The opening of an album is everything. The opening of a concert is nearly as important. Iron Maiden are known for their heavy metal stylings, but those album/concert openers for them are another kind of monster. Seeing the spitfire flying around on stage while the band blasts out ‘Aces High’ never gets old. Throughout their history, the band has changed their idealogy regarding opening tracks. They started off fast and loose with songs like ‘Prowler’ and ‘Invaders’ and then continued their evolution with more intricate opening tracks like ‘Moonchild’ and ‘Aces High’. That all culminated in the most recent opening track, ‘ Senjutsu’.

The opening of an Iron Maiden album is the first impression. The first hint of whatever magic you’ll hear from the greatest heavy metal band in human history. Without further ado, these are the Iron Maiden Opening Tracks Ranked From Worst To Best.

There is a small disclaimer about the “worst” anything involving Iron Maiden. The worst of Iron Maiden is easily the best for 99% of bands out there, and it’s our list, not yours, so don’t get too mad.

17. Invaders – The Number Of The Beast – 1982

The Number of the Beast is one of the most classic albums of all-time, and it starts off with its worst song. As an introduction for Bruce Dickinson, this is okay, but on an album with “Hallowed By Thy Name”, “Run To The Hills’, ‘The Number Of The Beast”, “Children Of The Damned”, and “The Prisoner”, you can do a lot better than this one. Without comparing it to the rest of the tracks on the album, it’s just not a fantastic opening track. Besides the drums and riff kicking in, what else does this do to make you pumped up and ready to listen to more?

Good thing the rest of the album was fantastic because ‘Invaders’ is a misfire.

16. Tailgunner – No Prayer For The Dying – 1990

No Prayer For The Dying was a back-to-basics album for Iron Maiden and shows with the album’s opening track. I listened to this first Iron Maiden track after seeing them on the Somewhere Back In Time tour in 2009. My friend recommended ‘Tailgunner’ as a “pretty badass song”. While it’s a badass song, is there any comparison between this and other tracks coming later in the list? There isn’t.

It’s not as bad as ‘Invaders’, but ‘Tailgunner’ gets outclassed by plenty of other opening tracks. It was a sign of the times for Maiden that they had to get back to their roots, but No Prayer For The Dying was sorely missing Adrian Smith.

15. Futureal – Virtual XI – 1998

For a lot of fans out there, Virtual XI is Iron Maiden’s worst album. It was the last to feature Blaze Bayley before Bruce and Adrian returned. It occurred during a horrific time for heavy metal when things seemed upside down. They had been decimated by Grunge and the times of the ’90s, and now bands had to deal with the rise of Nu Metal. ‘Futureal’ starts off the album with a bang, but in the grand scheme of Iron Maiden, this isn’t among their best openers.

Hearing it with Bruce or Blaze, either way, this one rocks, but not hard enough.

14. Senjutsu – Senjutsu – 2021

Now for the culmination of Iron Maiden’s evolution of opening tracks. Three-minute tracks turned into six-minute openers, which then turned into nine-minute epics about barbarians attacking from the hills. ‘Senjutsu’ is the perfect track to open up a 2021 Iron Maiden album, where the tracks are longer, more intricate, and take more time to appreciate. For a band to release a song like this on their 17th album, as the opener? That’s Iron Maiden magic.

It just goes to show that Iron Maiden does not care about what you think; they will do what they want to on their albums, and it works flawlessly with ‘Senjutsu’. It just doesn’t rise up to the titanic heights of tracks coming up.

13. Wildest Dreams – Dance Of Death – 2002

If you got past the absolutely horrific and mind-blowingly bad album art for Dance of Death, you’d get blasted with ‘Wildest Dreams’. A track so happy sounding it almost hurts. All about hitting the open road for yourself, this was the first song I listened to when I got my driver’s license. Crank this one up, hit the freeway, and you can explain to the HIghway Patrol Officer that you’re listening to Iron Maiden, so it shouldn’t count.

