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Music: Iron Maiden

"People talk about Power Metal, Classic Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal... but when someone asks us what kind of music we do, I say: We're the Iron fucking Maiden!!!!!"
Bruce Dickinson

Iron Maiden is a British Heavy Metal band. They are one of the most successful metal bands in the world and were a major part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal.

The band takes its name from a fabled medieval torture device, allegedly used to dish out Cruel and Unusual Deaths to witches and the similar, as an alternative to burning at the stake. If you're really interested in how it worked, all we're going to say is that it involves a human-sized canister with a hinged lid, and a bunch of Spikes Of Doom on the inside of the lid. You know where this is going.

It was founded in 1975 by bassist Steve Harris. The band went through a lot of lineup changes before the release of their first album, simply called Iron Maiden, in 1980, recorded by Harris, singer Paul Di'Anno, guitarists Dennis Stratton and Dave Murray, and drummer Clive Burr. In the follow-up, Killers, (1981) Stratton, due to Creative Differences, was replaced by Adrian Smith, from the band Urchin. This was also the last album with Di'Anno, who was fired for drinking problems but wanted to leave the band anyway and shows no animosity for it.

The real success came a year later, in 1982, with The Number of the Beast, which marked the debut in the band of Bruce Dickinson, Di'Anno's replacement. The band's classic lineup came full circle in 1983 with the arrival of drummer Nicko McBrain, replacing Clive Burr, for personal problems. With this lineup, the band recorded four studio albums (Piece Of Mind, Powerslave, Somewhere In Time, and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son) and a live album, (Live After Death) which marked the climax and end of the so-called "Golden Years".

Unfortunately, from this point onwards, the things weren't going so well for the band. Adrian Smith left the band due to Creative Differences (although it was in good terms, it was just that he wanted to play in a softer mood than that one of Maiden) and he was replaced by Janick Gers, who played in the band White Spirit, and with Fish (former singer of Marillion) and Ian Gillan. The follow-up to Seventh.., No Prayer For The Dying, was considered inferior to the former albums, despite having the band's first #1 hit. ("Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter") The follow-up, Fear of the Dark, charted in #1, but after it, Bruce Dickinson left the band.

He was replaced by Blaze Bayley, who wasn't well received. Not only that, but the band also changed their Record Producer, and thus, everything was set for the band's Dork Age. The two albums released in the Bayley-era (1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI) weren't so well received, and it seemed that the band was going to broke...

...but 1999 brought the biggest news: Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned to the band, but only Blaze left, thus making Maiden a sextet with three guitarists. Not only that, but the follow-up to Virtual, Brave New World, was a big hit, with a lot of people claiming the album as another classic album of the band. This lineup (Dickinson-Smith-Gers-Murray-Harris-McBrain) continues to our days, having recorded other three albums: 2003's Dance of Death, 2006's A Matter Of Life And Death and 2010's The Final Frontier, the band's most recent #1 album.

Their sound is characterized by twin guitar (later triple guitar) harmonization and galloping bass, as well as the operatic vocals of Bruce Dickinson. Their most notable songs fall into three themes: ominous ("The Number of the Beast", "Fear Of the Dark"), historical (war songs such as "The Trooper" and "Aces High", historical events such as "Run to the Hills" and the biographical "Alexander the Great") or derivative ("The Wicker Man", "Flight of Icarus", "Brave New World").
  • Steve Harris - bass
  • Bruce Dickinson - vocals
  • Dave Murray - guitar
  • Adrian Smith - guitar
  • Janick Gers - guitar
  • Michael Henry "Nicko" McBrain - drums

Former members:
  • Dennis Stratton - guitars
  • Paul Di'Anno - vocals
  • Clive Burr - drums
  • "Blaze" Bayley Cook - vocals


Iron Maiden has examples of:

