Review Summary: Maiden's peak
There are very few albums that manage to scale through every single human emotion, from hate to regret to love and to confusion, in one short spell of time. In fact, there are only two that come to mind. One is Blackwater Park, and the other is Iron Maiden's The Number Of The Beast. Widely considered to be a metal classic, The Number Of The Beast was the third album by the band, the first with air raid siren Bruce Dickinson and the final album with drummer Clive Burr. It is an 8-track 40 minute affair, that rushes by in a hail storm of emotion.
Invaders is one of the more angry songs the band ever put out, and evokes so much rage without ever once needing to be personal to Steve Harris. It deals with medieval war, and, right from the opening drumming, you know you are in for a special experience when listening to this album. This is one of the fastest, heaviest songs the band ever put out, and serves as the perfect introduction for Bruce Dickinson, as it is a fantastic vocal performance, and yet not even the finest on the album. The riffs are tight for this song, Burr's drumming is his finest on the album, and the bass from Harris is top-notch.
Children Of The Damned and The Prisoner follow, and are two of my favorites from this album. The former needs no introduction, as it is the haunting classic from the band, that never fails to send chills down my spine. The Prisoner is one of Dickinson's finest vocal performances with the band, with the absolutely infectious chorus that will stay with the listener for a long time. The guitar work to this song is absolutely flawless.
Two of the bands classic, most famous songs make their back-to-back appearances on this album. Run To The Hills and The Number Of The Beast are two absolutely fantastic song, both being exceedingly catchy numbers, and have always been fan favorites. Run To The Hills has the stomping drum beat to it, and has since become the bands most recognizable song. The Number Of The Beast was a very controversial, misunderstood song for its time, that stands out as one of the best the band has ever written.
Album close Hallowed Be Thy Name, however, is where the album meets its peak. This song is a timeless classic, with some groovy basslines in the background, the tightest riffs on the album, the most emotional lyrics i have ever read, Bruce on top form. However, this song really is all about the solo. The solo to this song is the one solo to listen to before you die, as it will completely floor you. Quite how the band can be this talented is beyond me, and to write such a perfect solo really does take talent.
The only song that drags this album down by .5 is Gangland. This just interrupts the flow of the album between Run To The Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name. As a standalone song, this would be a decent track, but when placed alongside two songs on that level of greatness, it really does become apparent how average it is compared to the rest of the album, and therefore detracts from the album as an overall product. This really is the only flaw on the album, however, as everything else is perfect.
The guitar work is amazing, with some incredible riffs throughout, and the soloing is some of the finest to have been seen. The drumming is a fitting departure for Clive, with Invaders being his highlight, and another tight performance on the album closer. The bass is Steve Harris on top form, being very well thought out, and not being the standard "just follow the guitars" mentality that many bassists follow. Congratulations to Harris for also writing the majority of these songs alone. Bruce Dickinson makes an impressive debut here, singing some incredibly emotional lyrics throughout. This album is almost a 5, but not quite. 4.5/5