If you haven’t read my review for Iron Maiden’s last studio album with Paul Di’Anno, Killers (1981), feel free to check that out! For now, we are moving onto the band’s next album and it’s a big one, The Number of the Beast (1982); it marks the first album with vocalist Bruce Dickinson and the last with drummer Clive Burr. With all that said, let’s get on with the music!
“Invaders” set the album off on a high note and I loved the lyrics. “Severed limbs and fatal woundings / Bloody corpses lay all around / The smell of death and burning flesh / The battle weary fight to the end.” Doesn’t that sound so bada**? Just don’t set the volume up too high (unless you want to); the intro almost gave me a heart attack! After the fast-paced “Invaders,” “Children of the Damned” slows it down a bit (for the first half of the song at least). It’s not horrible, but part of me wonders how the track would’ve turned out if it was mid-tempo the entire time because I liked the drum fills Burr did in-between, the noticeable bass riff, and Dickinson’s operatic chops when he sang “children of the daaaaammmmnnneeeeeddd.”
What’s interesting is that despite all the chaos going on in “The Prisoner,” I can still hear the bass; I never thought I’d say that before because I have bad ears for bass players. I love the higher key change in the chorus and how the lyrics can be interpreted to fit any scenario whether it’d be a suffocating relationship or the horrors of high school. “22 Acacia Avenue” is the second song in the “Charlotte the Harlot” saga, and unlike the previous short and straight-forward track from the first album, this track was six and a half minutes! So at times, it got pretty boring with the instrumental sections, but I loved the moody guitars in-between and the subtle bass riff throughout the track. The lyrics are a bit controversial (“Caress her, molest her, she always does what you want”), but then again, they’re singing about a prostitute, so what did you expect?
I had “The Number of the Beast” on my rock playlist back in 2018 after hearing it on a music reaction YouTube channel, and I’ve taken it on and off a billion times since then, until last year, I gave up and took that song off my rock playlist for good. I got sick of it, and honestly, I’ve heard better Maiden tracks than “The Number of the Beast;” maybe it’s because it’s overplayed, but I don’t like it one bit. Where are the chaotic guitar parts and flavorful drum fills? Nothing! If you’ve read my 10 Overplayed Songs From Bands I Like post, you’d know that I hate “Run to the Hills.” The intro is cool with the stomping kick drum and cool guitar riff, but the chorus is so dang annoying; the verses are actually stronger than the chorus.
Finally the loud and chaotic guitar parts return on “Gangland.” Remember, when I say chaotic, I don’t mean that in a bad way. They are orchestrated guitar parts like I mentioned in my first two Maiden album reviews, but there’s so much going on that it feels like your heart could explode any minute, which I find fascinating. I love Burr’s hi-hat keeping time throughout the track; that’s the closest thing he’ll get as a human metronome. Of course, I love the vicious lyrics too: “A knife at your throat, another body on the pile / A contract to keep and it’s service with a smile / Murder for vengeance or murder for gain / Death on the streets or a blacked out jail.”
I remember hearing “Hallowed Be Thy Name” on the same music reaction YouTube channel mentioned above a couple of years ago and was shook to the core. I was like, “what the heck is this?” with the bell and gladiator-like intro, then the singer finished the line, “The sands of time for me are running looooowwww,” and the tempo picked up and was like, “alright, I can headbang to this.” I don’t love it as much as I used to because the instrumental sections can be annoying at times, but for the memories, I still enjoy it and I assume it sounds better live. The guitars are very melodic and it sounds really commercial, maybe it’s because it’s one of the band’s biggest “hits,” but you can’t deny the greatness of “Hallowed Be Thy Name.”
I didn’t want to rate this album so high because of how popular The Number of the Beast is, but honestly, I dig this record a lot. The title track and “Run to the Hills” bug the heck out of me, but great tracks like “The Prisoner” and “Gangland” make up for them. For Burr’s last record with Iron Maiden, his drumming is amazing on this record because of those fills; not too busy, but just enough flavor. For Dickinson’s first record with the band, he sang brilliantly like he was the perfect vocalist for Maiden (fight me on that)! I loved that I was able to hear Steve Harris’ bass because for Maiden’s complicated pieces, that’s quite an accomplishment. The same old, same old, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith were brilliant; this album was definitely less raw and more melodic to a sense, and it sure reflected in the guys’ playing. I’d give The Number of the Beast a 4.5 out of 5 stars!
Comment below your favorite song from Iron Maiden’s The Number of the Beast album!
Take care and see ya real soon!