Maiden were on top of the world when they released this platter, and remained there for at least 3 more albums before the slide began (curse Seattle.............just kidding!).
It's all been said really - from the opening dual guitar intro to Aces High (one of the best Maiden choruses ever?)through the fantastic riff to 2 Minutes, via the twin guitarwork on The Duelists, the wonderfully complex riff to Back In The Village (or the return of The Prisoner), the mysterious theme and awesome instrumental section of Powerslave, all dwarfed by the huge Rime of the Ancient Mariner, this album is a wild ride.
Very good production, although I would have liked a bit more bottom end (my taste only), the boys are the best at what they do, and this was one of their finest moments.
on 18 January 2013
For many Maiden fans of a certain age this is The One.
Having just got back into vinyl after 20 years of digital listening I was keen to replace my original worn and abused 80s LPs with these deluxe heavyweight vinyl copies. The artwork looks better than ever and the bass and drums are much punchier than the CD remasters from the late 90s.
The choice of the picture disc format (something Maiden have done with all vinyl releases since the return to the classic line-up + Janick Gers in 2000) compromises the very thing Harris and Dickinson have gone on about for the last 30 years - The Music. The surface noise on these picture discs is dreadful and although you tend to lose it on the louder sections, any quiet bits are ruined by a terrible racket.
Maiden could have done this so much better. If they'd ditched the picture discs and pressed them up in coloured vinyl (perhaps marbled in lovely Riggsian blue and gold?)They would have been just as 'collectable' and sounded superb. As it is they've got a premium priced product spoiled by a crappy marketing gimmick.
Of course, they'll sell millions of them. I've bought them all, but I'd flog them in the blink of an Eye Of Horus if they'd bring out some that actually sound proper.
on 25 January 2010
This album for me pretty much defines heavy metal. It's full of fantastic guitar work - not just solos (although the combination of Dave Murray's wild, fluid leads and Adrian Smith's more musical, thought-out leads over fantastic rhythm patterns is just perfect), but wonderful rhythm guitar (with Adrian's complementary 2nd guitar part fleshing it out rather than just doubling like many a 2nd guitarist), and Iron Maiden's trademark harmony guitar bits. Bruce's dynamic vocals are still one of the highest points in metal singing, and the band's interesting lyrics (about fighter pilots, duels, Egyptian Pharaohs, etc.) are at the top of rock and metal lyric-writing (unless one prefers introspective whining . . . ). Top this off with some fine rhythm work and one of the best bassists in metal, and you can't lose! Also, Iron Maiden avoids one of the great pitfalls of metal and managed to avoid doing power ballads or other cliche pop-leanings; so, while there's plenty of dynamics (like the slow, moody, mid-section of "Ancient Marriner") the music is 100% metal, 0% poser, and just stands up as great music.
Some of the other reviewers mentioned that the some of the songs were too long or "self-indulgent", but I completely disagree. "Ancient Marriner" is over 13-minutes, yet compelling and exciting throughout; while many a pop song or metal-sellout song can be too long at 3 minutes, I can hardly criticize a song for having more music in it. Iron Maiden differ from many a 70s band (at least at this point in Maiden's career) by making songs longer with pre-written music (particularly those fantastic harmony guitar bits) and interesting musical ideas. It's fantastic because, although there's great vocals and interesting lyrics, Maiden (in the 80s) had a very strong instrumental basis. To me, self-indulgent is when you have long (boring) guitar solos over repetitive rhythm section bits, but Maiden changed it up and kept it musically interesting. Some of Maiden's later period works (e.g. "Angel & The Gambler" are a little more guilty of overlong songs or self-indulgence, but the 80s period of this band is exciting from beginning to end.
The combination of high-adrenaline speed-metal with lots of melodies is kind of a template for the best of what became Power Metal in the 90s (e.g. Blind Guardian).
on 24 January 2004
This album, along with Best Of The Beast, was what initiated my liking for Iron Maiden. Since those two, I've got 10 more albums, but if pushed to rate a single one as my favourite (which isn't easy) it would have to be Powerslave. This is classic Iron Maiden, from the powerful, charged beginning of 'Aces High' to the final note of the leviathan 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner.' All the songs are excellent, with 'Back In The Village' a particular favourite of mine, with amazing guitar, great lyrics, and breakneck speed combining to make a song which I always want to go on longer.
