What hasn’t been said about this album before?
That’s one of the main questions that went through my head as I listened to this album again. Am I going to say anything that hasn’t been said before? Will my opinion be what it may be like many others or will it be fair? To be fair, and completely honest, I don’t listen to Iron Maiden all that much nowadays, only if ever a new album comes out, which then it’ll be only be listened to for a couple of weeks.
I wanted to go back and revisit a classic, see if my mind had changed, to see if I still liked it. In the beginning I wasn’t an Iron Maiden fan and after seeing “Can I Play With Madness” from Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son I thought that they sounded a little cheesy, given that I was only used to death metal vocals.
However, after learning about the song from this album “The Prisoner” (I was just beginning to watch the show at the time and I was totally hooked) so I decided to give this album a chance. It’s strange really that, because of a TV show, my resilience went down quite a bit.
Still, The Prisoner itself is still, to this day, such an intriguing, fascinating and bewildering show. Totally ahead of its time and I feel that it was perfect for that time.
Revisiting the album, my mind still goes towards that “ah, this is all cheese” expression but, at the same, some of it I love. Every genre of metal has the one ‘cheesy’ band and Iron Maiden were perfect for that. The whole flow and bounce of the opening track “Invaders”, followed by “Children Of The Damned”, “The Prisoner” and “22 Acacia Avenue”.
I really like how “The Prisoner” uses a sample from the show at the beginning and really how the song’s lyrics are based on the show:
“Not a prisoner I’m a free man
And my blood is my own now
Don’t care where the past was
I know where I’m going …out!”
This is all very well and good to this point, although I feel that it’s really the second half – or the second side, if you’re a LP purist like myself – where the album really smashes you in the face.
“The Number Of The Beast” is undoubtedly one of the best songs Iron Maiden have ever produced – worthy enough for you millennials and your ‘Spotify playlists’ – and I feel that it perfectly stylizes the whole ’80’s Iron Maiden era’. The song itself has the perfect opening of bass, guitar and vocals before that legendary scream with the drums, and then it starts. For me, this is the ultimate defining track of their career so far. Legendary.
“Gangland” is a song that has the same bounce of the opening track “Invaders”, but I feel that it was a song that was produced purely to fill up the numbers, with “Hallowed Be My Name” being the last track. (Later on, the 1998 remastered and reissued version of The Number Of The Beast would put “Total Eclipse” between “Hallowed Be My Name”, turning into a nine track album.)
Although I would argue with some that Powerslave is the better Iron Maiden album – it is, debate me on that! – I cannot just straight out deny the power this album has, despite “Gangland” being the only song that’s hit or miss. Apart from that, there are many great tracks on this album- songs that have gone down or are going down classics (if they aren’t already) -and enough here for you to get your teeth into.