20) Can I Play With Madness (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, 1988)
Iron Maiden astonished the mainstream by bursting into the UK singles chart at a lofty #3 with this deceptively intricate anthem in March 1988, precipitating the huge success of Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son a few months later.
Its video features an uppity art teacher losing his rag at a student who draws (an admittedly badass) Eddie instead of the church ruins, who suddenly finds himself in an occult crypt scenario watching Iron Maiden live footage and meeting an ‘80s animated Eddie. Be honest, who hasn’t had a day like that?
“The first Maiden song I ever heard! The awesome video was doing the rounds on MTV and teenaged me was transfixed,” says Metal Hammer Production Editor Vanessa Thorpe. “Woe betide the ears of anyone standing near me when they launch into it live!”
19) Flight Of Icarus (Piece Of Mind, 1983)
The first single from Iron Maiden's epic Piece Of Mind album in 1983, Flight Of Icarus was the first proper release to feature Nicko McBrain on drums – having replaced Clive Burr a year previous.
The song, as the name suggests, is based around the Greek myth of Icarus – the man who attempted to flee Crete using wings made of wax, but flew too close to the sun against his father’s advice.
“It gives me goosebumps,” Bullet For My Valentine’s Matt Tuck tells Metal Hammer “There are maybe 10 songs that you hear in your whole life that when you hear the intro, you just think, ‘What the fuck is this?!’ That was Flight Of Icarus for me.”
Despite the epic Flight Of Icarus being a fan-favourite, Maiden didn’t play it after 1986 until their Legacy Of The Beast tour in 2018.
18) Revelations (Piece Of Mind, 1983)
An understated but beautifully orchestrated number, Revelations is built on a determined, plodding riff sprinkled with lurid imagery and impacted by a curiously melancholic midsection. Truly, a song fit to present to the Gods themselves.
The song was written by frontman Bruce Dickinson, and begins with a quote from author and poet GK Chesterton, evolves around a conceptual core that’s clearly influenced by Aleister Crowley, and introduces (dare we say) acoustic guitars to the classic Iron Maiden sound.
“There is such a roller-coaster of emotions in this song,” The Iron Maidens’ Nikki McBurrain tells Louder. “It’s up, it’s down, it’s very beautiful but very strong, it’s got harmonies – it’s got everything! It’s not really a ‘slow song’, but we’re not doing any ballads or anything, and with this one you slow it down a notch before you pick it up again. People love the interaction with our bass player Wanda in the verses, when they throw their fists in the air at the point that Steve Harris always does. We emulate everything!”
17) Blood Brothers (Brave New World, 2000)
An epic, swaying, emotionally charged masterpiece from an album that can go toe-to-toe with any of Iron Maiden’s 80s classics. Maiden fans tend to favour the balls-out galloping stuff, but Blood Brothers has remained a firm favourite among the faithful since Brave New World was released in 2000. It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Maiden were back in business on a major level, and still stands as one of their all-time-best tracks.
“This song epitomises the band for me – real brothers in arms,” says producer Kevin Shirley. “It’s great to watch the song performed live now, as a classic, and see the legions of Iron Maiden fans embraced as blood brothers too.”
Guaranteed to reduce grown men to blubbering wrecks, it’s a shrewd but sincere encapsulation of everything that Maiden stand for. Sing along, damn you.
16) Infinite Dreams (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, 1988)
A gorgeous number from the absolutely stacked Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son album, Infinite Dreams ponders along musings of consciousness and the afterlife, bubbling away on a soft opening guitar line before reaching an almighty, urgent crescendo. Curiously, it hasn’t been played for decades.
“It has no proper chorus and so sets itself free of any conventional song writing rules that I am aware of,” former Iron Maiden singer Blaze Bayley tells Classic Rock, “an idea loyal and true to itself. Anguish melancholy and questioning your own existence and your god. A perfectly building nightmare. The shades and tones of Bruce Dickinson on this song define magnificent. The lyric is delivered on a melody that is irresistible until it becomes ominous. Then he lures me towards the centre of his nightmare.”