However, for me 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' is the epic. Having read the poem, I was unsure how well it would translate into heavy rock/metal! My fears were unfounded - the whole atmosphere of this truly remarkable poem (a word which seems rather an understatement for such a work) is completely encapsulated, largely in Steve Harris' own words. There a two quotes from the original Rime by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, but these do not sound at all out of place - they have been perfectly incorporated into the rest of the lyrics and the song, and with the very careful and clever music are not at all spoilt, almost as if they were written to go into this song. Bruce's vocal performance is, as usual, outstanding, with a quality and range which, from my listening, is unrivalled.
I am loath to put further emphasis on this song as it sounds as if I ignore the rest of the album, which would be positively sacreligious! 'Two Minutes To Midnight' is another true classic, one which many people I've spoken to (Maiden fans or otherwise) have heard and think highly of.
The instrumental 'Losfer Words' provides a slight variation, and is well worth listening to (again, I wish it was longer!) 'Flash Of The Blade' is a short, fast, hard - hitting work while 'The Duellists', although having lyrics of similar theme, is hard in a slower, heavier fashion. Finally, the title track - a 7 minute opus in which the guitar riffs add true authenticity to the Egyptian theme, and, again, Bruce's vocals are faultless - another Maiden favourite of mine.
My advice is simple - BUY IT!
A must for Maiden fans!
on 18 February 2011
After Nicko McBrain joined the band for 1983's 'Piece of Mind', Iron Maiden finally had a secure line up, and that confidence in playing with each comes across completely in this album - this is Maiden at its most swaggering and confident - and is all the better for it. This is Maiden at the top of its game, featuring some of their most well known and loved tracks, such as 'Aces High', '2 Minutes to Midnight' and 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. The tour that followed, the gruelling 18-month 'World Slavery Tour', has since gone down in heavy metal myth, and musicians continue to cite this album as a source of inspiration. For an album that it this entrenched in metalhead's minds and hearts, do the songs still hold up today? What a silly question...
The record begins in full force with 'Aces High' and '2 Minutes to Midnight', which, as mentioned, are both concert staples. While we've heard these two songs many times live, it's easy to forget just how good the original tracks are. Bruce's operatic singing is in full force, Dave and Adrian churn out stunning riffs and solos, Steve chugs along like a powerhouse, and the same for Nicko's stunning drumming. Armed with pitch perfect choruses, and kick-ass guitar solos, this is how you open an album - with an absolute bang.
While many praise the opening and closing songs of the record, many seem to neglect the excellent middle section. The songs aren't as popular as others on the record, however they are full of surprises. 'Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)' is an instrumental, and a very good one at that - probably Maiden's best. While most instrumentals turn into unlistenable jams, Maiden knows how to structure them perfectly (see 'Transylvania' on the début record') and it's shown here in full swing. 'Flash of the Blade' is a piercing song, with a great riff, chorus and St. George-esque lyrics make it a perfect example of Maiden's larger than life epic lyrics from this period. 'The Duellists' and 'Back in the Village', while the weakest songs from the album, continue in the vein of larger than life lyrics, and could be seen as standard Maiden songs - this many by true, but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. While not as memorable as other songs on the album, these two songs provide just what you want from a Maiden song.
The final section of the album has become legend for its grandiose and scope. Kicking off with the title track, Maiden slow down a little, while also imbuing an Ancient Egyptian-esque riff. Singing about a man's desire to live forever, Bruce adds such a majestic quality to the song, it quite simply soars. The song is so good, this could have easily been a very satisfying end to the album. But Maiden aren't finished yet. Based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem of a man lost at sea with supernatural forces buying for his soul, 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' is one of the best regarded songs by both the band and fans. At over 13 minutes it's still the longest song Maiden have put to disc, however the perfect structure makes it seem like its a lot less. Shifting for quiet and subtle (!) to loud and bombastic, this is the perfect song to end this epic album. Thrilling, exciting and epic , 'Ancient Mariner' is an excellent send off for the record.
So does the album still hold up? Well, yeah, the middle does lag a little bit, however the songs overall are of such a high quality, it becomes a case of worth the sum of its spare parts. That said, the middle songs are still great, and probably better then anything being passed off as metal these days. Verdict: buy now. Love it. Savour it. Listen to it again. And again. And again. If you own the record, listen to it again! Now!
1. Aces High 10/10
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight 10/10
3. Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)9/10
4. Flash of the Blade 10/10
5. The Duellists 8/10
6. Back in the Village 9/10
7. Powerslave 10/10
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner 10/10
on 28 January 2002
Ranking way up there with the likes of Judas Priest and Black Sabbath, Maiden rock with the best of them, in fact they are my personal favourite. But, as well as being a classical example of a heavy metal group, Iron Maiden are also story tellers. They have the most narrative lyrics EVER in rock music.
