Iron Maiden has had more than three decades to establish themselves as one of the most influential Heavy Metal bands in music history. Thirty years ago this year, in 1982, the band released a brilliant album ominously titled “The Number of the Beast.” This album is legendary for its musicianship and composition and upon listening could easily be named Iron Maiden’s best effort. Furthermore, it could arguably be nominated as one of the best heavy metal albums ever made.
With that being said, I think this album is a great place to start for those unfamiliar with the band’s work. The tracks are all strong and brilliantly capture the energy and intensity of the musical genre. The title track “The Number of the Beast” is a haunting five-minute experience into the depths of heavy metal music that is simultaneously pure evil energy and glorious as it encapsulates the ethos, imagery and sounds evident in countless bands less successful emulations. If you don’t believe me check this verse out:
I’m coming back, I will return
And I’ll possess your body, and I’ll make you burn
I have the fire, I have the force
I have the power to make my evil take its course
The next step is to have this experience with the dueling guitars of Steve Harris and Adrian Smith, the relentless bass lines of Dave Murray driven by the skillful drumming of Clive Burr. However, the powerful operatic vocals of Bruce Dickinson’s debut marks this and many of the other tracks as a milestone in the history of heavy metal music.
In my view, Iron Maiden really peaked in the late 1980s with the release of “Somewhere in Time” and “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.“ Afterwards, the band has shown only occasional flashes of recapturing its earlier efforts. But Number of the Beast is notable as it was the first album fronted by Dickinson and although it stands strong on its own, foreshadowed much of the musical exploration the band was to undertake in the following years.
For example, “Run to the Hills” is the first of the historically inclined Maiden songs that captures the mind as well as the listener’s ears. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is a heavy metal epic that Maiden developed to perfection over the past three decades.
There is not a weak effort on this album and most of the tracks are mid to fast tempo tracks that capture the energy and intensity of this unique and important effort. Iron Maiden is truly one of the most important progenitors of heavy metal and this album is still relevant 30 years later.