Artist : Iron Maiden
Album : The Number Of The Beast
Released : March 22, 1982
Metal Mofo Album Rating : 5/5 (One Of The Five Greatest Heavy Metal Albums Ever Made!)
An album that’s celebrating it’s 35th anniversary that could be released today, and still sound way ahead of it’s time. What’s even more amazing is the pressure it was made under. With the exception of maybe AC/DC’s masterpiece album “Back In Black” no other record even compares to it’s greatness just after introducing a new singer. It took guts for Steve Harris to make a move like this. True, Paul Di’Anno was no Bon Scott, but he still had become very popular in the UK, and an important figure in the “New Wave Of British Heavy Metal”. After the success of the band’s second album Killers, it seemed to be a suicidal move to replace their frontman, and lead singer. As history has proven Paul Di’Anno’s behavior was just part of the issue. Truth is that Steve Harris, knew (especially after Paul had voice issues all through the Killers tour) that the music he was writing would be difficult to achieve with Paul’s voice. He needed a singer with a much bigger and stronger vocal range.
Enter in the now legendary Bruce Dickinson who had played with another band called Samson (ironically the same band drummer Clive Burr was also once in) and heard Maiden was looking for a new singer. He auditioned in late 1981, and was hired immediately. At the time no one knew that the Steve Harris had just made the move to solidify what would become one of the greatest, most influential bands in music history. And right off the bat the band made Bruce feel welcome, even allowing him to take part in the songwriting (also the first songs written by Adrian Smith) and thought process of what their third album would become. Trouble is for Bruce is he wouldn’t be able to contribute too much, or receive songwriting credits because of legal issues with his former band.
It didn’t matter though, because the band came to the sessions with the best songs they had written up to that point. No reason to single one song out, because they are all killer, not one sign of filler anywhere. From the moment you hear the beginning of the first track “Invaders” and hear that voice, the voice of one of the greatest Metal vocalists of all time whatever reservations you had about the band letting Paul Di’Anno go are forgotten. Most Metal bands, or any band in any genre could ever even think of recording an album as solid from start to finish as “The Number Of The Beast.” Maiden was just getting started though as this record would begin one of the greatest album runs of any band or genre in music history. In the 1980’s everything “right” about Heavy Metal music was shown to us by Iron Maiden.
Turns out though not all the changes Steve wanted were complete. In a shocking move following this record Steve Harris would also decide to replace drummer Clive Burr (to this day only Steve knows the real reason why) with Nicko McBrain who is still in the band to this day. Regardless if you agree with that move or not, it surely didn’t affect the quality of the music, or the popularity of the band, which would reach superstar status just a year later. Even if you didn’t agree with the decisions Steve made, you surely couldn’t question his track record either.
All songs written and composed by Steve Harris, except where noted.
1. “Invaders” – 3:20
2. “Children of the Damned” – 4:34
3. “The Prisoner” (Adrian Smith, Harris) – 5:34
4. “22 Acacia Avenue” (Harris, Smith) – 6:34
1. “The Number of the Beast” – 4:25
2. “Run to the Hills” – 3:50
3. “Gangland” (Smith, Clive Burr) – 3:46
4. “Hallowed Be Thy Name” – 7:08