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Iron Maiden > Powerslave > Reviews
Iron Maiden - Powerslave

Just like pyramids, a monument that will stand the pass of time - 98%

SpeedMetalPunch, November 19th, 2022

Recently, I found myself listening to Iron Maiden again. I replayed Piece of Mind twice a day for two consecutive weeks, listened again to The Number of the Beast, enjoyed my all time favourite by them (Somewhere in Time) quite too much, if you ask me, and gave another oportunity to albums I didn't know I loved until I grew up and left my adolescence behind; that's the case with Seventh Son of a Seventh Son, and, especially, Powerslave. After listening to everything Maiden released in the 80s, I found Powerslave to be much better than I remembered. This album has 0.5% filler, since every single song here is an absolute banger: fifty minutes of pure, raw, unchained heavy metal.

Piece of Mind was a huge step forward in Maiden's musical production and writing: the juvenile style that distinguished them started to vanish but was present in songs like Sun and Steel or Die With your Boots On, and the lyricism had a heavier focus on stories and legends, and again, with Powerslave, Iron Maiden consolidated themselves as the indisputable creators of high quality heavy metal. This album has everything Piece of Mind had right, but like ten times better: the riffs are faster and yet way more creative, the mix between the instruments create sometimes an orchestra mood that wrap your brain in, making you lose yourself in the intricate dance of the amazing musical exposition, and the lyrics were smarter than ever before.

This album contains many of the most famous tracks of the band: Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner; four absolute killers in an 8-song record. That's absolutely insane! And even if you say "but the rest of the album just lacks in terms of quality!", you would be wrong. Every song has something to offer in terms of composition: Losfer Words is an instrumental song with many variations in its riffs, Flash of the Blade has an amazing riff that almost deviates from the classic heavy norm, The Duellists has complex instrument mix that complements quite well, and Back in the Village is just fucking amazing with its sick riff and speed. Every single one of the songs in Powerslave are unskippable.

The production in this album is insane. The bass plays a big role in every song and if you replace Steve Harris with another bass player or make him do simple bass lines, this album wouldn't have soul at all. I have lost the count of how many times I've replayed 2 Minutes to Midnight because I was simply amazed with how Steve Harris' work did for the song; the focus on the bass was an incredible success for Maiden here. The guitars also have this powerful, piercing sound despite not being the center of the album, and the drum work of Nicko McBrain is absolutely genius, especially in Flash of the Blade and Back in the Village.

Earlier, I stated that, sometimes, this album felt like listening to an orchestra. Adrian Smith and Dave Murray work along to create that deep, complex sound with mixes between the two guitars. If you carefully listen to The Duellist solo, you'll hear how Dave Murray and Adrian Smith have this little fight for the domain, complementing each other quite good, and there is also space for Steve Harris to be the main focus too. The composition is incredible, smart and carefully controlled.

This album is, without a doubt, an absolute hit, the best weapon made by a blacksmith or a beautiful picture by a famous painter. Powerslave consolidated Iron Maiden as one of the bigger bands on the planet, and it's not for less, since here they matured (even more) their sound, their style, and went in for the kill.

Iron Maiden - Powerslave - 100%

Orbitball, October 15th, 2022
Written based on this version: 2019, CD, Sanctuary Records (Digipak, Reissue, Remastered, US)

Probably the most catchy Iron Maiden release that I've ever heard. And I've been into metal for over 30 years! The chorus's are epic and the rhythms are unique as all hell. The leads amazing and Bruce on vocals never disappoints! The riffs and vocals are how this album shines. Not a song here that is "bad" or "bogus." They all are amazing! I'm surprised that I became a Maiden fan so much later on in their career. But that's alright, I'm able to enjoy it now! The guitars and vocals especially. They put on a great live performance as well! The songs sound as good as they are on the album.

This whole album rocks, there isn't a song on here that's devoid of glory. Every song is a highlight and for a 40 year old album the production is good. I got the remastered version but still! All the instruments were well mixed. Hands down, my favorite Maiden release! The songs are just epic! The lead guitars smoked as well. They sound just as good live as they do on the album. Maybe even better! These guys are the pioneers in heavy metal. If you just take a listen to this one if you're a critic and you'll hear what I mean. They're a 5-piece on this one live there were 6 members. Man do they crush live!

Bruce sounds great on here and he had to battle throat cancer. Of course, this was way back in the early 80's when he was in his prime. He still sounds good though at 64 years old. I'm glad I got to see them perform before they retire. It doesn't seem like they're going to though, I think there's still the fire in all of them. I still need to build up my Maiden collection I only own two of their releases. Good thing that there's a local record store that stocks a lot of METAL!! I made sure to get this one first since I've heard it before. It's no surprise that there's 30 reviews for this album! A lot of say about it!

Do yourself a favor if you're a newbie in heavy metal start with this Maiden album! Buy the CD, don't just stream it. But well, if you're going to stream it first get a physical copy next if you aren't convinced. The guitars, vocals and vibe is all there. "Aces High" and "2 Minutes To Midnight" are my favorite songs from this one. But they're all good. The originality in the guitars and Bruce's voice is top notch. The range is there and Bruce just smokes. This guy can really sing. The guitars go well with the vocals. Do yourself a favor and pick this up it's worth its weight in gold!

Powerstruggle - 68%

simonitro, May 21st, 2022
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, EMI

It does feel like punching yourself in the gut whenever you are saying unfavorable things to bands that you admire especially when an album is regarded as one of the greats in the metal genre.

Iron Maiden is a band that needs no introduction. With their accolades, releases spanning to this day, live shows toured all across the world, they're not doubt one of the biggest, if not, the biggest and most successful band in the world whether you're into metal or not, Maiden have been a staple in music, as a whole. So, it does make me feel upset not liking a major album in their catalogue in Powerslave.

The thing for me is that I tried and I tried and I tried. I tried to listen to it here and there... multiple times... even twice in a seating to understand and see the album for what it is but I couldn't like this album as much. I think "Somewhere In Time" is SO MUCH better album than Powerslave, in my opinion.

Now, there are 3 songs that I really love and sound fantastic and filled with energy and of course, "Aces High" and "2 Minutes To Midnight" and the third song that I love is the title track "Powerslave". Those are my personal favorites from the album. We all heard "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight" being excellent one-two punches as openers especially 2 Minutes. Everything about these songs feel upbeat, filled with energy and gets you headbanging and all the good stuff. "Powerslave" delve into the atmosphere of Egypt, as the album cover has stated" is an absolute banger and the solos in the middle are just breath-taking.

Now, the positives, somewhat, stops here for me and then the other songs happen. My biggest gripes on this album are two things... either the songs are unmemorable or it's too gallop-y to my liking and it can be quite a bit overpowering.

For the sake of the review, I might do a bit of a track-by-track of sorts to get the point across so, anywho... here we go:

So after the awesome track "2 Minutes to Midnight", we have the instrumental: "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)". It's a good instrumental but not too memorable and the gallop-y/bass-y riff start to get overpowering from here. It's fine but for the most part, all you hear is "glunkity-glunkity-glunkity-glunk" moreso than having this instrumental sounds like a song. That's what I remember from the song more than it feels like a flowing one and once it's done, it feels very whatever. It's like having an examination in school or college... once you're done with the exam and another friends asks you about it, you're like: "I don't remember much." and this is how I feel about this song.

Now, we have the middle portion of the album with "Flash of the Blade", "The The Duellists" and "Back in the Village" and these songs do sound very same-y with "Back in the Village" is best out of the three songs. They're pretty much start with an opener riffs, "glunkity-glunkity-glunkity-glunkity" and Bruce Dickenson wailing uninspired choruses and still very forgettable. I swear, other Maiden albums have much better and more memorable songs all throughout but here, it's just very frustrating and even the lyrics feel very generic and like I said, "Back in the Village" music sounding a bit better than all three.

So, anyway, I got those out of the way and now, the biggest misfire of the WHOLE album with the 13+ minutes in "Rime of the Ancient Mariner". I love lengthy and epic tracks and overtime, Iron Maiden made better ones in later albums in both "The Book of Souls" and "Senjutsu" but here, this sure feels very anti-climactic. It's starts fine with a rocky, energetic feel to it until the after the 5+ minute mark which we get a very slow part which is fine at first with narration and all and which feels like ships on water with broken sails but it goes on a bit too long. With whatever energy the song had from the beginning of this song, it is all gone and what's frustrating is that it doesn't gradually go up in speed to give us a kick-ass moment in the song... it just happens without any flair and then the song ends and the album, as well. No fire, no flair, no grandeur or anything that feels like an epic finale. This song sucks and the worst song on the album. It's like it took all of my frustration throughout the album and put them into one. I've listened to this album SO MANY TIMES and that is all I remember from this song and I tried. There are plenty of albums that I heard once or twice that had more impact in terms of lengthy songs... see. Moonsorrow. I know... different genres but they have 18 minutes songs that are memorable throughout and even later in Maiden's career had better lengthy songs that are way, WAY better see. "Empire of the Clouds".

So, anyway, it does pain me to write the negatives on this album because of the reputation that it has and it is regarded as their best album and the best in metal but to me most of the songs are forgettable, frustrating and as a whole, uninspiring for only like 3 songs. I guess, to me, this pharaoh is lost "Somewhere in Time"... give me that album instead.

Iron Maiden V: The Artwork Pretty Much Sums It Up - 97%

DanielG06, December 24th, 2021

Of all the albums in the massive Iron Maiden catalogue, it's not even a contest that this album, tied with Killers, are the fan favourites, and with good reason. While this remains to be my personal least favourite of the band's run of records from 1982-1988, it's still a colossal, unstoppable, near-perfect assault of melodic heavy metal, and everything from the album cover, to the production, to the lyrics, to the solos, to the riffs all kick ass. The production is probably what I should talk about first; it hasn't changed much since Piece of Mind, but the lead guitars do sound much drier, which certainly fits with the Egyptian vibe of this album.

Even though the title track may be the only song that revolves around this topic, the entire album sounds very eastern and hypnotic in terms of sonorities, such as the intro riff of Back in the Village, the harmonies in The Duellists, the main riff of Two Minutes to Midnight, and the huge middle section of Rime of The Ancient Mariner, which I will talk about more deeply later on. But, the guitar tone is seriously crunchy in comparison to other bands of Iron Maiden's style at the time.

The melodies on Powerslave are excellent, if you were to ask me what my top 10 favourite Maiden solos would be, about 6 or 7 of them would be on here. During tracks like Flash of the Blade and The Duellists, the lead work is very melancholy, and similar to Still Life and To Tame a Land from the previous record. At other points in the album, the guitar solos are frantic, but are simultaneously beautiful, such as in Aces High.

The vocals on Powerslave might be Bruce's best performance, as he boasts some of his most insanely high notes in almost every track. His voice may have been shot during the World Slavery tour, but having to sing these hooks 180 times in a year would kill anyone's lung capacity. Nevertheless, his vocal work on Powerslave is incredible, and Dickinson is at his most dynamic. The drumming here is intricate as ever, and although Nicko McBrain isn't credited for any writing on this record, he definitely understands how to keep the songs together, and vastly improves the atmosphere of some tracks, such as the ride cymbal alternation during the tempo change in Two Minutes to Midnight.

Actual songwriting on this album is iconic almost entirely throughout, it starts straight away with 2 anthems that you've heard a million times each, and they are still phenomenal songs. When I was lucky enough to see Maiden in 2018, they opened with those two songs, which shows how prominent they still are in the band's legacy. However, I would argue that half of this record is very underrated, the instrumental Losfer Words is an odd instrumental, but it's still very catchy, and the melodies are very upbeat, it's not a track that I would listen to usually, but if I'm listening to this album, I never skip Losfer Words.

Flash of the Blade, on the other hand, is a great song, the vocals are amazing, the main riff and the solo also heavily flex the band's influence on power metal. The Duellists is also incredible, if slightly overlong, but its middle section is one of the band's absolute finest moments. My personal favourite of the underappreciated songs on Powerslave is Back in the Village, a bizarre song that recalls The Prisoner lyrically, and honestly what makes this song so good is the rapid riffing style, although musically it may seem quite bland and formulaic, you can't deny that the energy in Back in the Village really makes the song what it is.

Finally, the final two songs on the album may be the biggest examples of the ambitious songwriting of Powerslave. The title track is powerful, malevolent, ominous and touching at the same time. The vocal harmonies during the chorus are haunting, and give the song a very sombre undertone, not to mention that the riffs are amazing and the solo is one of the band's greatest. The closer, the monumental Rime of the Ancient Mariner, is a perfect example of how to write a long song. It is littered with dynamic, rich ornamentation, such as the quiet part, where a verse from the eponymous poem is recited, accompanied with the eerie creaking of floorboards, and the cawing of birds.

The band really nailed it with this song, and the orchestral feeling that some of the riffs during the middle section have really enhance the baroque atmosphere, and once again, Bruce's vocals are almost inhuman, and he definitely is the icing on the dramatic cake of this song.

Overall, Powerslave is an essential album, it is like Defenders of the Faith's older, brawnier and also more handsome brother. It has everything that a fan of Iron Maiden would want, in every song. The only reason I don't think it is as good as some of the band's other records is because it just doesn't seem as infectious or memorable as Somewhere in Time, or Seventh Son, but this is only slightly noticeable, and really is subjective.

Albums I like a lot: Part V - 100%

JetMeestard, August 27th, 2021

They say every journey starts with a single step, and music, or more precisely metal in this case is no different. I remember listening to Iron Maiden’s “Fear of the Dark” when I was 11 like it was yesterday, for it was that song that sparked my love for metal as a whole. From that point forward the British titans were almost all I listened to for the next two years, before I took a detour into other genres *cough* nu-metal *cough*. Following that though I got back into the good stuff, and the band got back into rotation as if they never left. Picking a favourite album from these guys is the equivalent of having to pick a favourite child (it’s actually rather easy to do the latter but we don’t talk about that), but after a great deal of thinking I settled on their fifth album, the amazing Powerslave.

This is probably the first Maiden album where the band came 100% into their own and perfected their craft. For all it’s worth, the band’s previous two albums, despite having some excellent songs were also dragged down by filler (see “22 Acacia Avenue” off Number of the Beast, or “Still Life” from Piece of Mind). Here though? There’s not a single moment that goes to waste. Even the short instrumental “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)” kicks ass, despite its brevity and lack of lyrics. Powerslave is probably one of the few, if not the only Maiden album that is absolutely bereft of filler, and it really shows. Every gallop and dueling guitar lead is exhilarating and propels this album’s enjoyment factor into the stratosphere.

