BEST & WORST: The 10 Worst Iron Maiden Songs

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WTF? Did they write that? And record it too? We give you our BOTTOM 10, the worst songs Iron Maiden ever wrote and recorded…

We know this is going to be a storm. We’re bound to label somebody’s favorite Maiden track … well, crap. Call it tabloid, call it attention-seeking. It’s part of fandom, and we have to live with both the good and the band, don’t we?

Last year we invited you to love or hate our TOP 10 of obscure Maiden tracks, those that don’t get enough recognition. This time we’re gonna name the Maiden tracks we feel are … well, crap. Which is not easy! Because Iron Maiden is a consistently great band.

Well, you get to punish us in the comments.

Here’s what we think:

10) ANOTHER LIFE (1981)
This one is not easy. Torgrim is a fan of the Killers album, and Christer is too, as this previous review shows. But here’s a song that’s so far below the high points of the album, which boasts classics like Murders In The Rue Morgue and Wrathchild. After the drum intro, we get a cool verse that gives way to where the chorus should have been, but nothing’s there…

Still, the song made a surprising return to the Maiden setlist in 2005, when the band toured tracks only from their first four records, in a spot where most people would probably expect something like the title track. Here’s the performance from Rock Am Ring that summer:

09) SANCTUARY (1980)
One of the oldest Maiden tracks, and just about a setlist regular, a song that some love and some don’t. Even in light of the material on Maiden’s first record, which isn’t really that sophisticated, Sanctuary is all pale riffs and equally pale melodies. Boo!

08) GANGLAND (1982)
This one is going to provoke arguments in the comments… It’s not easy to shine when you’re part of the massive The Number Of The Beast album, but Gangland falls way short of tracks like Children Of The Damned and The Prisoner. This is average early 80s metal, at a point where there shouldn’t have been anything average about Maiden:

We can’t find any such fault with the albums of the Harris-Murray-Smith-Dickinson-McBrain era in 1983-1988, and although the average level of the songs on their first 1990s album, No Prayer For The Dying, isn’t quite up to it, it’s still not as terrible as much that would come later. So from here on our list makes a massive jump in the timeline:

07) GATES OF TOMORROW (2003)
An infantile opening riff starts off the worst tune Maiden have recorded in their reunion era. When you’re packing monsters like Rainmaker and Paschendale, something as hollow as Gates Of Tomorrow should simply have been left off a Dance Of Death album which is long enough in any case.

06) WEEKEND WARRIOR (1992)
At this point, it will become very clear that we have a problem with two particular Iron Maiden albums… Launching the unfortunate blend of poor Maiden music and football themes that would plague the later Virtual XI album and tour, Weekend Warrior is one of many low points on Fear Of The Dark. How can a Maiden track be downright boring? The quality of Maiden’s music had taken a dip at the start of the 1990s, but this track is yawn-inducingly pedestrian.

05) FEAR IS THE KEY (1992)
And this attempt at doing a Zeppelin does not work at all. Dirgy tempo and a raga-flavored riff, and the song builds to a climax that never arrives, rather falling back into the dirge:

04) DON’T LOOK TO THE EYES OF A STRANGER (1998)
Virtual XI is probably our least favorite Maiden album here at Maiden Revelations, and all but two tracks could have been considered for inclusion on this list. Why go with this one? It’s a clear example of the production shortcomings that haunted Maiden during Steve Harris’ reign as producer, and also a clear example of the songwriting shortfall that was Maiden’s 1992-98 period. Two full minutes of this overlong track is given to Blaze Bayley repeating the title ad nauseam, sounding stupidly close to singing “the ASS of a stranger”

03) INVASION (1979)
One should probably not give a young band too much heat for what they did before finding their feet. But here’s an exception! Recorded on New Year’s Eve in 1978, Invasion became part of Maiden’s first release – The Soundhouse Tapes. This is a snapshot of the time when the band were in search of their sound, but it is still mind-bogglingly awful. “The Norsemen are coming, the Norsemen are coming, the warnings are given, the Norsemen are coming…” Yikes:

02) THE APPARITION (1992)
Is this worse than Invasion? No, but thirteen successful years later it’s incomprehensible that a band of Maiden’s quality and status would allow something as crappy as this on an official release. Not even a B side, but an album track proper! The lyrics are actually kind of neat, but the music is pointless. And Fear Of The Dark seems to have been lucky to become a decent seller…

01) THE ANGEL AND THE GAMBLER (1998)
There is no excuse. The Angel And The Gambler is so far away, not only from what we would expect from Iron Maiden, but from what we would expect from any decent hard rock band. That’s right, this track wouldn’t cut it for ANY decent hard rock band. It’s that bad.

All of this at a time when Maiden chief Steve Harris could do whatever the hell he wanted. He produced the records, and he wrote most of the music. Manager Rod Smallwood disagreed strongly with Harris’ choice of this tune as the lead single off their new album Virtual XI, arguing that album opener Futureal was the better choice.

