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Iron Maiden - Powerslave CD (album) cover

POWERSLAVE

Iron Maiden

 

Prog Related

4.13 | 499 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I'll have to skip reviewing PIECE OF MIND for now, as I haven't heard the record, yet (it's on its way). So, in my current series of all of the Iron Maiden's albums that I have, let's continue with the one that many fans (if not me) consider their masterpiece: POWERSLAVE.

After Clive Burr had to leave Iron Maiden and was replaced by Nicko McBrain, the band's ideal line-up was finally complete. Even though Burr was a good drummer, his level of playing wasn't up to par with the energetic, stimulant, perfect-for-Maiden style that McBrain brought with him to the Beast. His trademark use of the ride cymbal, while really very, very simple, is so unique, and fits Maiden's music so much like a perfect glove, that now I couldn't imagine the group without their always joyful heavy-hitter. McBrain plays the drums with such a happy, excited face that it even helps the band visual effect (as if it needed any help, with all the Eddy paraphernalia that they got going in their concerts).

Besides the change in drumming (change that really occurred in the preceding album, but as I haven't heard it yet, I have to make my comments here) Maiden's music also experienced an upgrade. Their exploration of more progressive ideas (Maiden's members have never been shy to recognize their progressive influences) and the improvement in their guitar textures marks a huge departure from traditional Heavy Metal acts. It goes without saying that Harris' bass is another big factor in making Maiden what it is, and it also received a push in quality in POWERSLAVE. Dickinson's vocals are, as always, powerful and the perfect match for the music. The punk in their sound was almost completely gone by this point, and the production values were much higher, thus helping the band to achieve the status it eventually did (in my eyes) in SOMEWHERE IN TIME.

My only complaints with this album: it lacks the classical melodic, epic song of other records (even THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST had "Hallowed be thy Name"), that kind of song that only Maiden can deliver, that goes from slow to fast so well-done that the change is absolutely smooth, perfect. The emphasis here is on fast tracks, and even the epic (by it's length), "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", has not enough melody to quench this prog-fan's thirst.

Aces High (9.5/10) If there's something that nobody knows how to do like Iron Maiden is how to open their albums. POWERSLAVE gets started with one of the best fast tracks by the Beast. The simple riff is enhanced by the powerful, throttling bass. The energy is beyond reach, this really sounds like music for war-airplanes. The solo by Smith and Murray is fantastic as always, both of them dialoguing, having a "guitaristic" conversation that even we non-guitar-language speakers can understand. The song reaches its end and we now we're in for one infernal ride. Excellent.

2 Minutes to Midnight (8.5/10) Some distant guitar riff opens this very popular track. The song has power and also a sort of punk-ish air to it, but the great vocal delivery by Dickinson makes it a hit. He makes this song a success, besides, of course, the relentless bass of Harris, who seems to have fingers full of muscles but also full of ideas. The China-cymbal bit in the instrumental section by McBrain is quite precise.

Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) (8/10) I'm not a huge fan of this piece. It's a good instrumental, but as instrumentals go, I prefer more soloing, more melody, and this tracks feels more like a regular song without lyrics than a true instrumental wrote as an instrumental. Of course, the level of playing is very high, specially by Harris who manages to make even the most mundane of ideas into something exciting. The guitar solo in the middle section ultimately catapults this track to a higher echelon. Good.

Flash of the Blade (8.5/10) We're back home with a fantastic riff to open this non-stop attack on our energy supplies. The verse is not that memorable but the chorus makes up for it with a catchy melody, ready for arenas. Good song, made even better by Murray's and Smith's solos. The section where only the two of them dialogue is a textbook in good double-guitar metal.

The Duelists (7/10) This one starts with a typical rhythm for Maiden, very similar to that of the last song of this album. I don't particularly love this track, but the guitar solo section enhances it greatly. Too repetitive, this track may be the weakest in the album.

Back in the Village (7/10) The opening riff is decent but not overly original. Pure energy, pure speed, a little of punk forces strike back. Harris' bass just keep on coming with pounding strength. The other not-memorable track in the album, it doesn't hurt it as it's perfectly placed right before better songs.

Powerslave (8/10) The Egyptian-eastern-sounding riff gives this track a distinct flavor that matches perfectly with the lyrics (and overall concept of the album.) This song has a little more in the way of melody, and McBrain's drumming is exactly like it should be. The second section (after the main riff) is menacing, almost black-metal menacing. Then we have an instrumental section with more melody and a great work by Harris. (his bass is just so over the place in the mix). A good track that could've been better.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner (9/10) The long epic of the album, it tells a great story with great resources. At times it could get a little repetitive but there are other moments when it really sounds progressive, with great texturing work by the guitars and master Harris. Dickinson sings his lungs out, but also delivers subtlety and passion. With more variation it could've been the first 10/10 I would've given to an Iron Maiden song, but I'd have to wait for that. More melody, more diversity and this would have been one of THE epics by The Beast. It's probably their longest song, right above "The Sign of The Cross" in THE X-FACTOR, but, unlike that magnificent song, many of the minutes are just too much alike. Great song. Not perfect. The middle instrumental section is amazing, though. It's what surrounds it that lacks enough variation.

Just by seeing the ratings I've given to the songs it's easy for me to say that I like this album more than THE NUMBER OF THE BEAST. As music goes, it's better, with better playing, better ideas, more progressive. That will make me give POWERSLAVE a 4 out of 5. Curiously, though, melody was more present in the 1982 historical album I just mentioned. The right balance would be achieved later.

Recommended for: Any metal fan; Fans of iron Maiden; fans of fast, energetic songs; fans of great lightning-fast guitar soloing.

Not recommended for: People who dislike metal, Maiden and all of that. You know..

.by now it should be clear who should stay away from Iron Maiden. Their music will change, but not as much as to create lovers in those who already can't take metal or the sounds of The Beast.

The T | 4/5 |

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