The album "Powerslave" is far from an exception.
From the opening track "Aces High", about a WW2 air-raid, to the almighty grinding sounds of the title track, Bruce Dickinson's bunch have done it again- produced a unique and awe-inspiring work of art.
Also, the last track, the 9+ minute "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is Steve Harris's finest epic to date. Fans who have heard and enjoyed "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (The Number of the Beast), and "Alexander The Great" (Somewhere in Time) both by Harris, will bearly be able to keep their jaws off the floor! "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is an enthralling journey through the Mariner's eyes, with two quotes from Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Also, track 3, entitled "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" is one of the finest instrumentals you are ever likely to listen to, again, written by Steve Harris. It is good to both chill out to or jump around to!
The bottom line is this: if you're a Maiden fan, you album collection isn't in anyway shape or form complete without this little gem! BUY IT!!
on 11 July 2004
Although all of Iron Maiden's early to mid-1980s work was their finest period as a whole, it arguably reached its peak on this, 1984's Powerslave. Opening up with the simply brilliant double of 'Aces High' and 'Two Minutes To Midnight', two of the best songs the band has ever written, things do not drop in quality from then on in. Every song on here is a Maiden classic, but for me at least, the best of a very good bunch is the epic closing track 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner', based as it is on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name. It's 13 and a half minutes of sheer Metal brilliance and to this day remains my favourite Iron Maiden song. If you consider yourself any kind of a fan of Metal you'll probably already own this album, and if you don't you should buy it as soon as you can.
The cover of Maiden's 5th album suggests two things- the first, that this will be an album of epic size and scope; the second, that it will be based on or at least reference Egyptian History and Mythology. One of these is certainly true, while one is vague. The artwork is again iconic and brilliant by Derek Riggs, featuring Eddie as a towering God in Ancient Egypt. There are certainly Egyptian themes and musical styles in the title track, but aside from that we have the usual mix of songs based on war, horror, movies, and literature. That leaves then the first assumption- the album features more advanced musical ability and song-writing, and contains their longest track to date at over 13 minutes. As well as the contents of the album being epic, their World Slavery Tour to promote the album was legendary, lasting 11 months, spreading the disease to new parts of the globe, expanding their fan base hugely, and saw a landmark gig behind the Iron Curtain- a first for any Western band. Maiden were certainly climbing, and this is more expansive and extroverted compared to its predecessor and has more progressive elements, but there remains an ear for a riff and rhyme, and has a couple of big singles and live favourites. It is another strong addition to a classic catalogue.
`Aces High' opens the album and is in many ways the quintessential Maiden song; we have the dual guitar attack intro featuring a memorable riff before picking up pace and taking off with Dickinson's screaming vocals. We have a big chorus with a fist pumping tone, and head-banging rhythm, and of course some effortless guitar solo work. The song describes an air battle between the British and the Germans in WWII, sounding urgent and frantic thanks to the pace of the song and the magnitude of the vocals. It was a fairly successful single and remains a firm live favourite and one which has been covered many times.
`2 Minutes To Midnight' is another popular single from the band and one which never fails to get the crowds moving at a concert or club. It has another immortal opening and references the Doomsday Clock and the threat of Atomic War. The song is one of a few that was written by Adrian Smith and Dickinson and shows their capabilities as songwriters without the help of Harris. They made one of the band's most endearing singles featuring grim lyrics, again a sense of urgency, and some enjoyable melodies.
`Losfer Words' is an instrumental which moves through various phases but doesn't add much to the album. Like many of their instrumentals it is a good stand alone however. Then again, I'm not a big fan of these types of music interludes on albums so I'm not the best judge on their quality. This one isn't as repetitive as others and naturally the playing is sublime from all concerned.
`Flash Of The Blade' has one of my favourite intros of any Maiden song, once again keeping the tone of urgency high. The guitars are great here but the lyrics almost spoil it being typical sword `n sorcery fare- I wish for this one that they had gone for more realistic lyrics but it doesn't take too much away from the overall quality of the song. Again we have a big chorus hinting that this one was a contender to be a single. The lead riff blends well into and back out of a solo which fits in extremely well with the song as a whole.
