Powerslave is the fifth studio album by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 3 September 1984 on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in North America. It was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the US in 2002.
It is notable for its Ancient Egyptian theme displayed in the cover artwork, lifted from the title track, which was carried over to the album’s supporting tour. “The World Slavery Tour” began in Warsaw, Poland on 9 August 1984 – and is widely regarded as being the band’s longest and most arduous to date – and also led to the live album Live After Death.
The release also contains a musical re-telling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge‘s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner“, which uses pieces of the original poem as lyrics. At 13 minutes and 45 seconds in length, it was Iron Maiden’s longest song for over 30 years, until it was surpassed by the 18-minute “Empire of the Clouds” from the 2015 album, The Book of Souls.
Powerslave is also notable as being the band’s first album to feature the same personnel as their previous studio release. This lineup would remain intact for two further studio releases. Also, it is their last album to date to feature an instrumental piece.
Aces High—-Classic Maiden riffs open the track…..you know right away the band your listening to! The power that this band possessed back in this era was phenomenal. Dickinson has a vocal energy that is so powerful……you just lose control when he begins to sing. The double track vocal gives the band a fuller sound and you truly appreciate the range that Bruce had. The galloping bass line that is the trademark from Harris is there…but put in the very backdrop…it is the clean and crisp leads that guide the song….combined with the voice makes this huge.
2 Minutes To Midnight—-Always and still a favorite Maiden track of mine, it sounds as fresh and phenomenal today as it did when I first heard it. The lyric lines are not as evil as you would think…..it is the energy of the Maiden machine that I fell in love with. The almost static guitar intro and the incredible drums that kick off the song are only a teaser for when the song really begins to rock. This was and is still classic Maiden….and they showed with the release of Live After Death that this transported live just as well.
Losfer Words [Big ‘Orra]—-With a remarkable and contagious groove, this instrumental combines all of the best elements of the band to date. You have the crisp clean soaring guitars…the classic Harris bass line and the incredible drums leading the rhythm section to an almost never ending orgasm of pure Metal mastery.
Flash Of The Blade—-A barrage of guitars and a heavy upfront drum intro ushers in this track….full of as much energy as you could imagine. Dickinson enters with his vocal…full of lyrical imagery that takes you into a foreign land. The vocal overlays are incredible…really showcasing the vocal range that Bruce once had. He can still sing well…but not like this…not some of those notes…not like Halford!!! But this is a keen reminder of the nickname ‘Air-Raid Siren’.
The Duellists—-A great title for the track, as it seems the guitars are in a literal duel with each other as the track opens. There is a remarkable down shift to the music…but it never descends…remarkable! Even Bruce has a vocal that sounds like that….you can hear the importance of Smith as he joins Bruce on the vocals. The nimble magical bass line is just phenomenal…..allowing you to find an alternative groove to the song rather easily. This is fantastic.
Back In The Village—-Classic in sound…….delivering the necessary filler you need on an album such as this. the chord progressions are fantastic…but the quality of the song leaves me a bit empty. Not a favorite track of mine…but you can’t deny that the song does have a fantastic melody line.This is nice overblown huge Metal….and some of the notes from Bruce are stellar.
Powerslave—-For me, this was the centerpiece of this release. This song…huge and overblown…had every element that made Maiden the 80’s band favorite for headbangers. Clear and concise lead guitar melody lines….the classic Harris bass line that gallops through your brain for days…huge crashing drums…and the strained larger than life vocal from Dickinson. Combine all of this with incredibly dark and mysterious lyrics…how can you not make history?
Rime Of The Ancient Mariner—-Call me crazy……I really never connected with this huge overblown track. Perhaps because I never got the concept or read the poem or story or whatever. I always pass on this one…..there are great movements to the song…the classic Harris touches are all over the song…and Bruce sounds epic…but to me it lasted about 9 minutes too long…sorry
**** out of 5