Iron Maiden were pioneers of the British metal wave and would go on to become one of, if not, the greatest heavy metal bands in history. With so many albums to choose from, it can be hard narrowing down what songs should be included in a list of the best tracks ever from these gods of the genre, but we’ll give it our best shot.
In this article, we’ll give you the 25 best Iron Maiden songs of all time during their 40-plus-year career as a band.
1. Hallowed Be Thy Name
Hallowed Be Thy Name was an easy choice to place in our number one position despite all of the amazing songs Iron Maiden has produced. It’s not just their best track, it’s widely recognized as one of the greatest heavy metal songs that have ever been composed. The final track of their third album and a song that has featured on concert setlists since its release, this is one of the most ominous, deep, and defining metal tracks out there.
Beautifully combining melodic heavy rock and progressive song structures together and showcasing the dueling guitars of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, it’s easily their best track and an all-time great. Even as a heavy metal song, it rose to number nine on the UK Singles chart and number 16 in Ireland.
2. The Trooper
The Trooper was one of the best releases to come from Iron Maiden’s fourth studio album Piece Of Mind in 1983 and was one of the few songs of theirs to get significant radio play in the US. This helped it climb to number 28 on the Mainstream Rock charts in the US, while it also peaked at number 12 on the UK Singles chart.
The track is essentially the distilled version of The Charge Of The Light Brigade, an 1864 poem by Alfred Tennyson that detailed the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War.
3. Fear Of The Dark
Fear Of The Dark found success as a major fan favorite and a standout song on its album of the same name in live performances. While it was one of the last tracks produced before Bruce Dickinson left the band in 1994, it still became an anthem song for the band. Commercially, the track peaked at number eight and number 17 on the UK Singles and Irish Singles charts respectively.
The title track of Iron Maiden’s 1994 album, Powerslave showcases their ability to put real emotions into their songs, almost more than any other single. You can hear the urgency and fear in the lyrics and the guitar, producing the perfect representation of a king’s final moments. The track was undoubtedly one of their best, helping cement them among the pantheon of metal’s greatest bands forever.
5. Aces High
Another amazing entry from Iron Maiden’s Powerslave album, Aces High is one of their most aggressive, fast-paced songs in history. It combines famous quotes from Winston Churchill with the perspective of a pilot going toe-to-toe with the enemy, dogfighting in the sky. It was the opening track of the album, setting the tone for the rest of the way and becoming one of their most famous songs of all time. In the end, it peaked at number 20 and 29 on the UK and Irish Singles charts respectively.
6. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son
In folklore, being the seventh son of a seventh son would mean you had special powers, given to you from the divine. Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son explored that idea and served as the title track of Iron Maiden’s seventh—of course—studio album in 1988. It was also one of the best examples of early progressive metal, spanning over 10 minutes and perfectly mirroring the narrative at play in the song.
7. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Back to Powerslave we go for Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. A massive reimagining of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s tale, it very well may be their most sprawling and ambitious track in history. It had, quite literally, everything you could possibly ask for from an Iron Maiden song from spoken word interludes to countless tempo shifts.
8. Wasted Years
Wasted Years stood out on Somewhere In Time, partly because it was the only track on the album that didn’t use synthesizers and partly because it very well could have been their best song to date. It mainly dealt with the negatives of being on tour for so long and the feelings of homesickness and alienation that came along with it. It was the first single to be released from the album in 1986 and would peak at number 18 and number 11 on the UK Singles and Irish Singles charts respectively.
9. Phantom Of The Opera
Phantom Of The Opera holds the distinction of being Iron Maiden’s first progressive metal song. Released as the fourth track on their eponymous 1980 album, the sign was inspired by the famous novel by French author Gaston Leroux and came well before Andrew Lloyd Webber penned his Broadway show. One of their earliest works, this track showcased the potential they had at the time and proved to fans they were worth following going forward.
10. 2 Minutes to Midnight
While we’ve had a few songs from Powerslave enter the list already—and I don’t think we’re done yet—2 Minutes To Midnight was the first single to be released from that album. It was mainly a protest track raging against the commercialization of war, warning of nuclear war, and the end result of a war that leaves the world in a worse place than before it happened.
It also refers to the symbolic Doomsday Clock portrayed in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which represented a countdown to global catastrophe. The song itself made it to number 11 on the UK Singles chart and broke into the Top 10 in Ireland, despite being Iron Maiden’s longest single release—at the time—in their careers.
The Battle of Passchendaele was one of the major conflicts fought in World War One, pitting the Germans up against forces from Canada and Britain. It followed a common theme for Iron Maiden songs, retelling stories of heroism and warfare on stage, but it somehow had more of an emotional punch to the face than most of their other tracks. Though their 2003 Dance Of Death album isn’t their most beloved, Paschendale is a major standout and one of the band’s most poignant and important songs ever.
