IRON MAIDEN – The Number Of The Beast

IRON MAIDEN - The Number Of The Beast


Columbia Records/EMI
Release date: February 12, 1982

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“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.”

March 12th, 1982, Iron Maiden literally changed the history of music with their album The Number Of The Beast. The album introduced Bruce Dickinson, former vocalist of Samson, as Paul Di’Anno’s replacement. Bruce’s much more theatrical stage performance and awe striking vocal range were key elements in propelling Iron Maiden to the top.

The albums cover art, depicting Eddie, Iron Maiden’s mascot, as the Devil’s puppeteer, combined with the album title made several religious groups enter hysteria, claiming the band were Devil-worshipers, spreading Satanic propaganda. In fact, the title track is about a nightmare Steve Harris had once. With Steve’s nightmares not being newsworthy, the media hungrily threw themselves on the Devil-worshiper horse, and gave the band tons of extra publicity wherever they went for the Beast On The Road tour. These allegations climaxed at the end of 1982, when a young Metalhead sacrificed his friend before committing suicide, clinging a note with a passage from “Hallowed Be Thy Name” in his hand.

The album starts off with “Invaders,” a very strong opening track for any Metal album. This high-tempo song tells the tale about a Viking invasion. Actually, the song is an extended version of “Invasion,” a B-side track from the Women In Uniform single (1980).

Next out is “Children of the Damned,” which might be as close to an Iron Maiden ballad as they get. Inspired by the 1963 film carrying the same title, the song has a grand feel about it, and is one of the band’s most impressive songs to date. A perfect live song with great sing-along parts, this has been on many a set list since it’s release.

Following “Children of the Damned” you’ll find “The Prisoner,” a song based on the cult TV-series by the same name. The song features fast-paced, heavy guitar riffs combined with a compelling drumbeat and a chorus that sticks in your brain. The guitar solos on this song are indeed excellent!

Carrying on the saga of “Charlotte the Harlot,” “22 Acacia Avenue” is actually an Adrian Smith song from before he joined Iron Maiden. A true Iron Maiden classic, this song is built up by several totally different parts, which are masterfully put together. Definitely one of the most memorable tracks on the entire album!

The title-track opens with probably the best known bible quotation in the history of Heavy Metal, followed by the guitar riff that was, without a doubt, what most teenage guitarists were copying in their bedroom after school that year. Bruce impresses with a characteristic scream, which made those who preferred Paul Di’Anno’s style give him the nickname ”Air Raid Siren.”

Galloping on like wild horses, “Run To The Hills” instantly became an Iron Maiden classic. It was released on February 12, 1982, as the first single from the album. It turned out to become Maiden’s first big-hit single, climbing as high as 7th place in the UK charts. With all the typical elements of an Iron Maiden song, it quickly became one of the fans’ all-time favorites, and is still included in almost every set list.

“Gangland” is one of the two songs Clive Burr was ever credited for writing. Probably the most interesting thing about this song is the fact that the band had to choose between this and “Total Eclipse” (the other song credited to Clive) for the original album (they are both included on the 1997 re-release of the CD). “Total Eclipse” ended up on the B-side of the Run To The Hills single, and is one of the darkest and heaviest songs in Iron Maiden’s history.

The album is finished off with its strongest track: “Hallowed Be Thy Name.” This classic song tells of the last thoughts of a man with only a few hours left to live, from feelings of regret to hopes of returning. An absolutely brilliant song that makes the crowds go nuts when played live. Many Iron Maiden fans would argue that this is the best song ever written!

With The Number of the Beast, Iron Maiden managed to keep their existing fans even while replacing their frontman, as well as dramatically extending their fanbase. With Paul Di’Anno’s Punk influence out of the picture, and Bruce’s vocal abilities, the band entered a new era when they would become the biggest Heavy Metal band on the planet. The conclusion is simple: No collection of Metal music is complete without The Number of the Beast!


  • Pål Johansen

    Pål was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, based out of Klokkarvik, just outside Bergen, Norway. Growing up in a rainy place like this can get anyone addicted to music. Listening to Iron Maiden, Helloween, and AC/DC made him pick up the guitar back in the days, and so Metal has been a huge part of him ever since.  

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