Ginger Nuts of Horror
SUMMER OF MAIDEN'S MAIDEN VOYAGE VOLUME 1
Maiden Voyage is a series companion articles to our Summer of Maiden extravaganza. Where Iron Maiden Virgins listen to and review an Iron Maiden album. Today it is the turn of Kerry Lipp as he tackles the monster that is The Number of the Beast
Coming at this as a complete maiden, if I were forced to pick a word to describe the band Iron Maiden, I’d call them iconic. Before I got involved in this project, I could name exactly two Iron Maiden songs: Run to the Hills and The Trooper, but even then, I wouldn’t have recognized them if I heard them. I just knew those were two of the band’s biggest songs. But, having said that, I’ve always known who they are, could recognize an album cover of theirs from a mile away. That’s pretty cool.
At 32, I may be one of the younger people taking part in the Summer of Maiden, which is probably why they weren’t a big part of my metal paradigm. In fact, the album I’m going to talk about came out a year before I was born. I grew up with Korn and Limp Bizkit and Marilyn Manson on MTV. And then, thankfully, Slipknot, Chimaira, Hatebreed, and Lamb of God came along to shake things up. But while all that went on, Maiden just kept doing their own thing, even if it never appealed to a young punk like me.
A lot of people probably look back at Iron Maiden with that sweet nostalgia. I don’t have that with them, and it’s so bizarre to come at an album 33 years old completely fresh, but here we are.
I picked this album, Number of the Beast, based on name alone. I’ve always loved 666 and its cultural associations, ironically probably made most popular by Iron Maiden, though I didn’t really know that until recently. I also lucked out and got the album with the only song by Iron Maiden I really knew, Run to the Hills. Now I can even recognize it!
Last note before dipping into the album. I did have the pleasure to see Iron Maiden live on the main stage at Ozzfest, maybe ten years ago. I remember when I saw them, hoping that I would know a bunch of songs and I just didn’t know who performed them. Not the case, but even without knowing a single song, they were a blast to watch. Hell, once I figured out the chorus to Run to the Hills, I belted it out like a lifetime fan.
I don’t know how to rightly review music, so I’ll just highlight my four favorite tracks (and it was hard to pick) from the album and a few things I learned while getting deflowered by the Iron Maiden.
I shall start by embarrassing myself, and proving just how much of a Maiden virgin I am. It is probably fair to say that I was actually introduced to Iron Maiden years ago; I just didn’t know it. It came in the form of bands covering Iron Maiden. Specifically, Hallowed Be Thy Name. First Machine Head and then Cradle of Filth. Yes, I am aware (very recently aware) that the Cradle of Filth version came out wayyyyyyyyyy before the Machine Head version. I’ll keep it short and just say that Filth’s version came on my Spotify once and I was like, “Holy shit, Cradle of Filth covered Machine Head?” Yeah, I’m hanging my head in shame as I type this. I went back and looked around and saw that it was originally recorded by Iron Maiden, but inexplicably, even though I really enjoyed the covers, I never listened to the original song. I am such an asshole haha. But I can say that hearing Hallowed Be Thy Name wrap up The Number of the Beast was like reuniting with an old friend who had a new story to tell and I’ve been listening to it, the Iron Maiden version, over and over and over. I love it. And for the record, I like the Filth version better than Machine Head, but Iron Maiden did it right the first time, it just took me a while to figure that out.
The first songs I listened to were the first songs on the album, called Invaders followed by Children of the Damned. I’m going to give them special mention because as soon as Invaders started I remember thinking, “Okay, this is pretty cool.” Then the guitar kicked in and I started bobbing my head right from the word go. Honestly, it was a relief because I wasn’t sure if I was going to dig Iron Maiden or not. Then it flowed straight into Children of The Damned, which reminded me of Metallica, but I don’t know which song. So within the opening two songs I got the fast-paced Invaders and the slower, but no less awesome Children of the Damned. Those two opening the album really showed off two different sides of the band, at least to me, and I knew I was in for a ride for the rest of the album.
Lastly, even after several listens, I can’t get over “Run to the Hills.” Seriously, the beginning of this song is so goddamned good. It remains my favorite Iron Maiden song, though I still have about 16 more albums to get to. I get sucked into how catchy the whole thing is, especially with such a great fist-pumping, sing along chorus. What surprised me about this song was when I read the lyrics as I listened. I know Bruce Dickinson is much easier to understand than a lot of metal out there, but I’d still never paid attention before. Coming into this, with what little background I had on Iron Maiden, I assumed all their songs dealt with fantastic concepts and themes, dragons, Vikings, and hordes of demon soldiers etc. I didn’t really expect to get anything socially aware (that’s what I get for judging a book by its cover) and I did. And I love it. To be blunt, the lyrics to this song are pretty fucked up. More so considering that this is one of the most iconic songs of one of the most iconic bands and a song that brings smiles to the faces of fans. There was nothing pretty about the colonization of North America, and the song doesn’t let you forget that. It also gives you two sides of the story, and makes you think.
I picked those songs, but it was tough, the chorus to The Number of the Beast and the guitar riff at the beginning of The Prisoner are right up there with my favorite takeaways from this whole experience.
It’s pretty rare that you can discover something late in life that you’ve ignored, or decided didn’t interest you without ever giving it a chance and find out that it’s awesome. And now, I’ve got 16 albums and about 40 years of material to happily dive into. To bring it home as a reader, on a reader’s website, one of the biggest things that sucks is that you can’t read your favorite book again for the first time. I’ve deliberately saved a few Richard Laymon novels for a rainy day, because I know there won’t be anymore, and I envy anyone out there who picks one up and loves it and has an entire catalogue to get lost in. I now have that opportunity with Iron Maiden, and I think it’s going to be fun. I listen to music at work a lot and I lately I’ve been getting sick of the same old stuff. I think I’ve got some great new background music.