Iron Maiden, 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)
To me, that's Iron Maiden just literally at their peak. It has the best songs, the best production. It was produced by Martin Birch, who did a lot of the old Deep Purple records and a lot of the Rainbow stuff. It's just where it peaked. "The Number of the Beast" is probably the best single that they ever released. Obviously, there's the more commercial single, "Run to the Hills," which became a big hit. There's the super deep track, "Hallowed Be Thy Name" – that's one of those metal epics along with [Judas Priest's] "Beyond the Realms of Death" and [Deep Purple's] "Child in Time" that are almost a blueprint for songs like [Metallica's] "Fade to Black," "One" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)."
And then there was always cool little stuff. "The Prisoner" has the intro from the TV series, "22 Acacia Avenue" was the continuation of the song "Charlotte the Harlot" from the first album. And this was the first record with Bruce Dickinson, the new singer who took over for Paul Di'Anno and this is where where it all came together: production, songwriting, attitude. It's also the last album with original drummer Clive Burr, rest in peace. He was a big influence on me. He did a lot of these really, really tough-sounding snare rolls and stuff that was inspiring to me in terms of making the drums not a finesse instrument but more about weight and about, like, attitude – sort of like air-drumming moments. He was sort of on the simpler side, but every single thing he did was super effective.
I've always been very open about how Iron Maiden inspired Metallica. We always cite them as a main influence. They were just cooler than other bands. They had cooler record covers, cooler packaging, cooler tour books, cooler T-shirts, cooler stage production. They always seemed like they went above and beyond. They had cooler lighting rigs. They were the most fan-friendly band. I remember my friend got a Christmas card from Iron Maiden and, like, Eddie was on a Christmas card. They had this image thing that was just crazy and really cool and was much more sort of fan-friendly and thorough than any of the other bands.