Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs – ranked! (2023)

30. Burning Ambition (1980)

Famously no fan of punk – music he described as “against my religion” – bassist and founding member Steve Harris has always denied its influence on early Iron Maiden. But how else to account for this intriguing, compact curio on the B-side of Running Free, a perfect gene-splice between metal, Thin Lizzy and, well, punk?

29. Coming Home (2010)

If calling Coming Home a ballad is pushing it a bit, it’s as close to a ballad as Maiden are likely to get, an indication that – had they wished – they could have aced AOR. A thoughtful reflection on touring and what you might call the philosophical pleasures of aviation, complete with stadium-sized chorus.

28. Empire of the Clouds (2015)

The longest song in Maiden’s catalogue, a complex, 18-minute cinematic, episodic leviathan that tells the story of the British airship R-101’s final voyage. The work of the singer, Bruce Dickinson, who spent a month composing it on piano, it’s the sound of a band declining to rest on their considerable laurels and pushing into the unknown instead.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (1)

27. Hell on Earth (2021)

2021’s Senjutsu is a double album that’s best devoured in full – evidence that, nearly 50 years after they formed, Iron Maiden are in a remarkable creative purple patch – but if you had to pick one track, it might be the Harris-penned closer Hell on Earth: plaintive and explosive, with a killer vocal.

26. Dance of Death (2003)

“Let me tell you a story to chill the bones …” opens Dickinson in hammy style that has more to do with horror films than Dance of Death’s actual inspiration, Bergman’s The Seventh Seal. Dickinson performed Dance of Death live dressed as the Grim Reaper, summing the track up: it’s knowingly preposterous and genuinely gripping.

25. Sea of Madness (1986)

The Somewhere in Time LP generated a degree of controversy among Iron Maiden diehards for its flagrant use of – gasp! – synthesisers, but the notion that this newfound interest might blunt their sound is demolished by the Adrian Smith-penned Sea of Madness: prima facie evidence that the album is under-rated.

(Video) Best 30 Iron Maiden Songs (IMO)

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (2)

24. The Longest Day (2006)

Harris summarised 2006’s acclaimed LP A Matter of Life and Death as “heavier than we’ve ever been”, which certainly fits The Longest Day. Among Maiden’s multitude of war epics, it might be the most brutal and horrifying – it certainly doesn’t sound like the work of multimillionaires in their 60s.

23. 22 Acacia Avenue (1982)

The lyrics of the two-part saga of Charlotte the Harlot, a sort of metal equivalent of the Police’s Roxanne, haven’t aged terribly well – “All the men that are constantly drooling / It’s no life for you, stop all that screwing” – but the music on 22 Acacia Avenue is taut, dramatic and utterly thrilling.

22. Running Free (1980)

Founded on a warp-speed take on glam’s glitterbeat, Running Free is Maiden’s early, Paul Di’Anno-fronted years in miniature. It’s sharp, punchy and founded – despite the lyrical references to LA, which sound like the wishful work of someone who has never been further than Leytonstone. east London – in a desire for escape from grim urban reality.

21. The Evil That Men Do (1988)

Most of 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son LP – a concept album – was suitably proggy, but The Evil That Men Do kicks against that particular trend. Relatively short and straightforwardly hard hitting, it sounds appealingly like the basic essence of Maiden in concentrated form.

20. Blood Brothers (2000)

With due respect to the unfairly maligned Blaze Bayley, there was no mistaking the upswing when Dickinson returned after seven years to the vocalist’s role on Brave New World. You can hear it on Blood Brothers: the verses have a hint of folk about them, the chorus is pure emotive singalong, that seems to tangentially reference Dickinson’s return.

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

Unfairly overshadowed by the historical epics on their previous LP, Powerslave, the closing track from Somewhere in Time is far better than its reputation suggests, with impeccably detailed lyrics: “He spread Hellenism far and wide … he paved the way for Christianity”. They have never played it live, which seems a shame.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (3)
(Video) The Ultimate Iron Maiden Ranking - Every Song And Album Rated With 22 Songs From All Eras Featured

18. The Clansman (1998)

Iron Maiden’s years with Bayley as frontman are under-rated, but even their loudest critic should have a place in their heart for The Clansman – Harris-penned, Braveheart-inspired and Bayley’s finest moment. If you must have Dickinson, there’s a great 2020 live version.

