Fear of the Dark (Iron Maiden album)

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Fear of the Dark
Iron Maiden - Fear Of The Dark.jpg
Studio album by
Released11 May 1992
Recorded1991 – April 1992
StudioBarnyard Studios, Essex, England
GenreHeavy metal
Epic (US)
ProducerMartin Birch, Steve Harris
Iron Maiden studio albums chronology
No Prayer for the Dying
Fear of the Dark
The X Factor
Singles from Fear of the Dark
  1. "Be Quick or Be Dead"
    Released: 13 April 1992
  2. "From Here to Eternity"
    Released: 29 June 1992
  3. "Wasting Love"
    Released: 1 September 1992

Fear of the Dark is the ninth studio album released by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden. Released on 11 May 1992, it was their third studio release to top the UK albums chart and the last to feature Bruce Dickinson as the group's lead vocalist until his return in 1999.

It was also the first album to be produced by bassist and band founder Steve Harris, and the last to feature the work of producer Martin Birch (who retired after its release).


After recording its predecessor (1990's No Prayer for the Dying) in a barn on Steve Harris' property with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, leading to negative results, for this album Harris had the building converted into a proper studio (christened "Barnyard").[2] Bruce Dickinson describes the results as "a slight improvement because Martin [Birch] came in and supervised the sound. But there were big limitations on that studio – simply because of its physical size, things like that. [It] actually ended up not too bad, but, you know, a little bit under par."[3]

At 57:58 minutes in length, Fear of the Dark was Iron Maiden's first double studio LP, as well as the longest album from Dickinson's first tenure in the band.

The album's musical style showed some experimentation with "Be Quick or Be Dead", a fast tempo song in a heavier thrash style released as the album's first single,[4] and "Wasting Love", the group's first power ballad,[5] which dates back to Dickinson's first solo album, Tattooed Millionaire.[6] Both songs were Dickinson/Gers collaborations, which contrasted with Harris' "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", a political song from the point of view of a soldier in the Gulf War,[7] Dickinson would often introduce the song as an anti-war narrative.[8] "Fear is the Key" is about the fear in sexual relationships resulting from AIDS. The song was written around the time when the band learned about the death of Queen singer Freddie Mercury. Dickinson affirmed: "There's a line in 'Fear Is the Key' that goes: "nobody cares 'til somebody famous dies". And that's quite sadly true. [...] As long as the virus was confined to homosexuals or drug-addicts, nobody gave a shit. It's only when celebrities started to die that the masses began to feel concerned".[9] "Weekend Warrior" is about football hooliganism.[9]

Only two of the album's songs, the title track and "Afraid to Shoot Strangers", would survive on tours following 1993. "Fear of the Dark" has been on the set list of every subsequent tour except 2005,[4] in which the band only played songs from their first 4 albums,[10] and was the only song played on the Somewhere Back in Time World Tour and the Maiden England World Tour (other than "Afraid to Shoot Strangers") which was not from the 1980s. "Afraid to Shoot Strangers" became a frequent addition on setlists during Blaze Bayley's tenure with Iron Maiden, following which it returned in 2012.[11]

"Be Quick or Be Dead", "From Here to Eternity" and "Wasting Love" were released as singles.

Fear of the Dark Tour was the tour supporting the album.

Album cover[edit]

According to the band's biographer, Mick Wall, the Fear of the Dark album cover depicts their mascot, Eddie, "as some sort of Nosferatu tree figure leering at the moon".[7] It was the group's first not to be designed by artist Derek Riggs, whose contributions were rejected in favour of Melvyn Grant's.[7] According to Iron Maiden's manager, Rod Smallwood, the band began accepting contributions from other artists as "We wanted to upgrade Eddie for the 90s. We wanted to take him from the sort of comic-book horror creature and turn him into something a bit more straightforward so that he became even more threatening."[7] Following Fear of the Dark, Grant has produced several more covers for Iron Maiden, making him the band's second most-frequent artist after Riggs.