15) Dance Of Death (Dance Of Death, 2003)
2003’s Dance Of Death might have been a little inconsistent, but its highlights were as strong as anything Maiden had ever done. This title is proof of that – a joint effort between Steve Harris and Janick Gers, it's a prog-tinged epic which tells the story of a man who journeys to the very depths of hell to dance among the dead. Pretty fucking metal, we're sure you'll agree.
14) The Evil That Men Do (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, 1988)
The song title The Evil That Men Do is taken from Marcus Antonius’s speech in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. This thunderous slab of none-more-Maiden gallop ’n’ bellow from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son was released as a single in the summer of 1988 and peaked at No.5 in the UK.
“We’ve covered this one, and we had a really good time working through that song and trying to make it our own,” Creeper’s Will Gould tells Metal Hammer. “And it’s collectively our favourite Iron Maiden song. The chorus is really high and the lyrics are ridiculous… although I guess you could say that about any Maiden song! But what’s not to like?!”
13) Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son (Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, 1988)
Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son was Iron Maiden’s first out-and-out concept record, based around the folklore tale of the ‘special powers’ held by such a man. And as you’d expect with a concept record, it’s proggy as hell, but still gallops along like only Maiden do. With such a massive chorus, Seventh Son I an open-armed anthem, with Bruce’s stadium-sized ‘Whooooa’s powering the band onward into the breach.
Speaking to Classic Rock about writing the record, Steve Harris said: “It was a new challenge for us, making a concept album. I’ve always loved prog – Yes, Genesis, ELP – and this album’s title track was a powerful song with that prog element to it.
“Not everyone liked the album at the time. Bruce even said to me that Queensryche had made a better concept album that ours, with Operation: Mindcrime. I said, ‘That’s a really good album, but ours is a fucking great album!’”
12) Alexander The Great (Somewhere In Time, 1986)
Iron Maiden are yet to perform Alexander The Great onstage, but drummer Nicko McBrain has remarked that he’d like the band to play this live one day – and you can hear why, as the brooding and militaristic drumbeat leads into a gut-stirring chorus.
The closing track to Maiden’s 1986 Somewhere In Time album, the Steve Harris-penned anthem chronicles the life and times of Alexander The Great (go figure). Iron Maiden are keen history buffs and there’s nothing like making a heavy metal song factually accurate, as the lyrics tell the complete history of Alexander and his reign over Egypt, his battle with Persia and death in Babylon. Maiden also manage to make the word Macedonia sound metal.
11) Powerslave (Powerslave, 1984)
Adorned with the most spectacular artwork they had yet conceived, Iron Maiden’s fifth album was an imperious statement made by a band at the height of their powers and (shortly thereafter) popularity. Its title track may have been initially overshadowed by Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’s colossal girth, but Powerslave is the album’s true high point: epic, atmospheric, dramatic and heavier than an iron pyramid, it deftly nailed the ancient Egyptian vibes presented by Derek Riggs’ incredible artwork (“Into the abyss I’ll fall, the Eye of Horus!”) while introducing a newly refined sense of dynamics and, dare we say it, subtlety into Iron Maiden’s sound. According to Steve Harris, the song was assembled from several distinct ideas that Bruce Dickinson had been working on, and the end result is not just one of Bruce’s greatest ever songs, but one of Maiden’s most iconic anthems. As for Dave Murray’s mellifluous mid- song solo? Heavy metal has never been more joyously spinetingling.
"It’s a great song," Steve Harris tells Metal Hammer. "Powerslave has become one of the great epics in the set over the years, and quite rightly so. Bruce was pleased as punch when he came up with that. It was three different ideas he had and I suggested he made one fantastic song instead of three different ones. It’s a very powerful song. When you think about it, we’ve got loads of epics now. That’s great. Powerslave is definitely up there with the best of them.”