This song was influenced by the 1978 movie Damien: Omen II, which is about a 13-year-old Antichrist. It was written by Iron Maiden bass player Steve Harris, who explained: "Basically, this song is about a dream. It's not about devil worship."
Before the music starts, this opens with an a cappella quote from The Book of Revelation. The band wanted the horror film actor Vincent Price to read this intro, but he wanted more money than they were willing to pay (a year later, Price lent his voice to Michael Jackson's "Thriller"). The quote was read by an unknown thespian actor who had no interest in the band.
The number of the beast, according to Revelation 13:18 (the quoted scripture), is 666. Interestingly, 6+6+6 is 18, the number of the verse. Elsewhere in that chapter, it is stated that no man will be able to buy or sell without a mark on the right hand or forehead with the number of the beast on it. This has lead to religious zealots "finding" 666 in practically everything.
Woe to you, oh 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 Its number is six hundred and sixty six
I left alone, my mind was blank, I needed time to think To get the memories from my mind What did I see? Can I believe that what I saw That night was real and not just fantasy?
Just what I saw in my old dreams Were they reflections of my warped mind staring back at me 'Cause in my dreams, it's always there The evil face that twists my mind and brings me to despair
Night was black, was no use holding back 'Cause I just had to see, was someone watching me? In the mist, dark figures move and twist Was all this for real or just some kind of Hell?
6 6 6, the number of the beast Hell and fire was spawned to be released
Torches blazed and sacred chants were praised As they start to cry, hands held to the sky In the night, the fires are burning bright The ritual has begun, Satan's work is done
6 6 6, the number of the beast Sacrifice is going on tonight
This can't go on, I must inform the law Can this still be real, or just some crazy dream? But I feel drawn towards the chanting hordes Seem to mesmerize, can't avoid their eyes
6 6 6, the number of the beast 6 6 6, the one for you and me
I'm coming back, I will return And I'll possess your body, and I'll make you burn I have the fire, I have the force I have the power to make my evil take its course
Songwriters: Steve Harris
Lyrics© Iron Maiden Publishing Overseas Ltd., Iron Maiden Publ. Overseas Ltd., Universal Music-z Tunes