Sunday, 22 November 2009

CD Review: The Number of the Beast, by Iron Maiden (1982)

Iron Maiden returned in 1982 with their third studio album in three years, now emerging as one of the best bands in the resurgent heavy metal genre. For the compact set of eight tracks on The Number of the Beast, Bruce Dickinson took over vocal duties, and with his operatic range, natural showmanship and athletic swordsman moves, Maiden finally had the frontman presence to complement the band.

With Martin Birch behind the controls pushing the band towards new standards of perfection, Maiden very unapologetically stepped right into the inflammatory topic of the devil with the album title, cover art and flagship song, and joyfully pushed the buttons of all who pretended to be shocked. Maiden rode the crest of publicity all the way to the top of the metal mountain, and became heroes to a whole generation of fans discovering the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

In some ways, this album is beyond criticism. The actual content is much less important than the impact that The Number of the Beast had. Suddenly, metal was in. It was dangerous, it was cool, and Maiden were leading the charge. And this was not the metal of Aerosmith and AC/DC, all about sex, love, women and parties -- no, this was metal about Satan, whores, prisons, and death. Enter this arena if you dare, and the new fans of metal - rebels looking for a cause - entered in droves.

While The Number of the Beast is the album that made Maiden widely famous, it is not their best work. Run to the Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name are spectacular classics, but the rest of the set is very good, not necessarily great. Invaders is among the weaker of Maiden's album openers and Children of the Damned does plod in parts. Gangland is merely average, and the band regretted including it on the album.

The Prisoner, 22, Acacia Avenue and the title track are excellent, but not as brilliant as their fame suggests.

Run to the Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name, however, are standout tracks that fully deserve their fame and stature as metal epics. While Run to the Hills is one of the best drum-driven metal anthems ever, Hallowed Be Thy Name is one of Maiden's most spectacular and career-defining moments, perfectly capturing Steve Harris' brilliantly epic song writing, featuring one of his best melodies, and showcasing the emotive Maiden guitar sound in all its glory. The guitar riffs on Hallowed Be Thy Name cause a recognizable tingle in the spine, a sensation that comes only in acknowledgment of greatness.


Clive Burr - Drums
Dave Murray - Guitar
Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Steve Harris - Bass
Adrian Smith - Guitar

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Invaders - 7
2. Children of the Damned - 8
3. The Prisoner - 8
4. 22, Acacia Avenue - 8
5. The Number of the Beast - 8
6. Run to the Hills - 10
7. Gangland - 6
8. Hallowed Be Thy Name - 10 *See Video Below*

Average: 8.13

Produced and Engineered by Martin Birch.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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