Thursday, February 12, 2009

Evaluating a Controversial Entertainment

Iron Maiden was a part of the Heavy Metal wave from England in the early eighties along with bands like Def Leppard and others. Characterized by “comic book” graphic covers and artwork, and long songs with many movements and lyrics inspired by history, literature, and movies; they quickly became one of the most popular metal bands of the eighties. Should they be listened to? You decide...

Covers and artwork: Eddie is the “mascot” featured on all Iron Maiden albums and artwork. He was inspired by a Halloween mask and is a sort of mummy-zombie creature.

Music: Heavy metal sound mixing drums, bass, and two (later three) lead guitars. Loud, heavy and driven, most songs are long and have several “movements” as a symphony would. The music is classically based rather than bluesy.

Content: Most songs are stories inspired by a few common sources:

War: Many songs are descriptions of historical battles, from the Crimean War, to the first air battle over London, to Viking invasions.

Literature: Works that have inspired Maiden songs include: Edgar Allen Poe, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Dune” by Frank Herbert, Alistair Maclean, Greek Mythology, Alan Sillitoe, Orson Scott Card, etc.

History: They have written songs about Alexander the Great, Ancient Egypt, the American West, and 1930s Chicago gangland.

Some issues of concern could be violence, questionable spirituality common to the Science Fiction sources they are so often inspired by, and to a small degree sexual issues (Out of the 84 songs released in the 80s and 90s, 3 had sexual themes.)

Two songs merit special mention. The Number of the Beast raised huge controversy upon its release. Many thought the band might be satanic. They denied this emphatically. The song is supposedly based on the movie “The Omen II” and a dream of one of the members. Moonchild, released on “The Seventh Son of a Seventh Son” in 1988 is based on some writings of Aleister Crowley who was indeed a Satanist of sorts. In fact, this whole album is more spiritual than other outings, and raises questions about the band’s beliefs.

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