IRON MAIDEN — Killers (review)

IRON MAIDEN — Killers album cover Album · 1981 · NWoBHM Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Sean Trane
After their brilliant debut album, IM set out for the proverbial difficult second album, but securing the production help of Martin Birch (a reference since the early Purple days). Alas what was supposed to be their master move also proved to be a bit of a nail in their coffin. Yes, Maiden made themselves a huge name on this album. Yes, the album is one of the (or THE) best of the NWOBHMB phenomenon. Yes this is a typical and referential Maiden album. But my complaint with this album and its successors is that this album is over-produced to my tastes. Don't get me wrong here. The album is not really over-produced as such compared to the other metal albums of the era, but when comparing it with the superb and immediacy of their debut (which might seem under-produced to the metal masses and the professionals), this album is way too slick and "passe-partout". Gone are the progressive and singular sounds of the debut album (the same kind of sound that you find on Priest's Sad Wings, on Rainbow Rising and Sabbath's H&H), the longer tracks (we have 11 tracks on this album and this leaves few space for progression and interplay) and in comes the typical 80's metal sound, albeit in its finest possible form. Right from their instrumental intro Ides Of March, preceding the fantastically violent Wrathchild, the album is on a 100MPH cruising speed, where the different songs align right one after the other and there are few surprises. This hardly means that there are no strong tracks, though: the afore-mentioned Wrathchild, Innocent Exile and the wild title track, but there are also a bunch of average one too. Funny that Birch's production made Maiden sound Purplish at times (Rue Morgue). But by the end of the album, are we ever glad it is over. One of the better ingredients of Maiden, outside their superb bassist, is that their twin lead attack is very much a collaborating effort where both Smith and Murray are not busy outdoing each other as is often the case with other guitar heroic-induced groups.

So this second album received regular and frequent rotation on my turntable when I had it on loan, but I never went out to buy it, which actually should give you a good idea why it is not getting a higher rating. Just not really essential for the proghead as it is for the metalhead. As for the remastered edition, there are a few freebies but for computer only.
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