Few metal bands are as loved and revered as Iron Maiden. Over the last four decades they’ve become a British institution and will have been an influence on every outfit playing hard and heavy music in one way or another since 1980, when their first album dropped. And talking of albums, it’s their back catalogue that is certainly one of the biggest factors in their long, illustrious career.
Such is the quality of their sixteen studio albums, one could argue that 95% of everything Iron Maiden have written could be placed into their tour set-list and it would garner huge excitement; of course, that leaves 5% which wouldn’t make the cut. Despite their legendary status, even Maiden aren’t immune to the odd stinker of a song here and there, some of which really are cringe-worthy to the nth degree. Here are the 10 Worst Iron Maiden Songs Ever…
- 10) The Duellists (Powerslave, 1984)
Start as you mean to go on – this list is going to garner controversy. Say what you want, but Powerslave is a decidedly book-ended album. Want proof? Try naming the tracks that aren’t ‘Aces High’, ‘Two Minutes to Midnight’, the title track or ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ without looking. The middle four songs are rarely spoken about and whilst none are truly terrible, ‘The Duellists’ comes out bottom of the pile. A self-indulgent ode to the art of fencing – one of singer Bruce Dickinson’s most adored past times – the mid-section is boring and repetitive, ensure a complete switch-off as it lumbers its way through the song and takes out any spark that’s come before it.
- 9) Quest for Fire (Piece of Mind, 1983)
The introduction of drummer Nicko McBrain into the Iron Maiden fold cemented the band’s lineup for the remainder of the 1980’s and further helped their rise to metal dominance. Piece of Mind, the first record with McBrain’s expertise behind the kit, is by and large a fantastic album, but ‘Quest for Fire’ misses the mark completely. Alright, it’s inspired by the film of the same name so we can forgive the historical inaccuracy of men walking with dinosaurs, but the simplified story within the lyrics doesn’t come close to fully painting the picture of how good that motion picture actually is, and as a result it suffers greatly.
- 8) Fates Warning (No Prayer for the Dying, 1990)
It might have the band’s only #1 single among its ranks in the shape of ‘Bring Your Daughter…to the Slaughter’ but No Prayer for the Dying has not aged well at all. Ropey production and a distinct drop in quality from the previous – and superb – Seventh Son of a Seventh Son has left’s Maiden’s ninth studio effort as the weakest of them all. Of these tracks, ‘Fates Warning’ is by far the least interesting. The pace is actually decent, showcasing the famed galloping triplets that Maiden were so brilliant at, but the chorus is seven shades of cringe and manages to be a mid-record lull all on its own.
- 7) Strange World (Iron Maiden, 1980)
Iron Maiden’s debut album heralded the dawn of a new age; a masterful blend of punk rawness and metal brilliance, there are fans that still consider it the greatest record they’ve ever made. Hidden amongst the gems, however, is ‘Strange World’, easily the runt of the litter. Coming off the back of the sumptuous instrumental ‘Transylvania’, it never quite hits the same heights as the rest of the album in terms of quality or style and is often overlooked when discussing the highlights of the record as a whole.
- 6) Gangland (The Number of the Beast, 1982)
Ahhh, The Number of the Beast. The five song run from ‘Children of the Damned’ to ‘Run to the Hills’, coupled with arguably the best song Maiden have ever written in closing track ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’, is so exquisite that it rightfully earns its places as one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time. ‘Gangland’ provides a case for the opposition. The blame falls squarely on the band in this instance, as in haste they chose it for the album over superior track ‘Eclipse’ and have since expressed their regret at this decision; the song would finally make it onto the album as part of the 1998 reissue, but for sixteen years fans were left with this decidedly average song in the middle of a string of world-class tunes; even a glittering drum intro from the late Clive Burr couldn’t save it.
- 5) Invaders (The Number of the Beast, 1982)
Hang on, one of the greatest heavy metal albums of all time has TWO entries in this list?! Yep, and it shows how good the rest of the record is. Maiden have, by and large, produced brilliant album openers but ‘Invaders’ lets the side down quite spectacularly. It flies out the traps, granted, but it never takes off properly and, for anyone who was wary of Bruce Dickinson replacing Paul Di’Anno as frontman and hadn’t heard lead single ‘Run to the Hills’, this would have not eased their fears as an introduction to the new man in the band.
- 4) Starblind (The Final Frontier, 2010)
As a body of work, The Final Frontier has been somewhat overshadowed by the rest of the band’s output in the 21st century, but it’s still a layered and finely structured record. Having said that, if ‘Starblind’ had not made the record at all, it wouldn’t have been missed. In fact, the most recent addition to this list is the reason why The Final Frontier is an 8/10 record and not a 9/10. It’s incredibly metal by numbers and consequently devoid of the interest and bite that Maiden have, on numerous occasions, be able to maintain throughout songs and, indeed, full albums; the fact that it harms The Final Frontier as an overall piece of work shows just how much impact one song can have on the standings of a whole album.
- 3) Age of Innocence (Dance of Death, 2003)
Maiden consolidated their early 00’s revival with the follow up to 2001’s triumphant Brave New World, but it says a lot that a B-side version of ‘Age of Innocence’ – entitled ‘Age of Innocence (How Old?)’ – is better than the original due to the comedy created by Nicko McBrain attempting (and failing) to remember the lyrics and keep up with the song as a whole. The version that made Dance of Death feels like it was cooked up in five minutes – it doesn’t go anywhere, is very generic and wholly forgettable on an otherwise excellent album that includes the likes of ‘Paschendale’, ‘No More Lies’ and the criminally underrated ‘Journeyman’.
- 2) Weekend Warrior (Fear of the Dark, 1992)
Give Steve Harris a novel, a film or a historical event and he’ll pen some of the most thought-provoking and insightful lyrics ever. Give him football hooliganism, however, and things don’t really go that way. A lifelong West Ham fan, it’s fair to say that the antics of the club’s hooligan gang known as the ‘Inter City Firm’ during the sport’s violence-ridden times of the 1980’s would have given him ample ammo to work with and come up with something golden. Instead, we got a turgid, middle-of-the-road rock song that was as fresh as a week-old salad and only enhanced the feeling that Iron Maiden were, at the time, a tired force running out of ideas.
- 1) The Angel and the Gambler (Virtual XI, 1998)
Blaze Bayley’s time as vocalist of Iron Maiden in the mid 1990’s was not a critical or commercial success to say the least, but to completely disregard the songs written when he was in the band (as some fans have done) is not fair at all. There’s a good handful of tunes that have legs to them – two of which in ‘The Clansman’ and ‘Sign of the Cross’ have been aired on their latest tour – but then there’s also ‘The Angel and the Gambler’, which (on the album at least) is ten minutes of tedious drivel and rightfully Maiden’s worst song of all. The line “Don’t you think I’m a saviour, don’t you think I could save you, don’t you think I could save your life” is sung 27 times in the track with most of them in succession and the general composition around it is duller than dishwater. With the band not getting any younger and the chances of another album growing ever slimmer, this may be a crown ‘The Angel and the Gambler’ will keep forever more.