53 singles.
These albums were recorded in places like Chile, Denmark, Argentina, Japan, Germany, India, Australia, Brazil, and Russia. The actual members of the band are the following: Bruce Dickinson (singer), Dave Murray (guitars), Adrian Smith (guitars, vocals), Janick Gers (guitars), Steve Harris (bass, vocals), Nicko McBrain (drums). The band has won a Grammy for Best Metal Performance with the track “El Dorado” from the Final Frontier album.
Every metal band worships Iron Maiden as their great predecessor. There are only few bands who use a ten-foot rotting corpse called Eddie as a mascot, Iron Maiden is definitely one of them. Steve Harris attributes the band’s name to a film adaptation of „The Man In The Iron Mask” from the novel by Alexandre Dumas, which he saw around that time and which had a verbal connection to the iron maiden torture device.
Iron maiden was invented in Germany, it is originated in the town of Nuremberg and it’s german name is „Eiserne Jungfrau”. It consisted of an iron cabinet and a spike-covered interior, tall enough to enclose a human being. It is considered as the most brutal torture device of the Middle Age.
The band has a private airplane called „Ed Force One” which has crashed recently. The singer, Bruce Dickinson is a jumbo one pilot, who used to fly the plane sometimes. Some scandals also occured in the band’s history: an American conservative political lobbying group accused Iron Maiden were Satanic because of the album title „The Number of the Beast”.
A group of Christian activists crushed Iron Maiden records as an outrcy against the band. Recently, Dickinson claimed that the demonstrations actually gave them “loads of publicity”, and the band did not take this really seriously. That was the gaiety in the gloom!
8. Running Free
Running free is an autobiographical song. The single’s cover art is famous for the first appearance of Eddie, the band’s mascot.
The song portrays effectively a distressed adolescent’s state of mind who leaves everything behind for the adventures of a new life. The song has a mixed feeling of disappointment and defiance, while it adresses the self-pride by strengthening the feelings of courage, independence and power. Vive la liberté!
7. Fear of the dark
This song is a confession about the tormenting inner fears of the soul. Darkness, the perfect symbol of the unknown and mysterious can cause a lot of anxiety, but the confrontation may be uplifting and releasing.
“ Makes us face our inner phobias ”
The fear of the dark is one of the oldest fears of mankind: in darkness we can not orientate ourselves, we lose our steadiness and our feeling of security and the horror of vulnerability overcomes us.
Not to mention the fact that the dark ignites our imagination and we are inclined to convince ourselves that the worst possible scenario will happen.
A man has to be strong and never show fear in society, but probably this approach should change. Men have feelings and weaknesses too, but the supression of these may lead to unpredictable consequences (sudden outbursts, aggression). Music is therapy and this song makes us face our inner phobias and helps us to overcome them.
6. Wasted Years
Who never complained about wasting time? Time is a very precious thing and it really needs to be appreciated and divided up wisely.
Nowadays we tend to spend a lot of time on social medias, checking our e-mails and mobile phones irregularly which may be considered as wasted time, because we also could spend quality time with our friends or our family or just visit some cultural events instead.
But sighing for the wasted years is also time wasting, and that has to be understood. One has to learn from the faults of the past, but always look forward and be open for new challenges in life. That’s what the song is about.
5. The Number of the Beast
This controversial song was born under the influence of the movie „Omen” and begins with a quote from the Book of Revelation.
The movie is about a secretly adopted orphan who seem to be the anti-christ. Satan is Lucifer, the fallen angel who always wants to tempt mankind into choosing the wrong way, and ultimately strives for the destruction of men’s soul and body.
Iron Maiden was accused of satanism in the USA for this song (seemingly Satanistic beliefs have become meanwhile more tolerated in a social sense, satanism is now permitted in the Royal Navy of the British Armed Forces, despite the protestation of Christians).
666, the number of the beast occurs often in the lyrics, but Iron Maiden’s satanism is a question of interpretation. Some say the song is rather a warning about the rise of the devil and the band is not necessarily satanist. Anyway, it sounds really good.
4. The Clairvoyant
The song begins in first person, and after his death it changes to third person. According to Steve Harris, it was inspired by the death of Doris Stokes, a psychic.
She was a quite controversial figure, accused of using deception -like eavesdropping and cold reading- to achieve the communication with the dead. The interesting thing is if she was a clairvoyant how could she not foresee her own death?
Here the band raises a philosophical question too: „isn’t it strange that as soon as you’re born you’re dying?” What is the purpose of life if it is only temporal? We live, we love, we think and then we die. But why do we build if we know that everything will collapse? Again and again and again?
3. El Dorado
„El Dorado” won a Grammy Award in Best Metal Category in 2011. The song is about the economic recession, which began in 2007 and reflects on “people’s hope for a better life” and how “the rug was pulled out from under them” as a result of lending.
This topic is very hot and relevant. According to the legend, El Dorado was a mythical South American country searched by the conquistadors to alleviate their hunger for gold. Apparently this hunger has not changed since then, mankind does not seem to learn from it’s faults. Greed and envy still ruins the lives of millions, and the people in power do not seem to really care.
Purgatory is a faster rearrangement of the song „Floating”. Who never asked questions about the destiny of the soul after death? This subject excites our mind since the dawn of humanity.
Ancient cultures put a much bigger emphasis on this, and our materialistic contemporary society treats this question rather as a taboo, we are afraid of death, we are afraid of losing our accumulated values and objects.
Purgatory is an intermediate state in the next world, where souls undergo a final purification before they may enter the gates of heaven. At the end we will be all equal and naked before the eyes of God, and we will leave everything behind: status, money, success and fame.
Even the mega rich who treat average people as „peasants” will be surprised how temporary their power and wealth is. „Please take me away, take me away, so far away” says the song, which words express a romantic longing to another world, another reality.
1. Brave New World
The title originates from the book of Aldous Huxley, which depicts a society led by the world controllers, who manipulate people by genetic engineering, brainwashing and drugs. In this world everyone is consuming soma against depression and the most popular form of entertainment is „Feelie”, a movie that stimulates the senses.
The song could be interpreted as a wake up call against our society, which has much in common with the Brave New World. When everybody is ill and brainwashed, the one who has a healthy and rational attitude will be considered ill. The consumer society programmed us to smile and to always be happy, we have to fit in, otherwise we would be regarded as mad men.
Iron Maiden is alive, and rocks on since 1975. And it seems that they will continue, despite the many obstacles occuring on their way. For example Bruce Dickinson had tongue cancer in 2015, but he beat it. Where there is a will, there will always be a way. So, hang in there, and keep on doing the good job!