10 Most Underrated Iron Maiden Songs
Iron Maiden‘s catalog is immense to say the least. Their streak of seven classic albums in the ’80s is unmatched, amassing a wealth of fan favorites, cult classics and other songs that were just obscured by the overwhelming shadows cast by the hits. Of course, we still love ‘The Trooper,’ ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and ‘Aces High,’ but there’s a lot more to discuss.
With 15 studio albums, Iron Maiden fans have a lot to be happy about. We all have our favorites and can listen to them at no end. However, our purpose here is to breathe new life into some songs you may have lost track of as the years have gone by. Luckily, there is no such thing as a casual Iron Maiden fan and we can all dig deep to unearth the 10 Most Underrated Iron Maiden Songs.
'The Thin Line Between Love and Hate'
‘Brave New World’ saw the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith, with their presence bringing an obvious increase in quality to Iron Maiden’s output. While a lot of the album dabbles in meandering, lengthy songs, ‘The Thin Line Between Love and Hate’ utilizes its length better than any others on the album. Dickinson’s dual-tracked vocals are layered for an interesting effect in the verses. If you’re wondering who says “I f-cking missed it!” at the end, it is Nicko McBrain exclaiming that he thought he missed a cymbal hit. He didn’t.
This song is one of two off the concept album ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son’ that have never been played live. It features a section of trade-off vocals between Dickinson and Steve Harris, which is strange considering how much Harris is not a fan of his own voice. The album is based off the Orson Scott Card fantasy novel ‘Seventh Son,’ though most of the lyrics hardly describe anything specific from the page-turner. Here we get the most direct lyrics, dealing with impending doom and destruction while so little realize their lives are in the prophet’s hands.
'Brighter Than a Thousand Suns'
A lot of Iron Maiden fans were underwhelmed when they learned the band would be performing their new album in full on the 2006 tour. Regardless of your opinion on the setlist, we can all agree that seeing 'Brighter Than a Thousand Suns' live was one of the highlights. The rise and fall of Dickinson’s voice, accompanying the guitar lead, builds tension before being released in the explosive chorus. The lyrics that follow the chorus are inquisitive and serve the galloping uptempo pace of the bridge of the song well. It's a natural pick for our 10 Most Underrated Iron Maiden Songs.
Back in the day, Iron Maiden had a propensity for churning out illustrious instrumental tunes. ‘Genghis Khan’ is the hallmark of late drummer Clive Burr’s manic abilities behind the kit with parts that wouldn’t sound out of place on the first Napalm Death record. He seemingly grows another four arms right before the one minute mark and gives his drums a proper beating. Like all of ‘Killers,’ this song is another riffing frenzy as the British group truly started to make their impact on heavy metal.
'Sea of Madness'
It is truly a crime how overlooked ‘Sea of Madness’ is. Undoubtedly one of the catchiest Iron Maiden songs, it proudly boasts a powerful chorus and some of Harris’ clankiest bass tones ever. His bass is usually pretty high in the mix, but here it propels the song with the synthesized guitars taking the back seat. After ‘Powerslave,’ Dickinson wanted Maiden to do an acoustic-based album, which is why he has no writing credits on ‘Somewhere in Time.’ Songs like this make us lucky his idea was canned.
'Justice of the Peace'
This is the one everyone is sure to be the least familiar with, but definitely deserves a spot on the Most Underrated Iron Maiden Songs list. ‘The X Factor’ is a dark and brooding album, devoid of almost any uptempo moments. The songs that didn’t make the album cut align themselves more with the classic Iron Maiden style and ‘Justice of the Peace’ is the best of the bunch. Dave Murray never contributes much to the writing, but when he does he is usually spot on. Blaze Bayley’s voice suits this song well and perhaps he would have been better received if songs like this made it on to ‘The X Factor.’
'Sun and Steel'
‘The Trooper’ dominates when it comes time to discuss ‘Piece of Mind,’ but the band knows the depth to this album and have played most of these songs live. One that has never been played on stage is ‘Sun and Steel,’ though it seems like it could have been a live staple. The song is short, yet effective with its traditional structure and another incredible hook delivered by Dickinson’s golden pipes. Despite the cookie cutter nature of this song, complete with all the Maiden-isms, it shows that even at their simplest form, the band still delivers.
'Back in the Village'
Most fans know this song as the one before the title track, 'Powerslave.' The dizzying intro lead is supported by a bouncing rhythm that transitions into the verse. This lead dominates nearly all of the song and even the solo sections dance around that motif. One subtle charm is when Dickinson sings the word “sixes,” the word “six” is echoed in a whisper twice. The singer’s voice is in fine form as usual, giving off a bit of his famed snarl at times, which has always helped convey the conviction of his words.
Mr. Clive Burr has done it again! His busy drumming kicks off 'Gangland' before the savage riffing comes in and Dickinson shortly lays waste to the song. The grit in his voice invokes the mentality of the song and his tandem enunciation with Burr’s accented drumming make ‘Gangland’ a powerful song. The ferocity never lets up and the harmonized melodies in the bridge that give way to the solos are a perfect touch that take this song to the next level.
'Judas Be My Guide'
Why doesn’t anybody ever mention this song!? ‘Judas Be My Guide’ is another hidden gem penned by Dave Murray and is the most classic sounding Iron Maiden song written after their dominance in the '80s. The band wanted to strip down their sound and get back to basics, but they overlooked this one. Dickinson’s raspy voice is perfect for the atmosphere, catchy leads are all over, and the chorus couldn’t be more infectious. ‘Judas Be My Guide’ is by far the most underrated Iron Maiden song in their vast catalog.