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Dream Theater - The Number Of The Beast CD (album) cover

THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

2.76 | 79 ratings

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Petrovsk Mizinski
Prog Reviewer
2 stars I never thought the original Number Of The Beast album was a particularly well written one in the pre-Blaze Bayley of Iron Maiden albums, with Iron Maiden, Powerslave, Piece Of Mind, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son and Somewhere In Time being much stronger and more consistently well written albums.

So given this, I wonder why Dream Theater chose this album. It was of course, the landmark album which saw the introduction of legendary vocalist Bruce Dickinson to the band, made Iron Maiden more well known on the heavy metal scene in the early 80s, and was also more controversial than the first two Maiden albums. Perhaps these are some of the reason for Dream Theater picking this album to cover, but I still wonder why they didn't pick a more challenging and more progressive ( I use the term fairly loosely though) album like Powerslave or Somewhere in Time or perhaps even Iron Maiden's self titled debut.

Dream Theater of course had much thrash metal influence in their sound, but of course there were also elements of more classic metal peering into their sound from time to time too. In the rehearsal rooms at the Boston Berkeley College of Music, John Petrucci, John Myung and Mike Pornoy regularly played cover versions of Iron Maiden songs, so no doubt Iron Maiden shaped the sound of Dream Theater to come.

Onto the album itself. It was recorded during an international tour in 2002 and released on February the 2nd, 2005 (although according to the PA database, sometime in 2003, so perhaps there is a mix up of sources).

Number of the Beast was an album featuring two guitarist. Here we have just one, John Petrucci, with Jordan Rudess on keyboards filling the space of what would be the second guitarist's role. This is not a formula that can work well in all musical contexts, and particularly on this cover album, it proved to be quite hit and miss. Dream Theater's rendition of Invaders is fairly forgettable, in no way helped out by me not being a big fan of the original song. LaBrie's vocals, just sound a bit off and perhaps a bit weird for this really. Where the original solo was based around the far less developed technique of the Iron Maiden guitarists, here Petrucci unleashes a series of fast and furious alternate picked runs, and consequently somewhat less bluesy/pentatonic rock sounding.

Children Of the Damned worked out quite well actually. the vocals still aren't spot on by any stretch of the imagination, but aren't terrible by any means either. The Piano keyboard sound led opening by Rudess was surprisingly good, and his piano sound throughout was just quite nice. The harmonized solo with Petrucci and Rudess was lovely, with the hamonized arpeggio section sounding much better than expected. I have to say though, LaBrie's operatic last words Children of the Damneddddddddddddddddddd! was a bit comical to listen to.

The Prisoner, was pretty uninspiring to listen to unfortunately, although skip the solo reveals some nice playing from Rudess and Petrucci, with soloing based partly on what the originals sounded like, and again, expanding upon them with their own more virtuosic style, and never sounding over the top. Good work there.

22 Acacia Avenue, not bad, but nothing remarkable either. Nice bluesy solo from Petrucci, but really nothing else there that sticks out as amazing.

For some reason, I like James LaBrie's singing a fair bit more on Run To The Hills. He did it more justice and it felt a little less forced too. You can also really make out John Myung's bass in the mix, much appreciated too.

Gangland was well, quite a shock perhaps. It was remarkable different to the original song. It was..... groovy, funky perhaps, no doubt aided by the Piano sounds of Rudess' keyboard. It was cool, it was really was. There was some really impressive keyboard work on this, very soulful and touching, as well as a great guitar solos. This rendition is a fair bit longer than the original (the original being 3:49) at 6:30, and features more written parts, and dare I say, those parts are rather creative and make for something that sounds truly unique for something on a cover album, really highlighting Dream Theater's own creative take on the album. Even when the song gets a bit heavier, the tempo is still a fair bit slower than the original too, adding to the unique vibe. Some people may really hate this rendition and that's perfectly understandable. I absolutely love and admire what Dream Theater did to make it truly their own, as much of a risky experiment these things sometimes prove too be.

Of note, is the absence of Eclipse, but I'm not particularly bothered since it was never a song I cared for much anyway. Hallowed Be Thy Name was fairly good, if not quite excellent. Again, La Brie's vocals are a bit off, but not a surprise either. Petrucci's solo, was blistering, and very effective too, Rudess' solo, no so much unfortunately. The album ends with LaBrie thanking the Parisian crowd, where the album was recorded obviously.

Overall, a hit and miss affair, more miss than hit. There was a annoying over compressed and squashed sound to the overall mix of the sound, which detracted from the overall experience too. This is definitely not something that is essential to a prog collection, but fans of Iron Maiden and Dream Theater might find this work interesting enough to justify owning it.

Petrovsk Mizinski | 2/5 |

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