    open/close all folders 

    Song tropes 
  • Age of Titles: "Age of Innocence", from Dance of Death.
  • Apocalyptic Log: "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier", from The Final Frontier.
  • Audience Participation Song: Plenty of them, such as the Ear Worms and "The Wicker Man", from Brave New World. Sometimes Bruce leaves the lyrics to the audience.
    • Special mention to "Heaven Can Wait", from Somewhere In Time, where they invite some fans to the stage.
    • "Fear Of The Dark", from the eponymous Fear of the Dark, is a song that's been particularly adopted by the fans as an audience participation song, but is interesting in the fact that the fans don't sing along much to the lyrics, but vocalize to the guitar. It's become such an audience participation staple that pretty much every Iron Maiden compilation will have a live version of the song.
  • Badass Native: "Run to the Hills", from The Number Of The Beast, averts this.
  • Battle Cry: From "The Clansman", from Virtual XI.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "The Talisman". The crew finally reached their golden promised land, but many ships and men were lost on the way, and the protagonist is dying from sickness.
  • Body Horror: Dickinson's description of someone being burned alive in "Children Of The Damned" (The Number of the Beast).
  • Book Ends: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, the album, starts (in "Moonchild") and ends (in "Only The Good Die Young") with the same paragraph:
    Seven ways to win
    Seven holy paths to hell
    And your trip begins
    Seven downward slopes
    Seven bloody hopes
    Seven are your burning fires
    Seven your desires
    • There's also "Fear of the Dark", from the eponymous album Fear of the Dark, where the order of the first two lines is reversed at the end of the song, for a truly symmetric feel:
      I am a man who walks alone
      And when I'm walking a dark road
      And when I'm walking a dark road
    • "When The Wild Wind Blows", from The Final Frontier, opens and ends with... wind.
  • Buffy Speak: From Live at Donington, Bruce Dickinson refers to the live video as "the most mega Iron Maiden video-film-whatever".
  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Wrathchild", from Killers.
  • Canon Discontinuity:
    • Averted: while most fans are not at all enamoured of Blaze Bayley's run, the band continue to perform the best and most memorable material of that era, namely "Lord of the Flies", "Man on the Edge", "Sign of the Cross", (All of them from The X Factor) "Futureal" and "The Clansman". (From Virtual XI) All of these live versions appeared in live albums or singles.
    • While No Prayer For The Dying and Fear Of The Dark are usually ignored on setlists aside from the eponymous song from the latter album ("Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" and "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" have also been played since Bruce's return), a Discontinuity is averted in From Fear To Eternity, which contains three songs from each of those albums.note 
  • Children Forced To Kill: "Sun and Steel", from Piece of Mind:
    Well, you killed your first man at 13,
    Killer instinct, Animal supreme,
    By 16 you had learned to fight
    The way of the warrior, you took it as your right.
  • Chronological Album Title: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, The X Factor, and Virtual XI. The Final Frontier, the fifteenth, has as its opening track "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier".
  • Clear My Name: "The Fugitive", from Fear of the Dark.
  • Concept Album:
    • Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
    • Somewhere in time deals with different aspects of time (time-travel, history, racing against the clock).
    • A Matter of Life and Death is mostly about war and religion.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: "El Dorado", from The Final Frontier, is sung from this point of view.
    • "Be Quick Or Be Dead" from Fear Of The Dark
  • Cover Version: They have covered songs by Skyhooks, Montrose, Jethro Tull, Beckett, Music/Nektar, The Entire Population of Hackneynote , FM, MarshallFury, Thin Lizzy, Stray, Golden Earring, Free!, Led Zeppelin, Chuck Berry, The Who, UFO, Focus and Deep Purple. All of these, anyway, can only be found in singles, compilations or tribute albums.
    • If Bruce performing guest vocals counts, he's performed Sabbath Bloody Sabbath on the first Nativity in Black tribute album with Godspeed.
  • Creepy Child: "Children of the Damned", from The Number Of The Beast, based on the eponymous film.
  • Crystal Ball: "Can I Play With Madness?", from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Compare Fear of the Dark and No Prayer For The Dying with any of the previous albums. The vocals, for example - less operatic, more raspy.
    • Some songs also work as Darker and Edgier counterparts of earlier songs. Compare "Charlotte the Harlot" to "22 Acacia Avenue" & compare "The Trooper" to "Paschendale".
    • The entirety of A Matter of Life and Death is quite a bit darker musically than previous albums, though the lyrics are still pretty much what you'd expect from Iron Maiden with possibly a more focused emphasis on Humans being bastards. The album's dark feel is largely due to the complex and melancholic melodies, and the quality of Dickinson's voice as he gets older.
