The Number Of The Beast

Number of the Beast

Iron Maiden (1982)

Many groups in the 80s took a page from both Alice Cooper and Yes – they wanted to shock and entertain, but they also wanted complex theatrics. As a result, they roughly blended those two styles into a cartoonish, but popular style that became its own movement (best known as NWOBHM, or the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal).

This is especially significant because even then, in 1982, most musical breakthroughs were increasingly derivative of past performers. I listed two such groups above and basically described the blueprints of this entire genre. Over time, these distinctions would shrink and shrink and eventually become meaningless, leading to a strange paradox in the 90s where no matter how self-consciously diverse and “experimental” a band would get, they were still just rehashing the past, lost in a sea of contemporaries doing the same thing in a slightly different vein.

BUT, in the early 80s, things still seemed fresh. Iron Maiden played a vivacious, simple and crowd-friendly strain of NWOBHM, with faint overtones of violence, sexuality and psychotic behavior. They were especially well-known for their iconic album covers, featuring their undead mascot “Eddie”. The guitars were flashy, the rhythms were simple, the vocals were screechy and melodic, and good times were had by all. Or so I’m told. I find nothing horribly wrong with this record, but there’s nothing especially great about it either (besides the excellent title track). I don’t really care about it one way or the other. However, I can’t deny that it’s relatively important.

Key track: “Run To the Hills”

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