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Iron Maiden - The Number Of The Beast CD (album) cover

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.77 | 452 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Well, I think it's time to review more albums from my favorite non-prog band (at least not 100% prog, as they definitely have prog elements in their music). I'll start with this record as I don't have the first two (IRON MAIDEN and KILLERS. Though I have heard them, just not enough to write a review about them). I just re-purchased again almost all of their albums and I believe sharing my views about them it's in order.

After former vocalist Paul D'Anno had left, Iron Maiden found themselves with the opportunity to make the big jump from being just a mildly successful and musically moderately interesting metal group in their native England to becoming one (if not THE) best heavy metal bands in history and one of the most successful acts around the whole world. Their punk-influenced NWOBHM was going to undergo major changes, with the addition of many progressive elements to the music and, specially, with the arrival of master singer Bruce Dickinson to the band. Dickinson's input in Iron Maiden has always been nothing short of spectacular, and he brought with him depth, musicality, melody, power, in a word: he gave the band the final touch of identity it needed, being the perfect deliverer for Steve Harris's musical idea.

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST remains Iron Maiden's most successful album to date (in terms of records sold) though it's far from their best. Even though it has a lot of good songs, the sound is still somewhat raw around the edges, there's still a little bit of punk in the music (something I don't like) and the band itself wasn't complete yet. In the next album, PIECE OF MIND, with the inclusion of drummer Nicko McBrain, the British band would finally be complete and ready to achieve greater musical heights.

Let's say a few words about the songs.

Invaders (7.5/10) The song starts with a bang and then we enter metal territory in full force, though punk-influenced metal at that. Burr's drumming is quite tight in this track, and Harris as always shows how to play great bass even though he's not really playing incredibly complex harmonics. He just knows how to adorn, how to decorate even the simplest of bass lines. Good track, nothing extraordinaire. It still sounds like KILLERS, though with a far superior singer.

Children of The Damned (8/10) This is a change. Arpeggios announce a soft song, a sad, slow moment that is melodic and that showcases Dickinson's vocal prowess. The song gets faster halfway down, in a formula very typical of Maiden, though used to much greater success in other tracks (and in this same album). Decent song. The guitar solos by Smith and Murray and the dramatic ending make this a good track.

The Prisoner (7.5/10) A simple drum rhythm introduces this song, which starts quite weakly, sounding almost as Kiss. But it doesn't last long, as the ferocious guitar attack is unleashed a few seconds later. Pure adrenaline and energy, the melodic values are not too high. The chorus is catchy and lively, though a little ridiculous. Another good-if- not-great song.

22 Acacia Avenue (7.5/10) This song caused some minor troubles for Iron Maiden, as the inhabitants of 22 Acacia Avenue weren't happy about their address being used in the album as the location where people went to purchase pleasure. The song is a little bit chaotic, lacking the coherence of future Maiden mini-epics. It has decent melody, and it's a enjoyable, if not really brilliant, track.

The Number of The Beast (9/10) The ominous words taken from the Book of Revelations announce that something different will unfold here. The reverb-full guitar chords at the beginning confirm the arrival of a new monster, and Dickinson's vocals on top of them finally make D'Anno's memory just a distant, and not desirable, one. The guitar solo is superb, short but precise and melodic, epic; Harris and the guitars always in perfect synchronicity, always being each other's best friends. The first true gem in the album, it's still not a perfect track but it clearly paved the way for future masterpieces.

Run to The Hills (8.5/10) Arguably Iron Maiden's absolute hit, it's not my favorite track but is nevertheless a pleasure to listen to. After the legendary drum rhythm by Clive Burr, the guitars join emulating the percussion, and a short-yet-memorable little song is born. The chorus, while not even close to some of this band's best (and they DO have great choruses), is probably their most successful ever. Burr's drumming is precise, if simple. I love how Harris adorns his bass lines under the guitar solos, it's just a matter of adding a little note here, a little note there, and it makes a simple idea sound fantastic. Great track.

Gangland (7/10) A frantic, over-excited drum rhythm marks the beginning of this ultra- energetic yet somewhat forgettable hell-ride of a song. Pure metal, with little in the way of subtleties or melody. Just headbanging stuff. Though even in this insignificant track the masters found a way to give us enjoyable guitar solos. Even at their most savage, Iron Maiden are in a class of their own.

Total Eclipse (6.5/10) It had to happen, the album had to have a true weak, boring track. The band was still too fresh out of their first musical era, and it was impossible to expect a perfect album from the get-go. This song is longer than needed (and it's not really that long), lacks melody, lacks punch, lacks adrenaline, it even lacks Harris' inspired playing. Not atrocious, but very, very weak. The problem, though, was going to be resolved after this.

Hallowed be Thy Name (9.5/10) The fist masterpiece by Iron Maiden, the first track in this album that reminds me why this is my favorite non-totally-prog band. Speaking of progressiveness, this song is the one to look at to find those elements. From the sad beginning to the desperate chants of the soon-to-be-executed to the fantastic guitar melodies, to Burr's simple but on-target drumming, to the whole building of tension, this track has everything I love in Maiden. Those epic guitars, those guitars that seem to be screaming in anger and yearning for melody. Then the pause, the moment of doubt, and finally the OTHER Maiden, the metal machine, the adrenaline-pump, the wave that destroys everything in its wake. If I have doubts about giving this song a 10, it's because it sounds a little empty, the sonic experience is not "full", for lack of a better word, and mostly because Maiden delivered even better songs in future albums. But the return of the original melody in the fast section with the guitars reassured me that this is the band's first masterpiece.

After such an ending, we leave our THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST experience with quite the smile in our faces. The album is not perfect, it's still too rough and too noisy, but it has its moments. I'll give it a four, if only for historical reasons. The music gets a 3, the importance of the album makes the rating climb one step higher.

Recommended for: Fans of Iron Maiden; fans of heavy metal; fans of hard rock in general who like to experience one of the landmarks in metal history.

Not recommended for: People who dislike metal; people who prefer their music to be 100% prog; and Paul D'Anno's fans..

. this will leave you hopeless. Dickinson really is the Best for The Beast.

The T | 3/5 |

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