It might be time for Maiden to bust this one out on a new tour sometime.

12. Satellite 15… The Final Frontier – The Final Frontier – 2010

Iron Maiden marketed this one well. They gave fans bits and pieces before unleashing the music video for the song ahead of The Final Frontier‘s release. It starts off with some spacey-sounding guitars, drums, and sound effects, heading into ‘The Final Frontier’ portion of the track. That guitar kicking in brings you a story of an astronaut trapped in space with nowhere to go. This is a personal choice for me, because it was the first Iron Maiden album released since I became a fan in 2009.

The extended intro really helps the vibes and feel of this track, especially opening a monumental album like The Final Frontier.

11. Where Eagles Dare – Piece Of Mind – 1983

Well. That’s a way to show off your new drummer. This was the first taste that Iron Maiden fans had of Nicko McBrain, and it’s a hell of an introduction. His drumming style might be vastly different than the late Clive Burr, but Nicko has stuck in our hearts since his debut on this track. As for the song, “Where Eagles Dare” is a strange intro. It’s six minutes long but only has about two minutes of vocals. This spits in the face of that trend in an era where the lead song was almost always a single style.

We’re entering the territory where personal preference is the only way to decide between legendary opening tracks, but “Where Eagles Dare” doesn’t crack the top 10 for me.

10. Different World – A Matter Of Life And Death – 2006

What happens if Iron Maiden decided to make a Thin Lizzy song? That’s what you get with “Different World’. The track is all about being stuck somewhere and thinking about making a better life for you, but realizing that the place you’re in might actually be good for you. It’s a fantastic message from the same band that told you not to worry about all those ‘Wasted Years’. As an opener to the ‘almost’ concept album of A Matter Of Life And Death, it’s wonderful.

I’m waiting for Iron Maiden to dust off the cobwebs on this one and play it live. It would KILL.

9. Prowler – Iron Maiden – 1980

This was a lot of people’s introduction to Iron Maiden back in 1980. Even if you heard The Soundhouse Tapes, this was like taking magic, producing it, and kicking it out to take over the world. ‘Prowler’ is about as Paul Di’Anno as Iron Maiden gets. Even if Steve Harris and crew don’t like admitting it, this was the perfect blend of heavy metal and punk out there. It’s the reason why the Di’Anno era of the band is held in such high regard.

They might have knocked it out of the park with their debut on their debut album, but they did it better on the following tracks.

8. Sign Of The Cross – The X Factor – 1995

Look, I can already feel some of you out there typing, “YOU PICKED SIGN OF THE CROSS OVER THIS SONG??!!”. But yes, ‘Sign Of The Cross’ is an Iron Maiden masterpiece. They ended one gigantic era of the band with Bruce Dickinson leaving and entered uncharted waters with Blaze Bayley at the helm. The X Factor could have easily started off with ‘Man On The Edge’ without anyone batting an eye. To start your latest album with a new singer trying to live up to the monolithic legacy left by the previous singer with an eleven-minute track takes guts.

I can only imagine what people thought coming home with The X Factor in 1995 and popping this on. True Iron Maiden magic.

7. If Eternity Should Fail – The Book Of Souls – 2015

Every once in a while, Steve Harris decides, “no, Iron Maiden is going to do that.” He did it with ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ on No Prayer For The Dying, and he did it with this track. ‘If Eternity Should Fail’ was originally supposed to be on Bruce Dickinson’s solo record, but Harris plucked it for Iron Maiden. If you’ve listened to any of Dickinson’s solo work, it sounds exactly like the style of those albums. And if you haven’t, go pick up a copy of Tattooed Millionaire and Accident Of Birth right now.

This tells an insane story of an intriguing question. What happens if Eternity doesn’t last until Eternity? It, of course, gets better because it comes from a Doctor Strange comic that Bruce was reading. So who knew, Marvel Comics and Iron Maiden coming together to create one of Iron Maiden’s best opening tracks ever?

