11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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. About halfway through the song though the speed picks up and we get some galloping solos- the band are clearly still keen to experiment with different shifts in tone, pace, and timing.
`The Prisoner' continues the themes of alienation and the influence of pop culture, inspired by the classic TV show. This one is again a riff heavy, fast song full of chugging power chords and dramatic delivery by Dickinson. The chorus shows the band have not only retained their ear for a catchy hook but have in fact become more experienced- there are many memorable melodies to ensure that this can be pumped from radios and speakers and get a driver, listener, or crowd to sing along to. As is to be expected the solos are furious and fit in well with the adjoining parts.
'22 Acacia Avenue', also known to some fans (me) as Banana Man continues the adventures of the Charlotte character. It opens with some atmospheric guitars and vocals before descending into a tale of debauchery and prostitution. Again the song is catchy, one to play or sing along to easily even though it lacks any discernible chorus although the `22' part can be taken as such. The band's musical ability has always been high but here, as with the rest of the album, we can see both guitarists and drummer varying things slightly from the norm as well as throwing in a few unexpected moments. The `lighters in the skies' section towards the end adds further depth and lets the story be expanded without becoming boring while the extended ending is strong.
`The Number Of The Beast' probably remains the band's most famous song, one of their most musically commercial and appealing. Opening with the infamous Barry Clayton reading of some verses from Revelation, firing through to the Dickinson scream and the huge chorus, this is every inch a classic. This is typical Maiden- a short story plot with lyrics in narrative form filled with horror movie imagery, dualing guitars, big riffs, and bigger solos. The is the type of song the band could never have played or written before Dickinson and he brings the right amount of cinematic performance to the vocals. The song is immediately catchy, funny, and with lyrics which will sink their hooks in to your memory.
`Run To The Hills' the best way to follow up your most famous song is with your second most famous. This has one of the most recognizable intros in rock/metal/music as a whole with the drums mixing in with the excellent riff. Dickinson sings of conquest and colonialism in the extended intro as if it is a tale of glory, before the beat shifts, speeds up and the lyrics become a darker vision of genocide with a fist punching chorus. The band proves here that they can more than make chart topping singles with universal appeal and the success of the album would show critics that the band were not just one trick ponies in a niche genre. Dickinson becomes a metal legend with his scream at the end, ensuring an army of imitators and fans would soon come along.
`Gangland' is one of the lesser known songs but it fires along just as frantically as everything else with drums knocking out the lingering, hanging chords. This time the lyrics cover gang warfare and the fear of death and violence among the young. Sandwiched among three famous songs this one is forgotten, musically it is fine, the chorus is catchy enough, the solos are very good, but it lacks the special moments of the tracks around it- in other words it is another solid album track.
`Hallowed Be Thy Name' is one of the band's best epic- while later songs would become much longer and progressive this one does not outstay its welcome or become lost amongst itself. The band seem to be at a peak here as every second of this has purpose and it is exactly the right length. The ominous hang man intro, the atmospheric riff coupled with the terrific melody and Dickinson's huge lunged vocals get this one off to a great start. This is followed by a second memorable riff as we kick into the next stage of the track, Dickinson screaming out the lyrics to yet another strong melody. After this we get a third classic riff before the twin guitar attack zooms between slow and fast parts. This remains a live favourite, sometimes played at a quicker pace and getting the crowd bouncing with all the air guitarists wishing they were on stage pirouetting through each riff and note. This is one of the best endings to any metal album, showcasing all the ability, imagery, and force which the band sustained from track one to the end.
With this album the band became superstars; heroes to kids around the world, enemies to worried, misunderstanding parents, and DJs freaking out about these loud, angry songs which had guitars instead of computerized beats, controversial themes, and longer than 3-minute running times. The metal world had new saviours with a band who could play loud and fast, ticked all the boxes, yet were heavily melodic too. The clichés would follow and a host of lesser bands would sprout from Maiden's sweat, there would be a few misses in their subsequent albums, but for now they were riding a deserved wave of unbridled success.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 December 2000
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.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 6 January 2013
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. You can hear the Sabbath influence fairly strongly in the music not only in the slower pace but even more so in the chorus riff. Whereas many bands take influences by just trying to emulate the sound of a band, Maiden still do it their own way and make it sound like a Maiden song. This song is also a pretty good showcase for Dickinson's vocal style, giving him plenty of room to inject it with emotion and really ring some of those notes out.
Although The Prisoner has been influenced by the 60's television show and even has Patrick McGoohan's voice from said show at the beginning, it could easily be an everyman's song for freedom. The into just helps to set the tone. This song also has a lot more balance between the vocals and music allowing Dickinson to stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the band. It's verses are nicely paced and the chorus has plenty of oomph to keep it going.
22 Acacia Avenue (not to be confused with 22 Acacia Road where childrens catoon character Bananaman lives!) is about the continuing adventures of high class (fictional?) hooker Charlotte the Harlot. Charlotte is a little messed up and is confusing clients monetary advances for genuine interest in her. She's a mess, and by the end of the song she's a heavy metal damsel in distress who needs to be rescued.
