The 20 greatest Iron Maiden songs

Iron Maiden, the iconic British metal band, emerged as trailblazers of the heavy metal movement and have etched their name in history as one of the most influential and revered groups of all time. With a vast discography spanning over four decades, selecting the finest songs from their repertoire can be a challenging task.

In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover the absolute best tracks that have defined Iron Maiden’s legacy, showcasing their prowess, innovation, and profound impact on the realm of heavy metal.

A Legacy Forged in Metal

Founded on Christmas Day of 1975, Iron Maiden has transcended the confines of time and music genres, becoming synonymous with the very essence of heavy metal culture.

Their 16 albums have showcased an evolution in style, ranging from moderate to mind-bending, with an unwavering commitment to delivering audacious adventures and electrifying performances.

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Distilling the essence of Iron Maiden’s extensive catalog into a concise list of 20 songs has been no small feat. Our selection pays homage to their illustrious history and acknowledges the outstanding contributions of the band’s definitive lineup: bassist and bandleader Steve Harris, vocalist Bruce Dickinson, guitarists Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, and Janick Gers, and dynamic drummer Nicko McBrain.

It’s important to note that while we’ve endeavored to capture the essence of their greatness, this list may overlook some stone-cold classics. We eagerly anticipate hearing your personal favorites in the comments.

30. Burning Ambition (1980)

“Burning Ambition” offers a unique blend of metal, Thin Lizzy, and punk influences. Found on the B-side of “Running Free,” this intriguing track showcases a fusion of musical elements, reflecting the band’s experimental nature during their early years.

29. Coming Home (2010)

“Coming Home” stands as an almost-ballad, providing insight into Iron Maiden’s melodic capabilities. The song reflects on touring life and contemplates the philosophical joys of aviation, all tied together by a stadium-worthy chorus that invites listeners to sing along.

28. Empire of the Clouds (2015)

Iron Maiden’s longest song, “Empire of the Clouds” spans 18 minutes and recounts the tragic story of the British airship R-101’s final voyage. Written and composed by Bruce Dickinson on piano, the track showcases the band’s willingness to explore new musical territories and narratives.

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27. Hell on Earth (2021)

The double album “Senjutsu,” “Hell on Earth” captures both plaintive and explosive qualities. The song’s lyrics and powerful vocals reflect the band’s ability to craft emotive and impactful compositions even after nearly five decades in the industry.

26. Dance of Death (2003)

“Dance of Death” opens with theatrical horror-inspired lines and pays homage to Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal.” Bruce Dickinson’s performance as the Grim Reaper adds a theatrical touch, creating a captivating and engaging track.

25. Sea of Madness (1986)

“Sea of Madness” defies skepticism over synthesized elements present in the “Somewhere in Time” album. Written by Adrian Smith, the song reaffirms Iron Maiden’s musical prowess and showcases their ability to incorporate new sounds while maintaining their signature power.

20. Blood Brothers (2000)

“Blood Brothers” marks Bruce Dickinson’s return to Iron Maiden after a hiatus. The song’s verses carry a folk-like quality, while the chorus evokes emotive singalong moments. The track is a testament to the band’s unity and resilience.

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19. Alexander the Great (356-323BC) (1986)

“Alexander the Great” is a historical gem from the “Somewhere in Time” album, often overshadowed by other epics. The closing track offers impeccably detailed lyrics, celebrating the legacy of Alexander the Great and highlighting the band’s storytelling prowess.

18. The Clansman (1998)

“The Clansman,” penned by Steve Harris, stands as one of the highlights of Iron Maiden’s Bayley era. Inspired by “Braveheart,” the song’s anthemic quality and heartfelt performance by Blaze Bayley make it a standout track.

17. Wrathchild (1981)

“Wrathchild” provides a glimpse into the unique vocal style of Paul Di’Anno, Iron Maiden’s earlier vocalist. The song’s street-tough grittiness and raw energy offer a departure from the signature Dickinson sound.

16. Flight of Icarus (1983)

“Flight of Icarus” opens the “Piece of Mind” album and explores the myth of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. The track’s Middle Eastern-inspired chug, soaring chorus, and meaningful lyrics make it a classic.

15. Wasted Years (1986)

Lyrically enigmatic, “Wasted Years” questions the purpose of being in the band. Despite this, its captivating chorus ensures the song’s lasting appeal, marking a notable departure from Iron Maiden’s typical lyrical themes.

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14. Children of the Damned (1982)

“Children of the Damned” transitions seamlessly from an acoustic ballad opening to heavy Black Sabbath-esque riffing. The track showcases Iron Maiden’s ability to juxtapose diverse musical elements within a single composition.

13. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1984)

“The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” closes the “Powerslave” album with progressive rock influences. The song’s episodic structure, spoken-word interlude, and dynamic shifts reflect Iron Maiden’s ambition and storytelling prowess.

12. Run to the Hills (1982)

“Run to the Hills” marked Bruce Dickinson’s debut with the band. The track’s imperious and powerful delivery, combined with its ascending intervals, cemented Iron Maiden’s reign in the metal realm.

11. The Wicker Man (2000)

“The Wicker Man” announces Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith’s return to the band. The song’s driving riff, air-punch-inducing chorus, and anthemic quality herald Iron Maiden’s triumphant resurgence.

10. Fear of the Dark (1992)

“Fear of the Dark” captures the band’s spirit during a transitional period. The song’s exceptional title track showcases Iron Maiden’s ability to deliver an electrifying performance even during uncertain times.

9. Paschendale (2003)

“Paschendale” stands as a highlight of Iron Maiden’s second Dickinson era. The track explores themes of war and futility through eight minutes of dynamic shifts, captivating lyrics, and stirring musicality.

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8. The Number of the Beast (1982)

Inspired by a nightmare, “The Number of the Beast” became a hallmark of Iron Maiden’s catalog. Its exploration of occult themes and haunting narrative made it a staple in heavy metal culture.

7. 2 Minutes to Midnight (1984)

“2 Minutes to Midnight” serves as a protest song against war, laden with nuclear paranoia. The track’s gripping chorus and grim relevance contribute to its enduring impact.

6. Phantom of the Opera (1980)

“Phantom of the Opera” is an ambitious track that stands out for its length and complexity. With a central riff that’s both undeniable and versatile, the song showcased Iron Maiden’s willingness to experiment.

5. Powerslave (1984)

“Powerslave” melds Middle Eastern-inspired riffs with dreamy interludes and intricate soloing. Bruce Dickinson’s urgent vocals add an edge to the track’s multifaceted musicality.

4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

“Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” features breathtaking shifts in power and speed. The track’s unexpected bursts of aggression contribute to its dynamic and enthralling nature.

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3. Aces High (1984)

“Aces High” opens with a potent and aggressive sound, marked by an uplifting chorus. The song’s energy and melody are masterfully combined, showcasing Iron Maiden’s songwriting prowess.

2. The Trooper (1983)

“The Trooper” tells the story of the Charge of the Light Brigade and features Maiden’s trademark galloping rhythm and harmonized guitar riffs. It’s a prime example of the band’s knack for storytelling through music.

1. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

“Hallowed Be Thy Name” stands as a masterpiece, embodying Iron Maiden’s musical essence. The track’s dual guitars, shifts in tempo, and powerful vocals create a mesmerizing journey, culminating in a crescendo that captures the essence of heavy metal.

These songs, each with its unique narrative and musicality, exemplify Iron Maiden’s profound impact on the heavy metal genre and its listeners.

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