6. Be Quick Or Be Dead – Fear Of The Dark – 1992

This might be the angriest Iron Maiden track in existence. Coming off the criminally underrated Fear Of The Dark in 1992, this was Iron Maiden trying out speed metal and doing it better than almost everyone. This one hasn’t lasted past the Fear Of The Dark era in live shows and it makes a bit of sense, but this would be a welcome treat to kick the audience back into gear after a lengthy song. If you wanted to know if Iron Maiden branched out into thrash metal, this might be your portal. It just kicks your ass and then gets out, clocking in at three minutes and twenty-three seconds.

5. The Wicker Man – Brave New World – 2000

Brave New World was a joyous occasion for Iron Maiden fans. Not only was Bruce Dickinson back in the band, but Adrian Smith was also. The once twin-guitar attack was now a trio with Janick Gers. This album was a turning point for heavy metal, showing that reunion acts and nostalgia tours weren’t just that. Iron Maiden came out of the gates firing with an all-time classic that fans still resonate with to this day. Just go listen to the reactions when they busted this one out on the Legacy Of The Beast world tour.

It’s not just one of their best opening tracks, it’s one of the best they’ve ever performed.

4. The Ides Of March/ Wrathchild – Killers – 1981

So does ‘The Ides Of March’ count as a separate track to ‘Wrathchild’? For the purposes of this list, they’re one track. Like ‘The Hellion’ and ‘Electric Eye’, you really can’t have one without the other. ‘The Ides Of March’ is a thumping introduction to the second album of the Paul Di’Anno era that reinforces the idea that Iron Maiden was here to stay. ‘Wrathchild’ bleeds heavy metal thunder and kicks your ass the entire time. It might not be my favorite song to hear live (I think its a waste of a slot on the setlist), but on the studio album, this is one of the best songs heavy metal has to offer.

3. Caught Somewhere In Time – Somewhere In Time – 1986

This is another case of imagining what people must’ve thought and felt when they heard this track for the first time in 1986. Iron Maiden were fresh off Powerslave and one of the biggest tours in human history. They took a break and came back with Somewhere In Time. It has the best Iron Maiden album cover of all time, with a cyborg Eddie standing over another robot about to blast their ass. It was no mistake that they opened shows on the Somewhere On Tour with this song and the Blade Runner theme on tape. ‘Caught Somewhere In Time’ is an absolute smash classic of an opener that gives you everything you would want from an Iron Maiden track. it has wild lyrics and tells a story of getting caught in time, then being caught in two minds because of your time travel.

With The Future Past tour coming up later this year, one can only hope that we hear this track live once again.

2. Aces High – Powerslave – 1984

Combine this with ‘Churchill’s Speech’ and you’ll get anyone out there ready to run through a wall. ‘Aces High’ kicks off Powerslave style with a heavy metal classic about the Battle of Britain in WW2. They started the Somewhere Back In Time, Ed Hunter, and Legacy Of The Beast world tours with this track. It’s among the greatest opening tracks ever and one of the best introductions you can give to Iron Maiden. They combine history lessons with heavy metal. And we love them for it.

1. Moonchild – Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son – 1988

How do you start off an album about the fabled Seventh Son? You start it where you end it, and repeat.

Seven deadly sins

Seven ways to win

Seven holy paths to hell and your trip begins

Seven downward slopes

Seven bloodied hopes

Seven are your burning fires

Seven your desires…

It’s the opening to what some consider to be the best Iron Maiden album ever (it’s my second behind Somewhere In Time). This is storytelling, exquisite musicianship, and passion all in one track. It was a flame reignited for Bruce Dickinson after not having a single writing credit on Somewhere In Time. It’s the culmination of all they learned before and what they would go to next. ‘Moonchild’ is the greatest Iron Maiden opening track out there.

So that’s the list! What does your list look like? Probably a bit different than ours! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @HunterBVideo.

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