Iron Maiden: ‘Fear Of The Dark’

Released on May 11, 1992 (EMI/Epic)

Yesterday was the 25th year anniversary of the release of Iron Maiden‘s ninth studio album Fear Of The Dark. While it’s definitely not at the same level as 1982’s The Number Of the Beast or 1984’s Powerslave, I have always viewed the Fear Of The Dark record as an underrated one that presented a comeback of sorts for the band after the somewhat disappointing No Prayer For The Dying. I also consider the song “Fear Of The Dark” as most likely the best Iron Maiden song ever written, which is unusual for a heavy metal band of Iron Maiden‘s stature. After all, usually a band that has achieved stardom by its third studio album produces its best songs in its first few albums and it’s an uphill climb after that. fir example, you’d likely be hard pressed to find any heavy metal lover who finds that Metallica have been able to even come close to the great songs that they came up with on their first five albums.

The “Fear Of The Dark” song gives me goose bumps almost every time I hear it — even 25 years later after its release — and the sing along portion of the song with the audience that has developed over time is simply magnificent to hear in a live setting. “Fear Of The Dark” is not the only gem on the album. “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” is a powerful track filled with varying tempos and nuances. Although the three singles that were chosen to represent Fear Of The Dark are solid, the speedy “Be Quick Or Be Dead,” the upbeat “From Here To Eternity” and the ballad (yes, ballad) “Wasting Love” were poor choices as the singles when the band had “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” and especially “Fear Of The Dark” to release. The fact that both of the latter tracks became staples of every Iron Maiden show with the title track to the album firmly nestled as a “must play” song in a live setting, one can only wonder if the Fear Of The Dark album would have been as big as a Powerslave or Somewhere In Time with the right choice of singles. It seems that Iron Maiden were hoping to score that hit by releasing their first ever ballad as their third single rather than focus on the best tracks and the ones that they would eventually play live for a long time to come.

Putting aside the wrong choices for the singles, and upon listening to the Fear Of The Dark album again, there is a bit of a drop in quality in the songs after those aforementioned five tracks, and the more upbeat “Chains Of Misery” and “Judas Be My Guide.” It’s not that the remaining songs are bad, it’s just that compared to Maiden‘s body of work beforehand, it’s just not the stuff that stands out. That being said, I have always been pleasantly surprised how much I enjoy Fear Of The Dark album when I play it. The record might have gotten more respect had Iron Maiden trimmed the fat so to speak by dropping songs such as “Fear Is The Key” and “Weekend Warrior” from the album. It also seems that Fear Of The Dark is when Iron Maiden started to cram one or two too many songs per album rather than only just pick the very best songs to make their records.

Overall, the Fear Of The Dark album will never be considered Iron Maiden‘s best record but having the heavy metal pioneers be able to come up with one (“Fear Of The Dark”) and arguably two (if you count “Afraid To Shoot Strangers”) absolutely stand out tracks on their ninth studio album is more than worthy. Certainly, if you look at Iron Maiden‘s discography since Fear Of The Dark, they have yet to be able to come up with a truly standout song aside from perhaps “Blood Brothers” from 2000’s Brave New World.

Track List:
01. Be Quick Or Be Dead
02. From Here To Eternity
03. Afraid To Shoot Strangers
04. Fear Is The Key
05. Childhood’s End
06. Wasting Love
07. The Fugitive
08. Chains Of Misery
09. The Apparition
10. Judas Be My Guide
11. Weekend Warrior
12. Fear Of The Dark

Band Members:
Bruce Dickinson – vocals
Dave Murray – guitar
Janick Gers – guitar
Steve Harris – bass
Nicko McBrain – drums

Additional Musicians:
Michael Kenney – keyboards

Produced and mixed by Martin Birch and Steve Harris
Engineered by Martin Birch
Assistant engineer: Mick McKenna

Band Websites:
Official Website

Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, May 2017

Iron Maiden‘s “Be Quick Or Be Dead” video:

Iron Maiden – Be Quick Or Be Dead (Official Video)

Iron Maiden – Be Quick Or Be Dead – from 1992’s Fear Of The DarkBuy from Amazon:…

Iron Maiden‘s “From Here To Eternity” video:

Iron Maiden – From Here To Eternity (Official Video)

Iron Maiden – From Here To Eternity – from 1992’s Fear Of The DarkBuy from Amazon:…

Iron Maiden‘s “Wasting Love” video:

Iron Maiden – Wasting Love (Official Video)

Iron Maiden – Wasting Love – from 1992’s Fear Of The DarkBuy from Amazon: http:…