The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast is probably the Iron Maiden album I overlook the most that still has Bruce on Vocals (I am forever ignoring the Diano and Bailey albums, having barely ever given them a proper chance) and if I were to arange all the Bruce era albums in a row from best to worst I’d put this album as worst every time. Not because of any flaw on this album’s part but simply because every other Bruce era Maiden album just ‘does it for me,’ a little more.
This coupled with the fact that I never liked the title track as a teenager because of a knee jerk hatred of the red pyjamas satans in the music video and that ‘Run To The Hills,’ got overplayed make me overlook this album all the time.
I recently watched the Classic Albums series episode about it and completely had my mind turned around, because I was reminded of the rest of the album. Prior to watching this my opinion of the album had been: ”Invaders,’ is cool but with a bad chorus, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ is utter genious and the rest is unmemeorably mush.’
The problem is very much tied in with my ‘memory thumbnails,’ issue, in that I assosciate the songs on this with one particular four second section that is entirely unrepresentitive of the song as a whole, and based on that small chrous line or riff will dismiss the song as something I don’t like.
So when I heard the cool bass drum pattern at the start of ‘The Prisoner,’ (or indeed the very heavy ‘Run… Fight!,’ section) I realsied that it was a fantastic tune, I just don’t like the overly shimmery four seconds when Bruce sings ‘I’m a Free Man,’ during the chorus, which is the only part of the song that is anything like that.
The guitar solo of the song is fantastic and very unique for a Maiden song, sounding totally different to any solo section they’ve ever done and I have been missing out on it for about six years because I think the song is all wishy washy like the chorus, a chorus which makes up very little of the song at all.
This is representitive of my experience with the album as a whole, the ‘Beat Her, Mistreat Her !’ section to ’22 Accacia Avenue,’ is probably one of my favourite sections in music, period. I had been ignoring this song because of the prostitute lyrics, completly forgetting about all the Powerslave sounding material after the first minute. I’d go as far as to say that this song is now one of my Top Ten Favourite Maiden tunes alonside the likes of ‘Where Eagles Dare,’ ‘Rhime of the Ancient Mariner,’ and ‘Paschendale.’
‘Children of The Damned,’ is prett great too and I suppose the only reason it slipped from my mind was that the song ‘Revelations,’ does a similar job but is a little more memorable because of its lyrics. ‘Children of the Damned,’ is well worth remembering however and re-listening to it has definitely loosened it from the cluster of similar memories formed at the same time in my mind and helped it rightfully get filed under its own entry in my horrible, unintuitive brain filing system.
This re-listening also reaffirmed my love of ‘Invaders,’ and the best song on the album, ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ which are both just as good as I remember if not better. I will freely admit that ‘Invaders,’ has a silly chorus which spoils the momentum but the verses are practically Thrash and I’ve always enjoyed it as a whole.
I have also come around to liking the title track, which was always one of the biggest draw backs of the album in my mind, but once again the actual song is very different than the music video and eight odd seconds of music I had been judging it on. With ‘Run To The Hills,’ there is no quality gap to overcome, just that it was played all the time and I childishly resented it for that when I was a teenager, but have no such problems now, it is just a good song, with a real fun intro and a cracking guitar solo section.
Of the two songs I had forgotten alltogether, ‘Ganglands,’ and bonus track ‘Total Eclipse,’ both are OK and definitely have some merit like the the twin guitar section in ‘Ganglands,’ which reminds me of Lions and the fast section which is a little bit similar to album opener ‘Invaders,’ (and similarly thwarted by a momentum spoiling chorus) and ‘Total Eclipse,’ has a very good intro, the riff which follows sounding very Judas Priest which I enjoy a lot more these days; it is surprising that the song wasn’t included on the origional album, it is in the same vien and of the same quality as all the others and fits the album well. If one of the two tracks was destined to a B-side it is really more ‘Ganglands,’ that fits that position, especially considering the big ending three minutes into ‘Total Eclipse,’ just before they reprise the intro.
Overall, this album is a heck of a lot better than I remember it, it seems to be one of the worst victims of innapropriate memory thumbnails I have thus far encountered, with two ‘Bad Songs,’ revealing themselves to be utterly brilliant with one weird bit that sounds poor in isolation.
That and I underestimated just how much the album is elevated for having ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name,’ on it; which I’d just like to point out one last time, is beyond great.