One year after Killers, two years after their debut comes Iron Maiden's first masterpiece, and the first album to truly gain them some notoriety, respect, and fame in the rock, metal, and wider music world. One of the most famous, popular, long-lasting, and influential metal albums of all time even some non metal fans should be familiar with one or two of the songs. Although not all of the credit can go the new vocalist Bruce Dickinson- the song writing has changed and greatly improved, Harris taking full control but letting other members have some valuable input- it is his power, style, and ability which raises the album and the band into legendary status. This cements much of the iconic imagery of both the band and the genre and became the benchmark for the thousands of imitators who have since, and will continue to come along.
`Invaders' blasts off at high speed with a dual drum and guitar attack before the new vocalist shows off his impressive lungs. Dickinson here shows a similarly pitched voice to Priest's Halford, but has a purer sound rather than the Priest frontman's shrieks. We notice immediately that the production values are higher, everything is cleaner, and there is a definite sense of newborn energy. Dickinson sings of war, battle, and Invaders attacking- nothing difficult but cementing a metal staple and doing it in style.
`Children Of The Damned' I always feel calms things down too quickly- after such a fast opener I expect a fast second song but this takes things down to a much calmer pace. Lyrically based on the book and film of the same name this sounds more like a Sabbath or slower 70's rock piece. This gives Brucie a chance to show off his vocals in a more unrestrained way as he doesn't have to compete with an insane beat.Read more ›
Number of the Beast is an album which set the benchmark for heavy metal in the 80s, and powered the genre into a new era. The addition of Bruce Dickinson's powerful vocal gymnastics took the already popular and promising Iron Maiden to another plane. The two superb singles taken from the album, 'Run to the Hills' and the title track, proved that good music didn't have to bow down to the radio-friendly consensus to sell units and smash its way into the 'pop' charts. Oh how those smug DJs must have cringed when they had to play the songs in the chart run down. Unlike many mainstream albums, the quality didn't waver beyond the singles. The record opens with 'Invaders' which hits like a locamotive out of control. The lilting intro to 'Children of the Damned' lulls the listener into a false sense of security before it explodes to a storming finale. 'The Prisoner' thunders along beneath a catchy chorus, and '22 Acacia Avenue' is an intelligent pot pourri of hard hitting riffs and rhythms. There is a slight lapse with 'Gangland', before the album closes with a masterpiece in 'Hallowed Be Thy Name'. The updated CD version of this record also includes 'Total Eclipse'. Initially released as the B-side to 'Run to the Hills', and missing from the original album, it's a great track and would have undoubtedly been on the album had CDs been around in 1982. NOTB was a ground breaking record, and still sounds as fresh and vibrant now as it did on its release, when it found its way to the number 1 spot in the UK album charts. Maiden have rarely reached such a peak in performance and writing since.
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This is the album that threw Iron Maiden into the limelight and gave them their first UK number 1 in the album charts. It set them off in a different direction to where Killers went, and although that album contained an early blueprint for the Maiden sound, here it was in all it's glory. A radical line up change in the form of Bruce Dickinson replacing Paul Di'anno (who by that time was spending too much time getting wasted) further cemented the sound and pushed the band in a more coherent direction. Although I've always liked Di'anno's husky, almost punky voice; now the band had a singer who was as capable with his voice as the rest of the band were with their instruments.
The production on the album has a lot more polish to it than the previous records, but it is a lot more uneven from a song writing point of view, mixing moments of brilliance with some sections that feel a bit rushed. The albums opener, Invaders is a good example of this. Here you have some really great riffs let down by a poor chorus and uneven verses. Bruce Dickinson does his best with the pacing but the lines seem to be a little too long for the song structure. Even so, it demonstrates Dickinson's ability to push the vocal lines into workable shape. The chorus for this song is a letdown too - it just doesn't fit over the music and feels tacked on. The later track Ganglands suffers from the same problem and they are both definitely the weakest songs on the album.
Children of the Damned, The Prisoner and 22 Acacia Avenue are all solid numbers that bring the standard back up. The first was influenced by both the films Village of the Damned and Children of the Damned; and also by the Black Sabbath song Children of the Sea.Read more ›