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Iron Maiden

Entry updated 19 July 2021. Tagged: Music.

English heavy metal band formed in 1975 by bassist Stephen Harris (1956-    ) and characterized by very loud, fast guitar work and the banshee vocals of lead singer Bruce Dickinson (1958-    ). The band select promiscuously from established texts as premises for their songs, adapting many novels and (especially) films from war-story, mystery, historical, noir and sf genres. The latter, often inflected via a persistent interest in Satanism and occult fantasy, constitute some of their most enduring work. "Transylvania", on the band's debut album Iron Maiden (1978), is a version of Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897); "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (on Killers, 1981) adapts Edgar Allan Poe's story. "Children of the Damned" (on The Number of the Beast, 1982) is that most surprising thing, a heavy-metal adaptation of John Wyndham's novel The Midwich Cuckoos. "The Prisoner" from the same album reworks the 1967-1968 UK television series The Prisoner, and ends with Patrick McGoohan's character (the actor appears on the track) escaping his imprisonment; although a sequel song "Back in the Village" (on Powerslave, 1984) returns him to captivity. "Total Eclipse" (also on The Number of the Beast), details environmental catastrophe and the end of the world in characteristically outré manner. "To Tame a Land" (on Piece of Mind, 1983) is based on and uses distinctive words and names from Frank Herbert's Dune (fixup 1965); indeed the band wanted to call the song "Dune" but Herbert (who disliked heavy metal) refused. "Stranger in a Strange Land" (on Somewhere in Time, 1986), whilst not a version of Robert A Heinlein's novel, does develop a science-fictional story about a frozen Arctic explorer being discovered after a century in the ice. Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (1998), a concept-album on paranormal themes much influenced by the writings of Aleister Crowley, is seen by many fans as the last of the "classic" Iron Maiden releases; although "Out of the Silent Planet" (a heavy-metal version of Forbidden Planet rather than an adaptation of C S Lewis's novel, despite its title), and the thumping version of Aldous Huxley, "Brave New World" (both on Brave New World, 2000) are enjoyable. The track "Childhood's End" (On Fear of the Dark, 1992) bears no relation to Arthur C Clarke's novel. [AR]

see also: Steve Stone.


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