Analysis Of Nicko McBrain’s Iron Maiden Licks

Ex. 6 “Dance Of Death”
(Death On The Road [DVD], 2007)
Of all of Maiden’s 21st century tracks, this one, filmed during Maiden’s 2003 Dance Of Death tour, has to be one of McBrain’s finest performances. During an up-tempo Celtic melody that is moving all over the place, McBrain supports it with one of his most amazing displays of bass drum speed, which not only doubles the melody, but also pushes it to sound harder than it would be if it didn’t have his powerful drumming underneath it. This is the part that kicks off the quarter-note snare groove that drives the melody to the end of the song.

nicko mcbrain

PART 3: Odd Figures, Meters, And Time Changes

One of the lesser-known facts about Iron Maiden is the band’s progressive side, which includes several odd meters and elaborate time change-ups. When they take this direction the fury never lessens and McBrain handles all these tricky meters and patterns beautifully.

Ex. 7 “Alexander The Great”
(Somewhere In Time, 1986)
This is from the beginning of the guitar solo, which is in 12/8 time. Then there is an odd-meter break that actually sounds like it is in common time but is actually in 9/8 time. The very human feel of the rhythm section is phenomenal.

nicko mcbrain
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