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Iron Maiden Continues Heavy Metal Dominance

30 years after their debut LP, Iron Maiden releases The Final Frontier 30 years after their debut LP, Iron Maiden releases The Final Frontier

In any discussion of heavy metal, there’s one name that always comes up: Iron Maiden. The London group has been atop one of the world’s most popular musical genres for nearly 30 years. They have sold over 80 million records worldwide, putting them in the company of fellow metal legends Black Sabbath, Van Halen, and Metallica.  The British sextet hopes to add to that total with the release of their 15th studio album, The Final Frontier, this August.

Bassist Steve Harris assembled an early version of Iron Maiden in 1975. A short time later, the band began gigging around England and contributed to a developing genre of rock that came be known as the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal,” or NWOBHM for short.

Iron Maiden borrowed from the aggression of the punk movement, then in its nascent stages in Britain. Iron Maiden pushed the limits of rock n’ roll, creating music that was edgier – more raw, but also more complex - than previous bands.

The band released their debut full-length in 1980. The self-titled Iron Maiden was an instant success, swiftly climbing the U.K. charts. Their 1981 follow up, Killers, was an even bigger success, garnering the band a following in the coveted U.S. market.

The band replaced singer Paul Di’Anno with Bruce Dickinson to record their third album, 1982’s The Number of the Beast. This album was their first #1 record, and marked a departure from the punk influence towards the epic metal sound that would become the band’s signature.

Harris’s adventurous basslines worked in combination with the dueling guitars of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, while Bruce Dickinson’s vocals soared above it all. Also, the “gallop,” a style of rhythmic guitar playing started to be featured more prominently. All of these qualities have since become the template for many other heavy metal bands.

Iron Maiden followed up with now classic albums, 1983’s Piece of Mind and 1984’s Powerslave. The band toured relentlessly, playing 193 shows in 13 months from the end of 1984 through all of 1985.

Iron Maiden then released 1986’s Somewhere in Time and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, their 4th and 5th consecutive platinum albums in the U.S.

The band would never again achieve such heights of popularity, but after some inner turmoil and diminished album sales in the ‘90s, Iron Maiden returned to form with a string of three gold-selling albums – 2000’s Brave New World, 2003’s Dance of Death, and 2006’s A Matter of Life and Death. Each album went gold in five or more countries.

This summer’s release of The Final Frontier marks 30 years since Iron Maiden’s self-titled debut full-length. 80 million records later, and Iron Maiden are heavy metal icons. Steve Harris, Bruce Dickinson, and company have become one of the most successful music groups of all time, all without ever having a radio hit, or much support from mainstream media whatsoever. Iron Maiden truly are heavy metal legends.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 20:02

Happy is a regular contributor to RosebudMag.com and has written for various other publications, including Black Belt, Inside Hockey, and FoxSports.com. He transitioned to life as a writer following a decade-long career as a touring musician. He lives with his son in Vancouver, British Columbia

Website: www.rosebudmag.com/hkreter

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