Thirty-five years ago this week, Iron Maiden released Piece Of Mind (EMI/Capitol) cementing their legacy as arguably the best band ever in heavy metal. Their second album with Bruce Dickinson, following the spectacular success of Number of The Beast, the band was certainly under pressure for the much-anticipated follow-up. After leader/bassist Steve Harris wrote most of Number, the group chose a more collaborative approach on the new album. In addition to new drummer Nicko McBrain (ex-Trust/Pat Travers) who’s powerhouse drumming has buoyed the band ever since.
Kicking off with the aggro ‘Where Eagles Dare’, Piece of Mind leans in hard and rocking. The songs are no less epic than on the previous album, with longer tracks, mixed in with shorter ones. The band definitely hit a stride writing together, with many amazing guitar leads trading off from Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. The Dickinson solo-penned ‘Revelations’ has long been a mid-tempo live favorite for ages.
Piece of Mind has some of the best-known favorites of all of Iron Maiden lore. ‘Flight of Icarus’ is in the top 10 Maiden songs ever and is undeniable live. ‘The Trooper’ is also a massive fan favorite, the highlight of many a live show and of course, the namesake of their beer. ‘Die With Your Boots On’ is also a quasi-hit song. One area where the band might have topped themselves is on the beautifully written and performed guitar solos, all of them emotional and memorable.
The straight-ahead ‘Still Life’ is a fine album track, and was the original album title. ‘Quest For Fire’ is pure Steve Harris: over the top heavy metal greatness. ‘Sun And Steel’ is more heavy metal madness, with a great main riff. ‘To Tame A Land’ was always one of the more underrated tracks of this era and a fine way to close the album out. It definitely highlighted some of the more progressive elements coming on future albums too.
Piece Of Mind is yet another Maiden masterstroke. They were undeniably the best band in the world at this time by any sensible measure.