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The Number of the Beast

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  • they sucked in the 80’s and they still suck. i have no idea why iron maiden is or ever was famous. pretty sad when the backstreet boys are a heavier band than you… his voice sounds like bea arthur trying to sing….

    Posted on March 17, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Number of the Beast is the quintessential Iron Maiden. Released in 1982, this was the first of their albums to feature on vocals the man who would become their voice, and one of the signature voices of metal, Bruce Dickinson, replacing Paul Di’Anno. Number of the Beast was also Iron Maiden’s last album to feature drummer Clive Burr, who was replaced by Nicko McBrain on their next studio release, Piece of Mind. So here you have the man who would become the best singer of the band, with their original drummer, along with the equally superb Steve Harris, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray. And this is the only album to feature all of their talents combined. Also, this digitally remastered version of it brings new life to the already great masterpiece that was the original. Not to mention Number of the Beast also features a couple of Iron Maiden’s biggest hits ever, Hallowed Be Thy Name and the title track, Number of the Beast. There’s no denying it, this album is to Iron Maiden what Back in Black was to AC/DC, what Blizzard of Ozz was to Ozzy Osbourne, etc. I VERY HIGHLY RECOMMEND this album to any fan of classic, old school hard rock/metal, for even the most jaded classic metal fan will find something fresh to love about this album.

    Posted on March 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Iron Maiden needed to come up with something special for this, their third album. All of the material they came up with prior to getting a recording contract was used on their first two albums (their 1980 self-titled debut and 1981’s KILLERS). From a songwriting standpoint, they had to start from scratch for this album. Also, this was the first album they did with then-new singer Bruce Dickinson. Dickinson sounded nothing like his predecessor, Paul Di’Anno. The band was taking a big chance at a critical point in their career. On top of all this, Maiden didn’t release THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST in time for the English tour. So British fans heard the new material live before they even had a chance to buy the album. What was the end result of all this? THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST went straight to the #1 spot on the British album charts when it was released. This was Maiden’s first gold album in America(at least 500,000 copies sold). From a songwriting standpoint, only Maiden’s self-titled debut may be better. As a singer, Bruce Dickinson is leaps and bounds ahead of Paul Di’Anno.

    The album opens strongly with “Invaders”, a hard-driving song about the Viking invasion of England. This would be a great song to open a show with, but for some reason Maiden has rarely played it live. “Children Of The Damned” is a song about the movie of the same name. The song has melodic verses and harsh choruses. Hmmmmm….I wonder of Kurt Cobain was influenced by this song. “The Prisoner” is based on the 1960’s TV series. It opens with a soundclip from the show. The song kicks in with Clive Burr’s swing-time drum intro, and then the rest of the band comes in. It absolutely kicks ass. I’m surprised advertisers haven’t picked up on it for use in TV commercials. There’s some great guitar work in “The Prisoner”, and it also has a surprisingly catchy chorus. “22 Acacia Avenue” was actually a song that guitarist Adrian Smith came up with several years before he joined the band. He re-worked it a bit with bassist Steve Harris (i.e. they added lots of time changes), and the song became a staple in the bands live set for two or three tours. Lyrically, the song is about a prostitute. Smith’s co-guitarist, Dave Murray, has a very bluesy solo in the song.

