Musing on a life changing event, aka IRON MAIDEN *air guitars*

Everyone has that sort of event – you meet someone, read something or hear something that utterly changes your worldview from that moment on. I’ve had more than a few of them in my time. My list includes such things as It’s Alive by the Ramones, Return of the Jedi, and even The Da Vinci Code. (My wife and I were set up by mutual friends at a showing, I didn’t go see it of my own free will. I’m mad, but I’m not crazy) I won’t be talking about those though. This one was sparked by a book, but not any old book mind you. The Book of Revelations, chapter and verse 13:18 to be precise…

Woe to you, O Earth and Sea

For the Devil sends the Beast with wrath

Because he knows the time is short

Let him who hath understanding reckon the Number of the Beast

For it is a human number

It’s number is Six Hundred and Sixty Six…

If I close my eyes I can still see it – I was in my early teens, though I don’t remember what year exactly. A family holiday is taking place, but this is all I remember, outside of the horrors of the walk to the outside toilet. It’s near midnight, an almost perfect time for metal, my headphones are plugged into my Walkman and Three Hours of Power (Triple J’s heavy metal show) is on. All that’s lacking is a thunderstorm, lightning strike or Viking invasion to make it more metal and even then, I’m not sure I would have noticed. I don’t remember what played before or after, just the song that would change my life forever more.

The intro had my curiosity, all doom and devils and a Vincent Price soundalike, then Bruce Dickinson whispering of horrific dreams and evil faces and then it hit my ears. THAT BIG SCREAM. It was the sort of scream that echoes down the ages, a primal scream of rage and frustration, said to have been borne of several hours in the studio repeating the first four lines of the song. The sort of scream that doesn’t just put hair on your chest, it puts hair EVERYWHERE. Pure audio testosterone. Within those few brief seconds I knew, with all certainty in my barely formed teenage mind that I was hooked and I have been ever since.

It’s not just Dickinson’s scream though – Clive Burr’s jazzy drumming, the interplay between Dave Murray and Adrian Smith on guitar and Steve Harris’s bass work (That man’s right hand has to be a machine – it’s the only thing that can explain his bass work) just meld together into something magical. Seeing them live in 2008 was one of the most amazing nights of my life – seeing grizzled mullet wearing men as excited as teen girls outside a Beiber gig is not something you forget in a hurry, let alone a women dressed for an elegant garden party descending into the pit and emerging post show drenched in sweat and beaming.  I can’t properly explain the appeal – I could talk for hours about the quality of the song writing, the at times inhumanly skilled musicianship (Watch Steve Harris’s right hand during Run to the Hills), or the sheer joy that the band have for what they’re playing and that they continue to do so. It’s a glorious and magnificent noise that I love with all my heart and I thank the universe daily that I was exposed to it.

So yeah, Costa Zoulio, you have my lifelong thanks. Without that moment my life would be a lot less metal and all the poorer for it. *throws horns*

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