    • The X Factor is by far Maiden's darkest album. When listening to it, one should keep in mind that Steve Harris was going through a tough time: 1) Bruce left his band, 2) Martin Birch stopped producing his records, 3) his father had died, and 4) he was going through a divorce. How could one expect him to write up beat songs about literature and poetry when he was clearly going through a depression. This becomes very clear once you read some of the lyrics: "I'm scarred for life, but it's not my flesh that's wounded", or "I've been depressed so long, it's hard to remember when I was happy".
    • It has been argued by fans that Blaze Bailey, a baritone, was the fitting singer for that period of Iron Maiden's history.
  • The Dead Can Dance: "Dance of Death", from, well... Dance of Death.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Mother of Mercy, from The Final Frontier: "I'll die a lonely death, of that I'm certain of".
  • Doomsday Clock: "2 Minutes To Midnight", from Powerslave.
  • Downer Ending: Maiden just seems to love this trope.
    • "To Tame A Land" ends Piece of Mind with a very unhappy sounding final part.
    • "Hallowed Be Thy Name" ends with the hanging of the song's narrator.
    • "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (Brave New World)... if you ignore the Studio Chatter.
    • The last line of "Alexander The Great" (the final track on Somewhere in Time) is "He died of fever in Babylon".
    • Seventh Son of a Seventh Son's final track, "Only the Good Die Young", is about the devastation of a town from a disaster, and Lucifer planning to cancel the rest of mankind.
    • Virtual XI ends with "Como Estais Amigos", about the Falklands War. It even sounds depressing.
    • The Final Frontier ends with "When the Wild Wind Blows", about a couple who commits suicide mistaking an earthquake for the start of a nuclear war.
    • The Trooper is about the "Charge of the Light Brigade" and those who know history knew how that ended.
  • Dystopia: "Brave New World", from, well... Brave New World.
  • Epic Rocking: All their albums have an epic, usually as the closer. The following are their longest songs.
    • "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", (13:36) from Powerslave.
    • "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", (9:53) from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
    • "Sign of the Cross", (11:16) from The X Factor.
    • "The Angel And The Gambler", (9:52) and "The Clansman" (9:02) from Virtual XI.
    • "Dream Of Mirrors" (9:21) and "The Nomad" (9:06) from Brave New World.
    • "For The Greater Good Of God" (9:24) and "The Legacy", (9:23) from A Matter Of Life And Death.
    • "When The Wild Wind Blows", (11:01) "Isle Of Avalon" (9:06) and "The Talisman", (9:03) from The Final Frontier.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • "Die With Your Boots On", from Piece of Mind.
    • The second part of Satellite 15... The Final Frontier, too! It's also works as Facing Death With Optimism.
  • Filk Song: An enormous amount of their discography, on a wide variety of subjects. Examples can be found here.
  • Football Hooligans: "Weekend Warrior", from Fear of the Dark.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: "Hallowed Be Thy Name", from The Number of the Beast.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar / Stealth Pun:
    • "Nail that fokker, kill that son" in "Tailgunner", from No Prayer For The Dying.
    • "I'm a clever banker's face with just a letter out of place" in "El Dorado", from The Final Frontier. In at least one bootleg, Bruce just flat out spoiled the latter ("I'm a clever wanker's face, just a banker out of place.")
  • Ghost Ship / Afterlife Express:
    • "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (based on the poem), from Powerslave.
    • "Ghost of the Navigator", from Brave New World.
  • Greatest Hits Album: Plenty of them. And they all follow a three year interval!
  • Grief Song: "Blood Brothers", from Brave New World.
  • A Hell of a Time: "From Here To Eternity", from Fear of the Dark:
    Hell ain't a bad place!
    Hell is from here to eternity!
  • Heavy Mithril: Among other examples, "Flight of Icarus", from Piece of Mind; and "Isle of Avalon", from The Final Frontier.
  • Holier Than Thou: "Holy Smoke", from No Prayer For The Dying.
  • Homage: Seen also here.
  • Horrible History Metal: They love this trope.
  • Hot-Blooded: Many of their songs, especially "Die With Your Boots On".
  • Human Popsicle: The protagonist of "Stranger in a Strange Land".
  • Incredibly Long Note: Bruce is quite fond of them, usually closing the song. Standouts include "Run To The Hills", "Children of the Damned" and "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son".
  • Intercourse with You:
    • "Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter". Though Bruce also said it's about menstruation.
    • Most of the "Charlotte" saga, such as the eponymous "Charlotte the Harlot", from Iron Maiden; and 22 Acacia Avenue, from The Number of the Beast.
  • Instrumentals: "Transylvania" (which Bruce Dickinson once introduced as "a song I've never sung before, and probably never will"), "Genghis Khan" and "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)"
  • Just Before the End: "2 Minutes to Midnight"
  • Last Chorus Slow Down: "Powerslave", the last phrase of "Run to the Hills", "Fear of the Dark".
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • "Phantom Of The Opera", in the pre-remaster release, where after 10 seconds of silence, Di'Anno shouts the song's final line again.
