Killers marks the beginning of Iron Maiden’s long association with producer Martin Birch. He has revealed that he was surprised the band hadn’t asked him to produce their first album, but at the time they were a bit too intimidated to approach a man who had worked with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Fleetwood Mac. The other important new arrival on this album was Adrian Smith, a fantastic guitarist who has written some of Maiden’s greatest songs over the years.
The Ides of March instrumental kicks off the album, leading into the classic Wrathchild and then Murders in the Rue Morgue, three songs it’s hard to follow, and Another Life doesn’t quite manage it. Yet another instrumental, Gengis Khan, follows, showcasing some great Clive Burr drumming. Innocent Exile is a great example of the difference Martin Birch made to Maiden, as Steve’s bass in particular sounds really full and rich.The track shows the quality of the album’s songs picking up again. The title track is another stone cold classic, from the pounding bass intro and Paul D’Ianno’s screams to the thunderous main section with Adrian and Dave’s chugging guitars and Clive Burr’s ferocious drums. The guitar solos are also pretty awesome. Prodigal Son which follows is quite a contrast; a really beautiful ballad full of Steve’s prog rock influences and some gorgeous bass playing, not to mention Paul’s soulful vocals. Purgatory is a ferociously fast Maiden classic which perhaps isn’t as well known as it should be. I would certainly love to see them play it live. Twilight Zone didn’t feature on the original tracklisting but is on the remastered album, and for an album with a noticeable quality dip it’s a welcome addition as it’s a really strong song. My favourite track is the final one, Drifter. From Paul’s first scream of “Rock ‘n’ rooooooolllllll” the track oozes excitement and exuberance. Who cares what the words mean when a song is this infectious? So a couple of tracks are a little weak but Maiden’s first album with Martin Birch contains enough classics to be considered pretty damn awesome, and it is also the swansong of the excellent Paul D’Ianno whose rich and powerful voice gave Maiden such a strong start. Now bring on the Air Raid Siren.