Powerslave is also where the band managed to hit a perfect balance between their shorter and their more epic side. You get legendary gallop fests like “Aces High” and “2 Minutes to Midnight”, which have stood the test of time and have been setlist mainstays for the past few decades, as well as more long winded and grand compositions like the title track and the sailing “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. All of these tracks are filled to the brim with catchy riffs, exciting choruses and all around fantastic songwriting. I’d be remiss not to talk about the title track specifically, which to this day stands as my favourite song the band has ever written, with its ominous Egyptian atmosphere and steady mid-paced gait making it one of the best heavy metal songs of all time.

And how could we possibly forget about the vocals? Bruce Dickinson absolutely nails it here, as he did for every single album they put out during the 80s. His iconic delivery and wailing has resulted in some of the catchiest songs I’ve heard in my life. I shit you not, I regularly catch myself humming and singing a lot of these tracks to myself even after going for long periods without listening to the album itself. If that’s not a testament to how catchy the vocal lines and hooks are I don’t know what is.

The production is also another reason as to why the album sounds so good, besides the compositional skill itself. Everything sounds bright and full, with the guitars having a sharp sound that is supplemented by the plunky bass, while everything is propped up by the punchy and driving sound of the drums. The mixing is also flawless, with everything being perfectly audible at all times and never struggling to be heard. It’s just a complete joy to listen to, and the fact that they managed to get such results while avoiding sounding saccharine and sterile is commendable.

Powerslave is awesome. It’s an album that has been with me since the start of my journey in metal music and its importance to me cannot be understated. I’ve enjoyed it regardless of what phase I was in musically, whether that’d be black metal or something else. Many albums have come and gone through the years but this one has stood the test of time and has stuck around for the past 10 years. Here’s to 10 more.

Highlights: Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Powerslave, Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Considered by many to be their greatest (just not me) - 83%

AtomicMassHysteria87, August 2nd, 2020

It's quite common to hear people say that this album is the band's best ever, and it's easy to see why. It's intense, features some of the guys' most demanding playing (especially Bruce), it's gorgeous and exotic in presentation, both aesthetically and musically, and it came out when Iron Maiden were ruling the world, exposing themselves to thousands on the grueling World Slavery tour. But I don't think it sits head and shoulders above the rest of their discography, it fits snugly among its predecessors, but not over them like many believe.

It certainly starts off on the right foot, with "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight" quite possibly being the greatest one-two-punch opening in metal history, the former typifying the intense, hectic sound of the album, while "Midnight" manages a solid compromise between Maiden's shorter, more accessible songs and their monstrous epics. If someone asked me 'Who's Iron Maiden?', I'd show them this song. The album stumbles slightly with "Losfer Words", the first instrumental since "Genghis Khan" and the last one they've done since. Obviously something's missing (the lyrics), but the nice melodies in the "chorus" make up for it. The song isn't offensively bad or anything and it does change things up a little bit.

"Flash of the Blade" lures you in with the tapping intro, straight into its lyrics based on the legend of St. George and the Dragon. An underrated track, buried underneath greatness. The second half, however, stumbles with "The Duelists" an unremarkable song that goes on too long. The chorus isn't very memorable and I find myself tuning out on repeat listens of the album. "Back in the Village", admittedly, kicks ass musically, but the lyrics come off as silly, even more so than usual, and can distract from the awesomeness if you're paying attention, otherwise you're too busy admiring the crazy riffs to care.

Thankfully everything comes to a head with the final two tracks. The title track injects some exotic, Egyptian flair and could easily have capped the album off by itself, but after it comes the legendary "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", a leviathan of a song, clocking in at 13 minutes and 34 seconds, but not that you would've noticed, for it seems to be over in no time. It's so well paced and enthralling that it's stunning. It's pacing rivals that of "Hallowed Be Thy Name", and puts every longer track on "Piece of Mind" to shame. It's incredible and may very well be Iron Maiden's crowning achievement.

With that the album is over, and we're left with yet another amazing release from Ed and the boys. With its soaring highs it's no wonder people love this album so, however it stills suffers from a couple of weaker tracks that hold it back from true perfection. Even diamonds have flaws, but that doesn't mean they aren't glorious.

Live For The Touch Of The Feel Of The Steel - 100%

Sweetie, March 23rd, 2020

What many consider the greatest Iron Maiden effort, Powerslave took the groundwork from its predecessor and engaged the songs through raw rhythms under tight leads. No loose ends go unattended here, and the way that something packed with many different subjects under what feels like one tale is remarkable. By that, I mean that the band jumps from songs about WWII artillery to ancient Egyptian folklore while emitting the exact same energy. At the end of the day, that's why I believe Bruce and co. were able to craft their first massive epic on the back end of this so smoothly. It drew the energy from everything else and applied it to an immaculate work of poetry.

But this lies more in the deep cuts. "Aces High" and "2 Minutes To Midnight" are fantastic tunes, but they're quite obviously written in a safer format. The instrumental "Losfer Words" replaces vocals with instrumental melody that's possibly catchier than a lot of the other tunes. The band displayed an ability to time the rhythmic breaks exceptionally, syncing the advanced drum work up with the hooky leads perfectly. Do I even need to mention the bass, and go on about how Steve Harris amps this up even more?

Moreover, the contrasting factors of this disc are compelling. Looking at "Back In The Village" and the title track, the two are literal opposites. But they back eachother up in a way that makes the album continue the excellent flow. The former is crafted on fuming speed metal riffs, while the latter takes treachery to the next level by dumping on firm and menacing slower kicks. If those work together as one massive track, "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is like your sequel that smashes both ideas together and weaves in heftier leads.

Oddly enough though, my favorite track from Powerslave is one that almost nobody talks about. "Flash Of The Blade" is such a criminally overlooked tune. The backing vocals trading off with the lead vocals in the chorus are icing on what is already a perfect cake. Much like "Revelations" on the previous record, some of the best lyrical competency shines through on this. Every note on the guitar is also catchier than it has any business being. I chalk this up to the simpler nature of the song, while once again, giving off the same vibes as the other more complex ones. "The Duellists" was a smart follow up, as the writing is similar, but the solo dives far deeper into pool of progression.

The fifth Iron Maiden album deserves all the praise it gets. I easily put it at number two following its predecessor, and while I may like Piece Of Mind better, this one's an easier one to swallow. The flow is smooth, the execution is sharp, and the writing is spectacular. An obvious classic that's talked about so much that I'll be shocked if you even made it to the end of this.

Better than Piece of Mind, but that's not saying much - 73%

DMhead777, July 7th, 2019

I'm starting to see a trend in this Maiden albums as I am writing these reviews. It appears that I like Iron Maiden a lot less than I thought I did. I originally went out to listen to all these classic Maiden albums mainly because they are regarded as one of the best heavy metal bands of all time. I legitimately thought I was missing something before. "How do I not know many of their albums or songs?" was what I kept asking myself that lead me to write these reviews in the first place. So far, the only thing that impressed me to all hell was "The Number of the Beast". That album is the closest thing I'll get to perfection when it comes to Maiden I'm assuming. I always heard that "Powerslave" was better than "Piece of Mind" because they cut down on the annoying filler, but in "Powerslave" they went one step forward and two steps back.

I actually had super high hopes listening to this. The first four songs are absolute bangers. "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight" are the absolute best songs on this album. Their catchy lyrics are matched by the amazing musicianship of the rest of the band. Bruce Dickinson sounds unbelievable on these two tracks. These songs are always on Iron Maiden's best list and I can see why. I honestly thought going forward would be even better because I'm basically unfamiliar with the rest of the album. "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" is a fantastic instrumental song that really showcases that after five albums, the band has not lost its touch at all. In fact, it's really the greatest thing Maiden has going for them. Finally, "Flash of the Blade" comes on and I have to say, I really loved this song. The chorus is fantastic and will definitely be in my head for the rest of the week. I think what really works in this song is that Dickinson's voice is utilized perfectly here. The lyrics don't go too quick (like the rest of the album) and it is very unique compared to the first three songs. Long story short, it's just a super fun song to listen to. Unfortunately, this is where my excitement dropped off.

I understand that there is one more song on the A side, which is "The Duellists", but I find it easier to separate this album half and half. You see, "The Duellists" starts a trend in this album where Dickinson becomes extremely fucking annoying. It pains me to say this because I consider him one of the best vocalists in metal. I'm not sure what it is, but I feel like on every song after "Flash of the Blade" contains this super whiny, high-pitched, singing that I couldn't stand at all. On "The Duellists" it's tolerable, but it's even worse on "Back in the Village" That chorus is so cringey and high-pitched that I needed to take a break from listening to this thing. The chorus is unlike any other part of the album in which it's just flat out bad. The repeated lines,

"Back in the village
Again in the village
I’m back in the village again, yeah"

is now burned into my head for the wrong reasons. This very much could be the worst Maiden song I have ever listened to. Fortunately, all is not lost because you have the rest of the band banging it out like they do on every album. The lyrics and vocals just sound terrible on here. Things start to get a bit better from here though. The title track, "Powerslave" comes on and I was a bit disappointed. While the song sounds unique and fresh compared to the rest of the album, there is something else to be desired. Maybe it is the fact that it's over seven minutes long, and I grew tired quickly. The chorus is sung wonderfully and the instrumentals have this super fun Egyptian theme going. The galloping guitars actually work on here. That brings me to the final song, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" and boy is this a long ass song. Clocking in at over thirteen minutes, this is a behemoth of a tune. It has a very awesome sounding story at the price of pure boredom. There is a three minute break where the song comes to a crawl because there is some spoken word stuff. I wouldn't have minded this tune normally. I love when Maiden tells a cohesive metal story, but this is just way too long.

Overall, this album is a disappointment if I am being honest. After the first four songs, it goes down hill fast. On the second half of "Powerslave" it just sounds like Dickinson is hitting TOO high of notes for the songs and desperately trying to keep up with the fast paced instrumentals. He is a great singer and the rest of the band are fantastic at what they do, so this seems like it should be an immaculate album. Unfortunately it suffers from very poor song writing and questionable vocal ranges. It is better than the filler album, "Piece of Mind", but that's honestly not saying much.

Recommended songs: "Aces High", "2 Minutes to Midnight", "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)", and "Flash of the Blade"

Into the Abyss - 97%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, March 30th, 2019

It’s pretty rare when an album ticks off all the boxes for things I love about metal, but Powerslave somehow manages to do it. Powerful vocals? Check. Amazing riffs and catchy guitar harmonies? Check. Bass that is not only audible, but actually does more than just play the root notes? Check. Lyrics that tell interesting stories? Oh, you better believe that’s a check.

"Powerslave" is Iron Maiden at their absolute best. Their songwriting was in top form, and I think that having the whole band contribute to the songs this time around, instead of having Steve Harris dominate the songwriting, helped bring in a good mixture of sounds to the fray. You have the dramatic, more epic songs that display Maiden's more technical side, with the kind of grand, ambitious songwriting that they've pursued more in recent years. The music can get pretty damn technical when they want to, e.g the lightning fast pulloffs on "Back in the Village."

On the other hand, there's the more straightforward songs like "Two Minutes To Midnight" and "Flash of the Blade," which are no less catchy or well written than some of the more proggy songs on the album, with great riffwork. I must say, out of all the songs that use the same iconic riff as "Two Minutes To Midnight," even the ones predating it like "Flash Rockin Man" or "Gangland," Maiden pulls it off the best, with some bitingly anti-war lyrics adding to the song's dramatic atmosphere. There's even Maiden's last instrumental piece, "Losfer Words" (geddit?), and even without Dickinson's powerful voice, the song is still intriguing and fun as hell to listen to, with catchy, uplifting guitar leads that refuse to leave your head. Really, if there's one word to sum up the music here, it's catchy. Every song here will stay with you after one listen, thanks to the irresistible riffs and vocal melodies.

And then there's the title track. My god, what a monster of a song. Dickinson really outdid himself on this one, telling his tale of a Pharaoh on his deathbed coming to terms with his own mortality. Eerie phrygian melodies add to the ominous atmosphere of the song, and let's not forget about Steve Harris' melodic bassline underneath the guitar solo, almost acting as a solo in and of itself, a la Geezer Butler in War Pigs. But the solo itself is no slouch, and is a great showcase of Dave Murray's bluesy, melodic leanings.

"Powerslave" benefits from a crisp, clean production job. It's not too glossy, but the guitars are clear and cutting, the bass is warm and audible, and the drums are solid as a rock. Dickinson's voice in in top shape here. He's able to hit the high notes with ease, and he's more than capable of adding a good amount of grit and snarl to his lower register to make things sound a bit more aggressive or sinister.

If there's one nitpick that I have with this album, it's that "The Duellists" isn't quite up to snuff in terms of songwriting with the rest of the album. The riffs are a bit basic and uninteresting, not as catchy or gripping as the rest of the album, and the middle guitar break that takes up nearly half the song goes on too long for my liking. If the whole song had been kept down to 4 minutes, But other than that, Powerslave is an absolute treasure of an album, and in my mind it set the gold standard for heavy metal.

A work of art - 99%

TrooperEd, March 2nd, 2018
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, EMI (Remastered, Enhanced)

I will never, ever get tired of this album. Specifically I will never get tired of the closing triumvirate of Back In the Village, the title track and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Yes, I included Back In The Village amongst that bunch. This wonderful speed metal ode to the Prisoner sounds like Hot For Teacher put through the most hilarious game of telephone and out pops this hybrid of thrash and swing. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In what must have resulted in the most disappointing schoolyard roulette games of "which Iron Maiden member will be replaced next," across the world, Powerslave finds the Piece of Mind lineup not only intact, but having gelled together after a year better than most lineups do after five years. Every member of the band reaches the peak of their instrumental game here, and it is not a peak that will disappear after one album (though it might start to erode live performance wise as a result of too many booked dates on the World Slavery Tour, but I digress). Dave Murray and Adrian Smith become the best riffing and soloing twin guitar act in the business, executing rhythm tracks that, sure, you could make like James Hetfield and down-pick them, but why would you want to give yourself carpal-tunnel syndrome in your twenties? Nicko McBrain becomes the greatest one kick-pedal drummer alive, Bruce, while shedding most of the Samson gang viciousness, has fully blossomed into the greatest mid-range vocalist in metal, possibly even music, and Steve Harris has finally managed to erect that larger than the real Stonehenge sized middle finger to all the misers who "liked Maiden when they were more punk." This was never, EVER supposed to be a punk band you wankers, the self-titled and Killers albums were just larvae stages that were slowly budding to this overdue inductee to the Library of Congress. As a bass player especially, he has brilliant moments all over the album but where he seems to shine the most are on the songs he didn't even write, practically stealing the show right back under from Adrian and Bruce.

Some critics would say that sometimes 80's Maiden epics go on for too long, and where I come from thems are fightin' words. But that said, there is one teensy, tiny nitpick I have with this album that prevents me from awarding the full 100. The soloing section of the Duelists just goes on for too long. There's even an awkward moment at 4:38 where everyone, including the listener is wondering "weren't we talking about a sword fight?" I also concede that maybe, just maybe, this same argument could be made for 2 Minutes To Midnight. Say what you will about Gangland, but it is not too long.

