Iron Maiden – The Number Of The Beast

     There are legends in Metal, and then there are Icons; the latter being few and far between… A handful of bands whose name is eponymous with Metal – they inspire , influence, are emulated, well respected within and without their genre, their songs are covered from one end of the Earth to the other and they continually sell out arena and stadiums.

     What makes Iron Maiden unique from many Metal bands is they gained popularity in the 1980’s through word of mouth alone. At the time, rock radio played what was number one on Mtv and it was not the music Iron Maiden played. Radio was deluged with a horrendous slew of new wave bands, any hard rock or Metal music played was pop-oriented, trendy and/or had picturesque band members (pretty-boys). Yeah, that left out Iron Maiden whose music was galloping riff oriented theory based mini-epics with lyrics that were serious and told stories. They have never followed the mainstream musically or lyrically.
     One other way Iron Maiden gained their popularity was through extensive touring.

    Iron Maiden’s Beast On The Road Tour United States 1982

The U.S. (North American) tour kicked off on 11 May 1982 with a show in Flint, Michigan and went until 18 August 1982 when the band took a short tour break to play three shows in England, the last being the Reading Festival before restarting their U.S. tour on 01 September 1982 and ending on 23 October 1982.
When their U.S. tour was completed, they had played a total of 95 shows in the United States and 11 shows in Canada for a total of 106 shows in 152 days.

The U.S. tour dates were:

11 May 1982 – Flint, MI
13 May 1982 – Grand Rapids, MI
14 May 1982 – Detroit, MI
15 May 1982 – Kalamazoo, MI
16 May 1982 – Fort Wayne, MI
18 May 1982 – Toledo, OH
20 May 1982 – Cincinnati, OH
21 May 1982 – Louisville, OH
22 May 1982 – Cleveland, OH
23 May 1982 – Indianapolis, IN
25 May 1982 – Merrillville, IN
26 May 1982 – Davenport, IA
29 May 1982 – Des Moines, IA

01 June 1982 – Atlanta, GA
02 June 1982 – Nashville, TN
04 June 1982 – Birmingham, AL
02 June 1982 – Huntsville, AL
07 June 1982 – Knoxville, TN
08 June 1982 – Columbus, GA
09 June 1982 – Tallahassee, FL
11 June 1982 – Memphis, TN
12 June 1982 – Jackson, FL
15 June 1982 – Little Rock, AR
16 June 1982 – Tulsa, OK
18 June 1982 – Shreveport, LA
19 June 1982 – Norman, OK
22 June 1982 – Ottawa, ON Canada
23 June 1982 – Toronto, ON Canada
24 June 1982 – Kingston, ON Canada
25 June 1982 – Quebec City, QC Canada
26 June 1982 – Montreal, QC Canada
29 June 1982 – New York City, NY
30 June 1982 – Glen Cove, NY

02 July 1982 – Chicago, IL
03 July 1982 – Buffalo, NY
04 July 1982 – East Troy, WI
06 July 1982 – Danville, VA
07 July 1982 – Cedar Rapids, IA
09 July 1982 – St. Louis, MO
10 July 1982 – Des Moines, IA
14 July 1982 – Salt Lake City, UT
16 July 1982 – Seattle, WA
17 July 1982 – Anaheim, CA
18 July 1982 – Oakland, CA
20 July 1982 – Victoria, BC Canada
21 July 1982 – Vancouver, BC Canada
23 July 1982 – Edmonton, AB Canada
24 July 1982 – Calgary, AB Canada
26 July 1982 – Regina, SK Canada
27 July 1982 – Winnipeg, MB Canada
28 July 1982 – Fargo, ND
30 July 1982 – Minneapolis, MN
31 July 1982 – Springfield, MO

01 August 1982 – Indianapolis, IN
03 August 1982 – Cleveland, OH
04 August 1982 – Columbus, OH
05 August 1982 – Chicago, IL
06 August 1982 – Louisville, KY
08 August 1982 – Memphis, TN
10 August 1982 – Beaumont, TX
11 August 1982 – Corpus Christi, TX
13 August 1982 – Houston, TX
14 August 1982 – Dallas, TX
16 August 1982 – San Antonio, TX
17 August 1982 – Odessa, TX
18 August 1982 – El Paso, TX

