Ex-Iron Maiden Guitarist: Iron Maiden Is Not Heavy Metal

Dennis Stratton recently talked about Iron Maiden’s music style in a chat with ‘The Metal Voice.’ He said the band’s sound was more hard rock than heavy metal.

The guitarist talked about the three-part harmony in the Maiden songs:

“It’s been part of my life before Maiden and also for 40 odd years. And I still love listening to all the big choruses and all the big anthems of the three-part harmony, which a lot of bands are coming back to now and using them in the choruses. So, I’m happy.”

He then mentioned how they were criticized for that sound and explained:

“I know a lot of people, Maiden fans, would criticize it because it’s not heavy metal. I don’t know. Was Whitesnake ever heavy metal? Was Bad Company heavy metal? Was UFO heavy metal? You know, they’re hard rock.”

His words continued:

“With UFO, some of their songs sounded like pop songs in their early days. So, I don’t class as heavy metal. But we do what we love with the vocals and the harmony guitars and the great vocal. That’s why you need a good lead vocal to get above them three-part harmony choruses. But it’s a lot easier to write songs for Lionheart or Praying Mantis when you’re in that vein of style of music.”

The Guitarist’s Style Shaped The Group’s Music, He Claims

Dennis Stratton was an Iron Maiden member for a short period in 1979-1980. He played guitar in the band’s self-titled debut album.

The Lionheart guitarist previously told Sonic Perspectives that his approach to harmony guitar in Maiden’s early songs changed their sound ‘dramatically.’ He recalled:

“Dave [Murray] sat down with me, and we’d run through a few things. I was left alone to put down my stamp on the early songs from the ‘Soundhouse Tapes’ leading up to recording the first album. So I was basically given a free rein to put the harmonies where I thought it would make the songs more interesting or bigger, wider. So that’s what I did. And it seemed to work.”

Stratton also spoke about how his harmony guitar parts became an important part of the group’s sound in later years:

“I’m very proud to be able to say that it was me that took that style of playing into Maiden, and they’ve kept it. Because I did all the pre-production for [the second album] ‘Killers’, you will notice when Adrian Smith came in [to record the album], you will hear a lot of my style of playing in the harmonies that Adrian had to learn.”

Iron Maiden parted ways with the original guitarist due to creative differences after their run in KISS’ Unmasked Tour.