Powerslave is the best Maiden record. Like I said before, it’s just a chunk of high octane metal, which would be okay in its own right, but their vision and scope on it was unparalleled. It kicks off with a full-throttle dogfight, then is thrown into the midst of a hellish battlefield. Then an instrumental to sweeten things up before they hit us with some sword fighting — where the guitars become the swords — and then a follow-up to The Prisoner which is far and away better than the original. And to finish things off, a story about a dying Pharaoh and a retelling of one of the greatest English poems, two of the most epic songs ever made. The reason the album works, even when the four songs that bookmark the album are monsters and the other four in between don’t often get to be a part of the spotlight, is that the energy never lets up. Maiden have never been more on fire. And personally I’d rank 2 Minutes as one of the least great songs on the record (but they’re all 10/10, for sure).
Seventh Son by comparison isn’t quite so consistent. This was a good attempt to get Bruce back into the writing, but it didn’t 100% work out. They seemed to enter the studio wanting to make a concept album, and then changed course and tried to make a tight metal record instead. It’s almost as if right after the title track they were like, “Wait, we gotta make this a story again”— and throw in The Prophecy, boom. The album really dip’s after that title track and I don’t think it 100% picks itself back up. The music isn’t quite as good as soundscape as the albums that preceded it; Bruce is better here than on SiT, but not better than his performance on Powerslave. As a whole the record leaves me a bit disappointed for what could have been. Perhaps it was a push too far, given what was to follow with NPFTD. But regardless, I’m voting for it. Powerslave FTW.