- 29 Jun 21
While yesterday Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson made the headlines for his comments on Brexit during an appearance on Sky News, Edwin McFee was much more interested in what it said on his t shirt. HP’s resident Maiden maniac (and budding Jessica Fletcher!) explains further as he attempts to unravel the ongoing mystery behind Belshazzar’s Feast...
This time 24 hours ago, I think it’s fair to say that save for those of you who paid attention during religion lessons at school, most people had never heard of “Belshazzar’s Feast.” However, after spotting Iron Maiden frontman and notorious titillator Bruce Dickinson was wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with those words I decided to strap my shiniest tin foil hat onto my cranium and do a bit of digging to find out what it all meant.
Now first off, Belshazzar’s Feast is also known as the story of the writing on the wall, which appears in the Book Of Daniel in the Old Testament (remember that name for later). Why is this relevant, you ask? Well in the new artwork released a few months ago for Iron Maiden’s Legacy Of The Beast Tour 2022, eagle eyed readers will spot the legend “W.O.T.W.” behind their famous mascot Eddie and it’s LITERALLY WRITTEN ON A WALL.
Fast forward to June 28 (ie yesterday...keep up!) and Bruce Dickinson is sporting the aforementioned (and soon to be iconic) Belshazzar’s Feast t-shirt on the telly. When asked what Iron Maiden were up to, the scamp replied he couldn’t say as it was a secret but it will be revealed shortly and then remarked “I can’t tell you what it is, but it’s right in front of you.” What was right in front of us? The words Belshazzar’s Feast peeping out under his denim shirt. Cue your humble scribe’s jaw hitting the floor, followed by a night spent trawling the interwebs to find out more while chugging some Trooper beers.
I know people are talking about Bruce Dickinson today for another reason, but I noticed his shirt (might) say "Belshazzars Feast" AKA the story of The Writing On The Wall. "WOTW" has shown up in the background of @IronMaiden tour artwork recently...do I win a prize @metalhammer?
— Edwin McFee (@edwinmcfee) June 28, 2021
A few hours later, the treasure hunt picked up pace when images of posters for “Belshazzar’s Feast” began appearing on Twitter, which were strategically placed at the recent Download Festival, which occurs at Donington (Maiden’s spiritual home, for the unenlightened).
— Edwin McFee (@edwinmcfee) June 28, 2021
After a full examination of the poster, I spotted a few things.
Exhibit A: IMXVI is written in the bottom right corner. Once translated from Roman Numerals it could mean Iron Maiden 17 (the follow up to 2015’s The Book Of Souls would be album number 17 from the metal titans).
Exhibit B: There are three titles- “Live Forever,” “Man Or Beast” and “Heaven Or Hell.” Could these be song titles, or lyrics to new material?
Exhibit C: The poster includes a date-15/07. Will Maiden’s much starved fans finally be able to sink their teeth into this so-called Feast in a few weeks?
At that moment, I wasn’t 100% sure if the poster was linked to the Irons, but then I saw a few photos of the band’s manager Rod Smallwood with said poster teasingly peeking out behind him and the rest of the Heavy Metal Truants team. That my friends, was when I went fully down the rabbit hole and became a believer (for more on HMT’s heroic exploits raising money for charity visit heavymetaltruants.com).
But wait, there’s more. Not only was Bruce Dickinson spotted in a Belshazzar’s Feast t-shirt, but folk punk guitar slinger Frank Turner wore one too backstage at Download. Granted, the argument could be made that Belshazzar’s Feast might be an obscure grindcore band, of course, but when you take into account that the former Million Dead frontman is a well known Maiden fanatic and chose the band as his specialist subject on Mastermind, I think we can discount that (and if Phantom Management, Eddie The ‘ead or Warners Ireland are reading this, I’d love one of those tees too, please. Size Large).
Also, check out this backstage interview with Frank. Exhibit D, if you will...
Nine minutes into the chat, Neil Jones asked him about his thoughts on the rumoured new Iron Maiden album and after a valiant attempt at hiding a knowing grin, he casually unzips his hoodie while talking to subtly reveal (yes, you’ve guessed it) a Belshazzar’s Feast t shirt (insert dramatic Hammer Horror music here).
And finally, just to re-confirm our readers suspicions that I’ve probably gone full-on conspiracy theorist like the head the balls on Facebook, the mystery of Belshazzar’s Feast officially started on June 28 and will end 17 days later on July 15. Is that a cheeky reference to an impending 17th LP from the greatest metal band on the planet? You decide...but my excitement levels are at 666%!
While Hot Press doesn’t know for sure if Maiden will be announcing more music soon, what we do know is that they’re playing the Belsonic festival in Belfast on June 13, 2022 and it’s guaranteed to be the gig of the year.
And if you’re hungry for more on Belshazzar’s Feast, email [email protected] and while you’re at it, maybe give @bels_feast a follow on Twitter too. The user also known as “Daniel” (full marks if you remember why that’s relevant!) seems to be one step ahead of the rest of us sleuths….I’m sure the fact that he only follows 16 accounts all with a vague reference to 16 of Maiden’s albums (so far!) like The X Factor and the Killers is merely a coincidence….! *Pulls tin hat on a little tighter*