"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 Six hundred and sixty six."
- Revelations Ch. XIII v.18
You knew somebody
had to do it. You knew it was un-avoidable. And yes, it was done. I am reviewing "The Number of the Beast
" on June 6th, 2006. And please refrain from sparking a debate on whether or not the date has anything to do with the actual number of the beast. (Ex: "Silly loserz, the real date is 6/06/06, and cant be the number of the beast because of those two zeros! LOLZ!")
Now, just as Iron Maiden
was on the brink of a worldwide breakthrough, releasing two top-quality albums ("Iron Maiden
" and "Killers
"), vocalist Paul Di'Anno left the band due to his self-destructive habit of overusing cocaine. This greatly conflicted with other members of the band because unlike most Metal acts at the time, they dabbled very little in alcohol and almost none in drugs. Well, along came former Samson
vocalist Bruce Dickinson, and he immediately joined the band, ignoring warnings from legendary DJ Tommy Vance, who urged Dickinson not to.
Upon it's release, the album caused much controversy, mainly in America where religious groups burned the album along with Ozzy Osbourne
albums. They claimed Iron Maiden
to be a Satan-Worshiping group due to the albums title and lyrical content, mainly on the title track (which I will explain why later). These protests are what to be believed as the spark of stereotyping all Metal bands as Satan followers.
This was the third Iron Maiden
album I purchased, which is shocking seeing as how this is usually the first bought by any upcoming fan of these greatly influential artists. However, I made the mistake of buying 'The X-Factor
' first, and I was so disappointed with what I found that I almost gave up on these guys. However, I reluctantly bought their self-titled effort, which was their first album, and I craved more. I burned that CD out so fast that I found myself back at the store the same day, waiting in the checkout line with 'The Number of the Beast
' in my hand and a fat 20-Dollar bill in the other.
What did I encounter when I first put it in"
Passion. Technicality. Pure-Original Talent
My Six Reasons on Why This is a Classic
1. The Riffs
Riffs can make or break an album. Anyone can usually ignore the vocals, just as long as the riffs flow well. In this case, they are damn near bliss everytime. The opener, 'Invaders
', showcases a changing tempo, complete with a straightforward-type playing embraced with palm-mutes and a quick fill or note played at the end. Such is true for other tracks like 'The Prisoner
', '22 Acacia Avenue
', 'Run to the Hills
', and 'Total Eclipse
'. 'The Prisoner
' features some great drum-work, accompanied by chopped guitar-riffs in the beginning before it begins to grind away. '22 Acacia Avenue
' has more of a 'Punk' influence to it, with more simple-styled riffs. 'Run to the Hills
', well, should be a song that we all know, starting off with a tribal drumbeat and an almost Bluesy guitar intro, and then goes on to feature a Steve Harris signature galloping bassline that Adrian and Dave stick close to with their axes. Although 'Total Eclipse
' has an intro that begins to cause yawns, once it gets past that, old-school feeling Rock beats begin to be thrown straight into your face. 'Children of the Damned
' will totally catch you by surprise, since it opens with a soft, emotional acoustic number before it slowly begins to plug away. The most unique out of all of these, however, might have to be the title track, 'The Number of the Beast
', which after the speaking part features a dual bass/guitar intro, with the guitar being palm-muted and playing the same high-striking notes as Steve before it begins to thump away, accompanying some imaginative guitarwork and tight-nit drums. However, even the best of albums sometimes has a speed bump here or there, and that speed bump this time is 'Gangland
'. Although it features a rather interesting basic drum intro, it feels rather bland and drawn out once everyone else joins in.
2. Bruce Dickinson
Most people tend to put down former Maiden vocalist Paul Di'Anno, always thinking how dumb he was to leave Iron Maiden just as they were about to go world wide and that his vocals were rather whiny. However, I feel the opposite. I loved his vocals. I thought they were amazing the first time I heard them on their Self-Titled album, but I was in now way prepared for Bruce. From the opener 'Invaders
', it's clear how much of an impact this one man had on this band. He was able to reach much higher notes, such as on 'Invaders
' and 'Children of the Damned
', and could perfectly match the high-pitched guitars. His vocal range is enormous, going from a talk-like singing to wailing out high-pitched yells, which is evident on 'Run to the Hills
' and 'The Prisoner
'. Bruce can also manipulate his voice to sound somewhat sinister, like how he does on the intro to 'The Number of the Beast
' before he suddenly lets out a chilling scream. Also, during '22 Acacia Avenue
', he quickly changes his singing into a quick 'scream', and by that I mean something that you might find in the 'Metalcore' genre, and is a very welcome surprise. But for those of you that hate those kinds of vocals, don't worry, he just does it for select words, and only about twice.
3. Steve Harris
I had come to the conclusion awhile ago that Cliff Burton was Metal's finest bassist ever. Needless to say, I was dead wrong. Steve Harris is one of the most imaginative, free-flowing bassists I have ever heard in my life. I don't think I'd be out of place to say much of the riffs off this album are based off of his signature 'Galloping-Bassline', which is lighting fast triplets from his possessed hands. These basslines are found all over, and are the main force behind songs such as 'Run to the Hills
' and at points during '22 Acacia Avenue
'. His variations on songs such as 'Invaders
' and , 'The Number of the Beast
' give the songs a whole other dimension to them, especially since the bass is so clearly heard its insane, so don't be surprised to find yourself remembering the bass parts instead of the guitars or vocals.