But let's talk about the positives, like the fact that the harmony riff to Aces High is so perfectly realized in the studio, it seems practically impossible to play live without eliminating that atonal harmonic (or at least the one that sounds like it's being played by an amateur). Let's talk about Losfer Words, a very strong contender for the greatest instrumental of Maiden's career. The only other piece keeping it from taking the top spot in metal is The Call of Ktulu (and La Villa Strangiato, if your definition of metal stretches to that. Mine does, but others don't). Let's talk about how Bruce Dickinson (with a little arranging help from Steve) came up with arguably the 7th wonder of Maiden's catalogue, the title track. Those Phrygian scale riffs in the verse AND in the pre-chorus! That Master of Puppets breakdown two years before Master of Puppets with a lead solo from Dave Murray that so fucking good and integral to the song you feel he deserves songwriting credits for it. By the way, in case anyone thinks that absolutely sublime third guitar solo at 4:41 is Adrian, it is in fact Dave. Adrian's solo at 3:55 is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but this is one of two times where it's not even close, and he is hopelessly outclassed by Dave Murray.

Then there are the two songs which for many people, are the be all, end all of Iron Maiden. The first is 2 Minutes To Midnight, and you won't hear any arguments for me. Apologies to Swords & Tequila, Stand Up & Shout and a plethora of others, but for my money Adrian Smith created the definitive version of this riff. Even if you disagree, fear not, for there are two more absolutely lethal riffs in the song that steal the show, and they are in the pre-chorus and chorus! It's slightly unfortunate that we don't get to hear these riffs on their own without vocals, but part of what makes classic heavy metal so fucking great is breaking the songs down by their components and not just discovering some chords, but fascinating pieces that could have been made songs on their own. Bruce of course, delivers an absolutely harrowing analysis of war so compelling they needed to make its own Eddie single cover for it (ok, Maiden do that with all the singles, but there's something about this song's message that just can't be communicated with ancient Egypt). Not to mention the brilliant bass licks Steve throws in before each successive verse of the song. Then of course, there is the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Now, cards on the table, this song is not my favorite Iron Maiden epic. I can honestly say I'd rather hear maybe 7 or 8 other Maiden epics before this one. That said, I do not dare deny a millisecond of this song's accomplishments. Bringing a Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem to life in music, and making the track just as epic as the original is not just something your average Mick Mars can do after his morning piss yet before he's had his coffee. Nicko McBrain in particular shines on this track, and Steve is more than happy to percussively sync up him as part of bass duties.

Even the lost souls who think Number of the Beast is overrated think Powerslave is amazing. It is practically its own tier in the world of music. One could argue that they were never this on point again. I disagree, but I at least understand. Fun final fact: at my dad's house, a copy of the jewel-case album on CD from the 80s somehow magically appeared in his house. Both of my parents hated metal so it wasn't theirs and they assumed it was mine. I have no idea where it came from, and the CD was missing. I simply kept it as a spare copy in case my actual CD case went missing. I consider it a sign, from Yahweh, Buddha, Jesus and Allah all conspiring together to tell me, yes, Powerslave really is that great.

We Oil The Jaws Of The War Machine! - 99%

CHAIRTHROWER, October 20th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1995, 2CD, EMI United Kingdom (Reissue)

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender." - Winston Churchill, 1940.

Such is the fitting (live) preamble to Iron Maiden's fifth studio album, Powerslave, released under EMI/ Capitol Records in 1984 (an exceptional year metal-wise) and its much celebrated RAF inspired opener "Aces High". Allow me to echo a squadron of fellow reviewers by affirming the NWOBHM "pharaohs" are undeniably at the top of their game (i.e. height of careers) from start to finish, be it from lyrically powerful and exciting "Two Minutes To Midnight", alongside highly festive and hallucinatory, albeit rabidly pull-off infused, "Back In The Village", to 13.5 minute long odyssey "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", based on the epic sea-faring morality tale by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Front man Bruce "Air Raid" Dickinson expertly leads the charge whilst relative newcomer drummer Nicko McBrain and bass legend Steve Harris provide the rock solid backdrop necessary for guitar heroes Adrian Smith and Dave Murray to truly shine and at times dazzle the listener with their mesmerizing, impeccably phrased chops and gripping harmonies/riffs. Dig the incremental, vocal-free "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)", which bridges the gap between speed metal precursor "Two Minutes To Midnight" and novel dragon slaying fable "Flash Of The Blade", with its brilliant opening riff and intricate bass line. Or how 'bout super sinister, but cool as Hades, Phoenician sounding riff to Powerslave, which eventually yields a killer stomping backing riff to a downright majestic lead break, in fact, the one which instantly turned me into a devout metal (and guitar) maniac at a young age and to this day comprises some of my favourite solos of all time? (stainedclass2112 knows what I mean; check out his diligent and masterful youtube bass cover of this seven minute phenomenon!).

As stellar and tight as Powerslave is, it's hard to pick out top highlights - each track jockeys for the number one spot; admittedly, they stand out in various ways. With its crunchy and urgent triplet based main riff, multiple drum fills, lugubrious hull creaking and dramatic "bridge", not a moment's lost on "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", where the listener is steered out of the Darkness and into the Light by way of Harris' upbeat bass line heralding glad tidings in the form of Murray and Smith's explosive soloing before a crushing return to form i.e. the main riff. The classical sounding guitar harmonies to "Aces High" are right up there with the "Trooper"'s from 1983's Piece Of Mind while Harris's bass relentlessly pokes around like Osiris' royal scepter, jiggling with reckless abandon on "Two Minutes To Midnight", which he imbues with its own special undertow. The lead break to "The Duellists" is above par and a classic showcasing of NWOBHM lead guitar wizardry. As well, the overall lyrics simply slay; with its WWII/ Ancient Egyptian themes and beautiful cover art, this magnum opus also makes an ideal companion soundtrack to Return To Castle Wolfenstein - especially when battling Nazis and undead legions in the Pyramids (sorry, the latent "gamer" in me couldn't resist).

At first, was hesitant to give Iron Maiden's Powerslave such a high score - due to relatively tame "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" perhaps? - but, once having given head a shake or four, realized it's duly warranted as far as the standard, octadic edition goes thanks to its vibrant atmosphere and outstanding musicianship. Also, sentimental value is too great. Not only is it a timeless heavy metal classic and obvious "desert island" release, but essential "stranded on the Moon" one as well.

*Addendum: B-Sides included on EMI's 1995 double CD release are partially worth looking into. While the live version of "Number Of The Beast" feels random, both covers - a slightly hokey but neat, Mountain sounding Beckett reprise of "Rainbow's Gold" along with a super (bass) jangly and varied rock-ish take on Nektar's "King Of Twilight" - sit comfortably within Powerslave's overall "phantasmagoregal" theme; although I can't quite fathom what the record label was thinking when including the fustian and totally unnecessary band quarrel "Mission From 'Arry" - a bunch of boring and dispirited claptrap mind you! - which frankly should have been omitted.

"Into the Abyss I’ll fall, the eye of Horus
Into the eyes of the night, watching me go
Green is the cat’s eye that glows in this temple
Enter the risen Osiris, risen again

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave
I don’t wanna die, I’m a God... why can’t I live on?
When the Life Giver dies, all around is laid waste
And in my last hour, I’m a slave to the Power of Death!"

An absolute masterpiece - 100%

Strike_Master, June 2nd, 2017

Here is the perfect metal album that anyone will find ever. No orchestras, no backing choirs, no sudden interludes, or anything that seem to garner much praise nowadays, and which prevent Iron Maiden unleashing upon the world something truly godly. Anyway, this is a 100% classic metal album, with brilliant riffs, solos, songwriting, etc. One of the best albums of all time and mandatory in any collection; Black Sabbath have become the inventors of heavy metal, with their heaviness and their riffs, but Maiden's Powerslave has the other elements: wildness, rawness, virtuosity, which are also important in heavy metal.

The production here is notably flawless, giving the album a crystal clear sound where every instrument is at just the right volume. The vocals are done by the mighty Bruce Dickinson at his peak, and metal vocals really don't get any better. The bass is always audible and is interesting to listen to, Steve Harris lays down somewhat unorthodox basslines that just fucking works. The drums support everything else, and they provide a very solid basis for the rest of the band. Every solo that Murray & Smith plays on here is memorable, note for note after the second time you hear it. Really superb musicianship, and no wankery or fucking around, anything that is on this album really feels like it's in the right place.

The greatest opening track "Aces High" has catchy vocals, great riffs and leads, and some of Harris' greatest bass work. "Losfer Words" is a very well done instrumental, with good riffs and some catchy lead work, easily comparable to any Maiden's earlier instrumentals. "Powerslave" is up there with Hallowed Be Thy Name in awesomeness, contains a great main riff, a great chorus section, and hell soloing. That melodic build up to the solo section is very well done, and that riff under the chorus is one of Maiden's best. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is quite notable, due to the fact that it's thirteen minutes long, and shows no sign of boredom, is pretty much brilliant the whole way through.

Powerslave is what many (including Steve Harris himself) consider an uneven album. On the other hand, after thousands of listens, I've reached the conclusion that Powerslave is an album so great that few band will ever reach it, the secret of fully appreciating it is how much the rest will sink into you. The album was recorded in the Bahamas and it features possibly the best production Iron Maiden ever had, the guitars are so sharp and they are instantly recognizable. The cover is great and features many hidden details that are visible only on the vinyl version (Mickey Mouse strikes again!). Iron Maiden is one of the legends of world music, not only in the rock/metal scene, and this record, is possibly the one that has contributed to it. Already their predecessors, both The Number Of The Beast and Piece Of Mind, gave much to talk and many public to receive, but the british band knew how to follow the good steps, releasing an excellent album. If with The Number Of The Beast reached the #1 and demonstrated the movement called NWOBHM was successful, they could reach the top and cross all borders with "Powerslave", which was like touching the sky with your hands.

Say what you want about Iron Maiden, but when these guys want to craft some truly masterful music, Powerslave is the epitome of this statement, a collection of penmanship and complexity that is truly legendary, every song is the most antithetical composition. Gone are the punk lyrics, and the guitar duels are endearing, with flawless demonstrations of songwriting that are complex in execution rather than flamboyance. In conclusion, if you're looking for a great album then get this, erect a shrine to it or something.

Can't hate this - 93%

gasmask_colostomy, November 9th, 2016

Powerslave has been held up as probably Iron Maiden's greatest album and, despite my fondness for Killers and the classic status of The Number of the Beast, I wouldn't dispute that. However, looking back it's strange to notice how much Iron Maiden changed between the preceding Piece of Mind and this album, less than a year and a half later. The character of Piece of Mind was deliberately epic and explorative, with a gentle edge to some of the songs ('Still Life', 'Revelations') that made Iron Maiden seem a little safe and relaxed compared to their earlier incarnation with Paul Di'Anno. But Powerslave is really the opposite of that and tries to be as exciting as possible.

Everything about this album is maxed out, right from the enormous scale of the cover artwork to the attack and flash of the songs to the sheer Maiden-ness that the music exudes. If you listed Maiden's key qualities back in 1984, you would probably have a list something like this: soaring guitar solos, bounding riffs, catchy melodies, powerful vocals singing glorious anthems, foot-stomping drumming, inventive floor-shaking bass work, and - possibly - big ambition. All of that is done to excess here, very rarely leaving time for something other than that checklist, which really is not Iron Maiden's but the quintessential metal template. That's why people feel reticent to argue with this album in terms of quality and style: if you love metal, you should undoubtedly love this album. Maiden push the metal traits to the fore, aiming for greater heaviness than Piece of Mind in the clobbering riffs of 'Flash of the Blade' and 'Powerslave', greater speed than before with the scrambling 'Aces High' and 'Back in the Village', plus nastier lyrics ('2 Minutes to Midnight') and the epic 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner', which is simply more in every sense. The lyrics attempt to be vivid and exciting too, something that I think is best explained by Empyreal in his Powerslave review, where he writes, "Lyrics are about everything from sword fighting to fighter planes to Ancient Egypt; it’s practically a soundtrack to every boy’s innate dreams and fantasies growing up." And really, that's key: this album will always take you back to being young and life being exciting, though with that feeling of Maiden familiarity.

Naturally, it's not just the aesthetic of Powerslave that makes it a great album, the individual components play an important part. Most of the songs are very well written, not showing any compositional cracks, while part for part they include some of the indvidually strongest sections in Maiden's '80s output. Taking 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' as the most extreme example, the 13 minute song kicks off with a strong mid-paced riff and moves quickly into Dickinson's narrative, then rests in the middle of the song in the fashion of the becalmed seaman. This is clearly the right choice, since unlike many of Maiden's later epics it allows momentum to build at first and the lead section to act as transition from quiet comtemplation to rebuilding energy, taking full advantage of contrast for dramatic effect as well as musical efficiency. Of course, it helps that it has about four awesome riffs and a truly original melody possessed of a distinct nautical feel. That said, 'Flash of the Blade' works on the basis of a much simpler structure, using a main riff, verse, and chorus cycle before really showing off the twin guitar melodies of Smith and Murray, plus the trump card of Harris, whose bass playing can take a section like this to neoclassical levels of instrumental interplay.

There are a few minor points to clear up about Powerslave that has led to some writing off the album as uneven or containing filler. I agree that Piece of Mind certainly didn't need the rather half-assed 'Quest for Fire' and 'Sun and Steel' among the more intricate compositions, but Powerslave doesn't have anything so undercooked as to stand out instantly. I would probably give 'The Duellists' the hardest knock for quality, as Dickinson is a little way off in this one and the looooooong lead and melody section in the middle (nearly three minutes by the time the main riff kicks back in) would certainly benefit from tightening up and having a bit of fire under the solos, since it seems to coast through a couple of movements. 'Back in the Village' is a super way to do the same thing, especially as the transitions between guitar leads, bass (semi-)leads, and melodies occur seamlessly, while you can practically hear Running Wild taking notes on how to write speed metal riffs. Finally, I have to address 'Losfer Words' (Big 'Orra)'. I never quite understood Maiden's thing for instrumentals and this one seems like a fairly random choice, since it doesn't do anything drastically different from the rest of the album as 'Transylvania' and 'Genghis Khan' did at least in part. Anyway, this one has a catchy riffset, cool melody, and a great solo around the three minute mark, though I'm slightly puzzled why no one wrote lyrics for it, especially with that drawn out power chord section before the solos. In fact, it would have made a great album closer, kind of like an overture to the whole piece, but whatever, it's still pretty good.

All this means that my complaints about Powerslave are minor, while my appreciation of its quality and style are high. There are fewer reflective lulls than the preceding Piece of Mind and fewer tedious moments than the overwritten successor Somewhere in Time, although it occasionally falls into similar traps due to excess ambition and a lack of editing in 'The Duellists'. Arguably the greatest lesson for a speed metal band to take, as well as a resource for anyone aiming for epic or stadium levels, Powerslave is very fucking hard to hate. Don't even try.

