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

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

3.76 | 434 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
3 stars (3.5, the NUMBAH OF THE BEAST!!!)

Okay, here's where most people see the Maiden get good. They get real tight now, they get real focused. Even if all Maiden albums sound practically the same, this could be considered their revolutionary album, where everything falls into place. Right?

Wrong. Well, for me at least. Because here's where I see the Maiden getting...bad. See, this album honestly could have been great, were it not for one animated little singer throwing himself into EVERYTHING. But what's really painful is that what's going on underneath Mister Dickinson is, for the most part, brilliant.

Take the opening couple of numbers. Best song on the album's gotta be one of these two: "Invaders" is just a good ole Viking metal song, with that fantastic nautical internal riffage (love the chorus), and loads of blood, guts, gore, and energy, energy, energy to back it up. After that, the Maiden change things around with the even better "Children of the Damned." That medievally, acoustical intro is so cool, like you're gonna hear a folk song (for about a second), but later it evolves into another speedy headbanger, and I have no qualms with that.

And, whatever, "The Prisoner" is actually okay. I mean, the verses are somewhat unmemorable, but that chorus is pretty cool, as is the bridge and its subsequent soloing. And besides, I like that show. I can dig it. However, "22 Acacia Avenue," the so-called sequel to "Charlotte the Harlot" isn't all that good. Like its predecessor, it's pretty dumb. But not as fun. Still headbang-able, if you care though.

"The Number of the Beast" has a spoken intro that, despite what your friends tell you, doesn't sound that much like Vincent Price after a while. The rest of the infamous title track? Meh. Sorry, some of the soloing is good, but it's just not much of a tune, I thought. And look, I know that "Run to the Hills" is one of the band's biggest hits, but it's just so...stupid. There's no denying that the opening riff is brilliant, but even if I could get past the trite lyrical matter, there's no excuse for the way ole Brucey belts out the things. Wish I could shut that voice off

"Gangland" opens strong with the whole drum pattern thing, but it falls into another mediocre melody. The bridge is cool though. "Total Eclipse" sounds like it could be something, but it's still kind of messy through and through. The faster sections lack cohesiveness, and the slower sections lack energy. I dunno.

Anyways, I guess "Hallowed be thy Name" is our epic. It's about a dude that dies at least. Dunno if that's important, but I'm saying it. It basically follows the same pattern of "Children of the Damned," just with more soloing. And, all things considered, it's a decent ending. In fact, yeah, it takes enough twists and turns to be interesting (wish it lasted just a teeny bit long for that ending; or, wait, maybe it's too long. Crap, maybe it's fine). In fact, considering the strength of the album's opening and closing, if it weren't for Dickinson, I'd say this was a great lil' record.

Okay, so here's the deal. This is just as strong as any previous albums from a melodic point of view. And from a technical point of view. But it's just that, as the Maiden evolve, they loose their...uniqueness! And I, being the pompous ass who wasn't there that I am, proudly blame Dickinson.

Looky here. Di'Anno, despite what YOU think of him, gave the band something different. A 70's hard rock singer in an 80's metal band. Or thereabouts. Dickinson...just sounds like everyone else. Add to that the sudden increase from here on out in goofy metallic things like demons and dragons and powerslaves (whatever those are); plus, the sound has changed drastically. I know that it was mutating on the last album, but it's on Beast that I really hear that the raw power of the first album has all been replaced with slick guitar noise. And, c'mon! The album covers themselves were never the same! Gone are the freaky Gothic send-ups, in come the sci-fi fantasies. Never again will the albums feel as cold to me...

But, singers again. It's not like Di'Anno never sang about stupid fantasy crap ("Strange World?"). It's just that when he DID, it always sounded weird and intriguing. Like, exactly how are we supposed to handle "Phantom of the Opera" from him? But with Dickinson, there's no middle ground. Of COURSE the song's about demons in bondage gear. See, I can imagine Di'Anno singing things like "The Trooper" and "Invaders," believe it or not, whereas I CAN'T imagine Dickinson singing things like "Prowler" or "Wrathchild." Can you? God, I hope not. You've just kicked my favorite 80's band in the balls then.

Okay, Dickinson aside, this album is pretty good, even if the numbers that didn't deserve to become classic did (and I know that I'm really pickin' on Dickin' Son here, I'm sure it wasn't ALL his fault). The guitars are still awesomely played, the drums are still fast lil' metronomes, the bass is still Harris, and there are a couple of choice riffs in there somewhere. Feel free to headbang to your heart's content. Besides, at this point, it's not like the Maiden could put out a bad album exactly. Just...somewhat uninspired. For the most part.

The Whistler | 3/5 |

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