Powerslave: individual album judgement by yours truly

  • Losfer Words is easily the weakest Maiden instrumental and entirely pointless. There's nothing wrong with it and the music is perfectly fine (if too chordal for an instrumental), it's just not good enough to justify it's track placement or being an instrumental at all. The ending is very cool, though.
  • Gods, that neoclassical section in the middle of Flash of the Blade is great. Why haven't they brought this song back now that they have three guitarists? There's clearly three distinct guitar parts on the record. Same goes for the bridge of Duellists. All of these instrumental sections are just plain ear candy.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

“Flash Of The Blade” is, dare I say it, a hidden gem!
Guitar playing peaked at the Powerslave solo.

Adrian Smith begs to differ.

Overrated solo

In terms of technicality, absolutely! In terms of Murray's choice of note placement and emotion? Not at all. Being the guy in the band who most often just improvises his leads and bases them around the same technique, Powerslave feels almost composed and the phrasing is exceptional.
Powerslave is Maiden’s best work IMO because it’s fun, it’s theatrical, it’s got a great sound, the guitar playing is out of this world, Bruce has finally hit his stride as a singer, the drums are engaging, and every song is awesome. Even ones that you’d expect to have been weaker are executed phenomenally well. It’s just the perfect classic ‘80s Iron Maiden record.
is Maiden’s best work IMO because it’s fun, it’s theatrical, it’s got a great sound, the guitar playing is out of this world, Bruce has finally hit his stride as a singer, the drums are engaging, and every song is awesome. Even ones that you’d expect to have been weaker are executed phenomenally well. It’s just the perfect classic ‘80s Iron Maiden record.
Sounds like Somewhere in Time to me.
You know what’s amazing? As amazing as the “Powerslave” instrumental is, almost every other instrumental on the album rivals it. The “Aces High” solo is just an absolutely riffing solo that comes at you blazing at full speed twisting and turning like a Spitfire, “Flash” and “Duellists” have some intricate dual guitar pieces and guitar duels for that matter, and “Rime’s” might be the best moment in Maiden’s entire discography.
2019 re-listening thoughts on Powerslave:
  • I think Powerslave is probably Maiden's funnest album of all time (while also retaining a high level of quality). Even the weaker songs on this album are just a blast. It flows perfectly from start to finish and really feels accomplished from a performance level. The whole record just has a ton of get-up-and-go.
  • Easily Maiden's best dual guitar album. Yes, they've had better and harder dual (and triple) guitar riffs and solos, but this whole album feels like H and Davey are just battling the whole time in the most complimentary way.

Interesting thoughts and I probably agree about those, even if my overall view comes from slightly different angle.

So... I've already tackled Killers, TNOTB and POM, so on towards the sea we go... with the mighty Powerslave. I think that the quote above describes the best aspects of the album very well; regardless how high one ranks Powerslave overall, it's definitely one of their strongest outputs when it comes to performance. Piece of Mind was a slightly more sophisticated than it's predecessor and rather outstanding performance by the whole group; Powerslave manages to refine that quality, showcasing the band in top form, delivering a seamless and perhaps a bit more aggressive yet very controlled performance thorough.

Aces High is one of the most outrageous performances ever by the band, and I've always loved it's live versions too; it's actually pretty clever to have such a different, slower yet more dramatic approach to it in a concert setting (that goes mainly for the more modern versions though). 2 Minutes to Midnight is a dynamic classic, that I admit has become a bit of a "meh" song for me over the years, but every now and then the love is re-kindled. And as a song, it's a damn good one. Losfer Words is tough one to score, since it's... good, but nothing I ever crave to listen anyway. As @MrKnickerbocker above said, Powerslave is a fun album and Losfer Words definitely adds up to that, throwing some cool instrumental work in between more centric songs. It definitely works best on the opening side, since later on the album it would probably feel much more unnecessary and dragging. While it works and paces things out rather well, I also think that Aces-2 Minutes-Flash of the Blade would make a stunning, probably even better, opening trio too, but the album has such a brilliant groove that Losfer Words fits in well enough. Flash of the Blade is sort of a refined and more distinctive "sunandsteel" of this album; on some later record, it might have received a little bit more general attention, but it's actually pretty acknowledged song nonetheless. Cool guitars, catchy chorus, just lots of stuff to love.

I've always find it a bit hard to fully get into The Duellist. I appreciate and love all that brilliant instrumental work and clever, yet very Steve-y vocal lines and all... It's just never quite done the trick for me, but as part of the ride the album is, The Duellist really holds up very well and as said, I like all those neat elements in it, but there's still some certain unfamiliarity around it... As much as I like all the songs on this record, I usually listen to the live versions, since songs like the title track and Rime gain that awesome increase to their theatrical and dramatic nature through the live performance. Still, the album is brilliantly structured and while there is some small truth in the term "fillerslave", given that songs like The Duellist, Losfer Words and arguably Back in the Village - despite having some absolutely brilliant stuff in them, don't really bring that much new to the table, the album doesn't really have a weak song in it - even though Losfer Words is indeed kind of unnecessary. I've always liked Back in the Village and the awesomeness of Powerslave, not to even mention the closing track, Rime of the Ancient Mariner, deserve all the praise they can get.

