A YEAR IN MUSIC: IRON MAIDEN – The Number of the Beast (1982)

Review by: Victor Guimarães

It is widely known the importance of the eighties to music, specially to rock music. Ok, it was the age of the synthesizers, new age and electro-music, but also the decade who gave a great name to modern metal. Yeah, I know metal is from before the 80s with some heavier songs here and there and great bands already in the 70s, such as Led Zeppelin (which while one can argue about the metal label, they’ve been truly influential to the genre, one of its biggest progenitors), Black Sabbath and Judas Priest (those two are indeed metal), among others. The (arguably) loudest, most distorted and meanest derivation of rock music, metal was, in the 80s, getting independent from its blues and psychedelic origins while also drinking from the same cup as the punk movement. Those influences helped to create a new kind of intensity, fast and aggressive, which gave birth to the widely known and loved New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM, for short), a movement whose most expressive and famous band is Iron Maiden.

The Number of the Beast is Maiden’s third album, the first to feature vocalist Bruce Dickinson and a milestone for the band, as its commercial and critical success made the british headbangers soar as much as any metal band before them could. It was so famous that contributed for opening the market for the genre and spreading the movement around the world, inspiring other great names, such as Helloween and Metallica. And while the album’s name, cover art and some of the lyrics inspired some rumors about the band being satanic (which was corroborated by some strange incidentes that happened while the band was recording), the inspiration for it was a nightmare bass player Steve Harris had after watching the film ‘The Omen’ (1976). A motion picture I’d recommend myself.

The record is remembered by Dickinson remarkable vocals, bringing Maiden music to a new dimension, and by maintaining the amazing instrumental level the band displayed in their two previous works: creative, catchy, talented guitar solos, captivating, rising drums and a strong, ever-present bass. Now, add that instrumental raw talent with great songwriting, clever melodies, riffs, bridges and choruses, all composed to draw the best these inspired musicians could do. Apart from all those compliments, The Number of the Beast is not without flaws as some songs can be a bit repetitive sometimes and the lyricism is quite simple, contemplating themes such as war and battles, desperation from facing death or the supernatural, and even contemplating the events around a brothel. For the tracks, the spotlight shines on Hallowed Be Thy Name, Run To The Hills and the title track, The Number Of The Beast.

A major success and undeniably famous – it’s the reason why the band is also sometimes referred as “The Beast” – the album was the kickstart to Iron Maiden’s legacy, which continues to this day. The year 1982 was way before my birth, and thus, I came to this work of art more than 20 years of its release. It might not be the best album of that year, or even Iron Maiden’s best album, but, for me, it was a priceless experience to listen to The Number of the Beast, a classic of heavy metal that has been linking generations of old and young, experienced and rookie metalheads (and other music lovers) through time. 

An experience I’d like to pass on. Hope you get the link as well.

Author: tomymostalas


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