Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed be thy Name”: A Song About the Futility of Life
Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed be thy Name” is a lengthy, progressive heavy metal track released on the band’s third album, the Number of the Beast. It is one of the band’s favorite songs and is a staple of their live set.
The song is about realizing your time is near, that death is imminent and that you will soon be one with the cosmic dust. It is very much a
last rites type of tune, as the narrator reflects back on their life as they walk closer and closer to their untimely (and undeserved) demise.
The narrator of the song, more specifically, is an innocent man who will soon be lead to the gallows pole to be executed. The narration starts in his cell, he is tense and ready for his big final moment. The bell chiming is symbolic of his time on Earth drawing to an end. The futility of life is questioned, the narrator claiming life down here is just a
strange illusion. A hint of hostility is also displayed – this person is about to be wrongfully executed for crimes that he or she surely did not commit, and as a result, a lot of the lyrics seem frustrated and in shock at this turn of events.
The lyrics are open to interpretation, beyond the theme of death. While the most obvious lyrical interpretation is the thoughts of a man (or woman) on death row, awaiting their final plunge into darkness, it can also be interpreted as the death of anything important in one’s life – perhaps someone is about to end a relationship, quit a job, or leave the band they are in. These interpretations vary person-to-person, as personal meaning can be derived from this epic track, but the most literal interpretation is the feelings of futility as the hand of fate points its finger at you.