    • Due to a production error, the intro to "Powerslave" haphazardly got stuck onto the ending of "Back in the Village" on the 1998 remaster of the album of the same name. So when one listens to Back in the Village, the song ends with the spooky intro to Powerslave.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
  • Loudness War: The albums from the nineties on, sans A Matter of Life and Death and The Final Frontier.
  • Magical Seventh Son: referred to in (of course) Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
  • Metal Band Mascot: Eddie the Head.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Usually at Level 7, sometimes goes into 6 or 8 - and once with a 3, "Journeyman".
  • Murder Ballad: "Sanctuary".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Rather, "Oh God help me, what have I done?" in Killers.
  • Nightmare Sequence: Quite a few songs are inspired by Steve Harris' nightmares, such as "The Number of the Beast", "Infinite Dreams" and "Dream of Mirrors"
  • Noble Savage: "Run to the Hills".
  • Non-Appearing Title: 5/8 in Piece of Mind; other albums have it as well, mostly for self-describing titles, such as "The Prophecy", "The Mercenary", "The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg".
  • Number of the Beast: The eponymous song "The Number of the Beast".
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Hooks In You" from "No Prayer for the Dying".
  • Power Ballad: "Wasting Love", from Fear of the Dark.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Holy Smoke", twice.
    • Cluster F-Bomb: Aside from Bruce live, a few B-sides filled with Vulgar Humor... and another that's not a song, but a recording of Steve and Nicko having an argument after a concert.
  • Protest Song: Sometimes they go into current world problems, such as the televangelists ("Holy Smoke"), the high crime rate ("Age of Innocence") and the economic crisis ("El Dorado"). And then there's the war-inspired songs...
  • Pun-Based Title: Piece of Mind and "Public Enema Number One", from No Prayer For The Dying. The live albums Maiden Japan (EP, referencing Deep Purple's Made in Japan) and Maiden England (released on DVD with a "'88" attached) too.
    • A self-referential pun is From Fear to Eternity... even if "From Here to Eternity" is not on the album although it could fit.
  • Refrain from Assuming: "Your time will come (4x)", in "The Wicker Man", from Brave New World; "Freedom (4x)", in "The Clansman" from Virtual XI; and "Falling Down (4x)", in "Man on the Edge", from The X Factor''; all choruses. And considering their tendency for Title Only Choruses, sometimes people call the songs by the chorus line.
  • Rock Opera: Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and the Charlotte saga.
  • Rousseau Was Right: "The Thin Line Between Love and Hate" (Brave New World) is about this and Karma.
  • Screw Destiny: "Die With Your Boots On":
    For the truth of all predictions
    Is always in your hands.
  • Second Person Attack: The opening verse of "Killers".
  • Self-Titled Album: with a self-titled song!
  • Shout-Out: Go this way.
  • Shown Their Work: Possibly not all of their great many songs based on history, literature, or whatever it is are entirely faithful and accurate. The number that are, the sheer volume of them, and the actual possibility of discussing whether a metal song is historically accurate mean they more than qualify anyway. Bruce Dickinson having a degree in history from London University doesn't hurt. When the lyrics of "Alexander The Great" talk about the Scythians fleeing across the River Jaxartes, you know they've done their research.
  • Sinister Minister: "Holy Smoke".
  • Something Blues: B-sides "Black Bart Blues" and "Nodding Donkey Blues".
  • Spoken Word In Music: Occurs sometimes.
  • Subdued Section: "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Other Epic Rocking songs have it too.
  • Subliminal Seduction: In "Still Life" there's a Take That from the band towards the Moral Guardians.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Wasting Love".
  • Survivor Guilt: "Murders In The Rue Morgue" is about a guy who hears a scream, when seeking where it came from ends up seeing the victims, and is haunted by the memories.
  • Title Track: Besides "Iron Maiden", most albums have one (even if borderline such as "Caught Somewhere In Time" and "Satellite 15... The Final Frontier").
  • Title Only Chorus: A few, such as "Caught Somewhere in Time" and "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son". The subversion became more frequent as band matured, as many choruses included others phrases along the title.
  • Wanderlust Song: "Running Free".
  • War Is Hell: Many of the war-inspired songs ("The Trooper", "2 Minutes To Midnight", "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", "Paschendale", "The Longest Day", "Mother of Mercy" - for that matter, all but "Different World" in A Matter Of Life And Death).
  • World War I ("Paschendale") and World War II ("Aces High", "Tailgunner", "The Longest Day")
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Quite a few, such as "Still Life", and "Revelations", quoted below:
    The light of the Blind - you'll see
    The venom that tears my spine
    The Eyes of the Nile are opening - you'll see
  • Vulgar Humor: A few of the B-sides, such as "Nodding Donkey Blues" (about a Big Beautiful Woman - "She was fucking huge! Enormous! You could have sailed the Hindenburg through her legs and never even had landing permission!") and "Sheriff of Huddersfield" (a joke on the band's manager).
  • You Are Number Six: "The Prisoner".

