Retrospective: Iron Maiden’s “Number Of The Beast” Turns 30

By Andrew Bansal

Today, March 22nd 2012 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Iron Maiden’s iconic third studio album, “Number Of The Beast”.

No amount of praise is enough for this album. The fact that the music on Number Of The Beast is nothing short of legendary is quite obvious, because here we are, still talking about it, and more importantly, still listening to it even after all these years. That moment when I purchased the Number Of The Beast CD, back in 2005, will always be a special and memorable one for me, because it was my first ever heavy metal purchase. I was already a fan of Iron Maiden before I heard this album, but it was very much an impulse buy. I saw it in the record store, had no idea whether the album was any good, didn’t ask anyone for advice, and went for it simply because I was instantly attracted to the cover. “Good choice!” said the record store owner to me, and as soon as I got home and gave it a spin, I found out that he was absolutely right. Indeed, it turned out to be a life-changing choice.

Aside from being a life-changing album for me and for millions of Iron Maiden fans worldwide, it was a career-defining album for the band itself. After original singer Paul Di’Anno’s exit, Iron Maiden introduced Bruce Dickinson through this album. The new frontman had a lasting impact on the fans straightaway, and this line-up triggered a series of albums which is now considered the golden phase of Iron Maiden’s career, consisting of “Number Of The Beast”, “Piece Of Mind”, “Powerslave”, “Somewhere In Time” and “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son”.

Iron Maiden 1982 line-up

What’s special about this album? Well, the album has been described and analyzed so many times in the past 30 years, that nothing is left to be said. When I talk about the tunes on Number Of The Beast, I can only think of superlatives. From one of the best opening songs of all time, “Invaders”, it moves to classics like “Children of The Damned”, “The Prisoner” and “22 Acacia Avenue”, to heavy metal anthems like the title song, “Run To The Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and deep cuts like “Gangland” and “Total Eclipse”, this album has it all. The music, the lyrics, the album cover and everything about the album purely epitomizes heavy metal.

Today is its 30th anniversary, but I have no doubt in my mind that this classic masterpiece by Iron Maiden will stay strong for an eternity. As for today, let’s celebrate this special occasion by cranking up our sound systems and giving this album a spin. Up The Irons!