17. Wrathchild (1981)

Dickinson is obviously Maiden’s greatest vocalist, but if you wanted to hear what Di’Anno brought to the band, then Wrathchild – the saga of a man searching for his absent father – would be perfect evidence. Fuelled by a rasping, believably street-tough grittiness, it deals in a noticeably different kind of rawness and power.

16. Flight of Icarus (1983)

The track that launched the Piece of Mind album, Flight of Icarus was a slightly abstruse choice of first single – it doesn’t have The Trooper’s grab-you-by-the-throat quality – but it’s fantastic. The Immigrant Song-like chug bears a soaring chorus, and the lyrics apparently view its doomed hero as a symbol of freedom and rebellion.

15. Wasted Years (1986)

Lyrically, a deeply odd, anomalous Maiden track, on which Smith seems to be questioning the point of being in the band. Conversely, he sets this burst of existential self-doubt to the kind of nailed-on chorus guaranteed to keep Maiden in business for the foreseeable future.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (4)

14. Children of the Damned (1982)

It says something about the sheer quality of The Number of the Beast that a song as good as Children of the Damned feels like something of a deep cut. It leaps from acoustic ballad opening, to crunching Black Sabbath-ish riffing, to warp-speed drumming and guitar pyrotechnics. Still completely thrilling.

13. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1984)

On Powerslave’s lengthy, zero-fucks-given-for-the-dictates-of-fashion closer, Harris’s love of prog rock was finally given full episodic flower, complete with spoken-word interlude, sound effects and umpteen dynamic shifts through which the tension never lets up. A track that helped kickstart an entire progressive metal subgenre and briefly endeared Iron Maiden to a generation of O-level English teachers.

12. Run to the Hills (1982)

(Video) Top 10 Iron Maiden Songs

A Top 10 hit and apparently at least partly inspired by Frank Sinatra’s My Way – it’s all in the ascending major 6th intervals, it seems. For a band debuting a new singer, Maiden sound completely imperious and swaggeringly powerful; people who know they’ve found the missing piece of the puzzle.

11. The Wicker Man (2000)

The return of Dickinson and Smith to Maiden was announced in thunderous style, with one of the greatest album openers of the band’s career. A simple but ferociously hard-driving riff, with a chorus designed to be joyously bellowed along to en masse, it brought the overwhelming sense that the band were operating on full steam once more.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (5)

10. Fear of the Dark (1992)

Iron Maiden sounded worryingly listless in the early 90s. Exception that proves the rule: Fear of the Dark’s incredible title track. Listen to the bedlam its intro causes on 2002’s Live in Rio or 2005’s Death on the Road: the noise of the crowd is almost as exciting as the song itself.

9. Paschendale (2003)

The greatest song to date of Maiden’s second Dickinson era features one of the band’s eternal themes – the futility of war – reanimated into eight minutes of detailed dynamic surges and horrifying lyrics: the protagonist ends up choking on his own blood. “A powerful and stirring body of music,” opined Dickinson, not unreasonably.

8. The Number of the Beast (1982)

Iron Maiden’s contribution to the satanic panic brought about by metal’s interest in the occult was inspired by a nightmare; the result of watching Damien: Omen II. Vincent Price declined to provide the opening narration and more fool him: The Number of the Beast is a tacky-but-terrifying Hammer horror film, perfectly wrought into song.

