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Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Number of the Beast

Requested by my good friend RavenRock, who gave me various news over the years. But this takes the cake. A story of his got knocked off Sputnik Music (fucking grow up, Sputnik, we just want to have some fun), and he asked for this to be posted as a just-in-case.


Iron Maiden
The Number of the Beast (Released in 1982)

This is the tale of Guido Gonzalez and his fight for survival.

As I woke up, it took a while for my vision to be fully clear. I had strands of my hair in my eyes like black silk. I had an awful stomachache and I didn't have any shoes on. My eyes felt heavy, and my arms felt weak. I'm in a moving god damn jeep. "Where the hell AM I?", I screamed into the open air, due to there being no cover over the car. The last thing I remember was being on the back of a Honda, leaning out the window with a shotgun. That's all I ever remembered before this Jeep slammed into us, knocking me out. I looked down at my chest, and a blob of red still lay there. I gulped.

"Ah good, you're awake.", I heard a voice hiss to the left of me. I yelped and whipped to the left, and I was looking at what looked like a zombie, with his bones only. His eyes were an intense gold-and-black, and brown hair that dangled over it's ears. He was wearing a long-sleeved white t-shirt that said: "I Pity Me", blue jeans. That's all I could register while I was still looking. The unknown captor smirked. "You know me. I'm Eddie, remember, hermano?", he said in my accent, which he clearly heard when they were chasing us. I looked in the back of the jeep, and saw Caesar and Dominik. Caesar's black hair hung from his hair, and he looked angry yet unfocused, and his black tanktop was dirty and ragged. Dominik's red hair was ruffled, and he bore a jacket with a green shirt underneath, smothered with blood.

"What do you want from us?", Caesar asked hesitantly, taking the words right out of my mouth. I looked around where we were. The addresses said "22 Acacia Avenue". Great, now there's a street parodying the song.

"I'm actually not here to hurt you. I'm not the one that drove that Ford into your truck.", Eddie hissed, almost indifferently, as he somewhat shifted in his seat. "In fact, you should be lucky you're in my jeep. If I wasn't here to back them off, you'd be sitting in prison cells with your entire torso doused in acid."
All I could do was gulp. "Oh Jesús, ¿qué he hecho para merecer un destino como éste?", I spoke in my spanish accent. Dominik looked at me. "I think it was that blonde you dumped the other day.", he said, smirking. He could understand Spanish.

"Shut up, the both of you.", Eddie yelled. It wasn't angry, it was calm. Which made it a little more threatening. "This is serious. Now listen, and don't talk until I'm finished. The band members of Iron Maiden are currently holed up in a little hideout in Acacia Avenue. They're trying to storm up ideas for their next album, but the Justin Biebah Resistance Fan Club has joined forces with the Gleeks Club, the ones who assaulted you, they had captured me, and the Followers of the RIAA. They're staging an attack against the people we're with, the Metal Militia. We're supposed to help stop them. I gathered you twits in the back to help fend off the Resistance. And as for you, Guido, there's a special assignment for you. Now, if you want a Q&A, make it quick, because we're nearing the hideout." I was able to nab a peek at the hideout. It was tiled with orange and gray stone, with windows barely above the underground, almost like an underground hideout. There was a metal circle, which led to a hatch. Probably the entrance.

"Why are we chosen to do this?", Caesar asked.
"You originally joined the Metal Militia when your dad signed you up."
"What do I have to do?", was all I could ask at the time. Sweat had broken through my forehead and neck.
"Ah, yeah. Guido, guido, guido. What you're doing for this war will be VITAL. In fact, if you do complete your task, it will end it." This got me interested. "You have to write a review of an Iron Maiden CD." My mouth gaped, as did Caesar's and Dominik's.

"¿Qué demonios?", I harshly backmasked.

But, Eddie knew his Spanish. "Listen, the Justin Bieber Resistance Fan Club took control of the RCA and General Electric about a half a year ago. The leader of the Magazine Enclave, El Dorado, was captured. He was savagely beaten in front of the Militia, and was forced to shut down every metal magazine possible, including the Hit Parader mags. Rolling Stone and Q were also overtaken. Nowadays, writing rock and metal reviews is strictly forbidden. What you have to do is write a review for this little cassette in here", the bony fingers patted a nearby metal suitcase, "and we'll do the rest of the work for all of you."