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic2/5 stars[4]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal4/10[13]
The Daily VaultA-[14]

Reviews for the album were mixed, with AllMusic commenting that, while "easily an improvement over 1990's lackluster No Prayer for the Dying (both musically and sonically)", the release "still wasn't quite on par with their exceptional work from the '80s".[4] Sputnikmusic were more positive about the release, stating that "though many of the songs are still sub-par by their standards ... the band returns to the lofty heights that they enjoyed for the entirety of the 80's".[5] Billboard gave it a positive review on release, saying Dickinson's voice "shows no sign of wear and tear" and the guitar work "sounds fresh and crisp".[12]

In October 2011, Fear of the Dark was ranked No. 8 on Guitar World magazine's top ten list of guitar albums of 1992.[15]

Fear of the Dark became the third Iron Maiden album to top the UK Albums Chart.[16] It is the band's most successful record in North America after the inception of Nielsen SoundScan in 1991, with 438,000 copies sold as of 2008.[17]

Track listing[edit]

1."Be Quick or Be Dead"Bruce Dickinson, Janick Gers3:21
2."From Here to Eternity"Steve Harris3:35
3."Afraid to Shoot Strangers"Harris6:52
4."Fear Is the Key"Dickinson, Gers5:30
5."Childhood's End"Harris4:37
6."Wasting Love"Dickinson, Gers5:46
7."The Fugitive"Harris4:52
8."Chains of Misery"Dickinson, Dave Murray3:33
9."The Apparition"Harris, Gers3:53
10."Judas Be My Guide"Dickinson, Murray3:06
11."Weekend Warrior"Harris, Gers5:37
12."Fear of the Dark"Harris7:16
Total length:57:58
1995 reissue bonus CD
1."Nodding Donkey Blues"Harris, Dickinson, Murray, Nicko McBrain, Gers3:18
2."Space Station No. 5" (Montrose cover)Ronnie Montrose, Sammy Hagar11:58
3."Roll Over Vic Vella" (Parody of Chuck Berry's "Roll over Beethoven")Chuck Berry, Harris (adapted lyrics)4:48
4."I Can't See My Feelings" (Budgie cover)Tony Bourge, Burke Shelley3:50
5."No Prayer for the Dying" (Live)Harris4:23
6."Public Enema Number One" (Live)Murray, Dickinson3:58
7."Hooks in You" (Live)Dickinson, Adrian Smith3:44
  • "Space Station No. 5" contains a hidden track entitled "Bayswater Ain't a Bad Place to Be" (Previously available as a hidden track on the UK Single of "Be Quick or Be Dead")


Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes.[1][18]

Iron Maiden
Additional musicians
  • Michael Kenney – keyboards

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[44] Gold 50,000^
France (SNEP)[45] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[46] Gold 100,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone


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  2. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 316. ISBN 1-86074-542-3.
  3. ^ Berelian, Essi (June 2000). "The Wicked Man". Classic Rock (15): 36–43.
  4. ^ a b c d Prato, Greg. Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark at AllMusic. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Stagno, Mike (17 September 2006). "Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark". Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  6. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 290. ISBN 1-86074-542-3.
  7. ^ a b c d Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 289. ISBN 1-86074-542-3.
  8. ^ James, Darren (2005). "No Sleep". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 92–93.
  9. ^ a b Dumatrey, Henry (June 1992). "Interview with Bruce Dickinson". Hard Force Magazine (in French) (2).
  10. ^ "Eddie Rips Up The World Tour Begins in Prague; Setlist Revealed". Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles. 29 May 2005. Retrieved 29 November 2012.
  11. ^ Alderslade, Merlin (22 June 2012). "First Iron Maiden 'Maiden England' US Tour Setlist Revealed, Rest of World Weeps With Jealousy". Metal Hammer. Archived from the original on 28 September 2012. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
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  13. ^ Popoff, Martin (August 1, 2007). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. p. 212. ISBN 978-1-894959-62-9.
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  17. ^ "Iron Men". Billboard. 120 (20): 51. 15 May 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2010.
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  46. ^ "British album certifications – Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 26 April 2013. Select albums in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Fear of the Dark in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.