    The next song is the album’s title track, “The Number Of The Beast”. This is the song that got the band into so much trouble with religious protesters here in America. The song opens with a spoken-word reading from the Book of Revelations. If you sit down and read the lyrics to the entire song (from start to finish), you should realize that the song is about someone having a nightmare. Fundamentalist Christians chose not to see it that way. When Maiden took the BEAST ON THE ROAD tour to America, there were protesters at the venues. Iron Maiden are NOT devil worshippers. They write songs about a wide variety of subjects, as you may have noticed in my review so far. Some of the songs from their other albums are actually quite reverant. Still, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, right? Anyway, the song just kicks ass from start to finish. Clive Burr’s drumming is amazing and Dave Murray’s guitar solo is totally wild. “Run To The Hills” is probably the band’s most famous song. Clive Burr’s drum-intro has to be one the most recognizable pieces in the history of metal music. The lyrics deal with the mistreatment of Native Americans by white settlers, which is a strange thing for a British band to write about. The main guitar riff is killer and the chorus is absolutely huge. Next we come to the much-maligned “Gangland”. Most people think this song is the album’s one weak spot, but I disagree. True, you’ll probably never hear someone yell out “Play Gangland!!!” at a Maiden concert, but the song is also not the abortion everyone makes it out to be. If you want to hear an abortion, check out “Quest For Fire” from PIECE OF MIND. The song has another killer drum-intro by Clive Burr. In fact, Clive co-wrote the song with Adrian Smith. The song is fast and furious. When THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST was originally released in 1982, the song “Total Eclipse” was not on it. This song was the B-side for the “Run To The Hills” single. It was added when re-mastered versions of the band’s albums were released in the 1990’s. It’s a pretty good song that deals with the destruction of mankind by “Mother Nature”. The live version of “Total Eclipse” from the band’s 1982 show at Hammersmith Odeon in London is better. Finally we come to the album’s closer “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. This is a classic Maiden song. Its’ somber intro contains tolling bells, a melodic yet chilling guitar line, and Bruce Dickinson singing in the first person about someone who is about to be executed. The whole band then kicks in and song starts rocking very hard. The song has several time changes. There is also a guitar harmony section following the solos. Lyrically, the deals with what goes through a person’s mind before they are executed. This is an all-around powerful song.

    The only negative thing I can say about this album is that it is the last one with Clive Burr. He left the band for personal reasons at the end of the BEAST ON THE ROAD tour in December of ‘82. He was the best drummer the band ever had. Clive was immediately replaced with Nicko McBrain. Nicko is a pretty good drummer, but he lacks Clive’s power. Maiden lost a step – particularly as a live band – when Clive left.

    THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST opened so many doors for Maiden. When they toured America in 1983 to support their PIECE OF MIND album, they headlined from coast to coast for the first time. Throughout the 1980s, they were one of the biggest musical acts in the world. And they did all this with little or no support from MTV, radio, and the mainstream rock press. Their success enabled so many other hard rock and heavy metal bands to become famous as well. That’s why THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST is the best heavy metal album of all time. I also believe that Iron Maiden belong in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

    Posted on March 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • The Number of The Beast is the first of Iron Maiden’s 4 consecutive classic releases, and an absolutely essential piece in any metal fan’s collection. For those not familiar with the metal genre, this is an excellent place to start, especially if they are familiar with the heavier bands of 70s rock, such as Led Zeppelin, Rush, and the Who.

    This album marks long-time singer Bruce Dickinson’s debut with the band, and he makes his mark quickly as Maiden pulls away from the punk influence of former vocalist Paul Di’Anno (who was kicked out of the band for his descent into alcoholism), and adopts the style that will make them pioneers in the genre. Steve Harris really steps into his own as a songwriter on this album, as both the lyrics and music become increasingly complex and showcase the instrumental talent of the band on a level that Maiden’s two previous albums, while strong in their own right, just never reached.

    Of the 9 songs on Number of the Beast, I would say that the only two that would even qualify as mediocre are ‘22 Acacia Avenue’ and ‘Gangland’. ‘The Prisoner’ is based on the TV show of the same name, and features a great chorus by Dickinson and some nice guitar work by both Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. ‘Invaders’ is in my opinion an underrated gem, featuring a fast, catchy guitar riff that carries the song and goes great with Dickinson’s ‘air raid siren’ vocals. ‘Children of the Damned’ and ‘Total Eclipse’ are both worth a listen as well, though I had to listen both several times before I appreciated them.