    Misc tropes (videos and other stuff) 
Musician-specific stuff goes in the musician sheet.
  • Animated Music Video: "Wildest Dreams", from Dance of Death; "Different World", from A Matter Of Life And Death; and "The Final Frontier", from, well... The Final Frontier.note 
  • Brain Food: Piece of Mind's inner sleeve and CD art (probably referencing the cover with a post-lobotomy Eddie).
  • Catch Phrase: The fans themselves have a Catch Phrase of their own — the phrase "Up the Irons" is pretty much the Maiden fan salute.
  • Continuity Nod: The video for "Wasted Years" contains a lot of fragments from Maiden's older videos.
    • The cover of Somewhere Back in Time has the Cyborg Eddie from Somewhere in Time breaking out of the pyramid from Powerslave, while the Maiden font has the colors seen in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
    • Continuity Porn: The cover of Best of the Beast includes various Eddies, and the one for From Fear to Eternity has references to all the albums from the period.
  • Dem Bones: The cover of A Matter of Life and Death has Eddie over a tank, leading an army of skeletons.
  • Earth-Shattering Poster: For the World Piece Tour of 1983 and the Early Days Tour of 2005.
  • Every Episode Ending: The last song before the encore is always "Iron Maiden", which also marks the entrance of an Eddie on stage.
  • Iconic Logo: That font is hard not to recognize.
  • Idiosyncratic Cover Art: the box set "Eddie's Head".
  • Licensed Game: Ed Hunter.
  • Mascot / Metal Band Mascot: Eddie the Head, the albino zombie originally designed by Derek Riggs. Eddie appears on all album covers, and on most (if not all) of the band's merchandise.
    • Eddie and his creator Derek Riggs are the namesake for Eddie Riggs, the protagonist of the game Brütal Legend.
  • The Merch: They're known for their pretty damn awesome merchandise, which ranges from simple shirts and posters, to pens and binders, to tankards and various pieces of metalwork, to their own wine. There are even some Eddie the Head action figures!
  • Polygon Ceiling: An unusual non-game example!
    • The band was known for their very distinctive album artwork courtesy of Derek Riggs throughout most of their career, and he provided at least some artwork for most of their album covers until his involvement eventually waned entirely after the release of Brave New World (reportedly due to them being difficult to work with). After having these painted scenes for nine (studio) albums, fans were slightly surprised when the album cover for Dance of Death was revealed to be an episode of ReBoot gone horribly wrong. (Even artist David Patchet hated the cover. The image was only supposed to be a mock-up, not the finished product)
    • Likewise, a previous 2-D to 3-D jump, The X-Factor (though not hand-drawn to CGI, but hand-drawn to statue) was not well received.
    • Inverted with the hand-drawn coverart for the single El Dorado, which many fans saw as a bad depiction of the Garbage Pail Kids. The Final Frontier may be playing this straight as well.
  • Rated M for Manly
  • Record Producer: Martin Birch from Killers to Fear of the Dark, Kevin Shirley since Brave New World.
  • Rockumentary: 12 Wasted Years, The Early Days and Flight 666.
    • Live After Death's DVD edition has the second part of The Early Days as an extra. Part three comes in the DVD for Maiden England, along with 12 Wasted Years.
  • Revival: Three tours in The Turn Of The Millennium, "The Early Days" (only songs from the first four albums, and a Earth-Shattering Poster taken directly from the Piece of Mind tour), "Somewhere Back in Time" (besides "Fear of the Dark", only '80s songs, plus an Egyptian Powerslave-like stage which also had references to the two albums that followed), and "Maiden England" (stage and setlist inspired by the eponymous live album, recorded during the Seventh Son tour)
  • Trope Maker: Along with Judas Priest, of blending Hard Rock with Heavy Metal.
  • Up to Eleven: They have three guitarists in the current line-up. That's practically unheard of.

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alternative title(s): Iron Maiden
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