Piece of Mind is a brilliant album that refines the direction it's predecessor started and Powerslave is the culmination of that, retaining the aggressive and unrelenting edge of the first albums and the more sophisticated and very dynamic side that Piece of Mind brought started to really showcase. As slightly more tight package, Powerslave is more "fierce" record than Piece of Mind, but it's not thoroughly better or worse, just a brilliant continuation of that direction.

The very defining factor and special value of Powerslave is, for me, adventure. The cover art is amazing and the journey the album goes through in relatively short runtime (by modern standards) is pretty amazing. Just look at first two songs, last two songs and the variety of stuff in between - it's truly an epic ride. Still, I don't find myself listening to the whole thing that often, but as far as the songwriting goes, it's tightly packed masterpiece that manages to dodge few quality drops here and there with it's good structure, performance and highs that are among their highest ever.

Killers: around 7.5
The Number of the Beast:
around 8
Piece of Mind:
around 9 or even above?
Powerslave: Another 9? I just hate 1-10 and how hard it is to properly score these masterpieces.. :D
Aces High -- 9
Two Minutes to Midnight -- 8
Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra) -- 7
Flash of the Blade -- 8
The Duellists -- 9
Back in the Village -- 5
Powerslave -- 10
Rime of the Ancient Mariner – 10

One of my favorites.
I saw a comment on this forum from someone, recently, that Powerslave wasn't one of their faves because it's balls to the wall speed the entire album. I'm paraphrasing. But weirdly, and though I've been listening to this album for about 30 years...this point never occurred to me. I never listen to single Maiden albums in a vacuum, usually listening to multiple, or going through the whole discography as the mood takes me. And I can't believe I never noticed that Powerslave is, in fact, the most intense and exhausting Maiden album. It is just constantly pedal to the medal, with maybe two small interludes in the last two tracks. I love that about this album. I've heard many a metal head who talk about Maiden being not as fast, aggressive, or as heavy as most other metal bands. And I see their point. But I see Powerslave as such an intense, intricate, and speedy album that it stands up to the fastest of modern metal and exceeds it. The intro to Back in the Village alone should be enough to establish this. Every song is just bouncing, galloping, and flowing like a waterfall. This isn't my favorite album by Maiden, but it's in my top five and absolutely blows away their own previous four albums. Not a single second is wasted, there are NO filler songs on this album, and it's enjoyable from start to finish. Losfer Words is also my favorite instrumental by a long shot.

I give Powerslave 12 out 10 Janick Leg Stretches. That's high marks!
While Somewhere in Time is my favorite album, Powerslave I feel is the most metal album they've done.... Not a single weak track here... All fast, powerful tracks with depth... Brilliant

Aces High - 9
2 Minutes to Midnight - 8
Losfer Words - 9
Flash of the Blade - 8
The Duelists - 7
Back in The Village - 9
Powerslave - 10
Rime of the Ancient Mariner - 10

8.75 overall....
Aces High 8.5 - great opener
2 Minutes to Midnight 8 - good metal riff, great instrumental section
Losfer Words 6 - self satisfaction
Flash of the Blade 5 - pointless
The Duellists 8 - great instrumental
Back in the Village 6 - great opening riff
Powerslave 9 - solid track
Rime of the Ancient Mariner 7 - works better live

1. Aces High 8
2. 2 Minutes to midnight 8
3. Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) 7
4. Flash of the Blade 7
5. The Duellist 8
6. Back in the village 6
7. Powerslave 10
8. Rime of the ancient mariner 10

Overall: 8
IRON MAIDEN - POWERSLAVE (2020 re-listening)

1- Aces High:
What better way to start an album with the ultimate metal opener? Seriously this thing is perfect in every sense. The intro is pompous as it can get then it dives into no brakes race of great guitar harmonies till the voice kicks in and the harmonies give way to thick power chords injecting even more stamina to the whole thing, in a breath taking adrenaline crescendo. The pre-chorus is sharp as knifes and then comes the chorus... And this my friends is simply put my favorite refrain by the band and easily one of metal's highest points with Bruce's amazing vocal melodies sounding larger than life . The bridge that follows is purely insane and here Mr. Harris and Mr. McBrain make an absolutely jaw dropping work. And what to say about both solos? Absolute perfection! The song returns to the bridge and gives it another go throughout this state of the art WW2 dog fight turned into a metal hymn and return to the initial guitar harmony and crashing coda, claiming immediately its place among metal's top compositions ever made. MASTERPIECE! 10/10

