On May 16, 1983 "Iron Maiden" released their fourth album "Piece Of Mind".
This is the band's second album with singer Bruce Dickinson and the band's first with drummer Nicko McBrain, who replaced Clive Burr, whose health issues have made it difficult for him to keep up with the band's demanding pace.
After the dizzying success of her previous album "The Number Of The Beast", expectations from Maidan were particularly high. The million-dollar question was could the band even recreate such success?
All the pressure was on Maiden but it managed to channel it in good directions and produce an almost perfect album, its second in a row, all this with the help of legendary producer Martin Birch.
This is not the band's best album in the classic lineup (Steve Harris, Dave Murray with Bruce Dickinson, Nicko McBrain, and Adrian Smith), while there are quite a few albums of this band that are better than it. However, it is still an excellent album that marked the band's breakthrough into America and also the one officially made "Iron Maiden" one of the most famous heavy metal bands in the world.
Most of the songs on the album were written at the "Le Chalet Hotel" in New Jersey. After completing the writing process, the band flew to the Bahamas to record the album.
Lyrically, most of the album's songs are about literature, historical events, and the favorite movies of the band members.
This is the band's first album whose name is not taken from the title of one of the songs. The name given to the album during the recordings was "Food for Thought", but later the band members changed it to "Piece of Mind".
The album opens up with "Where Eagles Dare" with the powerful and rolling drumming of Nicko McBrain who undoubtedly demonstrates here for the first time his tremendous abilities. Dave and Adrian's guitars sound like two machine guns and fit well into the plot story based on a movie starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood, influenced by the book "Falling to Death" by Alistair Maclean. Dickinson's singing is dynamic and sweeping and his voice almost touches the skies, especially with the roar that simmers the song. Definitely, a great way to open the album.
The second track, "Revelations", is among the only songs Dickinson wrote for the band on his own. A simple "heavenly" piece that begins with a slow and broken reef interrupted by a duet of bass and cymbals. The poem was written about Aleister Crowley, the English mystic and founder of religious philosophy Thelma, the same Crowley also known from Ozzy Osbourne's song "Mr. Crowley" and other Bruce poems: "Accident Of Birth" and "Man Of Sorrows". Although the album version of the song is amazing in itself, the song reaches new heights in the band's performances. Just listen to the "Flight 666" or "Live After Death" version of the song and you will immediately understand.
It is interesting to note that the song was influenced by a Christian hymn called: "O God of Earth and Altar". If you want you can listen to the resemblance of the melody here:
Immediately after comes "The Flight of Icarus", which is also the band's first single in the US, and the band's breakthrough song "Overseas". The song is based on a story from Greek mythology in which Daedalus and his son Icarus escape from King Minus' prison using wax wings. Daedalus warns Icarus not to fly high and close to the sun, but the rebellious Icarus soars too high, its wings melt, and he falls to his death in a place known today as the Icarian Sea. Oddly enough, although this is one of the band's "hits", it was not performed at the show from 1986 until 2018.
"Maiden" raises the tempo a bit in the song "Die With Your Boots On" which is without a doubt a catchy song, but it is also perhaps the song with the most superficial lyrics the band has ever written.
The other side of the vinyl opens with the anthem "The Trooper" which was the band's most-played song in the US. The rolling drumming is definitely in line with the cavalry rushing forward in the war. It's one of the songs more identified with Maiden so the band decided to name its private beer brand after it.
At the end of "The Trooper" and before "Still Life" there is a short speech that is played backward. The piece was created as a mockery and contempt of the band for those who accused it of Satanism, after the release of the album "The Number Of The Beast". Drummer Nicko McBrain is heard trying to sound like the British actor, John Byrd, who imitates the dictator "Idi Amin". In the recording, McBrain says the following words, as they are played backward: "What did she say with the three 'bonce,' do not communicate with things you do not understand"
"Still Life," tells of the nightmares of a man who sees demons at the bottom of a dark and deep pool, and for some inexplicable reason is drawn to them. The song opens with a "disassembled" rendition of Harris' bass guitar and a slow, chilling solo, and from there escalates with the development of the plot. The lyrics include a hint of the album's name in the sentence: "Nightmares, Will give me peace of mind".
"Quest For Fire" is based on the 1981 French film of the same name. This may be the weakest song on the album and some "Maiden" fans claim that this is also one of their weak songs. Although it's not a masterpiece it's still not a bad song. The words are a bit strange but you can understand them since they are based on the movie. The music is simple but catchy. The intro riff is especially cool and he builds the song well. The best moments of the song are the two melodic solos of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray.
"Sun And Steel" is based on the story of the legendary samurai Miyamoto Musashi. A simple song with only 2 verses and a particularly catchy chorus, but no more than that, and maybe that's why it got to be lost in "Maiden's" glorious catalog.
The latest piece on the album "To Tame A Land" is also the longest and is based on the novel by Frank Herbert "Dune". The original title of the song was indeed meant to be "Dune", but to avoid copyright claims it was decided to choose a different name. This is a track that hints at prog-metal with Spanish-style guitar and riffs, built slowly to the last verse and Bruce's epic scream at the end, followed by a melodic and long instrumental section that includes (how not) two Dave and Adrian solos that goes almost to the end of the song, Which ends the same way he started.
"Piece Of Mind" was perhaps "Maiden's" best album at the time of its release, however, over the years and after the band released masterpieces such as "Powerslave", "Somewhere in Time" and "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son", it's hard to stand behind a statement Such. At the same time, without a doubt, this is one of the band's biggest albums featuring some of its timeless numbers.