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Music / Killers

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Scream for mercy! He laughs as he's watching you bleed! Killer behind you! His bloodlust defies all his needs!

Killers is the second studio album by Iron Maiden, released in 1981. It is their first studio album without guitarist Dennis Stratton, who was replaced by Adrian Smith shortly before recording sessions for this album commenced. Smith joining the band effectively led to the forming of what is generally considered to be the most formidable twin guitar team in metal next to Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing of Judas Priest. It is also their first studio album with producer Martin Birch and the final one with lead vocalist Paul Di'Anno, who would be sacked during the world tour supporting this album, due to his drug abuse and lack of faith in the group's material. He would be replaced by the far more operatic Bruce Dickinson, formerly of Samson (Which was also Clive Burr's former band). He does not receive royalties, not even for his own songs.


Reception of the album has been mixed, some fans preferring it to Iron Maiden, whilst others call it a rather disappointing follow-up in comparison. AllMusic gave it a generally positive review but noted that "the songwriter isn't quite as strong overall as it was on the debut".

Minor hits and fan favourites include "Purgatory", "Twilight Zone", and "Murders In The Rue Morgue", but the only regularly played track is "Wrathchild" which appeared in almost all their concert tours and been covered many times. It was also included in the video game Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks The 80s.


Tracklist note :

  1. "The Ides Of March" (1:46)
  2. "Wrathchild" (2:55)
  3. "Murders In The Rue Morgue" (4:19)
  4. "Another Life" (3:23)
  5. "Genghis Khan" (3:09)
  6. "Innocent Exile" (3:54)
  7. "Killers" (5:01)
  8. "Prodigal Son" (6:12)
  9. "Purgatory" (3:20)
  10. "Twilight Zone" (2:33)
  11. "Drifter" (4:49)

Bonus Disc (1995 Reissue):

  1. "Twilight Zone" (2:33)
  2. "Woman In Uniform" (3:07)
  3. "Invasion" (2:38)
  4. "Phantom Of The Opera (Live)" (6:55)

Principal Members:

  • Clive Burr - drums
  • Paul Di'Anno - lead vocals
  • Steve Harris - bass
  • Dave Murray - guitar
  • Adrian Smith - guitar
  • Dennis Stratton - guitar note 

Prodigal Tropes:

  • Calling the Old Man Out: "Wrathchild", which is about an estranged son of the Rothschild family who wants his part of the fortune (the title was originally "Rothschild" but the group changed it to avoid possibly getting sued).
    My dad I've never seen, I was never meant to be.
    And now I spend my time looking all around,
    For a man that's nowhere to be found.
    Until I find him I'm never gonna stop searching,
    I'm gonna find my man, gonna travel around.
    'Cos I'm a wrathchild,
    well I'm a wrathchild.
    Yeah I'm a wrathchild.
    I'm coming to get you, oooh yeah.
  • Cover Version: "Woman In Uniform", originally by Skyhooks.
  • Hidden Depths: Paul's falsetto vocals on several tracks, notably "Killers" and "Twilight Zone" are a forerunner of those used by Bruce Dickinson later on and an indication of how the band's sound was changing.
  • Instrumentals: "The Ides Of March" and "Genghis Khan".
  • Lost in Translation: The protagonist in "Murders In The Rue Morgue" finds himself accused of a crime he didn't commit.
    But I must have got some blood on my hands
    Because everybody's shouting at me
    I can't speak French, so I couldn't explain
    And like a fool I started running away
  • Murder Ballad: "Murders In The Rue Morgue"
    Murders in the Rue Morgue
    Someone call the Gendarmes
    Murders in the Rue Morgue
    Run before the killers go free
  • One-Word Title: "Wrathchild", "Killers", "Purgatory", "Drifter" and the bonus track "Invasion".
  • Outlaw: "Murders In The Rue Morgue"
    And now I've gotta get away from the arms of the law
    All France is looking for me
    I've gotta find my way across the border for sure
    Down the south to Italy
  • Second-Person Attack: The opening verse of "Killers".
    You walk through the subway, his eyes burn a hole in your back,
    A footstep behind you, he lunges prepared for attack.
    Scream for mercy, he laughs as he's watching you bleed,
    Killer behind you, his blood lust defies all his needs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "The Ides Of March" is a reference to Julius Caesar, who was warned by a soothsayer that he would be murdered on that date, but Caesar ignored this, resulting in his assassination.
    • "Murders In The Rue Morgue" references the crime story The Murders in the Rue Morgue.
    • "Genghis Khan" references Genghis Khan.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Prodigal Son".
  • 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: "Killers".