Piece Of Mind

Iron Maiden

Capitol Records, 1983

http://ironmaiden.com

REVIEW BY: Riley McDonald

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/10/2004

Out of all the years of metal supremacy in the 80s, it was '83 that really sticks out for me. There was a slough of exceptional albums released by debuting artists, or veterans of the genre. Standing head and shoulders above all albums from that year though, it Maiden's fourth release. While Number of the Beast is likely their most popular recording, it was merely setting the stage for this work of art.

Piece of Mind would be the album that finally snapped the Maiden Curse. After drummer Clive Burr left, he was replaced by the eccentric, yet marvellous Nicko "Mad" McBrain. This lineup of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith on guitars, Steve Harris on bass, Nicko on drums, and Bruce Dickinson manning the vocals would last for four albums spanning four years.

The record starts off with the horribly underrated gem"Where Eagles Dare." The drums pound with the relentlessness of a machine gun, the guitar riffs are fresh and brilliant, and the Air Raid Siren once again proves why he's the greatest singer on the planet. It is easily one of the better war songs that Maiden has written.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

However, it is overshadowed by the next track, my favourite Iron Maiden song of all-time, and arguably one of the greatest songs that the world has ever known. I am, of course, talking about "Revelations." From the opening verse, a hymnal by G.K. Chesterson, to the final lines of "It is you / Oh-oh / It is you," the track never lets up. Harris' bass is at its finest form, churning out some of the greatest rhythms that he and McBrain would ever come up with. Murray and Smith's dual guitar attack is melodious and crushing simultaneously. Bruce hits the high notes and the low notes effortlessly, contributing all the more to the song's sheer magnificence. I'll just point out now that everything I said in this paragraph was a gross understatement.

Two of the band's more well-known anthems, "Flight of Icarus" and "The Trooper" are on this disc. The former is a slow-paced, epic song that's only flaw is its lack of length. The latter is one of Maiden's better songs, with one of the most memorable riffs ever. It never lets up with its galloping pace (which is appropriate, seeing as how it's about a British cavalry charge against a Russian defence in the Crimean War). It is (rightfully) a standard at every Iron Maiden concert.

The second half of the album is slightly weaker than the first, but there are some majestic tracks. The main one being "To Tame a Land," a towering epic of a song about Frank Herbert's novel Dune. With it's constant shifts in the music, and an instrumental section better than -- yes, I'm saying it -- "Phantom of the Opera," it leaves me wondering why they never play this live any more.

In fact, after listening to this record several dozen times, the only sub-par track is "Sun and Steel," that I just can't groove to at all. It's too upbeat and happy, and kind of kills the mood of the whole album.

For many millions of fans of the band, this is the record to have. While I enjoy Somewhere in Time a little more, I cannot deny that Piece of Mind is one of the defining moments of metal. Every self-respecting metalhead should own two copies of this (one to listen to, one to worship in a shrine), and I suggest that anyone looking to give this band a try start with this one.

Rating: A

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© 2004 Riley McDonald and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.