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Iron Maiden - Powerslave CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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4.13 | 753 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Well, looky HERE. This is, so far, the second best Maiden album from the studio, and Dickinson's finest hour with the band. He even wrote the title track! Go figure. But, most importantly, his vocals finally sound perfectly at home with the material. Huh? Oh yeah, and the riffs are brutal and the melodies are memorable and all that stuff no one cares about again.

The album is apparently a concept album devoted to really awesome slaves; "power slaves," if you will. I guess.

Point is, "Aces High" rocks my socks from here to Nebraska. Oh, wait, hmm, does opening the album with a song about fighter pilots sound familiar, Piece of Mind's "Where Eagles Dare?" Why yes it does. However, "Aces" has awesome riffage, and the energy is through the roof. Don't need no stale airplane sound effects to make this number great.

"2 Minutes to Midnight" is also, amazingly enough, pretty sweet. The lyrics are pure trash, but they're still FUN in a goofy sing-along sorta way. Love the chorus; love the solo parts in the middle even more. Speaking of instrumentals, "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" is the last great ole Maiden instrumental. Is it just another excuse for high octane eighties metal riffage? Yes. But is it sweet? As hell; this is eighties metal at its finest. I love the metalized jig part (why does that sound familiar?).

We slow down a bit for the next couple of songs, although they're still quite good. "Flash of the Blade" has a sick as hell opening with a lightning fast Dungeons and Dragons riff. It's pretty solid within and throughout, and the baroque-metal break in the middle is genius. And "The Duelists?" Well, "Duelists" is just...just a really solid heavy metal number. All about fighting. For pleasure. Yep. It's not fireworks or anything, but it's not gonna have you hang your head in shame.

"Back in the Village" is the only number that leaves me cold. I mean, it's toe-tappin' and all, but it's not a very worthy sequel to "The Prisoner." And all that "Backinthevillage I'm just backinthevillage" stuff gets irritating.

However, the best has just about been saved for last. The "Kashmir"/"Stargazer"/"Gates of Babylon" rip-off of a title track, arguably the best song on the record, is a mini-epic in the vein of "Phantom of the Opera;" a goofy intro followed by a couple of savage riffs played in sequence. Dickinson's operatic poetry probably could be better, but just pay attention to the soloing, particularly the fast mid-section (symbolizing the "passage of time," for you Maiden analysis freaks). Ain't that riff God-like? And when Harris' bass takes over? Awesome.

And when "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" starts up, you just know it's gonna be good. That maritime riff is superfantastic. And it doesn't disappoint. Sort of. Okay, so any Maiden track that's thirteen minutes long can't be one-hundred percent gold (it's just more riffs!), and admittedly, the slow part in the center is probably a bit much. But hey, then again, maybe it needs it as a breakup section (besides, the fast section after it is great). Maybe without it, I honestly WOULD get sick of all this endless riffage, like my mom always told me I would. Maybe not. But still, considering the track, and considering the band, it's more than tolerable. The first riff is great, the second is decent, the slow part is...a little too long, the stiff "jam" is cool, and when we return to the first riff? Well, you know I liked that one.

Although, oddly enough, I'm sort of disappointed that the translation of the epic poem into epic Maiden song is so straightforward; I liked how earlier songs used their original stories as metaphors for crazed love ("Phantom") or the falsely accused ("Rue Morgue"). But, oh well, can't have it all, as Bruce "Scream For Me Long Beach" Dickinson tells us.

I honestly don't know why I like this album so much. Dickinson is pretty much free to do what he wants. The subject matter ranges from pharaohs to fencing to fighter pilots. The sound is pretty much right where it's always been (although, is a little of the first album's crunch back again?). The cover is the farthest from the original covers that we've been (I mean, dude, is there ANY black on that thing? Eddie's eyes are friggin' BROWN!).

And yet, there's something about this album. Beyond just the riffs being back, it's more than that. Maybe it's the fact that the Steve's remembered what made the first Maiden album so good; that it was just some dudes playing their metal. There ain't no sound effects or spoken intros, backwards or otherwise. Well...okay, so there're those two "epics" tacked onto the end. They're in the grand old style, damn it! They're actually LESS over-the-top and lumbering than anything "epic" on the last couple of albums.

There's also on here or something, especially when compared to the last album. It's like the band found a sudden burst of "not suck," and used it to their advantage.

Or maybe I just really, really like mummies. I dunno. I mean, it's not like the thing is perfect; despite there being an instrumental, this is just about as varietous as any Maiden album, and other than rockin' out, it's hard to, you know, really honestly relate to these guys. But still, no pretentious headbanger should be without this one.

Anyways, I gotta get back to building this pyramid for the almighty Dickinsonian one. See ya in a thousand ages or so.

The Whistler | 4/5 |


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