Iron Maiden are trying to tell us something. Last week, singer Bruce Dickinson took to a theater balcony to proclaim the following: “July the 15th. Rain or shine. Heaven or hell, man or beast, you're invited to Belshazzar's Feast. But your mum can’t come.”

This isn't the first time Iron Maiden have mixed a historical reference into their work — in fact, they've done it in multiple songs and albums, peppering in details about various subjects like the arts, history and religion — but what exactly is Belshazzar's Feast?

As Iron Maiden fans have no doubt discovered, having spent the past several days attempting to solve Dickinson's riddle, the story of Belshazzar's Feast also involves some intensive decoding.

In chapter five of the biblical Book of Daniel, the Babylonian prince Belshazzar hosts an elaborate feast in the wake of the destruction of the First Temple, but the festivities are not long-lasted: A disembodied hand soon appears and begins to write on the wall. No one, not even Belshazzar's wise men, can read the writing.

Daniel, a captive of King Nebuchadnezzar well known for his wisdom, is called to the scene. He deciphers the message written by the hand of God: Belshazzar's days are numbered due to his blasphemy and his kingdom will subsequently be given over to the Medes – who were ancient Iranians – and the Persians. (This is believed to be the origin of the phrase "the writing on the wall," which Iron Maiden have hinted at with their use of the acronym "W.O.T.W.") The same evening, Belshazzar is killed and Darius the Mede becomes the new leader of Babylon.

So, in context of Iron Maiden's recent announcements, it appears that the days left to wait for new music are numbered, according to the writing on the wall.


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