Saturday, 5 March 2011

CD Review: Powerslave, by Iron Maiden(1984)

Riding the wave at the peak of their career, Iron Maiden create Powerslave, their fifth and most audacious album. Tilting the emphasis more towards epic storeytelling, Bruce Dickinson contributes the title track Powerslave, at more than seven minutes, and Steve Harris almost doubles that with Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, at just under 14 minutes a strong contender for the most ambitious heavy metal track ever. It takes a lot of guts to turn the 1798 Samuel Coleridge poem into a heavy metal epic, but Harris pulls it off, and creates a band-defining classic in the process.

Powerslave and Rime Of The Ancient Mariner dominate the final 20 minutes, but the front of the album is rich with other tracks that enhance the Maiden catalogue, with Bruce Dickinson stretching his operatic vocals to more than match the spellbinding guitar work of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Opener Aces High is another high-speed guitar clinic celebrating British World War Two fighter pilots, while 2 Minutes To Midnight is a more standard but no less intense song warning of impending global nuclear annihilation, 1984 witnessing a ratcheting up of tension in the seemingly endless Cold War.

The Duellists, no slouch itself at over six minutes, features some of Dickinson's finest, spine-tingling vocals, giving way to a long stretch of mesmerizing guitar work, Smith and Murray waltzing magically up and down their fret boards as Harris and McBrain lay down the bedrock. Flash Of The Blade and the instrumental Losfer Words (really) keep the good music coming, and only Back In The Village dips in quality just a notch.

Iron Maiden (1980), Killers (1981), The Number Of The Beast (1982), Piece Of Mind (1983) and Powerslave represent a quintet of albums that defined the first part of the 1980s, reinvented heavy metal, and forever influenced what was to come in the genre. Powerslave is a brash exclamation mark at the end of the most successful phase of the band's career.


Bruce Dickinson - Vocals
Dave Murray - Guitars
Adrian Smith - Guitars
Steve Harris - Bass
Nicko McBrain - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Aces High - 10
2. 2 Minutes To Midnight - 9
3. Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) - 8
4. Flash Of The Blade - 8
5. The Duellists - 9 *see below*
6. Back In The Village - 7
7. Powerslave - 10
8. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner - 10

Average: 8.88

Produced, Engineered and Mixed by Martin Birch.
Mastered by George Marino.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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