And he was damn right. Little wonder that there would be a major rethink of Maiden’s line-up and production less than a year after the release of this catastrophe:

Consider yourself lucky that this video was an edited version of the 10 (!) minute song. It’s almost like Harris had to show the world how bad it really could get, before getting back to business. This song is Maiden’s version of self-hatred, but they would soon snap out of it. Thank Eddie…

So, what rubbed you the wrong way, friends? And what should obviously have been on the list? Sound off in the comments section!

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50 thoughts on “BEST & WORST: The 10 Worst Iron Maiden Songs

  1. I agree with this list except number 10, number 9 and numer 8.

    I think more numbers of Fear Of The Dark, X-Factor and Virtual VI could be on this list.

    This one is going to provoke arguments too, but for me To Tame A Land would be on the list too. I tried to listen to it several times but this song doesn’t do it for me. Now I always skip To Tame A Land when I listen to Piece Of Mind. I would put The Man Who Would Be King on the list too.

    • To Tame A Land is a big favorite for us at Maiden Revelations. ๐Ÿ™‚ Personally I agree with The Man Who Would Be King, but it’s not as bad (in my opinion) as Gates Of Tomorrow.

      We also agree with you about Fear Of The Dark, The X Factor and Virtual XI, but we thought the list would be too boring if we took too many tracks from the mid-90s. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. I like Sanctuary, though simply because of the fact that it doesn’t measure up to the majority of the songs they made after it I can understand why it would be on this list. One song that I think should be on here is Childhood’s End. Hearing a Maiden song that sounds like it was written for a Live Aid concert or something is just….ugh. Fear of the Dark is definitely tainted by being so bloated, the middle section was a chore to get through.

    • Good bloody question! We did forget it… But personally I think the Blaze songs on the list are much worse than Virus.

  3. I personally think that ‘Gangland’ and ‘Sanctuary’ rock!

    Most of “Virtual XI” should have been on this list…

    • Probably, but that would have made the list damn boring. If I had to rate the albums however, and we’ve just started on the 90s, Virtual XI would probably not do too well… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Personally I struggle to name a bad track from any of the first seven albums, but the ’90s were a different matter.

    The Fugitive is one of the worst of that era. Bruce’s vocals in the middle of the song are just bizarre. It sounds like he made them up on the spot!

    2am is pretty grim too, listen to it back-to-back with an ’80s song and you wouldn’t think it was the same band.

    • It could be argued that The X Factor should be represented on this list, and 2 AM is a truly pale song, indeed. But personally I think that 3-4 songs on Virtual XI is even worse than anything on the predecessor. Then again, I could easily make a list like this with each track taken off the Blaze albums…

      • Maybe you need to do a top 20! Certainly The X Factor should contribute at least one song but I would agree with you that Virtual XI is generally worse.

        I could make up a good playlist with a selection of songs from The X Factor and Virtual XI (Sign Of The Cross, Lord Of The Flies, Man On The Edge, Futureal, Como Estais Amigo), but the rest of the songs are very poor.

        The song writing on Virtual XI sounds almost juvenile, I can’t quite put my finger on why but the songs sound like the sort of thing I might have composed when I was in a band in my mid-teens. I think the problem is the way the vocals are made to fit the melody, maybe this is something Blaze pushed as Bruce never seemed to do this.

    • I actually really like The Fugitive. Vocally it isn’t the strongest song, but I think musically it’s enjoyable.

    • At first I thought the same of S15…. but after listening to it repeatedly while running I actually dig it alot now! It really grows on you…
      So what I at first thought was the worst Maiden opener now ranks in my top 5 and I never skip it anymore when listening to the album.
      Give it some spins.. I hope you will end up finding it as exciting/spacey/heavy as I do now!
      Up the Irons!

  5. Greetings! Ive been reading this site for a while but this list forced me to comment. I cant believe that no one has mentioned Age of Innocence. A totally horrendous song!! I normally have a soft spot for Davey’s tunes but I cant have this one. I agree with Ghost, I love Gangland!

    • Personally, I find the riff and verses in Age Of Innocence less than OK, and the lyrics are terrible. But call me a softie … I think the chorus is actually really good. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • I agree, love age of innocence chorus, classic maiden sound for me. The lyrics are abysmal Daily Mail tripe however! What were they thinking??

      • It wasn’t the first time Steve wrote something of that ilk. You’d never find a Bruce song with such lyrics.

  6. Tracks 8-10 I would not include on this list – ‘Another Life’ is superb, ‘Gangland’ although a filler has Burr at his finest & ‘Sanctuary’ a classic! ‘Nuff said!!!

  7. Another life is one of best ironmaiden songs on early years. Maiden play it in almost all shows in early years….
    Maybe some musics like Public Enema Number One, Fates Warning ,Judgement of Heaven and Blood on the World’s Hands, Lightning Strikes Twice….could be here…
    Gangland…. is a normal music but not bad. The problem is that this music is not on the level of other the number ofthe beast songs…

  8. Iron maidens album from first record to Fear of the Dark album ,all the songs are perfect in different mode .
    I really meen this! i play iron maiden most everyday sins 1981 and still do.
    To find the worst song is not easy…

  9. Good list! every album since x-factor has more bad than good ones in my opinion. but what kind of list would that be? the angel and the.. and the apparition are pure shit. what were they thinking? now i may get butched, but the trooper is the worst ever. i hate that song. its the song when i go and buy a new beer at concerts. its just like paranoid or smoke on the water, album fillers..