`The Dualists' opens in typical charging fashion with Bruce screeching about war and fighting in general. The muted solo is different, giving the bass some room to shine before the notes are sustained more and Nicko bangs away to his own insane rhythm. This is almost like one of their instrumentals which they weren't losfer words over and threw a few lyrics in.
`Back In The Village' returns to speed and urgency with a million note riff played in a couple of seconds. This one lacks the memorable chorus of other songs on the album and doesn't have the appealing melodies of others. Once again though the solos are excellent and the ending is quite funny. The lyrics refer to `The Prisoner' TV show again and speak of escape, inevitability, and futility.
`Powerslave' is at this point one of the band's most progressive songs all the more interesting because it was a single. Beginning with strange sounds and effects we then get a nice series of Eastern influenced riffs with lyrics concerning Gods, immortality, and Egyptian Mythology. Dickinson again shows his imaginative and dramatic power as a songwriter bringing another layer to the band which it lacked before he joined. There is a slower period halfway through which becomes an extended solo hinting both at the next song and at further progressive elements. I must also mention some great drumming from Nico here, and throughout the album.
`Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' is their longest and one of their most progressive songs being split into distinct phases and lyrically covering many concepts already discussed on the album and some of those mentioned in Coleridge's poem of the same name. The song opens with typical Maiden metal, slower paced chugging guitars and story-like lyrics with a refrain in place of a chorus. The skill in construction and in timing and general musical ability means this one is highly regarded by critics as well as fans. Although it is not a huge favourite of mine as I don't feel it has enough strong melodies to keep it interesting throughout, it is clearly one of their best written songs and intelligent songs. The song effortlessly shifts into the middle, dark and atmospheric section evoking images of a ghost ship floating alone through the vast darkness of the ocean. The song then suddenly speeds up for the next section with galloping chords, stronger melodies, a nice bass riff, and the first solo which then returns seamlessly to the opening riff and section.
Powerslave saw Maiden get bigger in both music, ideas, and fame. They would continue to make the odd epic concept album throughout their career but for many this is the best. It is partnered with 7th son is size and scope while most of the other albums to come would feature big ideas on a smaller scale. Maiden have always known their audience and their audience can expect to get fast paced, heavy songs here with a few big hitters, but this one makes an attempt at expanding into new, and sometimes difficult territory. While some of the songs seem like filler or average it remains an iconic addition to an excellent back catalogue and one which every fan will own. It may not grab the attention of more casual fans as much as some of the more single heavy albums would, but it certainly holds the attention of those who listen.
on 15 April 2002
Four of Maiden's first five albums are truly essential purchases. It's quite amazing how Steve Harris was so focussed he was able to write such classic material in the space of five and a half years (1979-1984). This marks the end of an era, and undoubtedly, Maiden's best, none of the subsequent eight studio albums that have followed "Powerslave" have come close to the watershed of the early years. This isn't the best of the five, but lyrically Messrs Harris, Smith, Murray, McBrain and Dickinson have really pushed the envelope. The title track absolutely kills, with a trippy slowed down break in it. Aces High is another standout track, which improves with each listen. The gruesome subject matter of Two Minutes To Midnight belies the brilliance of this song.
This, however, isn't the best of the Maiden albums, despite being the second one to come to mind after the seminal "Number Of The Beast". "Piece Of Mind", originally released in May of 1983, is my personal favourite, and is often hugely overlooked cos it didn't have the staple songs that Beast had (ie Run To The Hills, Hallowed Be Thy Name, NOTB etc.). But it does have the best songs in my opinion. So start with that. The debut album (Iron Maiden) is probably the next best one to buy, an amazing debut. Killers isn't great and is the weakest of the five.
So, in this order: buy NOTB, Piece of Mind, Iron Maiden, Powerslave and Killers. Buy them now!
on 24 September 2003
Ah yes Powerslave, it has a great reputation as the album that
consolidated what was good about Bruce' singing and the
boys grooves. However, it also contains the most underrated 80's
track that Maiden have done - "Back in the Village". If you
look round the web, you will find that most reviewers name
it as the weakest track on the record. But personally speaking,
I think this is the best song they have ever managed. For me,
Powerslave and Rhyme... are good,. but basically cod rock.
"Back in the village" by contrast, has great riffs, it's fast
and furious and has a great chorus. Even the much maligned
lyrics aren't any more embarrassing than warbling on about
Egyptian mummy's and stuff. It's also a bit more raw and edgy than other tracks they have done.
It was my favourite song when i was 13, and
at 29, i still love it now.. it is a pity no-one else
seems to agree!!