The Five Best Songs from Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”

Iron Maiden

Originally formed on December 25, 1975, is the British heavy metal group known as Iron Maiden. Literally, on Christmas Day from Leyton, East London, bassist and songwriter Steve Harris starts his own band and coming up with its name after the iron maiden torture device that was featured in the novel written by Alexandre Dumas (Man in the Iron Mask). The lineup of the band made several changes and had a rather unstable performance run between recordings and live shows until finally, they managed to secure their first major record deal in 1979 with EMI. In 1980, Iron Maiden releases their self-titled album which debuts at #4 on the UK Albums Chart. Their second album (Killer), is released in 1981, and despite the band’s opinion on its low production value, it still won them recognition with the North American audience as it appeared at #78 on the US Billboard Top 200. And, on the UK Albums Chart, it debuted at #12. The Number Of the Beast is the third of Iron Maiden’s albums, which was first released on March 22, 1982. It is the first album featuring the band’s new lead vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. Since then, there have been two more releases of it that have since had songs added to it. In 1995, the reissue included (Total Eclipse) and a live performance of (Remember Tomorrow).

The remastered version, which came out in 1998, simply expanded from its original eight songs to nine, making a point to add Total Eclipse to its list. Since the original release, The Number Of the Beast achieved critical and commercial success and was the first of the band’s albums to reach the UK’s Albums chart and its score in the top 40 with US Billboard’s Top 200 Albums chart. While it was their most commercially successful album, it was also the band’s most controversial due to the nature of its title, the tracks, and the album cover. Since the first release of The Number Of the Beast, it has achieved triple Platinum Certification with Music Canada. It was also certified Platinum with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and with UK’s British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Among the nations of Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, their recording industries rewarded Gold Certification. Overall in sales, this means The Number Of the Beast has sold nearly 2 million albums worldwide. This does not include the numbers

5. 22 Arcadia Avenue


Originally written by Adrian Smith while he was still with his former band, Urchin, the song (22 Arcadia Avenue) now serves as a sequel piece to the Charlotte the Harlot saga. Steve Harris, remembering first hearing it at an old Urchin concert at a local park, rewrote the song to accommodate the Number of the Beast album. This part of the storytelling regarding the harlot known as Charlotte continues from where the band introduces her from their 1980, self-titled album. The third song to complete the trilogy behind the Charlotte the Harlot saga (From Here to Eternity) is featured in the band’s 1992 album (Fear Of the Dark).

4. Children of the Damned


Based on the 1960 Hollywood film (Village of the Damned) and its 1964 sequel (Children of the Damned), lead singer Dickenson commented the song was actually inspired by Black Sabbath’s song (Children of the Sea). The sermon-like performance by the lead singer starts off with a melodramatic tone before bursting into a ferocious tempo that earned Iron Maiden its reputation as one of the most influential metal bands ever to perform.

3. Hallowed Be Thy Name


The closing song for the album is considered by AllMusic one of the band’s most celebrated extended epics with its story of a prisoner that is about to be hanged for his crimes. Harris, who is known for his philosophical lyrics, seems to outdo himself with this track. Among the band members, they are in agreement it is among their personal favorite, if not their overall favorite. Apparently, the fans seem to agree as well. When the live version of this song was played in 1993, it rose to #9 on the UK Singles Chart.

2. The Number Of the Beast


Both the lead track and the album was inspired by a nightmare songwriter Steve Harris experienced, which was triggered after watching the movie (Damien: Omen II). The band’s founder also admitted the lyrics have a considerable amount of influence from the poem (Tam O’Shanter) by Robert Burns. The track begins with a piece from the Holy Bible’s Book of Revelation, which is read off by actor Barry Clayton. Originally, Iron Maiden approached Vincent Price to do the scriptural reads of Revelation 12:12 and 13:18 but felt his price tag was too high. Despite the criticism both the song and its album received, The Number Of the Beast still did well enough to chart within the UK at #18. When this single charted again in 2005 as a direct result of the remastered release of the album, it did even better with the UK by peaking as high as #3. Furthermore, while The Number Of the Beast only saw two chart ranks in 1982 (it peaked at #16 in Ireland), it saw nine major European ranks. In Finland, the single performed best at #2. Other nations that recognized the song worthy to be charted are France at #78, Germany at #76, Ireland at #11, Italy at #5, Norway at #13, Sweden at #40, and Switzerland at #42.

1. Run to the Hills


Released as a single on February 12, 1982, just shy of Iron Maiden’s UK tour, is (Run to the Hills). In the UK, it was a top ten hit, scoring at #7 on their UK Singles Chart. It is considered one of the most celebrated metal anthems of all time as both fans and critics take note of how well Dickinson nails the band’s energetic approach in their performance. The sound of the air siren serves as a goosebumps trigger for their fans, regardless of their age group. While the American billboard charts didn’t seem to recognize the song as chart worthy upon its original release, their Canadian neighbors to the north ranked it as high as #11. Around the world, Run to the Hills performed well on their charts.

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