01 September 1982 – Long Beach, CA
03 September 1982 – Sacramento, CA
04 September 1982 – Oakland, CA
05 September 1982 – Reno, NV
07 September 1982 – Boise, ID
09 September 1982 – Seattle, WA
11 September 1982 – Portland, OR
12 September 1982 – Portland, OR

14 September 1982 – St. Louis, MO
15 September 1982 – Kansas City, MO
16 September 1982 – Lincoln, NE
17 September 1982 – Minneapolis, MN
19 September 1982 – Rockford, IL
21 September 1982 – Chicago, IL
22 September 1982 – Cleveland, OH
23 September 1982 – Dayton, OH
25 September 1982 – Detroit, MI
26 September 1982 – Kalamazoo, MI
28 September 1982 – Huntington, WV
29 September 1982 – Columbus, OH

01 October 1982 – Worcester, MA
02 October 1982 – New York City, NY
03 October 1982 – Harrisburg, PA
06 October 1982 – Portland, ME
07 October 1982 – Providence, RI
08 October 1982 – Glens Falls, NY
09 October 1982 – New Haven, CT
11 October 1982 – Binghamton, NY
12 October 1982 – Philadelphia, PA
13 October 1982 – Pittsburgh, PA
15 October 1982 – Buffalo, NY
16 October 1982 – Syracuse, NY
17 October 1982 – Salisbury, MD
21 October 1982 – Norfolk, VA
22 October 1982 – East Rutherford, NJ
23 October 1982 – Rochester, NY

    By the time they were done touring, sometimes as openers and sometimes as headliners, there wasn’t a MetalHead in the United States that didn’t know who Iron Maiden was. That is how Iron Maiden became so damn popular in the United States with little radio play.
     These days, what passes for a North American tour, comparatively, is a feeble attempt at best, with most bands doing five shows on the EastCoast, five shows, East to West, through Canada, and five shows down the WestCoast. And maybe, maybe a show here and there in major cities like Dallas, Texas and Phoenix, Arizona.

     The number Of The Beast is a classic album that helped spawn a genre of music that continues to evolve and gain in popularity.  PowerMetal pioneers, Helloween‘s, music from Keeper Of The Seven Keys era, has Iron Maiden influences all over and has since. Was/is Iron Maiden the first PowerMetal band in infancy? There are many who believe so and those who do not. Whatever the case, The Mighty Maiden‘s influence can be heard in such bands as Kamelot, DragonForce, Nightwish, Blind Guardian, Midnattsol, Dark Moor, Rhapsody Of Fire… professed MetalHead, Lady Gaga, has covered Maiden during live performances and espouses admiration for the band, their music, and career. Since becoming headliners, the band KISS, has only played second to one band, Iron Maiden.
     Like modern day Maestro’s, their music reaches beyond the years to influence and excite new fans. That they still release new material and tour extensively is proof that they are more than deserving of their status. Even their famed mascot, Eddie – who has graced, in some form, every release, is well known. Many fans await new albums to see what changes have become of Eddie, good or bad.

     On this release, Maiden was joined by Bruce Dickinson on vocals. Because of his loud singing style and high-pitched screaming, he became known to fans as The Air Raid Siren.
     Drummer, Clive Burr, has his last recording with Maiden on this album before leaving the band. Clive‘s drum tech, Nikko McBrain took over playing drums for the band.

     Upon release of this album, the band was immediately tagged as devil worshippers although the lyrics to the song The Number Of The Beast were written about a dream (nightmare) that Bassist Steve Harris had after viewing the movie The Omen II.

Track listing for The Number Of The Beast:
01: Invaders
02: Children Of The Damned
03: The Prisoner
04: 22 Acacia Avenue (The Continuing Saga Of Charlotte The Harlot)
05: The Number Of The Beast
06: Run To The Hills
07: Gangland*
08: Hallowed Be Thy Name

* On the remasterd version, track 8 is the song : Total Eclipse, with Gangland and Hallowed Be Thy Name following

     A masterpiece in Metal finery, The Number Of The Beast is a true Metal classic. It has made list after list of greatest albums from fanzines, magazines. Numerous covers by many bands and performers have covered songs from the album.
     You should know what most do. Get The Number Of The Beast, press play and have one hell of a Mighty Maiden moment!


