Total Eclipse by Iron Maiden: Great B-Sides

Iron Maiden’s third album, The Number of the Beast, was made under time pressure. The group had five weeks to record their first album with new lead singer Bruce Dickinson. The single ‘Run to the Hills’ was released in advance of the album and, with nine tracks running for longer than 40 minutes, the group had to make a snap decision on which track to relegate to non-album b-side.

Iron Maiden chose ‘Total Eclipse’ as the b-side but later regretted it. According to Mick Wall’s band biography, bassist and primary songwriter Steve Harris stated that: “We just chose the wrong track as the B-side. I think if ‘Total Eclipse’ had been on the album instead of ‘Gangland’ it would have been far better.”

‘Total Eclipse’ is apocalyptic, but unlike other songs on The Number of The Beast it’s not based on the Biblical book of Revelation. The second side of the record opens with a reading from Revelation, and songs like ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ and the title track cover similar territory. Travelling to the sessions, producer Martin Birch collided with a mini-bus full of nuns and paid a repair bill of £666.

Instead ‘Total Eclipse’ is about ecological collapse after nuclear war – it certainly would have fitted thematically onto the record.

‘Total Eclipse’ has been added to some reissues of Number of the Beast, particularly on CD where adding an extra track doesn’t affect fidelity. It’s often slotted in at number eight on the tracklist, after ‘Gangland’. The group performed it live regularly in 1982, and it’s sporadically popped up in set-lists in later years.

Total Eclipse Lyrics

Cold as steel the darkness waits
It’s hour will come
A cry of fear for the chosen worshipping the sun
Mother natures black revenge on those who waste her life
War babies in the garden of Eden
Shall turn our ashes to ice

Sunrise is gone, freezing up the fires
Sunrise is gone, numbing all desires
Sunrise is gone
Sunrise is gone

Around the world the people stop with terror-stricken eyes
A shadow cast upon them all to crush them like a fly
In the icy rain and whiplashed seas
There’s nowhere left to run
The hammer blows of winter fall like a hurricane

Sunrise is gone, freezing up the fires
Sunrise is gone, numbing all desires

Around the world the nations wait
For some wise words from their leading light
You know it’s not only madmen who listen to fools
Is this the end the millions cried
Clutching their riches as they died
Those who survive must weather the storm

Gone are the days when man looked down
They’ve taken away his sacred crown
To be so free, it took so long
It’s not the journeys end, it’s just begun

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  1. Great post.
    This is a stellar track. It is crazy indeed that they did leave this tune off of NOTB. There’s a live Maiden show from Hammersmith from 82 that has them playing this tune and it’s awesome.
    Like I said earlier Great Post. We (Mike Ladano) did a live stream last night and we talked about lead vocalist changes in the 90s and Dickinson exiting in 93 was one of them.

  2. Wow, Graham, I have to say you surprised me with this one. I simply didn’t think you’d listen to heavy metal. I know next to nothing about Iron Maiden. Most of the heavy metal I’ve listened to doesn’t speak much to me. I guess I’m cool with a heavy metal tune every now and then.
    When it comes to heavy rock, I’m more of a traditional hard rock guy. Deep Purple and the early Rainbow are among my favorites. And Zeppelin, of course. I also like Scorpions. While next to their ballads they have some pretty heavy stuff, usually, there’s a dose of pop/ catchy melody in their tunes that does it for me.

    • I like Iron Maiden – I don’t think they’re miles away from progressive rock like Yes, Led Zeppelin’s ‘Houses of the Holy’, or Queen’s heavier moments. I like Dickinson as a vocalist – not so keen on guttural metal singers.

  3. I have heard some Iron Maiden through some band members at times. Some is not that bad. As you can probably guess I’m no expert at all. It’s hard for me to judge a good from a bad in a lot of ways.
    I’ve liked some Judas Priest and Black Sabbath but this kind of Metal is not like that. You said it in the comment…more progressive.
    Just my personal opinion…the music of a lot of Metal is not that hard…I’ve heard rock bands be rawer and louder…it’s the singer…with the phrasing and intensity.
    Sorry…I got way off track. It’s hard for me to tell a difference between “Metal” and hard rock in some ways.

    • Judas Priest and Black Sabbath are on the hard rock end of metal, I guess. Iron Maiden are more on the progressive rock end. I don’t think any of them are especially heavy in the scheme of things.

      • Yea that is what I believe also. Being heavy doesn’t bother me…as long as there is some kind of melody I can connect to.
        When you mentioned progressive it clicked.

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