I felt I had a spike castrate my brain then have a bee sting me in the ballsack. This was absolutely horrific. Now I knew I would have to be as valuable to the war effort as possible. Idecided to go ahead and trust Eddie.

"Aight, we're here.", Eddie muttered, stopping the car. He stepped out, and nabbed the metal suitcase, handing it to me. "Kid, this is the Miltia Incorporation Survival Kit, or the MISK. This has everything you need." He walked to the trunk, and pulled out three machine guns, handed two of them to Caesar and Dominik, which I could respectively identify as a PPsh-41 and an AUG HBAR, with hollow lead. Eddie had an ACR with a knife.

I looked at the suitacase. "Open it, kid.", Eddie said, leading me and Caesar into the hatch. Caesar went in first, and it looked kind of like a slide, much with much more turbulance. As I got adjusted in my metal seat, which popped right back up after Caesar landed, I opened the suitcase as the marble circle covered me. What was in it surprised me. A pen with four pieces of paper, a just-in-case M16 with ten clips, and the CD Eddie was talking about: without any censors or different covers: The Number of the Beast, just sitting there in its cassette glory.

As I slid down, that track listing burning an image into my brain, I was introduced to an underground bar-ish atmosphere. Iron Maiden was on stage, Dickinson and Harris singing "Fear of the Dork", Metallica on another stage singing, "The Day That Will Never Freaking Come", and what's left of Black Sabbath, much to my surprise, singing "I Am The Ice Cream Man". It was absolutely brilliant. There were sexy blondes and brunettes everywhere, people were just having a good time, and I actually felt at home for a minute there.
Caesar tapped my shoulder. "Remember, Guido, you lost your memory, so you don't know anybody here, but they know you. Just go with it." Oh yeah, I had lost my memory about three years ago. I gained a little of it back, like where I lived, went to school at, who my family was, friends, all of that jazz. Eddie strolled up to me. "Well, we all got about ten minutes, so enjoy yourself!", he slapped me on the back before walking off to get a Vodka.

That case still mesmerized me, so I set it down next to Dominik. I noticed a red-haired caucasian strolling up towards me, in a black shirt that said, "Hit Parader", blue jeans, and brown shoes. That look struck a memory in my mind. She was really good looking. Teresa, was it? "Hey, Guido.", she said, in a husky accent. "You look like shit.", she snickered.

"Hey... Teresa, right?", I said, struggling to figure out the details. "Oh, I was in a... chase." That would probably sound viciously stupid.

"Yeah. I was your girlfriend way back when. Memory lapse, right?", she smiled at me as she understood my situation. Such a good smile. I put my arm around her as a guy with blonde hair, his nametag read 'Max', I recognized him as Secretary of Communications in the Militia, brought me a Blue Curaçao, while all I noticed in Teresa's drink was Coca-Cola. We drank, enjoying ourselves, as Faith No More came on the stage and performed the beautiful 'Just A Man'.

It had been six minutes, and the stages had closed up. On the radio overhead, they announced that all soldiers of the Metal Militia report to the barracks. It was time. Eddie strolled up to me. I finally got a good look at his shirt: it was a Krokus T-Shirt, from their fourteenth album. Nice change of pace. He patted my shoulder and said, "Okay, kid, it's time. Get in there." I was shoved into a room. I tried to say one last thank-you to Eddie for saving my life, but he was already dashing up the stairs. I stared at the cassette. Realizing there was no time left, I grabbed the cassette and yanked it open, then shoved it into the player, then hooking in my earbuds. I prepared myself, for this next two hours would be crucial. As they exited out the door, they wished me good luck and I heard rampaging outside and the smell of fire. I was safe, but alone with Teresa.

She gave me a kiss, then grabbed a chair and sat next to me, looking kickass in body armor. I gave her one earbud, and one pen. We sat back and took a deep breath.
The Number of the Beast, released in 1982, was Iron Maiden's third album. They were just getting onto the metal scene, and on a high note. And once The Number of the Beast was released, with new vocalist Bruce Dickinson, the band were instantly metal superstars. It exploded onto the UK Album Charts at #1, and although it was met with fair controversy for satanic content, it is considered one of the greatest metal albums of all time, and one of the most influential of all time.

The Number of the Beast noted an uprise in the instrumental content in the songs: the riffs were excellent. With progressive melodies and thunderous solos, unforgiving drum clashes, and deep, echoing bass audio, it was different from the first two albums, Iron Maiden and Killer.

