Woe to you, oh earth and sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath
Because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding
Reckon the number of the beast
For it is a human number
Its number is six-hundred and sixty-six
This spring, Iron Maiden's third album, 1982's The Number of the Beast, turns 30 years old. The nine cuts on Beast are now the stuff of metal lore, converting untold numbers into the Maiden family, while also making heads bang all over the globe.
From the opening salvo of "Invaders" until the closing death-row saga "Hallowed Be Thy Name," there is very little fat on this LP.
Obviously the two standout tracks for novices here are "The Number of the Beast" and "Run To the Hills," coming in the middle of the running time like a beefy main course. It's hard not feel like knocking a brick wall down with your bare hands while those two songs are playing.
This album also marked the debut of fourth Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who replaced Paul Di'Anno the year before. Arguably, it stands as the band's most popular gateway album. After Beast, Maiden fans scatter into so many sub-groups that it is hard to keep up.
The story of the album's genesis and recording is chronicled in an excellent episode the Classic Albums documentary series with expert interviews with the band and producer Martin Birch. If you have time, check out Birch's production credits, which put the pop-metal crunch of Beast into perspective.
Upon its release, the album's cover art drew the ire of religious pundits, who saw the devil and the beast as an affront to decency. It also makes a damned fine T-shirt too, come to think of it.
It didn't help that the songs were about war, colonialism and bloodshed when hard rock songs were still supposed to be about limos, chicks and booze.
So be sure to crank up Beast today in honor it turning the Dirty Thirty. Maiden returns to Houston August 18 at The Woodlands, and there is always hope for a handful of songs from this classic disc.
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