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The devil sends the beast with wrath... - 94%

MercyfulSatyr, June 7th, 2009

Those after a headbanging fest of metal mania need look no further than this early single from Iron Maiden. Containing two of the band’s greatest songs featuring the then-new vocalist Bruce Dickinson, it constitutes an eleven-minute heavy metal masterwork.

The main track of the single is among the best of the identically named album. From its unmistakable spoken intro to Bruce Dickinson’s awe-inspiring scream, “The Number of the Beast” screams classic Maiden. Several excellent riffs run throughout the song behind its pseudo-Satanic lyrics. A jaw-dropping solo section (the second-best of Maiden’s career) further entices the listener, as does the following bass fill. Dickinson gives one of his career-defining vocal performances, while the rest of the band leaves absolutely nothing more to be desired.

Next up is an absolutely amazing live rendition of the classic “Remember Tomorrow.” Dickinson takes Di’Anno’s vocal lines and completely makes them his own, carrying the ballad in a way the former singer couldn’t even begin to emulate. His operatic delivery contributes a touch of grandeur to the song as well as making it even darker in style. This was back in 1981, while he was in his absolute prime, meaning his screams could still break the sound barrier. Just listen to that final shriek!

The rest of the band is excellent as ever. Whoever produced this did an excellent job; everything can be heard clearly without any one instrument overpowering another. Things are even more crystal clear than in studio, and that’s something to brag about on a live number. In fact, the instrumentalists’ performances actually beat out those on the studio version, the enhanced production doing wonders for the solos and riffs, not to mention the powerful bass guitar. Maiden abounds with all-around energy, making for what is probably the best version of this song available.

This single is absolutely essential for Maiden collectors. Derek Riggs’s masterful cover art combined with the incredible music contained within makes for an engrossing experience among Maiden’s all-time best. Under no circumstances should this be missed.