A Powerhouse record - 94%

TheMetalLoch, November 17th, 2015

By this point in their career Iron Maiden had been running for nearly a decade and had released four great albums. Their fifth record would add even more classics to their rapidly growing catalogue of songs and make the band even more famous in the metal scene (if that was even possible). Maiden decided to do what the last four albums had done and give us a dose of good, old fashioned heavy metal while throwing in a few new things for fans to sink their teeth into.

The album has the usual lyrics from Iron Maiden: Historical (Aces High), Literary, (Rime of the Ancient Mariner) and Mythological (the title track). "Aces High" speaks of the Battle of Britain with the narrator being a British fighter pilot. The lyrics succeed in installing the desperation of the British in the listener as they repeatedly insist on getting the planes up in the air as quickly as possible. And even right after that, by shouting words like "rolling, turning, diving" without any other description paints a picture of total chaos. Those skies are filled with planes whose pilots have to be quick to react or they're going down. And the ending scream of "Aces HIGH!" really does sound like an air raid siren warning of an impending attack. "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" lyrics continually switch moods, from the neutral beginning of the tale to the eerie telling of the mariner watching his shipmates drop dead in front of his eyes, the lyrics more often than not hit the nail on the head with what they want to achieve. A highlight is the ending, when Bruce states the the wedding guest leaves sad "and the tale goes on and on and on and on." There will be no end to the story. "Powerslave" goes for a more threatening set of lyrics, describing an Egyptian Pharaoh who questions if he's a god then why can't he live forever and concluding if his eternal rest is disturbed he will punish the perpetrator from beyond the grave. Personal preference says that this set of lyrics is slightly less interesting than the other songs but that's just because of the subject matter. They're still beautifully written and delivered by Bruce.

Speaking of Bruce, the performance from the band is spot on. Bruce's voice sounds just as good as ever, whether he's going for the air raid siren scream on "Aces High", sing-talking his way through "The Duellist" or complimenting the instrumentation on the title track, the vocals are rarely, if ever, disappointing. The guitars sound just as crisp, clean and heavy as they did on records past and the riffs they belt out highlight the band's knack for making great music. The drums are feet-tappingly excellent and keeping in mind that tracks like "Aces High" were done with only one bass drum just pushes Nicko's musical talents high above the rest of his piers. Steve Harris, what else can be said that hasn't already. The man writes great songs and plays his bass even better. Unlike most other metal records, the bass is not only audible but is doing things that a normal bass wouldn't. Most basses simply play the lowest note the guitar is playing, but sometimes the bass is heard playing independent to the guitars like in "Back in the Village" it's heard playing in between guitar licks pre-chorus.

All that being said, there is one glaring problem with this album: "Losfer Words". Instrumentals are always a risk in any album. Doing it right can potentially do something and give it purpose but this one doesn't. It's not offensively bad it just has no reason to exist on the album. It tries it's best to sound interesting, that's for certain, but trying your hardest doesn't always mean you're going to succeed. It's safe to skip this track without missing anything.

Apart from that problem, Powerslave is a timeless and classic record that has rightly earned it's spot as a classic in Maiden's discography. It's patented Maiden lyrics, vocals, bass, riffing and song structure make it a most have for every metal head out there.

Jump in the cockpit and start up the engines! - 100%

Brainded Binky, January 9th, 2015

Iron Maiden truly needs no introduction. It's one of a few bands that have been cemented into the minds of every metaller the world over to the point where owning at least one of their albums is an unspoken requirement. If anybody has to start, "Powerslave" would be an excellent choice. It's an album that has all of the trademarks that made Iron Maiden famous, but it also contains longer tracks than previous albums, thus proving Iron Maiden's quest to make more and more musical opuses, even though they've already churned out quite a few! This a point in Iron Maiden's career when a lot of other famous NWOBHM bands like Def Leppard would go straight for the radio-friendly love song, but Iron Maiden decided to get more and more complex with their songwriting.

On "Powerslave" there is no song that is shorter than four minutes. That means that the band is wanting to put out songs that display its talents more and more, and while some bands just put in a lot of repetition just to lengthen the song, Iron Maiden puts more material into theirs. The thirteen-minute "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", based off of the famous epic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, is obviously the best example of this. The first part of it contains a galloping riff that breaks into harmonic solos every now and then with each verse sung by Bruce Bruce himself. It then escalates into a faster, more powerful riff to carry the story from the poem from which the song is based, not to mention the sound effect of the ship creaking as it sails in a stormy sea. All of that grinds to a halt as we hear a haunting bass line of Steve Harris and a soft guitar playing as Bruce narrates part of the actual poem. The fact that some of the actual poem make up the actual lyrics of the song add to the intelligence of the songwriting. After the narration, Steve picks up a more energetic, yet soft riff that would eventually build up to the song's conclusion. It isn't just the song's length that make it a masterpiece, it's how that amount of time is actually used, and that time is used very efficiently and nicely.

Of course we have the excellent harmonies created by Dave and Adrian that elevate the sound well. It's part of Iron Maiden's signature, and it can be very well be heard in many of the songs on here, including the crowd favorite, "Aces High". In fact, the harmonies that the guitarists create make up the song's intro, as well as its main riff. The tones of these harmonies are fast and gallant, and the riff of more aggressive power chords that make up the verses are grinding and powerful, creating a sense of desperation. If you want to stop the Luftwaffe from killing thousands of innocent people in an attempt to help Nazi Germany take over the world, you'd have to have that kind of attitude! It's the high energy of this song that captures the spirit of Spitfires embroiled in a dogfight, and the signature formula of having complex harmonic riffs helped create that high energy. The harmony doesn't stop there, we've also got the solos of "Flash of the Blade" and the instrumental track "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)". It isn't just the harmonic riffs that create the complexity of Dave and Adrian's work, for there's also the also the riff that is played in the chorus of "Back in the Village", which consists of rapidly played notes, not something you'd expect to be played outside a solo.

I said earlier that the harmonies that make up the main riff in "Aces High" create the atmosphere of the Battle of Britain, but it isn't the only song that conveys the atmosphere of its intended subject matter. The title track is about the death and afterlife of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, and to give us this ancient Egyptian vibe, the riffs are played mainly using harmonic minor arpeggios. These harmonic minor arpeggios give off an eerie, ancient feel, as if the listener is actually inside a pharaoh's tomb. The main riff also contains ominous-sounding chords and introduces the song as it carries us into that tomb. There's also "The Duellists", which has a quick-paced tempo and a fast flurry of arpeggios just before the solo that is also made into a harmony by the guitarists. These factors convey a message of the elegance and the swiftness of a dueling swordsman, which is basically what Bruce Dickinson is in much of his downtime (seriously, he's a world-class fencer!). The message is carried even further with the elegant-sounding chorus, with powerful chords and even more vocal delivery of Bruce.

There's no doubt that "Powerslave" is among the classic albums that's on almost every metallers' playlists, but if you listen carefully enough, you'll find that at the time of its release, it was a more advanced release than its predecessors. The band was getting more and more popular with each album the shovel out, eventually becoming a household name among metal fans in the 80's. However, instead of "selling out" and making their songs less complex and more appealing to the Duran Duran crowd, they continued to make their songs longer and more powerful than ever. They would create riffs that C.C. Deville would puke at the sight of, and still manage to fill arenas with horn-throwing fans across the globe.

Let them go. - 95%

Face_your_fear_79, October 6th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1998, CD, EMI (Remastered, Enhanced)

Back in the fall season of 1984, the new crop of 1980s heavy metal scene was still pretty much in its early stages. Yet, a band like Iron Maiden seemed to be the old established pioneers by this point. Much like the 1970s, rock music evolved similarly quickly with every new and passing year in the 1980s. The early 1980s was an attempt by nearly every signed artist to move away from the sounds of the 70s and make things harder and louder, or if you were on the other side of the dial, more electronic and filled with synthesizers. The 1980s started with bands like AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Motley Crue, and while all of these bands had a different style of heavy metal music, they all had the rebellion thing going on. By the end of the 1980s, bands like Guns and Roses and Skid Row capitalized that on the fact that the 70s were cool, and to a point they incorporated the sound into their music, especially G N’ R. This lead to the throwback bands of the 90s like Black Crows, Counting Crows, Lenny Kravitz and Blues Traveler, who thought that they can reproduce the Me Decade while the subculture of grunge suddenly became the popular culture, and nearly ruined music as we know it.

Bassist Steve Harris has been the main songwriter of Iron Maiden since the beginning. By the time Powerslave, their 5th album came out, he had written half of the eight tracks. While lead singer Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith have nudged their way onto the album, Harris’ songs still manage to steal the spotlight. His best effort here is the opener Aces High, a real heavy metal crowd pleaser that breaks all speed limits and is a blast to sing along to. It is the perfect song for the live setting. The lyrics are again about war, this time from the perspective as if from the cockpit of a fighter jet. 2 Minutes to Midnight, written by Dickinson and Smith is considered to be the companion song to Aces High, much like Queen’s We Will Rock You and We Are the Champions. 2 Minutes to Midnight is six minutes of excellence, coming very close to the brilliance of Aces High. The lyrics again tackle the subject of war, and more specifically the threat of war, referencing the doomsday clock put in place by scientists in the late 1940s. Two minutes to midnight is the closest the clock has ever been set.

The band in keeping with the now tradition of including some instrumental tracks on each album, included one for the Powerslave album, Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra). The song sounds as if was written on the bass, and since it was written by Harris it is likely. The instrumental sounds like it would make good incidental music for some cool Iron Maiden footage. Perhaps some stoners have already played Powerslave while turning the volume down low to It’s a Wonderful Life and noticed how the audio and video gel so well. I can see the old pharmacist beating the heck out of the young George Bailey right now to this song. Anyway it makes for a good long intro for Flash of the Blade as they have almost the exact same groove. Flash was written by Dickinson alone giving the listener a good impersonation of Rob Halford and Judas Priest. The Duelists again steals the same groove as the last two songs; luckily Steve Harris added a contrasting melody line for the lyrics. The chorus is very catchy despite the song’s abundant length.

To my ears, Bruce Dickinson sounds a heck of a lot like Liza Minnelli on the song Back in the Village. It’s that pretentious vibrato he owns. Sometimes it comes across as cabaret sounding; hence this is not the best track on the album by far. The title track Powerslave was written by Dickinson and the lyrics were the inspiration of the ancient Egypt-looking album cover, featuring the sphinx in Eddie’s image. The last track Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest track by Iron Maiden, nearly giving Pink Floyd’s Echoes a run for its money. The song goes through a few twists and turns, sounding more like three songs than one. The middle part that features the slow bass is simply hypnotizing as poetry is read aloud.

I believe that Powerslave outshines Piece of Mind by a tad, as is therefore my favorite Maiden album. I like witnessing the progression of Maiden’s greatness growing with each and every release. Powerslave made concrete what Piece of Mind had suggested…that Maiden was here to stay and a force to be reckoned with in the world of heavy metal.

Am I Missing Something? - 60%

Doctor_X, May 26th, 2014

I don't get it. Why do people regard this album so highly? I've even heard from some that this is the greatest metal albums of all time. This album, excluding a few classic tracks, all blends together into a gallopy mess. Iron Maiden is my favorite metal band, and you can't imagine how much it hurts me to have negative things to say about an Iron Maiden record. But alas, I must go on.

Even though I dislike this album, that doesn't mean it doesn't have some bright spots. This record does include "Aces High," "2 Minutes to Midnight," and the title track, three Maiden classics. "Aces High" is a staple in the Iron Maiden repertoire, a true metal gem. With an amazing riff and anthemic chorus, coupled with Nicko McBrain's sick fills, "Aces High" is a truly epic metal tune that vividly illustrates the intensity of a high flying dogfight. The other classic Maiden tune that graces "Powerslave" is "2 Minutes to Midnight," a straight up catchy rocker that will you get your foot tapping and your head banging. You can't help but air guitar to this sweet tune. With an unforgettable main riff and catchy hook, "2 Minutes to Midnight," will be stuck in your head for days. The title track is a throwback to ancient Egypt, to a land of pyramids and pharaohs. With amazing vocals by the impeccable Bruce Dickinson and a guitar riff that King Ramesses II would write if he was handed a guitar, this track kills. To top it all of, the track is slowed down in the middle to allow for a mellow yet powerful guitar solo, only to speed back up again to allow Adrian Smith and Dave Murray to really let loose and flaunt their soloing skills. Even further adding to the atmosphere, Bruce Dickinson sings with conviction and grit, making him at times seem like a powerful pharaoh, ruling over his people.

Now that we have gotten the exceptions out of the way, let's get to the meat and potatoes of this bore fest. I'm gonna come out and say it: this album is mediocre at best. Most of the tracks on this record are uninspired and overrated beyond belief. I feel that all of the songs after the epic "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight," are just filler leading up to "Powerslave," the album's title track, which in my opinion is the only decently good song left on the album after the two aforementioned classics on the record. I feel that when they were writing this album, Adrian Smith, Steve Harris, and Dave Murray got a little obsessed with the gallop. It's used so much that it becomes tiresome quite quickly, and it causes songs to blend together, making them only distinguishable by the melodic guitar parts. I'd like to specifically mention the 13 minute "Rime of the Ancient Mariner." This song drags on way too long, and again overuses the gallop, even though it would have been more enjoyable at a 5 minute running time. I personally have a hard time digesting such a long, drawn out song. Oh, and I haven't even gotten to the section of "Rime," where Dickinson just whispers over some cliché accoustic meandering. Not even Dickinson's legendary singing could rescue this song that's too long for its own good. With the immense amount of galloping and indistinguishable tracks, the praise this album receives puzzles me.

To sum it up, this album very much disappointed me. Not because it's a terrible album, but because it's only decent, and I know that Iron Maiden is capable of much more. When compared to the Maiden monoliths that are "The Number of the Beast," "Somewhere in Time," and "Piece of Mind," this album just falls short of the Iron Maiden standard.

Truly taking flight here - 92%

Evil_Carrot, May 30th, 2013

It has occurred to me that I’ve really yet to write a truly positive Iron Maiden review. This isn’t because I don’t love Maiden, quite the opposite; I love Maiden so much that I get a little pissed when they fail to deliver. And hell, a 73% is hardly an insult, although in the context of giving it to one of the bands most popular albums, maybe it was a bit low. The point is, while Number of the Beast blew me away when I was but a wee lad, now, pushing a decade later, it’s a little too consistent to really blow me away. More importantly though, is it’s hard to write about a band like Iron Maiden that’s almost universally enjoyed or at least respected for their contributions to metal. I was listening to the likes Number of the Beast and Powerslave since I was 13 or 14. I have at least 12 Maiden shirts, one of which I’m wearing as I type this… mummy Eddie biting through the chains from the disc on the remaster of Powerslave, the second Maiden shirt I bought, which I’m wearing under a Powerslave hoodie. Also, I have a Rime of the Ancient Mariner shirt. So yeah. I kind of like Powerslave.