Finally, this album's holy trinity of songs (not in order): The Number of the Beast, Run to the Hills and Hallowed be thy Name. I don't know what was going down in Maiden's rehearsals and recording sessions for this album but with these three beauties all cylinders were firing and then some. Worth the price of the album alone (although is is still a pretty good whole) these three songs are what some bands spend their entire career looking for (speaking for Heavy Metal bands of course!).
There's not a lot that can be said about The Number of the Beast. A fantastic track from beginning to end. It's got one of the best riffs to be dragged out of a guitar and Dickinson is on fire (not literally of course, and definitely not hellfire either!). The scene is set by a passage from the bible read by none other than Barry Clayton, whom wikipedia informs me was the narrator from 90's cartoon Count Duckula! Vincent Price wanted too much money. Between this songs name being the title track, and the artwork of Eddie puppeteering the devil; there was no end of controversy, and a backlash of record smashing protests in America, when they toured there for this album. It's all nonsense as anyone with a quarter of a brain could glance at the albums lyrics and see the band were not devil worshipers. The had some fantastic publicity from it so I don't think the band were too put out by it. Steve Harris based it on a dream he'd had after watching Omen II and an old poem about someone stumbling upon a witches midnight gathering and getting chased away from it. Being frightened of something terrible you've stumbled upon and running away from it does not equate to devil worship!
Run to the Hills is another Maiden classic. A tale of the European colonisation of New World America and the conflict with the Native Americans. Told from both perspectives (although most of the songs perspective is the invaders) this is the Maiden gallop in full force, with Dickinson's vocals riding atop in a sonic race. Along with Beast this is just one of those songs where everything comes together and fits.
The album's closer is the very fitting, but also very grim, Hallowed Be Thy Name. A very dark song even by Maidens standards that gives us the final moments of someone waiting to be hung for some unnamed crime. I think it's a deliberate move on Harris's part that he does not make it clear if the person being hung is innocent or not. As the condemned is led to his end he has many thoughts about where his life is at and what will happen when he's gone. I cannot overstate the amount of atmosphere this song has. From the grim tolling bell over the intro along with Dickinson's eerie, whispered vocals, you could almost be transported to a time and place where these events are occurring. You'll wonder what this person is accused of, weather or not he's guilty and how the hell Dickinson keeps the Running Loooooooooooooooooow going without as much as a warble in his voice.
Black Sabbath may have been the catalyst to bring Heavy Metal into the world. They may have owned the heavy sounds of the late 60's and the 70's. But Iron Maiden took the reigns in the 80's and bar a few wobbles they still have it now. The Number of the Beast is a classic album, even if it is a little uneven; the good songs on it elevate it to greatness.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2007
This is the first album with Bruce Dickinson (the Great?) as singer for Iron Maiden, and wow does he make an impression?! You can tell his influence in the songwriting as well as his completely different style of singing to Di'anno. This album is one of their best, though it's hard to say which is the best. I think that this one hosts Bruce Dickinson's best singing, however some of the songs seem a little tedious.
Since all the songs are completely different you can't properly judge the album as one so here's the songs:
1. Invaders - Not great lyrics, not great music, but it's loud, fast and played well, with excellent singing. 7/10
2. Children of the Damned - My favourite on the album other than the three really phenomenal ones. I just love the guitar fill after each line of "Children of the Damned". 9/10
3. The Prisoner - A good riff and good lyrics, performed brilliantly. I think it's a little overrated by some though. 8/10
4. 22 Acacia Avenue - Nice fast track, and an interesting listen, however obscene in places! I think it's a little long though. 8/10
5. The Number of the Beast - A classic title track and my favourite from the album. Great vocals from Bruce with that high pitched scream after verse 1. 10/10
6. Run to the Hills - I always think this track is overrated, but it is still good, with a great galloping bass line. 10/10
7. Gangland - Fast and furious but not my favourite. 7/10
8. Total Eclipse - A filler track in my opinion, a waste of 4.28 of your life to listen to quite frankly. 3/10
9. Hallowed Be Thy Name - Second only to The Number of the Beast. A great guitar riff, great vocals and great lyrics. 10/10
On a whole this is one of Maiden's better albums, on a par with Powerslave and Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. Also i think they've put random track times on the back (22 Acacia Avenue it says is 4.49 when it's actually over 6, as well as Number of the Beast which it says is 3.50 when it's near 5 minutes).
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 30 January 2005
I own nearly all the Maiden CDs, and this one still stands out as one of my favourites. Over the band's history of albums (is it 23 now?) this is definitely one of, if not, the best.
Now, in the classic words of stephen_armstrong_sa, whoever you are:
Track by track analysis? Why thank you.
