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For the first time ever Iron Maiden didn’t change the line-up between albums. Congratulations! It must have been a good thing too, cause “Powerslave” was the best album so far in their career. Released in 1984, and little did Maiden know how big their ‘World Slavery’ tour was gonna be! They once again gained in popularity, to the point where it was smart to release a live album. But that’s another review. This is all about “Powerslave”. The production is, as with “The Number of the Beast” and “Piece of Mind”, excellent. Producer Martin Birch really knew his stuff, and had created a timeless sound on this one.
‘Aces High’ kicks off the album, and with style. This is an upbeat, and very fast track, with some excellent dual guitar play, and an over-the-top vocal delivery from Dickinson. This is faster than anything on “Piece of Mind” . Looks like Maiden was out for blood again. Note the fantastic lead-guitar solos. It’s a piece of perfection. After this superb first song comes the almost as excellent ‘2 Minutes to Midnight’. This is another classic, and the lyrics are extremely well written. It’s a little more slow-paced than ‘Aces High’, but what isn’t…The main riff is one of Maiden’s best, and heavy metal at its best. With a very memorable chorus, you’re bound to hum it daily after a couple of listens. ‘Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)’ is an instrumental, and their last one ever (probably). The title is a slang for Loss For Words, I guess. The rest of it makes no sense, though. At first it may seem that this track is quite a filler. There’s really not much happening. But after a while you realize that this is one kick-ass track. It’s not a very hummable song, but you’ll appreciate it in the end. Still, it’s the worst track on the album.
Then we have ‘Flash of the Blade’. As with ‘Aces..’, it’s a fast song, with killer riffs, and a great chorus. I don’t know what went on in the Maiden camp during the recording of this album, it seems they were on speed or something. This song has a somewhat lenghty mid-section with instruments only which sound great. Dual guitars, harmonies, the works. Great material! Track number five is another fast killer and is named ‘The Duelists’. Especially the chorus is great. Also, this song has a really lenghty instrumental mid-section, which I love. This is pure class! All other metal bands, take note. Adrian and Dave is a great team, and I’m glad they both joined Iron Maiden. So comes ‘Back In the Village’, the second of two Maiden songs based on the TV series “The Prisoner”. Yet again it’s a fast track. The chorus may be a bit stupid and overly repetitive, but it’s still a great song. And the main riff is so fast and wicked, it’s unbelievable! And the solo is as with the rest of the songs incredible to listen to. Phew. This album is a rollercoaster!
So comes the title track. ‘Powerslave’ is a different kind of song altogether. It’s much slower than what has gone before (except for the mid-section of it), and is the closest of all the tracks to being a ballad. Not that it’s even close, though. It has an Egyptian feel over it, which is not strange, considering it’s about some Pharaoh. I didn’t like this song at first, but it grew on me over time. Now I love it to death! Dickinson does a really great job here. As if the vocals weren’t enough, the faster middle of the song is maybe the best “interlude” ever. It begins slowly, with a great solo, and then it speeds up to reveal a second solo. It’s this little part that is the best part of the song. Perfect, really. Then the song slows down again, and another verse and chorus with Dickinson comes along. It ends perfect. You have to hear it to…you just have to hear it!
Last, but far from least, is ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. It’s based on the poem of the same name, and it’s Maiden’s longest song yet. 13 and a half minute of pure bliss. It’s almost progressive stuff, with all the different verses and choruses. Plus, the middle of the song is completely calm, just some words spoken, and excellent bass and guitarwork. The best part is the build-up to the last third of the song. Pay close attention to the bass. It remains the best epic of them all, in my opinion.
To sum it up real quick: This is Maiden’s second best album, only beaten by “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”, and you really NEED to buy it. Every song is a masterpiece. To sum it up even quicker: This album is PERFECT!