Having broken through with The Number of the Beast, aided by new vocalist Bruce Dickinson's roaring vocal style and the unusually sophisticated songs it allowed them to pursue, Maiden continued their evolution towards superstardom with this gem. Lyrically it moves towards serious fare, with the group's trademark fascination with ancient history, particularly the darker side of oppression and brutality, really coming to the fore.
In those days Maiden only released 2 singles from each album, which continued until they bombarded the charts with 5 from Seventh Son of a Seventh Son (ironically the album which perhaps marked the beginning of their artistic decline). The choices here are fairly anthemic, with Flight of Icarus featuring a chanting chorus and touching on Greek mythology, and The Trooper having a pounding guitar riff and juddering bass along with some strong lyrics.
Better still however is Revelations, Bruce Dickinson's first contribution and a gradually mounting 7-minute assault with slow contemplative verses and a pounding solo. Warfare is the theme of Die With your Boots on and opener Where Eagles dare, the latter of which is especially strong. Indeed the group was almost unique among metal bands of the time in adopting an anti-war stance. Steve Harris bravely took on a science-fiction theme with closer To Tame A Land, a track which I actually think stands up better for not being directly named after Dune.
This was the second of Maiden's string of classic albums, but in my view it's the best, with a little bit of every aspect of metal, and some of their most stridently confident songwriting. I think it exhibits a lot of hunger; a desire to reshape the boundaries and redefine what people expect of heavy metal.