Newest Review: ... speech was played before the band came on-stage to the song. The artwork for the single shows Maiden's mascot Eddie in a Spitfire. ... more
Powerslave - Iron Maiden
Member Name: Jarisleif
Powerslave - Iron Maiden
Advantages: Mostly strong songs, powerful music
Disadvantages: Couple of weak links
"Powerslave" is the 5th studio album by British heavy metal band, Iron Maiden. It was released in 1984 on EMI Records and produced by Martin Birch. The line-up for the album was Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar), Steve Harris (bass) and Nicko McBrain (drums).
The 5th Iron Maiden album saw the band keep the same line-up in a follow-up to 1983's "Piece of Mind". Once again Martin Birch was at the helm, and Maiden dabbled in songs of longer length. The album spawned two singles, "2 Minutes to Midnight" reached No.11 in the UK singles charts, and "Aces High" peaked at No.20. The album itself reached No.2 in the charts, kept off the top spot by "Now That's What I Call Music 3".
"Aces High" is a song about the Battle of Britain during World War II in 1940. It begins with a tidy intro that leads into a really strong guitar riff that keeps its grip until the song finishes. Nicko's drumming is very good here, too, as is Harris' customary chugging on the bass. Contrary to belief, the song was written by Steve Harris and not qualified commercial pilot, and Iron Maiden vocalist, Bruce Dickinson. When the song was played live on the World Slavery Tour of that time, a Winston Churchill speech was played before the band came on-stage to the song. The artwork for the single shows Maiden's mascot Eddie in a Spitfire.
"2 Minutes to Midnight" dabbles into the realm of the Cold War, and the title is a reference to the Doomsday Clock, which once reached 11:58pm, the closest to global nuclear war it's ever reached. The main riff on this song is one of the best off the album, and the lyrics are obviously quite dark and heavy. Dickinson's vocal range is tested to the limit in the chorus, but it's once again the sound of that bass which steals the show.
"Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" is an instrumental song which gives Bruce Dickinson a rest. It was written by Maiden stalwart Steve Harris, and does a decent job of switching time between a fast tempo and a not so fast tempo. I'm not sure who decided on the track positions, but I'm pretty sure this song should have been in the middle. It doesn't seem to fit just three songs in.
"Flash of the Blade" begins with an intense riff, which leads into some of the best music you'll hear from the band. The song is about medieval times and sword fighting. It was written by Bruce Dickinson, who is a keen fencer. McBrain keeps time really well here, and is almost orchestrating the rest of the band throughout the track. This is one of my favourites, not just on the album, but of Maiden's entire back catalogue.
"The Duellists" carries on the tradition of medieval times, and is evidently about one man throwing down his glove in challenge, another accepting it, and the fight to the deal for honour. A lot of Maiden fans love this song, but I'm of the opinion that it's too much of the same, coming too fast after the previous track of a similar theme. For me, this is the weakest song on the album, and the chorus just doesn't match up to what Iron Maiden is capable of.
"Back in the Village" is a follow-up to "The Prisoner" which appeared on 1982's "The Number of the Beast". Once again, it's a song about Number Six, who always ends up 'back in the village' at the end of "The Prisoner" TV show. The song comes in with some intricate guitar work, before Nicko takes over with wondrous drumming. This is one of my favourite songs on the album.
Enter "Powerslave", one of the best songs you'll hear by Iron Maiden. It's a song about an Egyptian Pharaoh who is treat like a God here on earth, but fails to understand why he eventually has to die. There's some really good guitar work on this song, and the instrumental part halfway through the song is magical, leading up to some top quality solo trading by Smith and Murray. When the band played this live over the years, Eddie would usually appear on-stage.
"Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is an epic song at just under 14 minutes long, and quite literally steals the show, even from the excellent "Powerslave". It's a song based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name, a poem about a mariner at sea who experiences strange goings on. Musically, it's a truly genius piece of work. There are heavy parts, and slower parts, and everything in between, and all cleverly put together to match the poem. This is the best song on the album.
In summary, this is a very good Iron Maiden album, although it is somehow often overlooked by the critics. That's largely due to Maiden outdoing themselves with each passing album, probably up until "Fear of the Dark", but most people wouldn't put this in their top 5 Iron Maiden albums. I would, that's for sure. Of course, it's not as good as "The Number of the Beast", but most heavy metal albums aren't. If it wasn't for possibly two songs on here that don't quite fit, it would be the best Iron Maiden album.
1. Aces High
2. 2 Minutes to Midnight
3. Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)
4. Flash of the Blade
5. The Duellists
6. Back in the Village
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
My rating: 9/10
Summary: An excellent Iron Maiden album.