[There’s often more behind the discovery of an album than just the music. Here’s S. Ziggy Zagami’s review of Iron Maiden’s epic album ‘The Number Of The Beast’. If you would like to share your One album – One story, we’d love to post it.]
Review by By S. Ziggy Zagami.
You are encouraged to start reading this review by listening to the following track:
The Number Of The Beast
Yeah it’s old, “The Number of the Beast” being the third album released by Iron Maiden in early 1982. Maybe you’ve heard it, maybe you’re familiar with it, maybe it reminds you of being young and carefree, maybe it reminds you of a period in your life you’d rather forget or just maybe you’ve never heard it or even considered it. Iron Maiden’s name is synonymous with rock n’ roll, some would probably even consider them gods or pioneers of heavy metal. They were huge proponents of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal alongside the likes of Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin. Indeed, they are still huge, and are currently flying around the world in their private 747 jumbo-jet “Ed Force One” on their world tour “Somewhere Back in Time” which began in February 2008 and is continuing until March 2009.
“The Number of the Beast” was released in March 1982 (making it a year older than me). Although the album was critically panned, Rolling Stone remarked that this album “blusters along aimlessly, proving again that bad music is hell”. The album enjoyed commercial success, going platinum in the U.S. The famous single “The Number of the Beast” got the band wrongly accused of being satanic. While the lyrics do talk about practices of Satanism, they do not really advocate listeners to be satanic or suggest that the band themselves are satanic followers, nor is the theme a recurring one on the album. When producing this album, Iron Maiden seemed to be inspired by films, books, poems, TV and other music, and these themes are more recurrent than Satanism. Iron Maiden are definitely a theatrical band and this is evident in “The Number of the Beast”. However, if you put the corniness of the lyrics aside and just give yourself over to this show-stopping tune, most likely you will be dancing around like an idiot and screaming at the top of your register. Another big tune from this album is
Run to the Hills
which is possibly one of their biggest and is still being used to close their performances. However, my favorite song on this album at the moment is the closing track
Hallowed Be Thy Name
This song is another of their famous tracks that make this a classic album. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” is a true closing track, like they used to be done – it is the most epic, and the longest track on the album. But it’s not the length that pulls you into it. No, it’s the sheer grandiosity of the lead guitar that grips you at the very core of your emotions and keeps you engaged long after the track has finished. Other notable songs on this album are “22 Acacia Avenue”, the second part in the “Charlotte the Harlot” saga,
which was inspired by the British television show of the same name and includes dialogue from the show in its intro, and which is clearly referencing the horror movie.
Iron Maiden have been releasing music since 1978, their latest release being “A Matter of Life and Death” in 2006, and are planning on releasing their 15th album some time in 2009. They have sold more than 70 million albums worldwide, and their sales are undoubtedly only going to continue to increase considering you can pretty much find any of their albums selling for only $10 at the moment, due to somewhat of a revival of old school rock music. Their achievements are too numerous to list them all.
So why did I review “The Number of the Beast”? Well, I have previously said that I suffer from somewhat of a short attention span. I flirt from one style of music to the next, my musical taste inextricably tied to my moods and I’m up and down like a yo-yo. It was in May 2008 when I found Iron Maiden. I was working night shoots on a Bollywood film in Melbourne. It was a slow night so I was cleaning lighting stands with another guy and someone put on Iron Maiden. I wasn’t familiar with the band, but when I heard them I immediately fell in love. Listening to them even made the tedious task of cleaning light stands in the cold somewhat enjoyable. Suddenly I was reminiscing about my childhood. I used to love heavy metal – it’s loud, it’s big, it’s bold, it’s brash. Most of all it’s fun – from the all out assault of drums, to the driving bass lines. From the simple riffing grooves of rhythm guitar, to the powerful emotion of the more complex lead guitar. And then of course there is the singer who is often over the top, with cheesy lyrics and falsetto squeals. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I had never explored the genre to its fullest back when I was twelve, although it was likely because I moved on to something else pretty quickly. The next day I bought an album called “The Number of the Beast” because it had some of their most famous singles.
While some may think this music is tired and old, and I admit it is hard to describe differences between songs, I only recently discovered this album and I truly find it invigorating. I feel the best way to describe how individual songs differ on a rock album like this is by varying intensities of energy. And this album on the whole gives me a real pick me up. So if you haven’t heard give it a try, it’s a classic. If you haven’t listened to it in a while give it a fresh listen. And when you listen to it, abandon your inhibitions and give yourself over and have fun. If you have listened to this album and don’t like it, get over it, cheer up.
Don’t take life so seriously, don’t take music so seriously. Have fun.