    There are three tracks on Number of the Beast (which, to put it in perspective, is a third of the album) that are considered absolute classics by just about all Maiden fans. The first is the title track. ‘The Number of the Beast’ is a great piece of music with some classic riffing augmented by Steve Harris’s powerful basslines and not one, but two great guitar solos. ‘The Number of the Beast’ is not, as many believe, a Satanist song. In fact, the song is based on a recurring nightmare had by lead guitarist Adrian Smith of being tortured by the devil. So in a way, the song has the exact opposite message many abscribe to it. Besides, the Rolling Stones had a song about Satan, and it was one of their biggest hits. You don’t hear many people calling Mick Jagger a Satanist, do you? Most of the people who accuse Iron Maiden of Satanism or promoting violence get these ideas from their morbid cover art and the total inability to understand satire (for instance, ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’ is not a song about going on killing rampages, but rather an anti-war song).

    But I digress. The second classic metal song on this album is ‘Run to the Hills’, which is about the genocide of the Native Americans during the years of American colonization by the British. This is the first song to use the ‘galloping’ guitar riff style that is used again in ‘The Trooper’, from their next album. Bruce’s vocals are in full force this time around, with his singing sounding near operatic in its intensity, and Smith and Murray once again put together fantastic dual guitar solos.

    The final song on this album, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ is not only the best song on the album, but in my opinion Iron Maiden’s best song altogether, and quite possibly the best rock song ever written. ‘Hallowed’, a 7-minute epic, features what are easily some of Harris’s most cerebral lyrics, about a jailed man waiting to be hanged reflecting on the nature of his life and reality in general. ‘Hallowed’ features a dazzlingly complex song structure, with Harris’s chugging bass once again providing the foundation for an assortment of terrific riffs by Smith and Murray and another exemplary vocal performance by Bruce. Toss in an absolutely jaw-dropping guitar solo by Smith (who truly was born to shred), and you have a song, and an album, that no real, or even casual, metal fan should be without.

    For those who liked this album, further recommendations include:
    Piece of Mind – Iron Maiden
    Powerslave – Iron Maiden
    Holy Diver – Dio
    Heaven and Hell – Black Sabbath

