Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast: Album Review

Available On Amazon

After the gritty, unpolished sound of Iron Maiden’s previous two albums, The Number of the Beast (1982) established the trend of wide-ranging, operatic vocals and long guitar solos that would influence generations of bands to come. The introduction of Bruce Dickinson on vocals allowed bassist and songwriter Steve Harris to write material that demanded a wider vocal range to keep up with the intricate instrumentation, cementing Maiden’s sound and earning them the number one spot on the UK Top 40.

The opening track, “Invaders,” began with an explosive burst of drums by Clive Burr, complemented by a rhythmic guitar riff and overlaid with one of Harris’s signature melodic bass lines created a frantic energy that continued for the duration of the song. Dickinson won over fans with a sweeping performance of wails and snarls while delivering rapid-fire lyrics about desperately battling a marauding band of Vikings.

After this barrage, Iron Maiden expertly shifted pace into “Children of the Damned,” a slow groove where Dickinson and guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith showed their emotional range in a performance slower but no less intense than the previous track.

The subject of “The Prisoner—and the source of its opening audio clip—was the titular 1967 British television series about a captive in a mysterious village. The song expressed determination to overcome obstacles and strive for personal freedom, a message which resonated with metalheads everywhere, coming through especially strongly during the upbeat chorus.

Iron Maiden Album

Photo: By Darz Mol (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

22 Acacia Avenue continued the saga of Charlotte the Harlot, introduced in her eponymous song on Iron Maiden’s first album. This one focused on the relationship between Charlotte and the song’s narrator, who started out advertising her services to friends, but by the end pleaded with her to quit and run away with him. The music shifted in intensity, speed, and tone to reflect the turmoil of the narrator. His final plea to Charlotte was bookended by guitar solos: the first was soulful and sorrowful, while the second ended the song frantically.

The controversial title track contained many of Iron Maiden’s catchiest riffs and most impressive shredding solos, plus one long, chilling scream from Dickinson, which he said was born of frustration after he was forced to perform countless takes of the introduction in the studio. The song, which opened with a reading from the Book of Revelation and proceeded to tell a horrific tale about an encounter with a Satanic cult, was misinterpreted by religious groups who labeled Iron Maiden as Satanists. In fact, the song was inspired by a nightmare Harris had after watching one of the Omen movies. According to legend, the album’s recording was punctuated by strange happenings, culminating when producer Martin Birch was in a car accident and was charged £666 for repairs.

“Run to the Hills,” a sympathetic tale of Native Americans hunted by colonists, established a signature Maiden formula: the Maiden Gallop. Burr, Harris, and Smith (on rhythm guitar) formed a driving force that provided momentum while leaving room for Dickinson’s energetic vocals and Murray’s rousing solo to dominate the spotlight.

“Gangland” and “Total Eclipse” (which was originally a single B-side but is included on the remastered album release) were the less standout tracks on the album, but even these merely average Maiden songs were expertly performed and worth hearing.

The album’s epic closer, “Hallowed Be Thy Name,” demonstrated what Iron Maiden can do when they give themselves a few extra minutes to build a powerful exploration of deeper themes. This track followed a condemned prisoner’s struggle to come to terms with his impending execution, bringing together Maiden’s strongest elements. Dickinson began by expressing the prisoner’s heartfelt introspection before a suggestion of the Maiden Gallop pushed him forward on his journey. The musical expression of the prisoner overcoming his fears and embracing his fate came to a head with nearly three minutes of the guitarists demonstrating their considerable chops, punctuated by Burr’s forceful drum fills.

Over thirty years later, the title track, “Run to the Hills,” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” are still concert staples. The Number of the Beast was a turning point in Iron Maiden’s career which is still a favorite of old fans and an excellent starting point for the new.

Iron Maiden The Number of the Beast: Album Review article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022

Classicrockhistory.com claims ownership of all its original content and Intellectual property under United States Copyright laws and those of all other foreign countries. No one person, business, or organization is allowed to re-publish any of our original content anywhere on the web or in print without our permission. All photos used are either public domain creative commons photos or licensed officially from Shutterstock under license with ClassicRockHistory.com. All photo credits have been placed at the end of the article.

DMCA.com Protection Status

Add Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rihanna Love Songs
Top 10 Rihanna Love Songs
Three Days Grace Albums
Complete List Of Three Days Grace Albums And Discography
Agnostic Front Songs
Top 10 Agnostic Front Songs
Daryl Hall Solo Songs
Top 10 Daryl Hall Songs As A Solo Artist
15 Greatest Hits Albums With Best Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Songs
18 Best Greatest Hits Albums With Unreleased Tracks & Non-Album Singles
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
Best Rock Albums Of 2022
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
12 Essential Jazz Guitar Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks In Your Dreams LP
Tom Verlaine Of Television Has Passed Away At 73
Tom Verlaine Of Television Has Passed Away At 73
Remembering David Crosby
Remembering David Crosby
David Crosby Dead At 81
David Crosby Dead At 81
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
Bono & The Edge: A Sort of Homecoming With Dave Letterman To Premier On Disney+ March 2023
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
10 Classic Rock Bands That Have Never Released A Live Album
Will Music CDs Become Collectors Items?
Why Basic Music CDs Will Become Collectors Items
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Greatest Rock Bass Lines Of The 70s
Don Kirschner Rock Concert
Before MTV, There Was Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert
Pat DeSalvo Of Savoy Brown Interview
Pat DeSalvo of Savoy Brown: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Steve Zing of Danzig Interview
Steve Zing of Danzig: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Paul De Lisle of Smash Mouth Interview
Paul De Lisle of Smash Mouth: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Tod Howarth Interview
Tod Howarth: Formerly of Frehley’s Comet: The ClassicRockHistory.com Interview
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind Songs On Rihanna’s Good Girl Gone Bad Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna's Music of the Sun Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s Music of the Sun Album
Rihanna Albums
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Rihanna’s A Girl Like Me Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Real Meanings Behind The Songs On Stevie Nicks Rock a Little Album
Billy Strings Albums
Complete List Of Billy Strings Albums And Discography
Maxwell Albums
Complete List Of Maxwell Albums And Discography
Nas Albums
Complete List of Nas Albums And Discography
Carly Simon Albums
Complete List Of Carly Simon Albums And Discography