7. 2 Minutes to Midnight (1984)

A radio-friendly track that doesn’t sacrifice a scrap of Maiden’s power, 2 Minutes to Midnight is a no-punches-pulled protest song about war – riven with nuclear paranoia and replete with a reference to Belsen – that also features an air-punch-inducing chorus. And it is still grimly relevant: according to the Doomsday Clock referenced in the title, it’s now 100 seconds to midnight.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (6)

6. Phantom of the Opera (1980)

(Video) I.r.o.n M.a.i.d.e.n Best Songs Playlist - Greatest hits Full Album 2021

Much of Maiden’s debut seemed to speak of the world from which they had sprung – a gritty take on hard rock born out of gigs in east London pubs – but Phantom of the Opera was something else: ambitious, lengthy and held together by a riff so undeniable it was, incredibly, used to flog Lucozade in the mid-80s.

5. Powerslave (1984)

The sound of a band firing on all cylinders – Middle Eastern-inspired riffs, unexpectedly dreamy middle section, intricate soloing – but Powerslave’s force lies in Dickinson’s urgent performance. You can suggest a song about a dying Egyptian pharaoh realising that he’s mortal rather than a deity is faintly daft, but the dread in his voice makes it weirdly believable.

4. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1988)

Iron Maiden’s back catalogue is full of sudden changes, surges in power and accelerations in speed, but the most breathtaking of the lot might be the one at 7min 5sec in Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, when its ominous chug and synth-assisted atmospherics unexpectedly give way to a burst of all-out aggression.

Iron Maiden’s 30 greatest songs –ranked! (7)

3. Aces High (1984)

Powerslave – and umpteen gigs over the years – opens with arguably the most potent, aggressive, in-your-face Maiden song of the lot. Aces High charges along at Motörhead pace, simultaneously deft and heavy. Its authors probably wouldn’t thank you for saying it, but the chorus is the kind of soaring uplifting masterstroke that pop songwriters would kill for.

2. The Trooper (1983)

The story of the Charge of the Light Brigade rendered into four minutes. The band’s trademark galloping rhythm has never sounded more appropriate and their harmonised guitar riffs have never found a more memorable expression than here. Less complex than some of Maiden’s historical epics, The Trooper’s currency is raw power.

1. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

What puts The Number of the Beast’s closing track at the top of this list? It features possibly the greatest recorded example of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s dual guitars in action, a structure that, in its shifts in tempo and mood, reflects its condemned-man protagonist’s movement from confusion and “surmounting terror” to bold anger – vertical lift off is achieved at 4min 33sec – and a fantastic, edge-of-hysteria Dickinson vocal. If an alien, recently arrived on Earth, wanted to know what heavy metal was, you could spend hours explaining its manifold complexities, or you could just play them Hallowed Be Thy Name – they would get the idea.

(Video) Top 30 Iron Maiden Songs

FAQs

What is Bruce Dickinson's favorite Iron Maiden song? ›

I'd love to do one or two rarities, I'd love to do 'The Prisoner' again, 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' stuff like that. I like things that have a little bit of groove to them.”

Does Iron Maiden have a greatest hits? ›

The Essential Iron Maiden is the fourth greatest hits compilation by the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 12 July 2005.
...
The Essential Iron Maiden
Released12 July 2005
Recorded1980–2003
GenreHeavy metal
Length2:27:21
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What is the hardest Iron Maiden song to sing? ›

"Technically difficult - 'Heaven Can Wait. ' It's got a very challenging verse in there. It's a lot of words to fit in rhythmically. "One of the great things about that song is - as difficult as it is, it taught me this wonderful lesson about phrasing.

What is Iron Maiden longest song? ›

"Empire of the Clouds", at 18 minutes in length, is Iron Maiden's longest song to date, overtaking "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" from their 1984 album, Powerslave. The track tells the story of the British R101 airship, which crashed in northern France on 5 October 1930 during its maiden voyage.

What is Bruce Dickinson's favorite Iron Maiden album? ›

BRUCE DICKINSON says 'Senjutsu' is one of his favorite IRON MAIDEN albums.

Did Bruce Dickinson write any Iron Maiden songs? ›

Since joining the band in 1981, vocalist Bruce Dickinson has contributed consistently to Iron Maiden's songwriting, including their first number-one single, "Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter".