    Posted on March 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This is, as most every … metal fan knows, Iron Maiden’s third album and their first to feature their longest-running singer, the great Bruce Dickinson. Circa 1982: freshly out of his former band Samson, Dickinson would replace Maiden’s original singer Paul Di’Anno …, and would stay with the band until the mid-`90’s, only to return again in 2000.Bruce Dickinson is one of metal’s best singers, period. His mighty pipes carry tremendous range and power, and he can hold a note for the LONGEST time. He also throws a great performance onstage. He ranks up there with Matthew Barlow of Iced Earth, James LaBrie of Dream Theater, Michael Ã…kerfeldt of Opeth, and Glenn Danzig of Danzig … as one of the best metal singers I’ve ever heard.Now, for the rest of the band: Steve Harris, songwriter/backing vocalist also is one of the most talented bassists I’ve ever heard. He plays a standard-tuned 4-string, but good LORD, just listen to him! He creates such complex rhythms and even leads; he’s like a third guitarist …. Every song he can clearly be heard under the fantastic guitar riffs and fleshing out the thick drumming.Dave Murray and Adrian Smith: what can I say about these guitarists? Where can I BEGIN? The two are a fearsome duo, slicing and dicing the listener as they alternate leads and solos with ease, creating such fast-paced riffs and crunches, it hardly matters how much or how little distortion they might use. I’ve practiced playing guitar for a couple of years, but lately I’ve been doing so a lot more thanks to them. Definitely one of the most perfect guitar duos out there, and still going strong. And now they have an additional guitarist in the mix, Janick Gers, but since he’s not on this album, he won’t be discussed…although he sure is good, too. I just wish they would credit who played which lead and solo in the notes!Clive Burr is a highly underrated drummer, I think. He provides really loud, well-paced beats, as well as great fills and crashes. Unfortunately he wouldn’t be with the band for long, and would be gone by the PIECE OF MIND-era …, but when he was with them, boy he was good. One of my favorite performances by him: the intro to “Gangland.”The songs are all so perfect, I will go through each one individually.”Invaders” is a fast-paced, attention-getting opener. It tells the tale of a Viking invasion upon a Nordic village, I think. The drums thunder like a thousand running feet, the bass and guitars like cries of fear and fury. And Bruce Dickinson…it’s easy to see why many called him “Air-Raid Siren.”"Children of the Damned,” I’m not so sure what this one’s about. It starts off kind of slow and has great guitar work from Smith and Murray, and slowly gets more up-beat, but then in the bridge of the song…VROOOOM! It just takes off at an ultra-high pace and knocks the listener off their feet ….”The Prisoner” has a little sample from the sci-fi sitcom of the same name, then breaks into a mid-tempo beat that is simply infectious for foot-tapping. Then it speeds up so suddenly and without warning, with a sweeping, powerful instrumental thrust. Dickinson snarls and barks out the tale of a man in prison who has one thing in mind: getting out. Very catchy chorus, too. And remember what I was saying about Harris being a complex bassist? Just listen to the leads he makes in the pre-chorus: CRAZY!”22 Acacia Avenue,” another faced-paced track, is a fable of a prostitution house and how truly insane and upside-down one could be. While the song is excellent and I could be stuck on a deserted island with it, it is probably one of my lesser-favorites.”The Number of the Beast”…, the source for many a parent’s apprehensions that their kids are listening to bad music. A streamlined and fast-paced tale of a man’s encounter with an unholy cult performing a Satanic ritual, yes – but by no means promoting Satanism; rather, this takes a fearful outlook upon such practices, as the narrator within the song is trying to get away…but ultimately, unsuccessfully. After an eerie intro by the late Vincent Price, the atmospheric guitar riffs kick in, with Dickinson’s worried-sounding vocals coming in with a now-classic opening line: “I left alone…my mind was blank…” The solos in the bridge of the song dazzle, and the little gap between them is amazing in itself as the pace slows down, then picks up again for a huge “shebang!” Parents may still want their kids to avoid a song that has “666″ in the chorus, but regardless, this is one of Maiden’s best.”Run to the Hills” is very similar to “Invaders” in plot, but this time tells the story of the white settlers that came to this land we now call America, and as they mercilessly hunted down and slew the natives. The beginning drum beats lead into a great trio of guitars and bass, and then Dickinson comes in with his furied snarls. Then, like many Maiden songs, the song suddenly picks up pace and fires off into a blistering, galloping juggernaut.”Gangland” is yet another uptempo piece, this time focusing on living in the more ghetto side of town, and the fears of going outside, for the gangs might get you. Rather violent and up-in-your-face lyrics, too. Like “22 Acacia Avenue,” one of my lesser favorites, but still a masterpiece.”Total Eclipse” is a prophetic tale of nature taking revenge upon mankind for our decades of causing such damage to her. It starts off with mid-tempo, fairly heavy riffs that are like thunder in the sky, and then builds up the pace a little. Dickinson’s vocals are at their most furious here, I think.And then there’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” the ultimate masterpiece on this album. Clocking in at over 7 minutes, this is the tale of a man’s final hours as he is on death row and waiting for his time. The imagery and emotions FEEL so real. This one starts off with a bell chiming …, and then the song picks up pace a bit, building to climatic verses where Dickinson’s solo vocals alternate with blasts of instrumentation. The massive bridge is breathtaking with its powerful time changes and solos…and with the subject matter, this song is an excellent choice for an album closer.As well, this 1998 remaster/reissue is very good. The notes are packed with information about the era and the recording/touring of this album, and the sound is pristine.So there it is: Iron Maiden’s 1982 album, the first to feature Bruce Dickinson, and where they achieved perfection. The band has had many, many other good songs on other albums, and this one isn’t even their best – but it is, without a doubt one of them, and certainly one of the most important albums in the history of heavy metal.

    Posted on March 8, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now