Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast


5.0
classic

Review

by matthew36 USER (46 Reviews)
November 23rd, 2020 | 26 replies


Release Date: 1982 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Simply put, the greatest.

When someone talks about the greatest heavy metal album of all time, the four albums that are consistently listed as the candidates are Paranoid, Reign In Blood, Master of Puppets and The Number of the Beast. But to me, what makes something the greatest are not the arguments for it, but how well they withstand the arguments against it. Master of Puppets simply influenced metal in too much of the wrong ways, not to mention is more or less a carbon copy of Ride The Lightning; Paranoid had Rat Salad & Planet Caravan; and Reign In Blood just feels underdeveloped, in addition to not having that much influence outside of so-called extreme metal. With The Number of the Beast however, at best the arguments against this are superfluous at best, and retardedly piecemeal at worst. I do hear certain grumblings about Gangland, or specifically how it should have been the B-side to Run To The Hills and Total Eclipse should have made the album. I do agree with this sentiment, but note the album version being discussed, which rectified the problem by having including both tracks near the end. Usually adding extra content to an album hurts it by giving it filler (see also, the remaster of Reign In Blood with the two bonus tracks), but this re-release actually improves the album, making it the definitive metal album. Even if you don't care much for Gangland, you have to admit it's still a proper metal song.

Some arguments might also claim that Iron Maiden would put out better albums than this with better lineups. While I agree with this sentiment, aside from maybe Powerslave, none of those albums reached the level of influence and acclaim that The Number of the Beast did. Not to mention that as amazing as Nicko is, there are still plenty of folks out there who still think Clive Burr was Maiden's best drummer. I don't agree with this, as usually the people who say this are the people who claim that Nicko only uses the ride cymbal to keep time. I counter with not only is that sentiment wrong, but Clive was only able to play in swing rhythms. Regardless, the point of all this was Clive was a fine drummer in his own right. Some of his drumming on this album being the finest moments of his career, such as the drum roll crescendo of Children of the Damned or the absolutely insane double time hi-hat rhythm of Run To The Hills. I get carpal tunnel syndrome just listening to it sometimes. Keep in mind this was a guy that was doing Wrathchild with one hand!

But this album's secret weapon are the tones. The vicious, bulking tones. This just might be Martin Birch's greatest production job ever. Before Ride The Lightning, Morbid Tales and Reign In Blood shoved a spike through the brains of the world, The Number of the Beast was the heaviest guitar sound on the planet. This and Killers set such a new standard in pain, crunch and tonality that by the time Judas Priest had caught up, thrash had already taken root. But I'm not just talking about guitar tones. Bruce's voice at this time is something truly nightmarish to behold. He was the perfect replacement for Paul Di'Anno because while he had a higher range, he still had that maniacal menace that was able to deliver the power and carnage of previous tunes like Prowler, Killers, Murders In The Rue Morgue and even Wrathchild. Best demonstrated on the brilliant double live outing Beast Over Hammersmith.

The laughable tag of New Wave of British Heavy Metal was laid to rest forever with this album. Everything after this point was simply heavy metal, classic metal, traditional metal, power metal, whatever the *** you want to call it. NWOBHM became the tag Diamond Head, Tygers of Pan Tang and a hoist of others got imprisoned with simply because by 1982, they could no longer deliver the goods. Iron Maiden on the other hand, had manage to take the Jailbreaks, the Risings, The Heaven & Hells, the Sabotages, the Hemispheres and the Stained Classes and synthesize them all into one glorious sound comprised of songs that seemed simple and anthemic, but were quite complex on top. The title track is the best example of this, with its oddball 5/4 time signature intro riff. It also needs to be said that placing the two singles near the end of the album was a ballsy and smart move. The songs on side one of the album are all great in their own right, but there's a reason everyone knows and loves Run To The Hills, Number of the Beast and Hallowed Be Thy Name. Perhaps part of the grief Gangland gets is that it has to follow Run To The Hills and just doesn't have that Hellion quality riff to stop the listener from hitting the rewind/skip back button. Casual listeners do not like to explore albums, they like to repeat the singles over and over again and you better come up with one hell of a melody to keep them from skipping backwards. There's also the fact that most singles, or songs in general, can get old and stale with over play. That does not happen here. I'll never get tired of Run To The Hills, The Prisoner, 22 Acacia Avenue, Total Eclipse, etc., etc.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this brief essay on why The Number of The Beast is the greatest metal album of all time, (and not because you don't actually own the album). It forever stands the test of time of how this genre should always be approached from a songwriting perspective.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Nocte
Contributing Reviewer
November 23rd 2020


13078 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Been jamming their new live record these last few weeks. It’s bizarre how well some of these hold up - no denying that the guys age are starting to show.

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Enjoy a pos Matthew. Your summary is a 5/5 all on its own. This is the best heavy metal record ever written. Fucking badass in every way. Sometimes, people wonder what Bruce would've sounded like on the s/t and Killers. Well, here ya go.



Gyromania
November 23rd 2020


31350 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Think I prefer seventh son, powerslave, and somewhere in time to this, but this is right on par with the self titled and piece of mind and killers, wuth killers prob being the weakest. Prob the best run of metal albums of all time, their first 7 records

Digging: Biosphere - Dropsonde [Reissue]

zakalwe
November 23rd 2020


32684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I’m with Titan. This is the definitive heavy metal record it’s an absolute out and out classic.

Pheromone
November 23rd 2020


10601 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

m/

Digging: Fushitsusha - Live I

facupm
November 23rd 2020


11693 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh yeah

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

If Total Eclipse was included on the original tracklisting, album would be 6/5. That song is massive.

zakalwe
November 23rd 2020


32684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I actually prefer Gangland. Love it.

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I never said replace it!

zakalwe
November 23rd 2020


32684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It’s the age old swap question though innit. Gangland is waved off as the weakest track by far too many. Song is the bollocks and fits this album like a glove.

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

I do agree that it's the weakest, but would never omit such a fantastic song from the run. Age old debate for sure....

zakalwe
November 23rd 2020


32684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Impossible to pick a weakest track. Album is an absolute diamond.



If I had to.......the prisoner but that is obviously ridiculous because it’s amazing.

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

My biggest peeve is when the fans criticize Invaders. That song is AMAZING. The chorus can definitely be a little better or have some catch to it, but the rest of the song, literally every other aspect of it, is solid fucking gold.

zakalwe
November 23rd 2020


32684 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Deffo bro. If you’re going to open an album that is how it’s done.

Titan
November 23rd 2020


21697 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

YESSSSSSS!!!!!!!



The bass, the flow of the verses, that main riff, Bruce's vocal style, the twin ripping solo's



It's crazy talk to ridicule it.

wham49
November 23rd 2020


5493 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yes total classic, first Bruce IM, has Run and Hollowed on it, 22 as well, but not top 3 IM for me, maybe not top 5, although it is hard to rank the bands output as all up to 7son is very consistantly awesome, personal taste

Azog
November 23rd 2020


385 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

A complete and utter classic, if there ever was one.

matthew36
November 24th 2020


85 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yep invaders is a ok song no doubt about that.

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
November 25th 2020


15429 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

It is certainly one of the most iconic albums of all time, even if I prefer the Live After Death versions.

I disagree with some of your remarks, particularly in the first paragraph, however to each his own, obviously.

Digging: Gatecreeper - An Unexpected Reality

TheAntichrist
November 25th 2020


1917 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

gud ablum



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