"Piece Of Mind" is the fourth studio album by the British Heavy Metal band Iron Maiden. It was released on 16th May 1983 via EMI and recorded at the Compass Point Studios in Nassau in the Bahamas under the direction of Martin Birch. "Piece Of Mind" is the first album which was not named after a song title. Originally, the title should have been "Food For Thought", now the album's name is an English play on words referring to the term "peace of mind".
"Piece Of Mind" reached place no. 3 in the British charts and place 70 in the US Billboard Charts. It is considered as one of the best albums by Iron Maiden and was selected the best Metal LP of all times in the Kerrang! magazine.
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By 1982, Iron Maiden was one of the up and coming heavy metal bands to look out for. They had already released two fairly successful albums, Iron Maiden and Killers, and were about to release their third album, Number of the Beast, which would feature their new vocalist Bruce Dickinson. Not even the band expected the album to be successful as it was. The album hit #1 in the UK, and various other countries.
In fact, this album contains literature quotes, songs about famous books/movies fusioned in great heavy metal sound. Starting off with the song 'Where Eagles Dare' which repeats the story of the same-titled Clint Eastwood movie of the 70's. Both create an image of what war was like fighting in the bavarian alps during WWII, showing what confident, brave men could do to fight the Nazis. Second song is the half-ballad 'Revelations' with the above mentioned lyrical quotes of famous british writer Gilbert Keith Chesterton. Nearly needles to mention an all time Iron Maiden classic the 'Flight Of Icarus' an odd version of the greek legend of Icarus who burnt his wings as he was trying to reach out to the sun and fell down into the mediterannean sea. The fourth song is 'Die With Your Boots On' a song that has been covered by Sonata Arctica but never reached the original. Next is the timeless 'The Trooper' another song about war, set out on the battlefield fighting the russians. 'Still Life' as the sixth track is about a nightmare (or maybe even a famous book/movie but I do not know), about seeing faces at the bottom of a pool, which are calling and the protagonist feels like joining them down there, though they are not visible for others! Great song, a bit slower, but this sets you in the right mood for a true nightmare. Number seven on the tracklist is 'Quest For Fire' the song about men discovering the fire in prehistorc times and fight to save it from being stolen by other tribes. 'Sun and Steel' the eighth song is about a boy who killed his first man at 13 but who seems not to reflect too much about it. Animal instincts gain the posession of this boy and when he grows up they become his ideal, killing as the right of a warrior. The final song 'To Tame A Land' tells the story of Dune the book (I've never read) or the movie (which I've seen), I have to admit. A plot surrounding the young Paul Atreides who is destined to become the 'Muad Dib' leader of the desert planet Arrakis. The sound is giving the story the cold atmosphere it deserves.
Now to the music: Maybe the music itself is the reason why many people do not like this album. Most Iron Maiden albums have their own sound that flows through all of the songs combining them to a unity. This album is very diverse lacking this special unity in sound. Apart from the use of keyboards on 'Somewhere in Time' and 'Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son' this record sounds kind of experimental though it is not. You get the usual Iron Maiden quality in sound and composition, but you feel like going through different stages of atmosphere. This atmosphere is splitted into several blocks which you will find while listening. They are divided in song 1 and 2, 3 to 5, 6 standing alone and song 7 to 9. You cannot divide other albums into different atmosphere's, might be just my opinion, but you can at least try finding out by listening to this album yourself.
It is definetely great but is somehow different from the other classic Maiden albums, but this is hard to explain in detail.
At the time of its release, Piece of Mind was Iron Maidens best album. Over the years, the likes of Powerslave, Somewhere in Time, and Brave New World would over take it, but the album generally stays fresh, no matter how much you listen to it. Iron Maiden blazes little/no new ground with this release, but they continue to master their style and play the music they want to play. Piece of Mind is easily an album that belongs in your collection.
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