Ok, remember that Number of the Beast review where I talked about hearing the title song and then going out and buying the album. Incidentally, between hearing Number of the Beast and buying the album, I heard ‘Aces High’ on the radio, flipping through the classic rock station. Once again, I was fucking blown away, and after doing the early 2000’s equivalent of research, which, like today, involved Wikipedia, but unlike today also involved dial up, I found that these two songs were not on the same album. And then cried. So faced with having to choose, I went with Number of the Beast. And loved it so much that I bought Powerslave within a few months. Unfortunately I did so off of Amazon and received that fucking flat cardboard slipcase thing, and had to later re-purchase it so I could make Eddie’s face out of the remasters. Is my fanboy showing?

Enough fan-rambling, on to the content of the album. As I said, Aces High blew me away when I was 12. And it still has that effect. That riff absolutely blazes through everything, a mighty piece of speed metal created to melt the face of posers and make Invaders shit a brick, as Bruce commands you to run, live to fly, fly to live aces HiiiiiIIIIiIiIiIiiiiIiGH!. And don’t you dare disobey him, you fuck. Maybe it’s a little bit nostalgia, but seriously, this right here is one of my favorite Maiden tracks, and I can’t think of one faster right off the bat, except maybe Be Quick of Be Dead. This goes into another lovely war song, which, while always is a theme for Maiden, goddamn battle is a concept of this album, is some form or another, be it guns or swords. This one is another fan loved song, and while I used to be indifferent to it, I think now it’s just because I wanted another fast song after Aces High. I think getting into thrash metal cured me of this, and made me appreciate midpaced tracks more. Although that’s no excuse for Losfer Words to be so damn boring. Yeah. Even one of my favorite Maiden albums I have a gripe with. It’s not the melodies, which are perfectly fine, it’s that this is a song that felt like it either needed lyrics to be a full song, or that it’s length should have been cut dramatically, because it really stops being interesting around 2 minutes. …TO MIDNIGHT. No, I’m sorry, that was just lame of me.

Flash of the Blade, a fun and catchy song about fencing with a simple but effective main riff, and Back in the Village, a song recalling the theme of the same TV show that the song The Prisoner was based on, are both speedier tracks, although the former is definitely better, and one might argue that Back in The Village is, much like Gangland from Number of the Beast, a fast but overall filler song. I sort of agree with this, but at the same time I argue that this song beats the hell out of Gangland so thoroughly that it’s really not comparable, as even Losfer Words, the main reason for point loss on this album for me, is probably more interesting than goddamn Gangland. Back in the Village isn’t really a bad song so much as forgettable compared to much of the awesome on this album. The other middle track, The Duellists, which is not bad in and of itself, but it’s a little long.

Anyways, the last two tracks are seriously some of Maidens finest moments, which says a lot. After an eerie intro, the band brings the Egyptian inspiration from the cover to their famous galloping riff style, as it ponders the inevitability of death, and regardless of your position of power on the planet, we are all, from the president to the bum, slaves to deaths power. The end adds a little mysticism to it as the pharaoh plans to bring the mummy’s curse to anyone who opens his tomb. A very ambitious and interesting epic, but that’s not all folks. On this album Maiden felt the need to give us not one, but two phenomenal epics, as the Rime of the Ancient Mariner brings 13 minutes of pure awesome to the original story of the same name, including a few direct quotes from it. One of the things that, to me, makes a great epic is the ability for it to never grow stale, and this song never does. It definitely goes through enough phases and riff and time changes that no one riff ever overstays its welcome or gets boring. It begins midpaced, stays this way for a few minutes before simply stopping, as the ship does, and becoming a quick speed metal song as the mariner and crew is approached by a ghost ship. The song becomes a very calm, quiet and ambient piece, as Steve Harris’ bass leads us through the darkest part of the mariners tale, as he watches his entire crew die. The song becomes slightly more upbeat as the Mariner prays and is relieved of his punishment. And as the rain falls from the sky, the song quickens up, before coming full circle. The song returns to the mariner telling his tale to the opening riff (although, wouldn’t a stranger telling a story to the guests ruin a wedding? Why isn’t the bride like, we’re trying to get married bro, cant this wait?). And so ends easily one of Iron Maidens greatest masterpieces. God I love this fucking song.

I’ve heard it said that this album consists of four mediocre songs sandwiched between two awesome songs. No, these people are wrong. While Aces High, 2 Minutes to Midnight, Powerslave, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner do make the bread of epic, the contents of t he sandwich are fantastic as well, as Flash of the Blade and Back in the Village make up the fun speed metal meat, while The Duellists makes the midpaced dueling mayonnaise… Just a bit too much of it for my taste, but the only real complaint is still the unnecessary Losfer Words lettuce, which really just dulls down the flavor in my opinion. Ok, seriously, I’ll stop. This is getting too dumb. No more drinking and reviewing.

The bottom line is that this is one of the best Iron Maiden albums, and one of my favorites for sure. I’ve heard it said that Maiden is a band that makes great songs, but not great albums. This is a great album, one of several they’ve made. It’s not perfect, but I’ve yet to hear an album that is, and the complaints here are pretty minimal, mostly a couple songs overstay their welcome. But this is still a fine piece of Iron Maiden metal, and though Number of the Beast may be a better ‘intro to Maiden’ album, this is a still a great follow up.

The quintessence of classic heavy metal - 92%

kluseba, September 29th, 2011

This album has been my favourite Iron Maiden album for a pretty long while. I have changed my mind throughout the years and I prefer "The X-Factor" and "Somewhere In Time" today, but "Powerslave" is without the glimpse of a doubt in my definitive top 3 albums of the band. Almost every song of this album is great but most of the songs have also some negative points.

"Aces high" is an amazing opener, probably the heaviest, fastest and straightest that they have ever done to date. Especially Bruce Dickinson delivers an amazing job on the vocals. The only negative point of this song is that the brilliant introduction of Churchill's Speech that has been used on the concerts, hasn't found its way on the studio album.

"2 Minutes To Midnight" is darker than the opener but it has a brilliant introduction and main riff, a very catchy chorus and an atmospheric bridge and is as brilliant as "Aces high". This heavy metal high quality double pack fits perfectly together even though they sound very different from each other and convince each one in their own way. The lyrics are very interesting and the music video is maybe the eeriest and weirdest stuff that the band has ever done. The only negative point of this song is that it has a little bit lost its magic because of its yearlong presence on greatest hits album, live concerts and other stuff.

"Losfer Words" is a very tight and interesting instrumental song without any doubt and maybe the most diversified as well as the heaviest and most amazing instrumental song the band has ever done. It fits to the epic style and conception of the album and is quite underrated in my humble opinion. But the song has still somehow the touch of a filler for many fans and has some little lengths and this is its only negative point about this very good song.

"Flash Of A Blade" is a heavily underrated song. The intro riff sounds really melodic, straight and innovative. The song itself has a very fast and intense main riff. Bruce Dickinson is in absolute top form and performs his vocals in a very stunning way by almost aggressively rapping the verses while singing the chorus with his high pitched and powerful voice. The contrast created by this phenomenon creates a very particular and special style and sounds overall new and fresh. The twin guitar parts sound amazing and this is surprisingly the very first track on the record where there is not a single negative point that I could mention.

"The Duellists" starts with a very tight main riff and has some very melancholic and melodic vocal lines. Bruce Dickinson does an amazing job in the verses. The instrumental parts in the song only have an average quality and are a little bit too long in some parts. The most negative point of this song is without any doubt the chorus. It is epic, but way too happy and doesn't fit with the atmosphere created in the rest of the song at all. It is one of the weaker songs of the album.

"Back In The Village" begins with a very melodic and still heavy introduction and the verses are once more very straight and great. The closing moments of the song are very straight and fast and I like this surprising effect. The hypnotic chorus is though the negative point of this song and neither very catchy nor very well developed. The instrumental parts of the songs are of an average quality and comparable to "The Duellists". This song is probably the weakest one on the album just behind “The Duellists”.

I didn't like the song "Powerslave" when I listened to it for the first time, but this song has really grown on me within the last few years. It all begins with a very interesting intro, has some heavy, but still mystical and innovating verses and a very epic and catchy chorus. The middle part of the title track is amazingly melodic and sounds more elaborated than some of the other instrumental parts on the album. The song gets you in a magic atmosphere and creates a very special tension. All instruments do a brilliant job here, especially the bass guitar who has been too much dominated by the guitars in some of the previous songs. Today, I must admit that there is no negative point to find within this great title song.

"Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is one of the greatest, if not the best song Iron Maiden has ever written. This song has everything that a metal fan needs. It is catchy and attractive the first time you listen to it, but you will still discover new passages years after your first experience with this song. The song is heavy and straight, but it also has its slower parts which create a dark and mysterious atmosphere. The guitar solos are intense and simply amazing. Bruce Dickinson does a very diversified and energetic job on the vocals. The drumming is tight and stunning. The bass guitar is as strong and particular as in the title song and even surpasses the previous opus magnum. The song has many changes in style, but all parts fit perfectly together. The song is never boring or seems to be long even though it is the longest one the band has ever written until today. Sure thing, there is no negative point about this masterpiece. I don't like to give too general comment or prejudices, but if you don't like this song, you do simply not like heavy metal and Iron Maiden. For me, this song is the opus magnum of heavy metal in the eighties.

As you can see, I would say that there is one masterpiece ("Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"), two extremely brilliant ("Powerslave" and the underrated "Flash Of A Blade"), two brilliant ("Aces High" and "Two Minutes To Midnight"), one very good song ("Losfer Words") and two average or rather good songs ("The Duellists" and "Back In The Village"). The album cover is more than brilliant and probably the best one that Derek Riggs has ever done. Even after years, you still discover something new on it. The production of Martin Birch is simply brilliant and better than some of the modern Iron Maiden records. Iron Maiden combines their style and heritage (on more traditional songs like "2 Minutes To Midnight" or "Flash Of A Blade") with some new and innovative elements (like the atmospheric parts on the title song "Powerslave" that can only be compared to “Hallowed Be Thy Name” and “To Tame A Land” but it definitely reaches a climax on this record). That's why, even if there are some little negative points to mention related to some of the songs, this is album in all its imperfect perfection is one of my favourite albums of all time and has been my favourite Iron Maiden record for a long while!

Daringly epic and innovative beyond all doubt - 93%

MetalSupremacy, February 17th, 2010

During the 80's Maiden was getting bigger and bigger. Their true brilliance, however, came from their ability to go further than virtually any of their contemporaries, (with the possible exception of Manowar) with each album expanding their sound while at the same time making it even more commercially accessible than their previous offerings. Every album after Number Of The Beast almost feels like a game of "top this", as each successive record aspired to new heights; Piece Of Mind took the epic elements of the aforementioned album and turned it into an entire album, setting Maiden almost completely apart from the rest of the NWOBHM with its proto-power metal sound. Labels aside, it was indeed far more epic and overblown, yet it worked because of the band's combined songwriting skills, which adds up to one of the greatest combination of musicians ever - something they are known the world over as for a good reason.

But where could they take their sound after PoM, which also topped the charts just like its predecessor? The answer is right here - Powerslave, which took the epic sound of PoM even further, with only two songs here sounding remotely like the NWOBHM. Everything else has a proto-power sound, the same kind of epic storytelling style that Manowar were using at the time - they being virtually the only other band to do so, and much farther from the mainstream than their British "counterparts". In what they did, Maiden pretty much inspired the vast majority of the power metal genre, maybe even more than Slayer did for death metal with Hell Awaits and Reign in Blood, as well as hugely influencing progressive metal and everything element of the genre synonymous with "huge and epic".

...Boy, how opinions change. Not very long ago I was lambasting this album as the worst thing Maiden put out in their entire career. This was mostly due to my own ignorance about both metal and hard rock, but to have called Powerslave a "shitty, poppy hard rock album" was utterly ridiculous. I've heard real poppy hard rock and it is NOTHING like Powerslave. No, Powerslave is most definitely heavy metal. Perhaps not heavy "fucking" metal in the way Priest were and still are, but certainly close and equally as heavy, just not so "metal in your face screaming" like another masterpiece released this year by said metal gods, Defenders Of The Faith. (Which is for another review)

Could the album be called pretentious? If so, you may as well call Piece of Mind, Somewhere in Time and Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son the same, if not more so. Either way such a statement would be foolish and incorrect. Yes, it's completely different from how Maiden started out. Does it matter? No, because it is equally as good if not better. The band's songwriting skills were at their peak during this period.

How is it innovative? Well, for one I don't think anyone had written a 13 minute long heavy metal song before this album. And that's just one example - songs such as Aces High and Two Minutes To Midnight are not particularly innovative, but the former is certainly somewhat epic, and the latter great for what it is. Songs such as Flash Of The Blade and The Duellists have stunning middle sections with fantastic guitarwork, and the latter could be considered progressive to a point, while the title track has plenty of everything - heaviness, a clean break, great solos, the works.

There is one slightly weaker song here, but it's not actually bad, simply less brilliant than everything around it. That aside, there is nothing on this album that could be called weak.

As for being epic - well, I don't think this really needs much explaining. Aside from Two Minutes To Midnight and Back In The Village, all the tracks on Powerslave have this sound to one degree or another.

So, onto the songs. "Aces High" is about as good an opener as one could ask for. The first riff is powerful despite not being typically heavy, ditto for the second which makes use of the typical Maiden harmonies, yet it isn't too obvious or anything - the speed and power is there, and in this case that's all that matters. The third riff is heavy. Bruce's performance here, while strong, is still not my favourite from him - when he tries a more subtle approach it usually works much better. Nevertheless his voice has that inner strength about it, which is probably another reason for this song's huge popularity. Whether one agrees with the lyrical subject matter or not is irrelevant provided they can get caught up in the song enough to enjoy it, which I now can do. The chorus is great, the guitar and basswork strong throughout and the drumming excellent. While I would say this song is a little overrated, for the most part it works fantastically well.

We now come to "Two Minutes To Midnight", another of the album's biggest hits. Yet it isn't pop, or even hard rock - it's still heavy metal. Of all the songs here it admittedly does have the most hard rock-ish sound and as the bluesiest riffs, but that's part of the appeal. In a way it's "rock 'n' roll" - not as we define it by the actual term, but basically heavy metal based on a hard rockin' vibe not too far off from said music done around this time, a crushing, down and dirty swagger that's just a bit heavier, lyrically darker, and longer. It also has an interesting middle section, a great main riff and a memorable chorus. In addition, Bruce gives one of his finest performances as a vocalist here, showcasing a grittier, harder style quite different from the "epic singing" he used in the opener and in most of the other songs. Considering the subject matter I'd say this was very appropriate. Either way this is one of Maiden's most beloved songs for a reason: it's mesmerising, it's lyrically intelligent, and it rocks.

"Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) " is up next, and considering it's an instrumental the band does an admirable job keeping it interesting. It starts with some heavy riffing, then some cool melodies appear just before the 1 minute mark. It goes back and forth like this for a while and then ends. There isn't much to say, but it works, especially in the context of the album's epic vibe.

"Flash Of The Blade" is a very interesting song considering its fairly short length. I have no idea why I used to hate this song - because of the clean guitar moments? Either way that whole thing was absurd. The opening riff isn't very heavy but it's good. Then the drums kick in, then the other guitar, and around the 40 second mark it gets both heavy and fast. Bruce gives a very good performance here, sounding very honest about a subject that may seem somewhat silly, but works in this context partly because of his singing. The middle section is one of the best parts of the song, with fantastic twin-guitar harmonies creating an almost neo-classical sound. After going through the chorus a couple more times the opening riff is played again, then the song ends. An excellent song.

One of my most frequent criticisms with regards to Maiden is their lack of consistency between either albums or songs. I used to think this was the case for Powerslave. This was really due to my own misguided beliefs about the album's "metalness", which in turn came from me not having actually listened to it properly. Thankfully I have now realised that not only is Powerslave overall a masterful album, but also an extremely consistent one.

There is but one genuinely weaker song here, and it ain't "The Duellists", which is one of Maiden's greater songs to say the least. Beginning with a drumbeat, it goes into some brilliant heavy chugging riffs which then continue under Bruce's vocals. He gives another great performance. The song's only real weakness is its lyrical similarities to Flash Of The Blade. Musically pretty much everything here is brilliant. The one and only point of contention I have is the "chorus" where Bruce goes: "OHHHHHHHHHH! Fight for the hoonnouuuurr, blah blah blah" which is just a little too happy and cheesy for my tastes, although nowhere near as bad as the chorus of Invaders from Number Of The Beast. Ignore that and you've got another great song. The middle section is amazing, with the first more melodic riffs starting around 1.50 into the song and continuing for three full minutes! This section goes between melodic harmonised (and also ordinary) riffing and great solos played over heavy lower riffs, all of which demonstrate Maiden's fantastic musicianship and key ears for good melodies. It's stuff like this that makes Maiden the legends they are, and that rightly earns this album labels such as "proto-power metal" and claims such as being influential to prog metal. The song finally ends the same way it began. Pure brilliance.

Sadly, Maiden pretty much never made an album that absolutely, definitively ruled from start to finish, hence the oft said "great albums overall, but with some filler tracks". "Back To The Village" is a very good example of such a song. Musically it's actually very good, but compared to the first five songs it just ain't as memorable or interesting. The lyrics are a sequel of sorts to The Prisoner from Number Of The Beast, and really, do such lyrics belong on an album about dogfights, war, swordfights, pharaohs, and sailing ships? To a point perhaps, but they're hardly the definition of epic, or imaginative for that matter.

Musically the song is also pretty nondescript, and the only track here with any significant NWOBHM influence aside from Two Minutes To Midnight. The difference is that the latter is interesting both lyrically and musically despite being reasonably simple while the former wallows in an already used subject and in comparison is thus rather tepid. Not a bad song, simply a less good one.

But this album is not known as mostly filler-less for nothing, and indeed, the title track then comes pounding in with a mighty riff that reminds me why I love Maiden so much. The use of the harmonic minor scale here is completely appropriate considering the subject matter (even though Ancient Egypt may not have actually used such scales. I have no idea either way) and Bruce gives a great performance once more, showcasing how much variety he has as a vocalist. Too many people think of him doing the high-pitched operatic wailing and little else. There's far more to him than that, as he would also prove in subsequent albums.

Although the song is pretty straightforward from a compositional point of view, with just two main riffs, it is actually fairly progressive as a whole. After the verses and chorus repeat a couple of times, the song becomes much quieter, and a lovely melodic solo is played over clean guitar. About a minute or so later the heaviness returns, but the solo continues. A few more twists and turns follow and then the song goes back to the verses and chorus, finally ending with some more great harmonic minor riffs. All in all, a true classic.

After all of this brilliance, with six great songs and just one of a more average kind, one might imagine that the album could not really be any better than it already is. They would be mistaken, as Rime Of The Ancient Mariner opens with a crushing riff sure to get any heads banging instantly. This song is known not only as another classic but also as one of, if not [I]the[/I] greatest epic composition Maiden ever wrote, and it can be safely said that this is completely true. Although the main riff is simple, it works. The harmonised twin-guitar riffs are fantastic, with the section just after Bruce's "and the ship sailed on and on into the sea" being superlative, regardless of whether it is complex or not. The song as a whole is definitely that, though, with many stops and starts, one long break, and plenty of changes from start to finish. Said break is a very cool part - a little overlong perhaps, but it works. As a contrast between the first and second parts of the song it works even better. The latter half is very positive, with a fairly light riff playing over Bruce's singing of how the Mariner survived his horrible ordeal, and then the heaviness returns and a fantastic solo - one of Maiden's best ever - follows. Finally the song goes back to its original main riffs, both the normal and harmonised ones, as Bruce finishes the tale by explaining that the Mariner had learned greater respect for all life by the time he returned home. A fantastic and very heroic and positive end to a magnificent song.

So there you have it. While nothing is perfect, this is one of the only two Maiden albums that have no genuinely weak songs. The other is Somewhere in Time. That album is my favourite of their entire discography, and this one is now second. Considering how I used to feel about it that might seem strange, but it's true. I simply hadn't listened to it properly before. It really is all that - like its predecessor and next two successors it influenced the epic side of metal hugely, and by that I mean HUGELY. It represents the furthest they could take their songs without the use of keyboards or synths, and they succeeded admirably at everything. From the twin-guitar harmonies, to the heavy yet melodic riffs, soaring vocals, fantastic storytelling and often progressive, massive compositions, this album was easily as influential as Number Of The Beast in its own way, as were the other three directly around it.

Now the biggest question: is Powerslave overrated?

Hell yes. But it is also one of the best albums the band ever created, and almost perfect from start to finish. That might seem like a bizarre statement, and technically speaking it is: the very term overrated implies a sense of hype, of making something up, that the true contents are not as awesome as the pretty wrapper. But this album somehow manages to be beloved by all - hardcore fans, casual fans, non-fans who simply like Maiden, and even ordinary rockers alike, and yet still remains utterly outstanding in every way. Very few albums are like that, and that's another part of this record's charm, I guess.

So to sum up: essential, whether you love Maiden, love Heavy Metal, just love good ol' heavy rock, or love all three. Influential beyond belief, and all around fantastic.

An exciting, swashbuckling journey. - 94%

Empyreal, January 25th, 2010

Powerslave is a monumental album in many respects. Drawing inspiration from an age long past, here was Iron Maiden at the top of their game. I mean…fuck yeah, man! This was the band! I wasn’t there myself, but just listening to Powerslave fills me with the kind of adrenaline rush that no other band can. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to move mountains. It is the kind of music that makes a man want to sail the seas and battle rivals for treasure hidden in dank caves and under waterfalls. It isn’t really as good as some of their other 80s albums like Piece of Mind or Somewhere in Time, but that doesn’t mean anything, as this is still a great, great album that any metal fan worth his salt should have.

What does this album do right? It’s just epic and exciting as hell. Everything about this is big. Have you seen the stage shows from this era? Huge pyramids, Eddie as an undead pharaoh and enough scope to make this band and this album larger than life altogether. Maiden went all out making this as hugely grandiose as possible, and it really makes the whole thing a lot of fun. I remember reading something Bruce Dickinson said in an interview about how his stage antics and singing were doctored to make sure everyone in the whole arena can hear him – it’s about making sure everyone gets the full experience, he said, and to do that, you have to emphasize everything important to the nth degree.

That about sums up the feel of Powerslave. The songs on here lack the punkish quality of the early releases and they aren’t quite as intricate as the compositions on Piece of Mind, but they make up for that with a lot of swagger and bravado, making every single note count. They have a lot of energy here, too, and it’s a lot of fun. Nothing is subtle about this, nothing is abstract or downplayed, and it all makes the whole experience more enjoyable. Lyrics are about everything from sword fighting to fighter planes to Ancient Egypt; it’s practically a soundtrack to every boy’s innate dreams and fantasies growing up, except magnified to a real-life, moving epic of metallic wonder. It is a certain childlike sense of imagination that pervades the music here.

The music itself is rife with upbeat twin guitar harmonies, galloping riffs, Steve Harris’ trademark bass acrobatics and the wailing crescendo of might from vocalist Bruce Dickinson’s iron-coated lungs. No ballads, no bullshit, just heavy metal putting everyone’s balls to the wall for eight rounds of ass kicking. Opener “Aces High” soars to the clouds with dizzying harmonies and a daring motif before album single “Two Minutes to Midnight” stomps through the speakers with its own display of doom and despair. “Losfer Words” has a supreme hook, galloping onward without fail, and then the duo of “Flash of the Blade” and “The Duellists” pits the listener in a fight for their life with excellently crafted riffs swiping through the speakers like sharpened blades. “Back in the Village” is a more restrained hard rocking song, but Dickinson’s bellowing and the cut-throat guitar attack elevate it to a better plane.

The two best songs on here are saved for last, with the title track coming first. The riff in this song is just fucking legendary, with a killer groove and a sinister laugh backing it up to make it sound like it really did come from some dark, musty Egyptian tomb long since buried underground. The verses are excellent, demonic and deep-throated in delivery, and the chorus is delivered with a dramatic flair that is nothing less than irresistible. Filled with theatrics and metallic pomposity, this song just flat out rules. But then they hit you with the thirteen minute Samuel Taylor Coleridge reference “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” – bet you wish you paid attention in English class now, don’t you? This song’s epic scope is also just fucking legendary, never getting boring or wearing out its welcome. Do you want the full experience of this song? Go get the original Coleridge poem, take an iPod or other mp3 playing device, and put this song on while you read the poem by the sea. I have done it myself, and it is truly epochal and wondrous. Try it out sometime. Take my word for it.

So that’s Powerslave. It encompasses just about everything Heavy Metal is about, from the adventurousness to the iconic over-the-top execution. This might not be the best Maiden album, but it’s probably the most quintessential example of what they are about, as well as 80s metal as a whole. A grand-standing masterpiece. Unforgettable.

As timeless as the pharaohs' graves - 100%

autothrall, November 9th, 2009

From the release of The Number of the Beast in 1982 to the career defining masterpiece Somewhere in Time four years later, Iron Maiden could simply not be stopped. The four studio albums of this period and the excellent Live After Death represent one of the strongest, if not THE strongest runs ever from a metal band, and Powerslave fits into this with a grandeur of lyrical legerdemain and unforgettable songcraft. Who could forget the iconic Derek Riggs artwork gracing this cover? As timeless as its source.

Like any proper Maiden album, this one is best defined by its unerring melodies, powerful vocal performance and lyrical adherence to history, mythology and fiction. Half of the tracks here can be counted among their hits, staples of many a setlist across the past few decades. "Aces High" is one such staple, an energetic and fist banging tribute to the aerial dogfight. "2 Minutes to Midnight", yet another classic burns with a pure NWOBHM fire: bluesy riffing which can break out the spikes and leather in all of us. The vocals in the bridge and chorus are immortal. "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" is an instrumental pun with some excellent winding guitar leads over Steve Harris' extravagant bass, while one of the lesser known tunes from this disc it's actually got some of the best riffing in all Maiden. "Flash of the Blade" is another killer which stems from Dickinson's love of fencing, a celebration of swordplay throughout the ages. "The Duellists" takes this theme a little further with a toss of the gauntlet, and an anthemic chorus line which I number among their all time classics. "Back in the Village" is a nice post-war anthem with a catchy, noodling guitar lead in the chorus.

As memorable as all of these songs are, we haven't yet arrived at the 'epic' portion of the album, comprised of its final two tracks (at least on the original release). "Powerslave" is unbelievably awesome, Dickinson's vocals taunt and beckon the listener back to this mystical empire of old. No offense to Nile or any other band which thoroughly explores Ancient Egypt thematically (and more accurately), but this remains the most effective Egyptian themed metal song ever to this day, despite having only a few riffs which directly mirror the cultural vibe. It's all in the delivery.

Fuck!!! This was 1984 people, do you know the effect this stuff had on a young and deviant mind addled and fueled by Dungeons & Dragons and science fiction novels? It's not over yet, because Maiden pays a special tribute to Samuel Taylor Coleridge with the 13+ minute epic "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", with its memorable and creepy mid section slathered in bass, samples and ringing guitar ambience, one of the most brilliant passages ever committed to tape by this band.

Though the album has been remastered, the original mix still sounds fantastic. Some decent bonus tracks have been added with the 1995 version, in particular "King of Twilight" is worthy of being here. The musicianship is all-around excellent, from Nico's well balanced drumming to the Harris bass wizardry, dual guitar melodies and Dickinson's masterful delivery. Compare this to almost any album of its year...with the exception of maybe Ride the Lightning it was unsurpassed, from both a technical and nostalgic standpoint. It goes without saying that this belongs in any true metal fan's collection, but in the rare case some reader has been living under a rock or kidnapped by merfolk all these years...actually, fuck it. Even the merfolk listen to Iron Maiden. So you have no excuse.


Swordfighters, Egyptians and seamen - 99%

morbert, May 20th, 2008

There you have it. All kinds of standard metal proof items filling the lyrical content of this classic Iron Maiden album. After their major breakthrough Number Of The Beast and their consolidating Piece Of Mind effort. The band now found themselves at the height of their career in the middle eighties.

Entering the studio with a hand full of songs and quickly finishing some other ideas (like the mighty “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”!) the band released yet another album rather quickly after 16 months in which the band toured a lot. The result is remarkable. It is obvious Iron Maiden could deliver under stressing circumstances. The band simply didn’t have the time for doubts nor insecurities. They just went in and came out holding Powerslave under their arms. And what a majestic piece it was.

The band (especially Harris) surpassed himself with the mighty “Rime Of The Ancient Mariner”. The band had written some epics earlier but this one was over 13 minutes long yet still logical and easy to sit through without ever getting dull or dragging. Opener “Aces High” was the ultimate short efficient heavy metal anthem including raging riffs, great melodies, pounding drums and a marvellous vocal performance by Dickinson. “Flash Of The Blade” following closely in terms of greatness.

Now “the Duellists” is a song balancing between the shorter singles and the longer epic songs. Especially the strong middle section including its harmonies and leads is a great piece of work not forgetting to mention the strong chorus. “Back In The Village” is a song balancing between heavy metal and hardrock in terms of riffing but manages to be a refreshing tune because of its tempo and catchy vocal lines. Once again Dickinson excels here.

