4. Iron Maiden, 'The Number of the Beast' (1982)
By the time Iron Maiden hit the studio with veteran producer Martin Birch to record their third LP in 1982, the English quintet had already clawed its way to the forefront of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Having replaced gruff lead vocalist Paul Di'Anno with Bruce Dickinson, a charismatic performer with operatic pipes, the stage was set for a creative breakthrough. There was just one problem: The band had exhausted its backlog of tunes. "They'd used up all the good stuff they'd had and they'd been on the road ever since," Dickinson told biographer Mick Wall. "So it was quite good, in that way, because I wasn't going to be asked to sing words that had already been written by Paul or songs Steve [Harris, bassist and chief songwriter] had written with him in mind. … We had time to think about the songs first." Harris and his mates (including Dickinson, uncredited for contractual reasons) rose to the occasion, producing complex songs and heady lyrics that ideally suited the new singer's dramatic range. The resulting LP, recorded and mixed in just five weeks, is one of metal's all-time milestones: Galloping single "Run to the Hills" charted practically everywhere but in the U.S., where the video nonetheless became an early MTV staple; the title track remains a set-list fixture; and the closer, "Hallowed Be Thy Name," was the first of Iron Maiden's signature epics – and among the most durable. S.S.