12. The Wicker Man
The Wicker Man served as the first single release from Iron Maiden’s Brave New World album in 2000, and it was the first single since 1989 to have both Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back with the band. It was full of ferocious riffs and one of the most concert-friendly choruses of any song they have ever produced.
13. The Number of the Beast
The title track of Iron Maiden’s 1982 studio album, The Number Of The Beast was one of their earliest songs to generate controversy. The religious nature of the track ignited anger in some religious groups in the US, leading to the band being accused of being Satanists and causing several protests during their world tour. That didn’t slow them down though, it helped them gain more notoriety.
Now, this is one of their most beloved songs and one of their most successful commercially, charting well upon release and then doing so two more times upon rereleases on compilation albums.
14. Run To The Hills
Run To The Hills was featured on Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast album and was even released on vinyl alongside the title track of the album. To this day, it remains one of the fans’ favorite songs and almost always ranks among the greatest metal tracks of all time. It takes on the colonization of the Americas from the perspective of both the native people living there and the people who came across the sea. Its highest chart ranking was at number seven on the UK Singles chart and number 16 in Ireland.
15. Alexander The Great
Coming in at over eight and a half minutes, Alexander The Great is still one of Iron Maiden’s longest songs to date. It was the closing track of the band’s 1986 album Somewhere In Time and chronicles the life of Alexander the Conqueror in a brooding, militaristic style. The lyrics themselves detail his time in Egypt, battles with Persia, and death in Babylon at age 33. It’s yet another example of them being history buffs that can turn any great story into a metal song.
The second track of Iron Maiden’s 1981 studio album Killers, Wrathchild was the perfect blend of punk and metal into a hard-hitting three-minute banger. A fan favorite, it’s one of their early relatable songs that tells the story of a man going to find his absent father and has all the teenage angst you’d see a decade later in the West Coast punk scene. To this day, it’s one of the best tracks to see them play live.
17. Children Of The Damned
Children Of The Damned is yet another entry from The Number Of The Beast, and it’s odd to say it, but this is one of the more slept-on Iron Maiden songs out there. Not that fans will agree, they already know how great it is. The track is thrilling, drawing on an excellent acoustic opening and riffing.
18. Flight Of Icarus
Most of us have heard the myth of Icarus, flying too close to the sun and all that, but you’ve never heard it like this. Flight of Icarus is very loosely based on this story and was easily one of the best tracks on Piece Of Mind. It’s one of their most famous songs despite not being played in concert for over three decades at one point and is the first single that wasn’t primarily written by Steve Harris.
This peaked at number 11 on the UK Singles chart and was Iron Maiden’s best run on the Billboard Top Album Tracks chart where it rose to number eight.
19. The Clansman
Before anyone gets their panties in a twist, this is not about the KKK. The Clansman is a song about freedom and overthrowing oppression, all through the lens of the Scottish clans that fought against English overlords to control their own land. A standout track on what many saw as one of their lesser albums in Virtual XI, this 1998 song had fans speculating if the film Braveheart had inspired it.
20. The Evil That Men Do
The second single to be released from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, The Evil That Men Do saw one of the band’s fastest chart rises. It debuted at number six on the UK Singles chart in 1988 and broke into the top five shortly after. It’s based on Marc Antony’s speech after witnessing Caesar’s death in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
21. Infinite Dreams
Infinite Dreams is oddly the only single to be released alongside a home video in Maiden England in 1989 and was a standalone live single released that year, though it originally appeared on Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. It’s one of their songs that doesn’t follow conventional structure, having any proper chorus, that questions both existence itself and the god that created us.
22. Blood Brothers
Brave New World saw the band reunite and perhaps nowhere else on the album are those fingerprints so clear. Blood Brothers delves into the meaning of life and the relationships that make it worth it and is full of intimate emotion that makes the song rock that much harder.
23. The Book Of Souls
The Book Of Souls was the title track of Iron Maiden’s 2015 album and an absolute classic. The 10-minute titanic song shows they haven’t lost a bit of their skill and energy over the last 30-plus years and tells us to continue to expect epic productions going forward.
24. Dance Of Death
Inspired by the 1957 film The Seventh Seal and the danse macabre aesthetic, Dance Of Death is the story of a man who is first kidnaped and then eventually joins the demonic Dance of Death itself before escaping his fate and vowing to never return.
Our final entry today is going to be one of Iron Maiden’s best-orchestrated tracks. Revelations featured on Piece Of Mind in 1983 was the first introduction of acoustic guitars to the band’s signature sounds. Playing on both the book of the bible that shares the title and Aleister Crowley, it was the first song to ever be written by Bruce Dickinson solo.
As a contributing writer for Music Grotto, Dakotah writes and produces professional music/media content. He works closely with editorial staff to meet editorial standards and create
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