The title track, as Dickinson and Harris explained later, initially consisted of three different ideas for songs but somehow worked together perfectly. The good Egyptian atmosphere of the main riff, the laid back middle section which excels in beauty, it all worked out fine. Coincidence, sheer dumb luck or clever composing? Who cares really. The song is a true Maiden classic.

There were however two weaknesses on the album. Not weak enough though to ruin the album. But “Losfer Words” was probably one of those hasty ideas that didn’t work out that well due to a time limit. The song should have matured some more. It would prove to be the last instrumental on a Maiden album and it doesn’t come close to earlier classics like Genghis Khan or Transylvania even though there are some pretty brilliant riffs and melodies here and there.
The other weak spot is “2 Minutes to Midnight”. Some people love it, others hate it. It’s also a fact the band has been playing this song live far too long and although it being much better in the live environment it remains “that hard rock tune” on this over all classic heavy metal album. The pre-chorus and chorus are mind blowing though! So in fact “2 Minutes to Midnight” isn’t really that bad, it’s just that the rest of the songs are so much better and genius!

Now the production is perfect. It is organic yet clear and certainly heavy enough. The guitars have a crunchy sound and are a bit broader than they were on Piece of Mind making this album ‘breathe’ more than its predecessor. For some reason the sound of the guitars is just as ochre as the album cover.

Talking about the album cover, one of the best in Maiden history as well. I always liked the little “Indiana Jones was here” and “What, No Guinness” details. Something which is hard to find on the small CD cover by the way. I know, a CD version is easier but this is an album you should own on vinyl because of the artwork! So I advise everyone to get the vinyl and, if possible, the poster.

The Quintessential Metal Album - 100%

LaconicWarrior, May 5th, 2008

Perhaps one of Maiden’s greatest hits, Powerslave not only ranks as one of the band’s best pieces of work but, perhaps one of the best albums in metal. So what makes this album so great? In the most straightforward terms, it has everything you could ask for. Soaring vocals, in depth lyrics, blazing solos, dueling riffs, grooving bass and hammering drums. You could be thrashing your brains out to a song like “Aces High” while, appreciating the ingenious songcraft of “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”. Here we see fusion many elements which propelled Maiden for the apex of their career.

Lyrically, the song themes you will come across are classic Maiden. Songs about battles and war are now completely encompassed by dog fighting in the air to classic sword fights. Pretty rare for a band to write about both types of warfare. Other songs include lyrics about Egyptian Mythology. This compliments the music 100% since Iron Maiden started to experiment with the harmonic minor scale which usually projects Middle Eastern sound. I hate it when the music does not blend with the words. Not an issue here. The harmony lines will simply blow you away. Two guitars truly prove to be better than one from the opening lick of the album all the way through the very end of the record. Trademark gallops, are at there pinnacle here as well. We see Adrian Smith with his bluesier, crunchy style perfect his style and finally become truly 50/50 with Dave Murray. Not that Dave’s role has been diminished. You will still hear his legendary legato trills more than ever. Steve Harris is one of the best bassists in metal. Finally something I can hear. However, I must have noticed that his volume on his PAN must have been lowered because it does not have the same kick as Piece of Mind and certainly not of the first albums. (This is not a complaint but rather just something I noticed). With the unfortunate and sad departure of Clive Burr, Nicko McBrain makes his sophomore appearance. Bringing less of marchy feel he does not disappoint here. The album is loaded with fills at every 3 measures keeps your mind from wandering astray. Constructive criticism and let downs are at a minimal. In fact there is none.

So what separates the album and why the rating of 100%. Easy. The songs can be classified as epic stories or headbanging thrillers. For those who want to sit down and really listen deep in the song, you are not disappointed. For those who just want to go balls out and raise hell you are not disappointed. For those who just want to cruise with their buddies on the highway while listening to highway tunes you are not disappointed. It has the adaptability to appropriately conform to any environment. There are no fillers here. You can listen to every single song and really have every single one as a regular song on your IPOD.

Even the cover is insanely awesome. It gives you the appropriate feel of the album while having bitching artwork to compliment the album. Eddie can be seen as a Pharaoh and a Mummy. (Eddie can be seen as a lot of people).

However, these reasons still do not make this the greatest album of all time. Only this does. It symbolizes metal. Elements of power, thrash, progressive, heavy, even some black metal can be found here. Many influences for many years will look back at this album as a reference.

In the most layman’s terms, this is why I got into metal. To hear a sophisticated style of music while still having fun. It is significant of me.

My personal favorite album, so no need to say that it gets a 100.

Sickest Songs “Aces High” “2 Minutes to Midnight” “The Duelists” “Powerslave” “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”

Fillers? - 99%

Nhorf, March 17th, 2008

"Every Maiden album has too many fillers that ruin the listening experience".
One month ago I thought like that. The Number of the Beast has Gangland and Invaders, Seventh Son has The Prophecy and Only the Good Die Young, Piece of Mind has Quest for Fire and Sun and Steel, Powerslave has Flash of the Blade and The Duellists...
Two weeks ago, I gave another chance to Powerslave and, oh my God, I was terribly wrong about this album: it has no fillers at all! From the beginning to the end, this record is (almost) flawless. This is the peak of Iron Maiden's career, undoubtely.

The guitar work is the most brilliant aspect of Powerslave: Adrian Smith and Dave Murray form a fantastic team and they deliver an amazing performance. All the guitar solos are absolutely stunning, from the fast one on Aces High to the calm one on the title track. The riffs are also amazing and very memorable. The main riffs of Flash of the Blade and Two Minutes to Midnight are among the best of the record. However, they show their real virtuosity on the middle part of The Duellists: just listen to it, all the riffs on it are amazing and so are the solos.

Nicko McBrain, the drummer, delivers a very consistent performance too. As all the songs are relatively fast, he plays in a very dynamic and efficient way. In fact, he doesn't play ultra-technic patterns, he prefers to stay behind the guitars and play relatively simple but very memorable beats (listen to the first one on Flash of the Blade, believe me, it's very catchy).

The vocals are another highlight of the record. Bruce Dickinson shows his great talent on every song, especially on Aces High, where he delivers an amazing vocal performance. However, I miss his whispers - he does that a lot on A Matter of Life and Death. Nevertheless, this is one of his best performances ever. He also proves to be an excellent songwriter: he penned two of the best songs of the record: Aces High (with Adrian Smith) and the title track.
The bass work is audible (kudos to the great production!) and excellent. Steve Harris is an amazing player and songwriter: he composed many of the tracks of this record, including the fantastic epic Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

As I've already said, all the songs are pretty fast and energic, so don't expect ballads on this record. At the same time, you should neither expect a typical heavy metal album full of straight-forward songs, that follow the same structure. Almost every track is relatively complex, with lenghty instrumental sections and some breakdowns here and there.

It's very hard for me to name stand-outs: all the songs are very good.
The first one, Aces High, is one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs and it is very fast. 2 Minutes to Midnight needs no presentation, as it is one of the greatest Maiden classics. An amazing anthem with a very cool breakdown.

And now, I'll review the middle section of the record, which seem to annoy many people. "It's full of fillers!" they say. Meh, such a lie.
Losfer Words is a decent and solid instrumental song, but definitely not a filler.
Flash of the Blade is an underrated track. It opens with one of the best guitar riffs I've ever heard; then, the drums and the bass join the guitars and Bruce begins to sing. The chorus is extremely catchy and after it comes an extremely good instrumental section. The guitar riff that begins is very good and the solo is pretty decent. After a while, Dickinson sings – again - the fantastic chorus, the first riff is played and the song ends. Very good track.

Then, you have no time to breathe. McBrain hits the snare and The Duellists kicks off. This is the third best song of the record and that is saying something. The chorus is also catchy and the instrumental section is even better than the one on the previous track. The song is pretty fast and the lyrics fit well the music, as they talk about a fight between two, err, duellists.
Back in the Village is the worst track of the record, but it isn't that bad actually, there are some very good riffs here and there.

So, how can you people call those tracks fillers? Okay, Back in the Village is a bit weak, but isn't horrible; Losfer Words is a nice song, Flash of the Blade and The Duellists are some of the most underrated Maiden tunes ever!

Then, we reach the last two songs. Well, those two are real masterpieces.
The title track is the heavier song of the record, thanks to its main riff. Bruce Dickinson delivers a very good and passionate performance and the lyrics are among the best of the album. They talk about Egypt and some riffs are very reminiscent of the music of that country, so the atmosphere of the song is amazing.
After 3 minutes, there is a fantastic breakdown, with superb bass lines, soft drumming and an outstanding guitar solo. Then, the song becomes heavier and the solo gets faster. When the solos end, McBrain plays a fast fill, the main riff returns and the chorus is repeated, bringing back the egyptian atmosphere. The song ends greatly this way.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner begins immediately after the end of the title track. Every Maiden album has an epic track. The Number of the Beast has Hallowed Be Thy Name, Somewhere in Time has Alexander, the Great, the debut has Phantom of the Opera and so on. But Rime of the Ancient Mariner has to be the best epic Iron Maiden ever wrote (The Legacy is a very close second). The song was entirely composed by Harris and it is based on the homonym poem of Samuel Coleridge.
The song has lots of different sections. It begins with a drum fill and some simple guitar riffs. Bruce begins to sing about the mariner and how he killed a bird. The shipmates blame him because of that as they apparently think that the death of birds brings bad omens. Then, they hang the bird around the neck of the mariner, as a punishment.

After 6 minutes, the song becomes calm and a narrator talks more about the story. Then, a wonderful bass line is played, which is related to the rising of the unlucky mariner. The song becomes heavy again and wonderful solos are played.
The song ends with the first guitar riff played and, also, with Bruce Dickinson concluding the story. This song is an authentic journey, indeed.

So, we reach the end of the record, which is full of catchy yet complex songs, with fantastic instrumental sections, catchy choruses, solid drumming, good bass lines and outstanding vocals.
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the best track of this record, undoubtely, closely followed by the title track and The Duellists. But every song is really good - even the worst track, Back in the Village, is good.
Concluding, this is a masterpiece. A fantastic album. The peak of Maiden's creativity. A CLASSIC, my favourite album ever. I just don't give away 99 points easily, so, if I gave 99 to this record, you HAVE to get it. This possibly is the best metal album ever, consistent, solid, complex yet catchy, heavy yet progressive, basically everything about this record ROCKS.

Even the artwork is one of my favourites. I would also recommend you to get the remastered version of Powerslave, the quality of the sound is much much better, it also contains the music videos of Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight and the booklet has lots of cool pictures and that kind of things.

Best Moments of the CD:
EVERY moment. Yes, I never thought I would say this, but every moment of this album is priceless.

99 points - Outstanding record; my personal favourite and that's saying something. Highly recommended.

EDIT: I just changed the points and the conclusion of the review a little bit. I just felt the review deserved a change because I heard the record recently and I discoverd that it remains enjoyable after so much time constantly listening to it. A winner.

Bow to your masters... - 96%

BastardHead, February 24th, 2008

Fueled by guilt, I have decided to write a review for one Iron Maiden's countless classics after I ruthlessly slagged their newest record. Powerslave is a very special album to me; it contains some of my absolute favorites, and it was my first Iron Maiden purchase. I was about to type my obligatory history lesson here, but then I decided that if you are reading this review, you must be on the Metal Archives, and if you are on the Metal Archives and do not know about Iron Maiden, well then you should probably pack your shit and leave.

This album is the disputable peak of their creativity, songwriting, and playing ability. Some say Number of the Beast nailed it, others believe Seventh Son of a Seventh Son was the absolute pinnacle. For me, it is Powerslave. This album is like a beacon of awesomeness in between two overrated records, Piece of Mind and Somewhere in Time. This is strange for me, I am a huge Iron Maiden fan, but it seems like they have a really uneven shit to great album ratio. I'll save the complicated explanation for another day and another review, just trust me when I say Powerslave contains some of the cathiest, most intense, most memorable, and overall most impressive songs Maiden has ever penned.

It has been argued that Iron Maiden started off as a heavy metal band, and the passage of time has transformed them into hard rock. My answer to this statement is 2 Minutes to Midnight. No amount of time will ever make that song less metal than it is. That song is truly THE Maiden classic to me. I'd rank it above Number of the Beast, Phantom of the Opera, or The Trooper.... the only song it pales to is Hallowed by thy Name. Featuring their goriest lyrics, catchiest riffs, and most memorable chorus after Run to the Hills, 2 Minutes to Midnight serves as essentially the perfect testament to what Iron Maiden is and also serves as a great introduction.

Aces High is the other high profile song here. Well... there's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and the title track, but no song is covered as often as Aces High. You think Powerslave, Aces High is the first song to come to mind, a fast, ripping number that leaves your neck sore and throat aching.

I'd like to go on and on about how this is my favorite and their best album, but frankly, I'd just repeat myself the whole time. Just know that people are certainly justified in hailing other albums as masterpieces, as Maiden definitely (usually) know what they are doing when it comes to music, but Powerslave ranks above as the only album they've ever recorded with no stinkers on it. Every last song is catchy and memorable, and this album is almost worthy of a coveted 100% rating. Unfortunately, I feel Rime of the Ancient Mariner to be a tad too self indulgent and meandering at times, and Duellists just doesn't seem to measure up to the others. Even the unknown songs like Back in the Village and Flash of the Blade are absolute classics, worthy of every metalhead's time.

A very worthy A is awarded. Excellent job guys, you've made a near perfect record. This is my favorite release from these pioneers, and it could only take a couple tweaks to make this album perfect. Essential listening, go buy it.

Powerful - 97%

TableofHELL, December 11th, 2007

This was probably the most important album for Iron Maiden to craft as it was "make or break" for them. It really can be seen as the twin album to Piece of Mind as it has many similar traits with that album, including the production and the all around aura they both obtain. This album is much more majestic, however, as it truly cemented Maiden's position as THE metal band to beat in the 80s metal scene. Sure, there were heavier and faster monsters (mainly looming from the West Coast of the US at the time, but that's another story), but Maiden was truly stepping into the world's spotlight at the time. Sold out tours in America and just about everywhere else on the planet cemented that fact into the most metal of all stones. Quite a feat considering Maiden recieved next to no airplay in America.

The album itself is quite collossal. I consider it to be just as collossal as the stage show that followed after this record hit shelves. The 12 foot tall eddie coming out during the title track, holding Steve Harris in his hand. [sigh] What I would do be alive to witness such an important thing in metal history.