The addition of Bruce Dickinson marked an everlasting change in the band's history, and quite possibly, in heavy metal. Dickinson's voice is mature and haunting, it carries on through each song with a pitch and inflection like none other, almost wailing. The low-pitched notes the man could reach, with wails that would rage through stereos worldwide, and a chilling seriousness in the tone, Dickinson is an extraordinary singer. The guitar and bass work from Steve, Adrian, and Dave, all together, is superbly brilliant. Dual solos from Dave and Adrian completely explode into a crackle of fire, shredding along at amazing flow, and chugging basslines from Steve Harris are fine like Cliff Burton: with thuds grinding across the strings that would echo through audiosystems for days, mixed in with the guitars and fantastic drum beatings from Clive, is some of the greatest bass work ever presented in metal history.

And the songs show the amazing quality of this band. "Invaders", clocking in at nearly four minutes, is a song divided into mini-solos over eerie drum beats and a dark pitch tone from Dickinson himself. "The Number of the Beast" is run over cataclysmic screams from Dickinson over smooth guitar lines and drum beats, while he wails, "SIX! SIX, SIX! THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST!" This is a metal album that is nearly without flaw. The production is amazing: the vocals are crisp, the guitar work is loud and clear. Everything can be heard perfectly: a nod to the terrific proudcer Martin Birch, who later became infamous for this album.

"Hallowed Be Thy Name" could be one of the greatest metal songs of all time, and the best in Iron Maiden's career. Over gothic church bells and a haunting bass line, Bruce progresses in a chilling voice where a guilty man would be taken to the gallows. As Dickinson wails "The sands of time for me are running loooooooooooow", BANG! It erupts into a great dual guitar riff from Adrian and Dave, exerting into mini-solos in later verses, dealing with the convicted man's execution, until the solo completely lashes out onto the scene, the tempo progresses at a powerful rate, as Dickinson howls into the microphone, "Hallowed be thy name....." It's wicked stuff, absolutely.

The music we have nowadays is utterly humiliating. Iron Maiden is still an amazing band, and it shows it here. The Number of the Beast, one of the single greatest metal albums of all time. Where Iron Maiden became the juggernauts that they are.
I checked the clock. Teresa had begun to shuffle the papers load in her gun. It had been over an hour and a half. I armed my M16 and loaded it with incendiary ammunition, then stormed out of the hideout. It was an absolute warfield. Bodies were littering the ground like dropped soda cans. The sky had turned an ugly crimson, like the blood, and gunfire, arrows, explosions, lazers, and jet planes took over the skies, and fire burned somewhere.

I caught Eddie's eye. As he ran toward me, throwing an explosive out to the crowd, I saw Followers progressing towards me with a redhead giant. Me and Teresa erupting gunfire as we continued to plow through the crowds. I felt so guilty, but they deserved this. They've taken away innocent eyes.
Eddie snatched the review from my hands, and ordered the rest of the Militia to the beach. I joined Dominik and Caesar. Dom and Teresa watched the sides, Caesar the back, and I lead in the front. I shot a burst at a Resistance member that got far too close, and crushed his iPod in retaliation, which was bursting Nickelback. Ugh.

"Attention Command, we have the review! Bring down the elevator!" We arrived at a large building. I read it: The Command of Music Central. We held the upcoming members off, until I had no clips left. Everybody else looked pretty empty.

"Eddie! We're out!", I snarled. The elevator came.

"HURRY!", Eddie shouted, but then a redhead giant shot an explosive at everyone, obliterating each one of the soldiers. I was hit and blasted back, nearly paralyzed by the blow, before Caesar caught me dragged me to the elevator, where I saw four other soldiers with Eddie shooting at the rest of the Resistance and Gleeks. I looked at Teresa's knocked out body, along with Dominik's dead body, and passed out.
I woke up in the hospital. Teresa was in a nearby bed, with bandages covering several parts of her body. I had gauze from the upper torso to my waist. Eddie came in. "Hey. I'm sorry about Dominik. I didn't mean to get you involved." I half-smiled. I really didn't care, I'm just glad not everybody died.
"We presented the review to the nation, and it gave back strength to the BPI, ARIA, and RIAA. They're currently staging a war against the Resistance, Gleeks, and Followers, but the Militia is pretty much done for. Out of the 200 soldiers we had, there's only 36 left. I'm sorry, if I had been quicker..."
"It's kay.", I said.
That's all I remember before blacking out.