Kamelot – Epica

     As of late, I have been way too busy, but summer is winding down here in the Rocky Mountains (why is it still in the upper nineties?) so blogging will become more active.
     One good thing about being busy is background noise. I have been listening to alot of Anthrax, Sepultura, Kamelot, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Rhapsody Of Fire… Old shit, new shit – Metal!

     Studio albums from Kamelot tend to have an overproduced feel to them. Most times, while listening to them, I knitpick the sound and wonder why it does not move me like their live recordings. The music is not bad, it is just not live and Kamelot is a live band.
     Bands put out an album and then tour to support it, but, it is almost as if Kamelot put out an album to support their upcoming tour. Whatever it may be, Kamelot is one hell of a band to see live and many of my favorite songs by the band are not those that they perform while on stage.

     Epica is the beginning of something while being the end of another. I do think the title is heavily self-prophesying for the band.

     Epica is the beginning of the band’s retelling of Goethe’s Faust. The main character, Ariel, is on a quest to find the meaning of it all. He leaves his beloved, Helena, and travels in search for an answer. Ariel eventually becomes disillusioned when his search becomes long and fruitless.
     Enter Mephisto, AKA – the devil, who tempts Ariel with dreams of power. Needless to say, Ariel eventually accepts.
     Helena, whom Ariel left behind, has been searching for Ariel and eventually the two run into each other. They spend time together but Ariel‘s old drive to find the meaning to everything resurfaces and he again leaves Helena. Distraught that her love has once again left her, Helena takes her own life by drowning herslf in a river.
     Ariel is driven even after he learns of Helena‘s suicide and the death of their unborn child (neither knew she was pregnant).
     Mephisto continues to chide Ariel and push him on despite the high price he has paid for his obsession. Meanwhile Helena‘s soul sings to him of love but Ariel believes himself to be damned and cries out against God as being the cause of his troubles.
     That’s the story in a nutshell.

     There is another beginning here though. A band by the name of Sahara Dust was in a studio recording their debut album and had been listening to Kamelot’s Epica. Inspired by the music they asked Kamelot if they could use the name Epica as their band name. Hence, Epica was born.

     Epica, musically, is close to the bands previous releases, Siége Perilous, The Fourth Legacy, and Karma. It has a very majestic PowerMetal sound though the lyrics deal with a dark and melencholic story. There are a few more mellow songs to carry the changing mood of the story but much of the album has a speedier pace.
     Vocally, Roy Kahn is, as always, damn good. Again, the studio performance of Roy and the band just does not compare to what they do live. No one could ever accuse this band of lip-syncing.

     As for Epica being the end of something, it was. On their release after Epica, The Black Halo (which completes the retelling of Goethe’s Faust), Kamelot took a darker approach to writing their music. Some have accused them of becoming more Gothic in sound. The music has remained along the PowerMetal vein but it has become moodier. The change in musical direction has not lessened their ability to write excellent songs as, sometimes, a change in musical style could just mean they tune their instruments differently or their personal lives have a bit of strife in them and it is carrying over to the music – something musicians tend to allow to happen.

Track Listing For Epica*:
01: Prologue
02: Center Of The Universe
03: Farewell
04: Interlude I – Opiate Soul
05: The Edge Of Paradise
06: Wander
07: Interlude II – Omen
08: Descent Of The Archangel
09: Interlude III – At The Banquet
10: A Feast For The Vain
11: On The Coldest Winter Night
12: Lost & Damned
13: Helena’s Theme
14: Interlude IV – Dawn
15: The Mourning After (Carry On)
16: III Ways To Epica

     Epica is a solid PowerMetal release from a band that is so much better and talented than many out there. What is funny is the theme of the album would so go over with many people in the world today; struggles with questions about God, Life, feelings of aimlessness, letdown… If only more people were aware of this band regularly.

* Limited Edition version contains the song Snow while the Japanese version contains the song Like The Shadows