4. The Lyrics
British Heavy Metal bands aren't exactly legends for their lyrics. Hell, take a look at 'Judas Priest
with lines such as 'Faster than a lazer bullet!
' - 'Painkiller
'. See' Pretty cheesy. However, unlike most bands from this genre, Iron Maiden's
are actually extremely admirable. All of their lyrics here actually have worthwhile meanings to them. Even '22 Acacia Avenue
', which was a continuation of 'Charlotte the Harlot
' off their Self-Titled release, starts off about a place where you can go to find a 'wonderful' hooker, and then it changes into Bruce telling her to leave this life and come with him. So even though at first glance it seems like a typical song about sex, it suddenly turns into one of compassion. 'Invaders
' actually shows a slightly darker side of Iron Maiden
, with lines like, ' Severed limbs and fatal woundings bloody corpses lay all around
', but that's about as grotesque as it gets here. Some people complain that the lyrics to 'Run to the Hills
' are completely pointless, as they are sympathetic towards Native Americans, and their from England. I laugh everytime I hear this, however, because most people tend to forget that the English were also extremely brutal in dealing with Native American tribes when they first arrived in America. But the big one here is the title track, whose lyrics helped fuel religious protests throughout the country. However, they all failed to realize the lyrics were based of a dream, one that Steve Harris had. With lines like ' 666 the number of the beast, 666 the one for you and me / I'm coming back, I will return. And I'll possess your body and I'll make you burn!
', it's relatively easy to see where the protests where coming from at the time, but still very stupid that they continued on once the band explained their true meaning. It also features an excerpt from the bible, Revelations Ch. XIII v.18, which I previously used above before the song begins. And on a side note, the lyrics to 'The Prisoner
' are, just like the title, based off a British TV show of the same name.
5. The Solos (Dave Murray and Adrian Smith)
Maybe it's just me, but I can't stand songs that don't have solos in them. It proves to me how much talent is present, but if it's a crappy solo, I get even more pissed off at the song. So most new music leaves me in an almost lose-lose situation. But oh how I smiled after hearing Dave and Adrian. These guys are highly underrated, ranking up there with some of Metal's greatest guitarists ever. Not only are the riffs executed perfectly, but also when it comes time to rip the song a new one, Dave and Adrian waste no time. Trading off soloing parts can be tricky, but these guys pull it off without flaw on tracks such as 'The Prisoner
', 'Total Eclipse
', and 'The Number of the Beast
', even though there's a small break in-between them on the last one I mentioned, it's still a spectacle to hear. Most of these solos tend to stick along the lines of 'Tasteful Shredding', and what I mean by that is while these two guys go crazy all over the fretboard, they never lose that feel that they are truly part of the song, unlike some solos by guys like Zakk Wylde (who I admire anyway).
6. Hallowed be thy Name
Never has there been, or ever will be, a song that can amaze me as much as 'Hallowed be thy Name
' did. Considered by many to be the greatest song Iron Maiden
have ever written, it is also widely known to also be acknowledge as one, if not the, greatest Heavy Metal song ever. I have decided to take it one step further, and declare it the greatest song ever written. Period. Argue with me or not, you cannot deny its power. From the opening atmospheric guitar, complete with a church bell and a pounding bass every few seconds, it's a song that grabs you from the moment it begins. Bruce is simply astounding in the very first seconds, as he begins to tell the story of a man who is sentenced to death, and he uses every last bit of his power to restrain himself by singing softly and smoothly. Then it's the sweeping infamous guitar riff, which Bruce seems to mirror perfectly, before that same guitar riff is changed into a slightly faster, heavier variation that seems to climb up and down. And that's just the intro. The verses, driven by an emotional Bruce, are split between itself with chunked riffs, which then turns into a chugging, almost galloping riff. There is no chorus. This is an 'Epic' song, clocking in at around 7 minutes. If you were to leave out the verses with Bruce being the highlight, then the mastery of this song comes from the never-ending flow of the guitars, brought to you by Dave and Adrian. The solo that they trade off between one another is simply amazing, as it seems to cut straight through the song and right into your mind. Steve tends to hold himself back a bit, allowing himself a variation here or there, but respect goes to him, as he knows the point of this song is the sheer emotion demonstrated from the guitars and Bruce, and he finds his own place respectively by supporting them with a pounding bassline. 'Hallowed Be Thy Name
' begins to finishes itself with Bruce wailing out the titles name, and then some pounding drums and an ingenious and almost-ballad like, simple guitar riff.
Six Reasons for Buying This Right Now
1. If you are a fan of any kind of Metal, you should and will undoubtedly appreciate this.
2. There is pure, untouched talent all over this.
3. Looking for a new icon my fellow bassists besides Flea or Les Claypool" You'll find him here: Steve Harris.
4. To listen to some of Heavy Metal's finest achievements (Ex: The title track, 'Run to the Hills
5. First album to feature the mighty Bruce Dickinson on vocals.
6. 'Hallowed Be Thy Name
' will simply blow you away.
Top Six Tracks
(6 Being the Best)
2. 22 Acacia Avenue
3. The Prisoner
4. Run to the Hills
5. The Number of the Beast
6. Hallowed Be Thy Name