The album opens firing on all cylinders with 'Aces High'. A nice fast song recalling WWII air combat, with very turbo jet engine like riffing ideas and some amazing vocal work courtesy of Bruce Dickinson.
'2 Minutes to Midnight' is next, one of the band's biggest hits, and probably an eternal concert staple. For some odd reason, the intro/main riff recalls 'Welcome to Hell' by Venom to me. There's just a whole lot more to this one, and let's just say the guys in Maiden knew what they were doing a bit better than the Newcastle never-do-wells :)
'Back in the Village' is supposed to be part 2 of 'The Prisoner' which was on Number of the Beast. The lyrics are based on some reality TV show or something. I'm not quite sure though. I could be wrong. Musically, its got a very great rhythm, reminding me of something Megadeth would do on Killing is my Business.
The two closing tracks on the album are the true highlights though. They are so completely massive and epic, they put any other band trying to top this to shame. Symphony X wish they could write another 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. The title track of the album has some great egyptian style melodies. This is another Dickinson penned song, and it shows he's made a great leap since Piece of Mind, as this song is even better than Revelations, despite that song completely slaying. 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' itself is the coin Maiden epic of their entire discography. It has some great gallop type riffing, and some great lyrics to go along with it, detailing Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 19th century poem of the same name. Describing this song would be redundant and overlong, so I just recommend it is heard. It has so many feels and moods in its 13:40 minute duration. But I will say here, that the section around the 9 minute mark, after Bruce yells 'THEN DOWN IN FALLS COMES THE RAIN!' would have to be one of the greatest metal moments ever. It's like those spine chilling moments during 'Hallowed be thy Name' all over again, just less somber sounding.
Yes, this was the album that put Maiden at the top of the world. And it was rightly deserved too. The album cover art of an Egyptian carved Eddie is very fitting, considering Maiden is eternal and will be remembered always.

Amazingly good - 99%

Fatal_Metal, September 29th, 2006

Ah, this is truly where Maiden got their act together and put out a blast of an album. It is only behind 7th son and that truly isn’t a fact to be ashamed of – as every metal release itself is behind 7th son! The album also has great variety, ranging from breakneck speed metal in the form of Aces High to the more mature, pseudo Egyptian atmosphere of ‘Powerslave’ and ‘Losfer Words’. The album contains what is Maiden’s last instrumental (as for now) in the form of ‘Losfer Words’.

There isn’t quite any weak track on the album. All the album members have now actively involved themselves in songwriting, which has brought about the best in Maiden. The riffing here is tight, inspired and would prove to be a great influence on the power metal scene. The soloing still is top-notch. The interesting thing about Maiden is, they’re mainly a riff-based band. Despite having a 13 minute long track on the album, neither Dave nor Adrian perform any extended soloing in it. Bruce too is absolutely impeccable here with amazing vocal performances on ‘Aces High’, ‘2 Minutes To Midnight’ and ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’. Nicko too gets better with every single release, providing fine backing to the band and going for the neck on ‘Aces High’. Steve plays a mjor part in carrying forward songs like ‘Powerslave’ (with that excellent but short bass solo) and ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’.

‘Aces High’ is speed metal with excellent riffing and great vocals and drumming. ‘Two Minutes To Midnight’ contains that excellent intro riff which is more or less omnipotent in metal – as of now its shown up in Mercyful Fate, Accept, David Bowie (!), Grave Digger, Hellhammer, Scanner and a heck-lot of artists who if I was to mention would occupy the entire review. Of all these artists, I can safely say only Maiden bring out its luster completely. What else is noticeable about the song is Bruce’s biting vocal performance and the excellent chorus. ‘Losfer Words’ as has been said, is probably Maiden’s last instrumental and it works in a somewhat Egyptian way. Some excellent melodies to be heard here. ‘Flash Of The Blade’ is a forgotten classic from the album, its insatiably catchy with excellent riffing and soloing. ‘The Duellists’ is another fine track with a seemingly endless instrument only passage in it. ‘Back In The Village’ is another lost classic with an excellent vocal performance and chorus and a stalwart solo. It’s a worthy follow-up to ‘The Prisoner’ from NoTB. ‘Powerslave’ is one of Maiden’s best, with heavy pseudo-Egyptian riffing. Steve’s bass lines play a great part in driving the song, with him playing a near bass solo in the song. Bruce’s voice contains a venomous biting edge here. ‘The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ then is another classic and would easily show up in a Top 5 Maiden list. Its 13 minutes long making it Maiden’s longest song and is based on the epic poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Not surprisingly, the poem was written under the influence of Marijuana (as Bruce would recount later). Bruce, Nicko, Steve, Dave and Adrian all deliver an absolutely outstanding pefromance here. Never once does this song seem overlong (unlike the thousand prog ‘epics’ out there) and never once does the band seem underwhelming or struggling to keep up with each other here. A remarkable feat indeed.

On the whole, the album is a culmination of all the maturation seen in the previous releases. This release could be marked as the release where power metal actually began as some of the songs here show elements that influenced the genre most. All in all, a very worthy buy – and one every metal fan would like.

Controlled Evolution. - 90%

hells_unicorn, September 18th, 2006
Written based on this version: 1995, CD, Castle Records

Following the rather amazing, yet somewhat inconsistent "Piece of Mind" album, Maiden offers up yet another studio effort that evolves the standardized formula that began with "Number of the Beast". But unlike the rather giant progressive leaps that were taken from their first two albums, the evolution at work here is very gradual.

This album is structured a bit similarly to "Piece of Mind", starting off with a fast track and putting most of the longer winded material towards the end of the album. However, the scope of the songs is much larger, as both Steve Harris and the other composers of this band are broadening their horizons. This can be observed both in the rather long epic "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", which is loaded with changes, as well as the harmonic progression of such tracks as "Two minutes to Midnight" and "Powerslave", both of which are musically more complex than what is found on the previous release.

The guitar work on here has been taken up a notch, as the difference in sound between Adrian and Dave's solos has become a bit more distinct. The dueling solos on "Powerslave" and "Aces High" give us a good back to back example of this. However, Adrian's highly melodic style is really brought out in the solo of "Two minutes to midnight", which is super-imposed over a fairly complex chord progression.

The basswork on here is also noteworthy, as Steve Harris is never one to be upstaged by the others in the band. His own set of melodic fill ins on "Powerslave", as well as his dreary drone during the quiet section of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", reveal a character to his playing style that sets him apart from most of the other NWOBHM bassists who were content to merely play the root and do support work only.

Bruce's vocals are as riveting as ever, shooting up into the upper stratoshpere at times. His final note on "Aces High", as well as a rather nuerotic scream at the end of a development section of "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" rival the work he did on the two previous albums. In fact, I would argue that this album is his finest work as a vocalist, not to mention that "Powerslave" is probably the best song he's ever written for the band.

Unfortunately, just as on Piece of Mind, we have a couple of tracks that don't measure up to the standards that Maiden had already set for themselves on earlier albums. "Back in the Village" is not a throw-away song, but I can't really get as excited about it as I did it's lyrical predecessor "The Prisoner" (both songs are about the same TV show). "Losfer Words (Big Orra)" is probably the weakest instrumental effort Maiden has ever put out, and is probably the reason why they haven't written anymore since.

But on this album, there are so many good things happening that it makes up for the less than stellar songs. "The Duelists" is a bit simplistic considering how long it is, but it's quite catchy and Bruce helps it to shine with his vocal delivery. "Flash of the Blade" is a very unusually progressive, yet quite good sounding rocker, kudos to Bruce once again for writing this one.

In conclusion, this album has some changes in it that make it a bit more exciting than "Piece of Mind", yet carries a similar collection of classic Maiden tracks. Songs like "Aces High" and "Two Minutes to Midnight" rock about as hard as they come, and are probably the most accessable to fans of earlier work of Maiden with Bruce as vocalist. I recommend it highly to any fans of traditional metal, as well as to younger fans who discovered Maiden since 2000 when Bruce re-united with them. This album contains some elements of the style that they carry today, which is reaching out to a whole new generation of Maiden faithful.

Running out of steam a little here... - 80%

OlympicSharpshooter, March 2nd, 2004

Wow, this album disappointed the hell outta me. I was expecting sheer Maiden perfection with all the praise lofted on this one, but I guess I should've looked one album back. This isn't to say that Powerslave is a bad album, on the contrary, when it's good it's literally as good as metal gets period. But when it's off, it's just tepid.

The band was coming off the 'omigodbestalbumevar'-type performance on Piece of Mind, and hopes were high for a follow-up to be just as good. Alas, just as Motorhead's Iron Fist paled against Ace of Spades (which in turn was considerably weaker than Overkill), and Sabbath's Technical Ecstasy was hardly a shadow of Sabotage, so it was again here. But man, give the boys credit for starting out the gates strong.

"Aces High", the most giddyingly Maiden track in the Maiden catalogue just hammers out of the gates, digits flying, vocals soaring, guitars harmonizing like nobodies business...if you wanted to explain Iron Maiden to someone, file this alongside "The Trooper", "Fear of the Dark", and perhaps "Wrathchild" as your instant declaration of metal supremacy personified. I love love love this song.

Next up, "2 Minutes to Midnight", the most rock 'n' rollsy swaggering track on the album, a two-fisted pummelling in which horror of horrors, Steve Harris pretends to be a normal bass player. And wow, try to follow that narrative if you can (made even more confused by the nonsensical video), or just revel in Bruce's most deliciously vile performance 'til "Be Quick or Be Dead" five years hence. It's a truly godly tune.

Now, perhaps you're wondering why I sorta slammed this album earlier, so here it is. This album has got filler, and extremely dreary filler at that. "Flash of the Blade" is a waste of vinyl, the band half-heartedly trying to repeat what worked so gloriously on PoM to no avail. "Losfer Words" is unremarkable in the extreme, a solid little Maiden gallop they should've just used in a real song. This is, and feels like, filler. And then, "The Duellists" another sagging gut of a track that despite Bruce's epic approach to the lame narrative, succeeds in merely passing the time, no pulse evident. This stuff is just so horribly ‘blah’ that I barely had the heart to listen to it.

But lo and behold!, the boys come to with "Back in the Village" leading the way into a eventful ending suite, the song being a personal favourite of mine. Fun speedy little riff, Bruce going mad over a sing-songy and insanely catchy melody. Seriously, I sung the chorus to this over and over for nearly a week and a half without tiring of it. People around me though...

Ah, "Powerslave" how I love thee, a title-track worthy of carrying that banner. Intriguing lyric, nice moody atmosphere and then boom! that chorus hits you, a sort of song within a song, and it's even better than the rest of the brilliant track and then that godly solo break...almost an "Aces High" killer is "Powerslave". This track's that good.

Now, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is the start of the well that Maiden would perhaps draw from too often over the years, but damn if it isn't a good template. You can almost sense the band wondering how they can do more epic songs than "Hallowed be thy Name". Apparently the answer that occurred to them is 'make it long...REALLY long', and boy did they ever. Still, the track does trundle along solidly, Bruce at his most thespian telling the tale of a man wearing an Albatross (cue Monty Python) around his neck, something that you'd think would be rather uncomfortable considering his size. Gotta love those riffs though, even if not that much really happens, and that up-tempo section is so worthy I can almost forget the silly spoken sections and drawn out "ambient" bits.

So, we have an awesome opening, and a fine close with a truly leaden middle. I would have ranked it higher, but coming off of PoM this is a disappointment. A really big disappointment.

Stand-Outs: “Back in the Village”, “Aces High”, “2 Minutes to Midnight”

Probably the best Maiden album. - 89%

Nightcrawler, September 5th, 2003

With "The Number of the Beast", Maiden created a classic to be known and loved by metalheads through all ages, and while it's not the BSET ABLUMN EVEEEEERRR!!1!!1 as people claim it to be, it's definitely awesome. "Piece of Mind" is another classic, but I myself found it slightly disappointing, and not at all as good as it could've been.
But Maiden kicked right back to the top with 1984's "Powerslave", probably their best album ever. It's their most intense and powerful album, and it constantly keeping up a very high pace in all of the songs. Musically, most of the tunes are extremely catchy and quite upbeat despite rather dark lyrical subjects ("2 Minutes To Midnight" especially comes to mind here), as a great part of the songs write about war. And it is done incredibly well, since this is in the time when Maiden had not completely watered out all of their lyrical subjects, not even that of war.

This is closer to "Number of the Beast" and "Piece of Mind" than to "Somewhere in Time" and "Seventh Son" (the albums that followed it) soundwise, in that the rhythm guitars have a very rough and sharp edge, yet when played together they give a strange, harmonizing effect which works extremely well.
And of course, the melodic leads that we all know and love are all over this album, and they are better than ever before! They are blasted out in just the right moments, used just enough times in each song, and constantly add an amazing amount of power and atmosphere to the songs. The leadwork shines especially much in "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)", which is probably their best instrumental to this point.
The entire band is really in top shape, with Steve's bass being slightly lower in the mix for the most part, which is in fact a good thing. It's still very 'there' and adds alot, yet never tries to steal attention from guitars, something that at times was obvious on previous Maiden records.
Nicko's drumming is as usual catchy, memorable and instantly recognizable, even though he at times overuses the ride and/or hi hat during rhythm sections.
And Bruce's vocals, like on any early Maiden record, are very solid, but I still don't think he's anywhere near the best Metal singers ever.

These factors all help in making "Powerslave" into one of my favourite Maiden album, challenged only by "The Number of the Beast" and "Killers" - but the biggest part is of course the songwriting, as it is the only Iron Maiden album without a single weak track to be found. It's all here, and it's all great.

The energetic "Aces High" opens the album and is one of Maiden's greatest tracks ever. The rough yet harmonizing riffs blast out in full power all over the song, to explode in one of their most powerful choruses yet, and then continues to further kick your ass with a mindblowing solo.
"2 Minutes To Midnight" is catchy as all fucking hell, with that instantly recognizable opening riff, and the awesomely memorable and dark pre-chorus and chorus lines, combined with a truly sinister vocal performance.
"The Duellists" has some fun fast sung vocal lines, a very solid chorus and also that completely mindblowing middle section, showing off some of the greatest leadwork in the history of Maiden.
And of course the epic closing tracks; there are two of them! We first have the title track, "Powerslave", which is the best song on the album and one of my top 5 maiden tracks ever. The out of this world instrumental section is just huge, with that beautiful slowed down piece in the middle and all- but what really makes the song is the absolutely fucking insanely heavy riffwork, together with the wicked vocal performance and overall atmosphere, with Steve's basslines providing a very strong, Egyptian feeling.
And then we get right on to "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", which is another classic Maiden epic with loads and loads of time changes and is also their longest song to date. The atmosphere it manages to build up has to be heard to believe it. To spell it out for ya; you've got to own this album.

Some people say that Powerslave has four mediocre tracks sandwiched between four classics. I say that they can go fuck themselves.
"Losfer Words", "Flash of the Blade", "The Duellists" and "Back In The Village", all of them show Maiden at their best, and I pity the fool who doesn't recognize this obvious fact.

To close this review with one sentence: If you were to own only one Iron Maiden album, this is the one.

A perfect album! - 100%

raZe, August 12th, 2002

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!