With the exception of Black Sabbath, no band has had more of an impact on metal and rock than Iron Maiden. The British warhorses’ bootprint has been indelibly stamped on countless bands who have emerged over the last 40 years, from thrash giants to nu metal ragers. Here are 10 bands who definitely wouldn’t exist without Maiden…
Lars Ulrich might be the world’s biggest Diamond Head fan, but he acknowledges that it was Maiden who remain his band’s biggest inspiration. “They have always been the one that's probably inspired Metallica the most, they had cooler record covers,” he told Zane Lowe in 2020. “They seem to care more about the fans.”
We’re still waiting for that fantasy Metallica/Maiden double-header though…
We’ve got Corey Taylor’s nan to thank for the career of the biggest band of the modern metal era. “The first album that I ever got for Christmas was Powerslave,” the Slipknot singer enthused to Metal Hammer a few years back. “I asked my grandma to take me out to get some music and she bought me this and Mötley Crüe’s Girls, Girls, Girls on cassette. I knew before we got to the store that I had to have Iron Maiden.”
There’s a lot of love for Maiden among the late 90s/early 00s nu metal massive, not least from Disturbed’s David Draiman. “Iron Maiden are one of the most seminal metal bands of all time,” he frothed to Metal Hammer. “Bruce is a massive source of inspiration for me personally. He’s insanely gifted, and the quintessential metal frontman. No one does it better.”
The Disturbed/Maiden crossover became official when the US band’s mascot The Guy rocked up in Maiden’s Legacy Of The Beast game in early 2022.
4. Avenged Sevenfold
Avenged Sevenfold may have started out as a Huntington Beach metalcore band, but there was always a bunch of Iron Maiden fans waiting to burst out. “I remember bringing [Number Of The Beast] to Brian [guitarist Synyster Gates] and Zach [Zacky Vengeance] and saying, “Man, these dueling guitars are so cool. Listen to what they’re doing here,” singer M Shadows told Rolling Stone. “That record changed a lot for us.”
It was on 2005's City Of Evil that Avenged let their Maiden-isms properly take root, epic key-changes and all. Bonus points for covering 1983 Maiden deep cut Flash Of The Blade too.
Opeth frontman Mikael Akerfeldt was another early Maiden adopter, claiming to have brought The Number Of The Beast when he was just eight years old. “I was on a mission to buy a metal record one day, and it just happened to be Maiden,” he told Metal Hammer. "It’s become one of the most important records in my life. I don’t even have to listen to it anymore; I hear it in my head. It’s in my DNA.”
In fact, Akers is such a huge fan of ’Arry and co that he asked Wil Malone, the man who produced their self-titled debut, to add strings to the Swedes’ 2012 album Sorceress just so he could meet him.
It’s not just Sabaton’s music that owes a massive debt to Iron Maiden. Their History Channel-goes-metal schtick can be traced back to combative Maiden gallopers such as Where Eagles Dare, The Trooper and Aces High.
“It was the pure energy in the music, the guitar playing or the howling vocals, the fact that there was always something going on and they never stood still,” said Joakim Broden of the influence of the band’s early albums. “They somehow managed to take the energy of punk and put it into heavy metal without losing any of what made metal great.”
Long before he became Emperor frontman, Vegard ‘Ihsahn’ Tveiten was a teenage metal fan having his brain melted by Iron Maiden. “My father took me to see them on the Seventh Tour Of A Seventh Tour when I was 13,” he told Metal Hammer. “From that moment on I never had a Plan B with my life.”
The feeling wasn’t necessarily mutual. Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain was asked in an interview what he thought of the Norwegian black metal scene and all its church-burning, bandmate-murdering controversy, “What a bunch of wankers,” he replied.
8. Cradle Of Filth
At the same time the Norwegian scene was lurching into life, a bunch of kids from deepest Suffolk calling themselves Cradle Of Filth were putting their own Beelzebubian spin on Maiden’s sound.
“The whole band was totally into Maiden when we started and we thought we could do the same thing but we didn't want to because there was a death metal scene happening right around then,” founding guitarist Paul Allender said. “So we decided to get into that and mix it up with the Maiden stuff we liked and put lots of horror like keys and stuff on top of it and that's how we started.”
With their gnarly, knotty noise, cult prog-metal heroes Sikth might not seem like obvious Iron Maiden fans, but they too bow at the feet of Eddie. So much so that singer Mikee Goodman teamed up with Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith under the name Primal Rock Rebellion, releasing the album Awoken Broken in 2012.
10. Lady Gaga
OK, it’s a stretch to say that Gaga wouldn’t have become one of the biggest pop stars of the 21st century without Maiden, but the woman born Stefani Germanotta has made her admiration for ’Arry’s mob clear. “They’re one of the greatest rock bands in history,” she said in 2015. “I always used to say to people, when they would say, ‘Oh, she’s the next Madonna.’ No, I’m the next Iron Maiden.”