2- Two Minutes To Midnight:
Apart from the somehow generic riff that serves as support for the verses everything else in this song is meticulously well crafted. Drumming lines are excellent, the bass is thunderous as always and Bruce seems to be on his prime. The pre-chorus is as simple as well imagined and placed and serves as a perfect boost to an addictive sing along chorus. And then there's the bridge and solos which are also top notch stuff, especially the crescendo that leads back into the main verses. Finally another proof that Maiden brought their A game composition wise is yet another great sing along coda to undoubtedly turn this anti war chronicle into an all time classic. Once again I must confess the only thing that IMO is not super in this song is the somehow predictable main riff, but everything else Maiden pours upon and around it is so great I can easily forget that detail. 8.75/10

3- Losfer Words (Big 'Orra):
People say this is Maiden's worst instrumental and people say lots of wrong things too often. IMO this piece not only stands on the same level of Maiden's top instrumentals... it is one of my favorites. The heavy riff that serves as support is absolutely fantastic, and if the first guitar harmonics are a bit meh from the 1m17s point onward this damned track is simply too good. Starting with those great iterated notes floating above, passing through the amazing guitar harmony at 2m31s (and the delicious simple way the bass line gives body to it) and especially the stunning drum work that bounces beneath that gorgeous lead on the following section make this track absolutely brutal. 8.75/10

4- Flash Of The Blade:
This track starts in stellar form immediately catches your attention with its guitar tapping and long bass chords. And by the time the vicious main verses kick in if you have that metal nerve in you are surely already nodding your head to its aggressive vibe even if you don't want to. As for the chorus it's ok but the falsetto doubled parts seem a bit out of context. The ensuing almost neo-classic guitar work is on point and so is the next guitar harmony. Overall a really cool song and the fact that it's the one with the lowest rating here takes nothing from it. 7.75/10

5- The Duelists:
And here we have another fencing themed song and to be fair once again another really cool one. The first moment of excellence is that 3 semi tone up variation Steve does to on the 3rd compass: such a simple shift and yet great effect. then there's Bruce's vocals. Seems like Mr. Dickinson went for something like "Let me pick one of Maiden's most demanding vocal lines. Hhhmmmm... Where Eagles Dare is a good one. Now let's build upon this and make it even more difficult and over the top!". Man, the vocal work this guy displays here is out of this world and unlike the previous track the falsetto on the chorus sounds on point. Then we have that great pizzicato effect harmony after the second chorus and if it's true that some of the following solos are ok the only flaw I point to this track is that it should feature a couple less since itgets a bit too long on this section. Nevertheless another overall great tune. 8/10

6- Back In The Village:
For starts the high octane heavy rocking riff assault that this song breaks down the door with is simply worth many entire songs out there. The verses are really engaging and the conversion of the initial riff along with Bruce's tenor like tone on the chorus is also state of the art. The soloing section is pure insanity and the bridge before the last chorus is yet another one of the many gorgeous moments Powerslave offers to the listener (with once again Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Harris absolutely ruling). An absolutely gut punching coda gives you a break from the delightful adrenaline rush you experienced. 9/10

7- Powerslave:
To praise this song is simply to be redundant so I'll sum it up. Firstly the Egyptian themed riff is brutal, the chorus is simply glorious, the finishing section apotheotic... I mean, the damn thing is absolutely perfect. But I can't help myself but to put the focus on 3 particular sections. First one is the pre-chorus: it's as simple as ingenius and Harris' bass chords are the secret ingredient that conveys that sublime effect. Then I also must single out the absolute beauty of the calm bridge and the contrast with the following wild and out of this world guitar solos. This masterpiece never gets old and that's what defines the greatness of a song. It's obvious all you Dickinson era Maiden fans out there love this song. If not there's something disturbingly wrong with you. 10/10

8- Rime Of The Ancient Mariner:
If praising the previous masterpiece was an excercise on redundancy it's even more so with Powerslave's amazing epic closer. So once again everything here is perfect and it really places us on the cursed mariner's boat. And yes... even the ambient driven 2 minutes still part is top stuff. It's spine chilling and really marks the zenith of terror on the mariner's journey. But once again I must single out some sections: from the end of the aforementioned ghostly section till the return to the main riff this damned thing transcends into something that the word masterpiece fails to entirely capture (especially the part after the "Comes the rain" scream). This is my favorite maiden tune (along with Aces High). And once again if you're into Bruce era Maiden and don't like it take my serious advice: look for help. PERFECTION! 10/10

PS: 9.03/10 points song average

Well to sum it up, as a whole Powerslave is virtually a masterpiece. The majestic ancient Egypt inspired Eddie pyramid artwork surely does justice to it. Once again I kinda dislike the typical crystal clean and shiny production like the previous two records and while it could take 1/4 of a point based on it solely it would be an unfair aspect to pick and tarnish such an excellent body of work. Plus I have the chance of listening 5 out of the 8 tracks here with top notch production in Live After Death and its B' sides. Absolute classic! 9.25/10
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