To coincide with Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain’s cover story this month, we checked in with our readers and social media followers to find out which performance from the metal heavyweight’s lengthy career stands out for them. Here are some of the responses.
“Caught Somewhere in Time” from Somewhere in Time is an absolute beast of a song on drums. The breakneck pace and complex fills make it nearly impossible to duplicate with a single pedal. How Nicko pulled that one off without collapsing when he was done is still beyond me, and I don’t think he’s come close to that song before or since.
Everything Nicko does is gold, but a personal favorite is “Powerslave.” That groove is so tasty, and the fill work is superior.
I’d say every track on Piece of Mind. That was his debut album with Iron Maiden, and from that point on that beautiful heart-pounding sound has defined and influenced a generation of metal drummers, including myself.
Tony Louis Pirotta
In “Where Eagles Dare” from Piece of Mind, McBrain’s flammed “bucket-of-fish” fill at about 150 bpm created one of the greatest hard-rock drum intros of all time. The single bass drum 8th-note triplets that recur throughout the song also showcase Nicko’s classic mastery.
If I had to pick one, it’d be “Revelations” from Piece of Mind. I replayed that track to the point where I swear the vinyl must have worn through to the other side. The drums sound incredible, and those Paiste 2002s are just sublime. McBrain takes you on a truly wonderful rhythmic journey, and it’s a track that I will never tire of listening to.
The opening track from 1983’s Piece of Mind, “Where Eagles Dare,” introduced McBrain’s all-around impeccable technique, precise attack, and supreme right foot.
“Wasted Years” from Somewhere in Time. The way that McBrain accents the bass line in the intro with the hi-hat is so intelligent. And his intense playing during the guitar solo culminates in an epic drum fi ll that delivers the band into the chorus. It’s pure magic.
Javier Nunez Estrada
“Where Eagles Dare” because of the intro, the main groove, and the fills. The whole song is just pure class. When I was a kid, I had McBrain’s Rhythms of the Beast video, and watching him explain how he developed that pattern and play through it was just one of the coolest things a young drummer could see.
Leon De Beer
I always thought of McBrain as an R&B/swing drummer playing metal because his feel is so strong. His great, fluid motion is also probably the reason he still can play with the same intensity today. And I love his 16th-note-triplet fills and off beat ride bell patterns. Check out “Alexander the Great” and “Stranger in a Strange Land” from Somewhere in Time and “Brighter Than a Thousand Suns” from A Matter of Life and Death. I could go on because he’s such a big influence.
“Stranger in a Strange Land” from Somewhere in Time has a unique feel compared to most Maiden songs, and McBrain’s choices of accents feel spontaneous yet also deliberate and memorable. Nicko’s fills are often like rhythmic hooks, and that song has several examples.
“Caught Somewhere in Time” from Somewhere in Time has great footwork and amazing, dynamic fills. McBrain is always playing for the song. He’s one of the greatest without a doubt!
I’d say “The Trooper” from Piece of Mind. It’s got it all: the fills, the groove, and space. It was McBrain’s first album with Iron Maiden, and he showed the world that not only could he come up with great parts, but he also knew when not to play.
“The Wicker Man” is a great song on Brave New World. The snare sound pierces through your brain, and the kick pedal work in the chorus is outstanding. Most people would play it with a double pedal, but not Nicko.
Andrei Scott Vladimirov
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