  10. I think The Angel and the Gambler gets too much flak. It’s nothing special, it’s got a weird “jaunty” sound that is more Elton John than Iron Maiden, and it’s way way way too long. But it’s far from the worst song they have recorded. It’s not even the worst song on that album. It’s at least sort of weirdly catchy. When Two Worlds Collide, Don’t Look to the Eyes of a Stranger and Lightning Strikes Twice are all more bland and boring, IMO.

    For me, The Apparition is the worst. It’s just a bunch of cliche life advice shouted to a non-tune. The Assassin is also pretty ass. The first minute-and-a-half has quite a cool build but the chorus is an abysmally hokey mess. “Better watch out, better watch out…” Is Santa Claus coming?

  11. I disagree with #4, don’t look to the eyes of a stranger. While it isn’t fantastic, the song has some nice parts such as the slow, mysterious opening and the pretty catchy chorus (“don’t to the eyes of a stranger…”)

  12. You are all wrong I really like the Album version of The Angel And The Gambler, the only blaze era tunes i wasn’t too keen on are The unbeliever and The educated fool, all the rest are great. Yes the apparition is a pretty poor song. Public enema no1 was no to great either but like rest of no prayer for the dying.

  13. Interesting read. Invasion should never be on this list, though: It’s raw and has a great punch to it (compare it to any other NWOBHM band’s material for a valid point of reference). It’s even better than its cousin Invaders in my view. The lyrics may be a bit naff, but if lyrics are taken into account (which would be an interesting feature in itself), what about Quest For Fire? But I’d replace Invasion with… Fortunes of War, which is so repetitive and embarrassing that it hurts. When it comes to The Angel and the Gambler, I remember from interviews that Nick and Steve mentioned The Who a lot as a point of reference; the idea behind it seems to me to be an immensely ill-fated attempt to replicate the Who’s big AOR-sound from Who’s Next and beyond. A conscious, but desperate attempt to pull Maiden out of the metal fold (for better or worse, Futureal is at least a signature Maiden song) to reach a wider rock audience, perhaps?

  14. Can we consider AMOLAD and The Final Frontier two giant songs and firmly put them at joint No1?

    1.See above
    2.Wicker Man
    3/4.Blood brothers/Ghost of the navigator
    5.Futureal
    6.Tailgunner
    7.Die with your boots on
    8.Fear is the key
    9.Wildest dreams
    10.Gangland

  15. I cannot believe you left out “Mother Mercy”. For mine it is hands down the worse Maiden song ever. I am surprised “Sanctuary” made the list. OK; maybe not their best offering but it works well live!!

  16. I probably would not have anything from their 80s output. That is their heyday and they could do no wrong with me. None of the albums since then can touch the original 7 studio albums.
    I definitely would have Dream of Mirrors in here. Such a horrible repetitive song that goes nowhere. Just garbage. I would put most of Matter of Life and Death on the list. I just hate that album. I honestly don’t get why Steve got so obsessed with starting songs slowly and then having them build up. He’s done this quite a bit since the reunion of Bruce and Adrian. The move to prog metal has me quite concerned that they will stay there for future albums.

    • oops not what i wanted to write. my mistake. what i wanted to say is that this list is ourageously stupid.
      another life shouldn’t be on the list it’s fucking awesome, sanctuary also, i agree with gangland it’s terrible, how the hell did gates of tommorrow get on the list? it’s amazing. there’s not a single bad song on dance of death. sure age of innocence is a little soft but it’s good. weekend warrior is great. from FoTD imo opinion only fear is the key and apparition are bad. don’t look to the eyes of a stranger is one of my favourites from virtual xi and shouldn’t be on the list. while repeating on angel and the gambler is terrible to me, repeating on don’t look to the eyes… doesn’t bother me at all. i like it. no there shouldn’t be almost all virtual xi on this list. i agree that angel and the gambler is here because it’s pretty bad, but no way in hell should it be on the 1st place because it’s not the worst. the track that is the worst and should be on the first place(and i don’t understand how u didn’t think about this one) is quest for fire. the worst maiden song ever. absolutely horrible. i know here on maiden revelations u like to tame a land but to me it’s not really good. it’s not good but it’s not garbage like QFF. it’s just bad.it is way better than qff but still bad tho. also the only two bad tracks from no prayer for the dying:assassin and hooks in you should be here.everything else on it is great to me. also why isn’t prophecy in it. yes i said it because seventh son isn’t a total masterpiece ’cause it has this song. it’s total shit. probably noone will put this on the list but to me run to the hills is so boring and annoying. i don’t understand why people go crazy for this song. it’s nothing special and sounds like there is no distortion. maybe i would put mother of mercy here, but maybe.

      • angel and the gambler to me personaly is the only bad track from virtual xi. also to not create confusion, i’ll rephrase my self: i didn’t mean that Don’t look to the eyes… shouldn’t be on the list BECAUSE it’s my favourite. i’m saying that it shouldn’t be on the list and then separately i’m saying it’s one of my faves.

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