Some two years after AC/DC’s attempt to fame with Back in Black came along a newly empowered – or should I say emboldened – Iron Maiden with their own stellar album The Number of the Beast.
Success was far from certain at that time. The band just rid themselves of their vocalist Paul Di’Anno and replaced him with Bruce Dickinson. Then they adapted the songwriting style to the vocal powers of the new lead.
As it turned out, this record was THE major kick-off that launched this band on a course to fame that still continues to this day.
So, to everyone’s dismay, once you kicked off Invaders on the friggin’ vinyl turntable, things felt a tad lukewarm. To say the least. True, there’s some juice in the tune, but no real spice yet. Yet another comfortable Maiden piece, right?
And truly, things kinda wallowed about the soundscape until midpoint. This is when the B Side arrived on the horizon. And the beast really made its number.
“Woe to you oh Earth and Sea, For the Devil sends the Beast with wrath, because he knows the time is short. Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number of the Beast; for it is a human number. Its number is 666.”
Well, who in his or her straight metal mind has not heard that one and absorbed it about a thousand times?
Used and abused all over again over time, the title track The Number of the Beast is actually one of the most classic and best ever written tracks, poured in rock-solid Heavy Metal. Of course then followed immediately by Run to the Hills, which is equally catchy.
Two absolutely mighty hammer blows that made this album what it is today.
But it would, of course, be foolish to rate an album on two tracks alone. Pieces like Children of the Damned or The Prisoner (the one with the cool opening dialogue that sounds so very true) fascinate me to this day. And Hallowed be Thy Name really takes the cake at the very end. The RMR deck crew took a real liking to the latter with its tolling bell and the typical galloping sound Iron Maiden are famous for.
And they got friggin’ riffs and solos galore in there that are just out there in space. Still today, after a gazillion listens, they still get to me. And never mind the discussion if or if not Total Eclipse should have been part of the original album (in vinyl). The original selection was dead on track. The song actually was added to the remastered CD version that I am currently listening to. Not that it provides any added value.
There are more anecdotal passages related to the creation of this album. Stories about hauntings in the studio, bizarre accidents when band members drove nuns about the countryside. The infamous invoice being £666 (ok, come on, this is laying it on somewhat thick..). But hey, if true – great, if not so true, well – a hell of an invention and in any case very good for marketing.
Actually, this marketing thing was so good that some religious groups in the US – where else? – took the band to be Satanists. And tried to ban their recordings to hell. Little did they know back then that today’s Black Metal scene contains some most notorious psychopaths – and I mean this the way I say it. And again, today this seems to be accepted – never mind rape, beatings, drinking blood and so on. Go figure!
Of course Iron Maiden did its very best to paint that hellish picture, just look at the album art that I loved back then and still love to this day. Even if the band tried somewhat meekly to defend themselves later that the lyrics tell another story. All right – they do have a point; the lyrics speak indeed another language.
Iron Maiden’s album The Number of the Beast is a classic. If you do not have it, get it. And considering that the band created this release in a hurry with little material to show for at the beginning, this is a major feat.
As long as there are metal fans around, they will – for sure – worship this album as one of the best ever Heavy Metal albums made to date. Notwithstanding the endless talk that Seventh Son of a Seventh Son is actually the better album. Because it is not. The beast rules supreme. Absolutely.
And the record found its way onto the RockmusicRaider Old’n’Tasty series as well. Congratulations.
Record Rating: 9/10 | Label: EMI | Web: Official Site
Get dat tune: