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Oh, great. Another Iron Maiden album i've yet to listen to. But in my never-ending quest to listen to every Maiden album since I experienced the thrashing punk-metal on their self-titled debut and its follow-up, Killers (arguably the two albums that changed my life at thirteen) I was perpared for an arena-ready glam metal that had less metal than Judas Priest and less makeup than Motley Crue.
But, amazingly, Powerslave doesn't follow the trend set by Number Of The Beast. Instead, the band strays unto new ground that their followers had been setting, leaving behind the glam sound for more riffs and more heavy, making a thrash-power metal crossover that would leave room for metal giants Metallica and Pantera to experiment with in the 90s.
The album thunderingly begins with Aces High, a riff-induced monster that sounds perfect to open shows with, with the strong muscular palm-muting riffs that the song is surrounded with. Powerslave doesn't mellow there, choosing to thrash and rage right into 2 Minutes To Midnight, which would be the album's biggest single and heaviest hit. Losfer Words, despite having a rather shty name, is a bleak instrumental that just slows the rage of the album into something progressive, which is a route Maiden never needed to go (sadly, they did with their most recent albums, in Dance of Death and A Matter of Life and Death).
Flash of the Blade, The Duellists, and Back In The Village are all great, real metal songs, and Powerslave slowly starts to build up the thundering pace that it started with before it runs into the greatest song Maiden has ever made: the title track. The opening riff is dark, powerful dhit, and the song continues to thrash on, with Egyptian flair and allusions to mythology smushed (yes, smushed) with Bruce Dickinson's rumble of a voice. It's pure magic.
Yet Maiden finds a way to almost totally destroy the magic they had achieved with their previous song with a dullfest named "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner". Based on a poem as old as dirt, this 14-minute (14-minute!!!) supposed "epic" is just a drone, with Maiden again trying to be a progresssive band when they really need to throw away all of their Pink Floyd records.
Despite the progresive shortcomings, Powerslave is a welcome change to the arena-ready pop metal of their previous albums with Bruce Dickinson, and is definately one of their greatest albums.