(there, i gave you credit, so don't sue me)
Invaders: Strangely viewed as filler by a great deal as fans, but for me it's a classic play-me-loud brainless heavy metal tune. And that's no bad thing. 8/10
Children of the Damned: Brilliant riff throughout, and haunting lyrics from brucey. A tune brilliantly written and composed, stands out on the album. 8.5/10
The Prisoner: What other band could do a song based on an old show from the 60s and make it actually worth listening to? Probably quite a few bands, but maiden do it better. 9/10
22 Acacia Avenue: Another great song, even if it did kinda freak me out a bit at first. Packed with atmosphere and outstanding guitar work throughout. 8/10
Number of the Beast: Hooray! The famous title track doesnt fail to deliver. From the legendary words of the passage read at the start to the blistering solos (and everything in between), this is one of the best songs maiden ever wrote. 10/10
Run to the Hills: Another amazing song here. The simple but oh-so-effective riff at the start leaves other bands wondering why they didnt think of it first, and the pounding chorus is just amazing at max volume! Hilarious video, too. 10/10
Gangland: Well, after the last two songs, it would be nearly impossible to create something worthy of following after. Not to say this is a bad track, but it just seems a bit poor in comparison, that's all. 7.5/10
Total Eclipse: The only song on the album that went thru one ear and out the other when i listened to it. Give it a chance - it may not be able to stand up to the classic anthems a bit earlier on, but it's still quite good... 7/10
Hallowed be thy name: That's more like it! An explosive 7 minute finale to the CD. Mind-blowing twin guitar work from Dave and Adrian, and Bruce's voice can't be topped. How can anyone hold their breath for that long?! 10/10
Overall, this is a landmark offering from the band we all know and love. Or if you're a new fan, you will know and love them after this. Excellent bassage from the mighty Steve Harris and awesome guitars make for an energetic performance from start to finish. Bruce's introduction into the fold gives the band almost a different identity, but its a good direction to be going in. The signs are clear: buy this now!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 19 April 2001
Bruce Dickinson, one of the finest vocalists to ever grace music. And his debut for Iron Maiden? The Number of the Beast, one of the finest albums to ever grace music. This album never ceases to impress, from the title track to Hallowed Be Thy Name, everything about this album screams, "We are the best at what we do, and we're going to prove it". This was the turning point in Iron Maiden's history that really made sure they were going to make a mark on the world. The greatest metal album ever? No. The greatest Iron Maiden album? No. The greatest metal album of its time? Definitely. And the best was still to come.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2006
Iron maiden are one of the best heavy metal bands out there. After owning this albulm and listening to to it a lot i can see why it was voted one of the best ever heavy metal albums. It openes with the fast and furiors invaders which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Some of the true classis are 22 acacia avenue, number of the beast and run to the hills. The last thing i have to say is how good Hallowed by thy name is. It is one of the best songs ever written and has so much emotion in.
I hope you do decied to buy this album because if you like heavy metal you we like this.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 22 July 2010
One of the greatest heavy metal albums ever. However, if you own a decent Hi-fi system you'll notice the utter lack of dynamics and huge noise of the mastering. I analysed the songs using Audacity for Mac OSX and discovered that the compression levels used are beyond belief. It won't be noticeable if you listen to it in your car or if you rip it to your iPod. It will, in fact, sound "loud" and "detailed". If however you seek realism in your music and play it with some serious Stereo system - Stay away.
I fully regret having purchased this album. "Enhanced" is marketing garbage.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2000
THE classic metal album, if this album wasn't released, there would be no Metallica, no Slayer, no Korn, Deftones, Slipknot, need I go on? This was Bruce Dickinsons first and best album with the band. It has it's share of classic heavy metal characteristics, duelling lead guitars, soaring vocals, mock satanic lyrics, ah... I can feel the mullet growing as I speak. The album is practically perfect, "Gangland" and "Invaders" are maybe slightly iffy but good nevertheless. The real words must go out to the classics though; "Number of the Beast", "Run to the Hills", "Hallowed be They Name" and "The Prisoner". "Number of the Beast" is full of mock satanic lyrics, "Run to the Hills" chronicles the plight of the North American Indians, "Hallowed be thy Name" is the harrowing story of a man on death row and "The Prisoner" is, well about a prisoner. All of these are Bona Fide classics of the heavy metal genre. Bruce Dickinson's voice is perfectly suited to the job and you must wonder where Maiden would be if they had never recruited him. If you have any taste in metal whatsoever, you should be the proud owner of this colossus, although only eight tracks long, it more than satisfies.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2004
From start to finish, this album is bursting with metal classicness. It'sone of the defining moments of the genre - music for music's sake, withimage only thrown in for fun - and has certainly been incrediblyinfluential.
Several tracks to note:
Children Of The Damned - a grower, starting slow but with powerful lyricsand a great finish.
The Number Of The Beast - once again the only word is classic. With thewell-known intro, great solo and Bruce Dickinson's scream, coupled withtongue-in-cheek lyrics and playing, this track just about sums Maidenup.
Run To The Hills - one of their best known tracks; it broke Americafor them. Timeless chorus, lyrics which can be interpreted every which way(Americanisation of Britain anyone?) and Bruce once again showing hisworth.
Hallowed Be Thy Name - reckoned by many to be Iron Maiden's best track.Steve Harris was on top form when he wrote this one, and it shows. Justhas to be heard live to be properly experienced.
All in all, a hugely fun album with some excellent moments. For me itremains Maiden's best to date, and they'll have to work hard to top it.I'd reccomend it to anyone with even the slightest curiosity.