How many songs Iron Maiden has in total? ›

In fact, it goes on for exactly 187 songs released over the course of those 16 albums. With a fanbase as huge and as dedicated as Iron Maiden's, we knew exactly where to turn when it came to pulling together the definitive ranking of the 50 best Iron Maiden songs of all time.

Is Iron Maiden good? ›

Heavy metal wouldn't be what it is today without Iron Maiden, and despite the English ensemble's quality ebbing and flowing a tad over the past 40-odd years, they've remained one of the genre's most reliable and revered acts.

What was Iron Maiden's first record? ›

What is the longest recorded rock song? ›

Thick as a Brick” is the longest popular rock song ever recorded. It is so long that it's actually the only track on the album, with each part taking up an entire side!

How many number one hits does Iron Maiden have? ›

Iron Maiden have only had one UK Official Singles Chart Number 1 with 1992's Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter. Iron Maiden won Best British Live Act at the 2009 BRIT Awards.

What is Iron Maiden shortest song? ›

The Ides of March is Maiden's shortest song, features no vocals and was only played onstage by the band once, in 1979.

What is the most difficult song to play? ›

So, let's get to the hardest songs to play on the guitar.
  • “Cliffs Of Dover” by Eric Johnson.
  • “Eruption” by Van Halen, A Difficult Guitar Song.
  • “Juice” By Steve Vai, One Of The Hardest Guitar Songs Ever.
  • “Far Beyond The Sun” by Yngwie Malmsteen.
  • “Waves” by Guthrie Govan, A Hard To Play Song On Guitar.
13 Dec 2021

How do you scream in rock songs? ›

To scream sing, start by opening your mouth and throat as wide as possible so it's easier to scream. If you need help opening your throat, try making a "k" sound and breathing in at the same time. Then, try singing while pressing in on your chest with your hands to constrict your voice and make it sound like a scream.

How do you sing metal music? ›

How to Sing Metal
  1. With a relaxed throat, allow your mouth to hang open slightly.
  2. After a deep breath, push the air up from your diaphragm so that it sounds like the sound of wind. ...
  3. When exhaling, slowly introduce some raspy gurgling sounds from the bottom of your throat.

How many records have Iron Maiden sold? ›

In total, their 17 studio albums add for 56.8 million sales, an average of 3.3 million per disc.

How many albums has Metallica sold? ›

Metallica has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, with over 65 million records in the United States alone (56.3 million albums since 1991 when SoundScan started tracking actual sales figure).
...
Metallica discography
Studio albums10
Live albums8
Video albums10
Music videos42
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How many albums has Judas Priest sold? ›

After guitarist K. K. Downing's retirement from the band in 2011, bassist Ian Hill is the only remaining founding member. Judas Priest have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, with 12 million copies in the United States.

What was Iron Maiden's greatest hit? ›

1. Hallowed Be Thy Name (1982)

Who is bigger Iron Maiden or Metallica? ›

While it's generally assumed that Metallica are the biggest metal band on the planet, plenty of hard rock and metal fans -- contrarians by nature -- could argue that a band like, say, Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden deserves that title.

Why do Iron Maiden have 3 guitarists? ›

Why did Iron Maiden go from two guitarists to three? When Bruce Dickinson returned after two disastrous albums where Blaze Bailey fronted Maiden, he insisted of bringing Adrian Smith back as well. They had tp choose to either have three guitarists or sack one of the others. They chose to keep all three.

What is Dio's most famous song? ›

1. Black Sabbath - "Heaven and Hell" "Heaven and Hell," from Black Sabbath's 1980 album of the same name, is the linchpin for decades of debate over whether Ronnie James Dio or Ozzy Osbourne is the superior Sabbath singer.

Videos

1. My Personal Top 50 Iron Maiden Songs
(Rockin' D)
2. ιron maiden 161 songs ranking part 1 (1-30)
(epic rankings)
3. Top 100 Iron Maiden songs (IMO)
(GarageBand Covers)
4. Every Iron Maiden Song In 1 Hour
(Arno V.)
5. iron maiden best songs ranking top 12
(Ezequiel Pirillo)
6. Top 20 Best Iron Maiden Songs
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