Classic Album Review

Album of the Week: Powerslave – Iron Maiden

Their 5th studio album, Powerslave was recorded at Compass Point Studios, Nassau, Bahamas in winter/spring 1984, and was released on Capitol Records on September 3rd, 1984. Iron Maiden formed in Leyton, East London in 1975 by (the extraordinary) bassist Steve Harris. Credited as the pioneers of the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal,” the band’s discography boasts 39 albums, including 16 studio records. Along with Harris (who also plays keyboards), Iron Maiden is Dave Murray (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Janick Gers (guitar), Nicko McBrain (drums), and Bruce Dickens (vocals).

1980 saw the band’s self-titled album, Iron Maiden. Killers followed in `81. 1982`s Number of the Beast introduced us to (the mighty) Bruce Dickens, and the band experienced some fame, though it was because they were being associated (falsely) with “devil worship" because of the record’s title and album cover. Piece of Mind in 1983 brought the band moderate success, and widespread touring. But it was their next record, Powerslave, which brought them worldwide fame, and fast!

The record cover and the subsequent World Slavery Tour featured an Ancient Egyptian Theme. The tour props were multiple storied platforms, a huge pyramid, and statues of Pharaoh Eddie (the band’s beloved mascot), and a sandy landscape. Speaking of Eddie, the stage show also featured a giant mummy Eddie who made an appearance over the drum riser. Two singles were released for this record: 2 Minutes to Midnight and Aces High; both fast moving tracks that, in normal Dickens style, give historical narrative (the latter, of the British Royal Air Force fighter pilots). But it is the title track (IMHO) that separates this album, moving the band beyond their previous recordings. The chorus is incredible, while a story is told from the perspective of a Pharaoh. Harris’ trademark gallops lead the way and the drums keep pace, while the guitar section rolls along with dueling riffs and solos. A notable mention, however, is Rime of the Ancient Mariner; a 13+ minute masterpiece based on the poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. With several time and signature changes, this song is one of Maiden’s best! Fans (and the band, themselves) still love this song live and, during the 84-85 world tour, the stage shape-shifted for this song, from the Egyptian scene to that of a massive wooden ship! And, also, during this world tour, 4 dates were recorded live, the results of which would be 1985’s, Live After Death. The two albums were #1 and #2 on the charts the end of that year.

 This record is a must for the serious collector in general, and the true Metalhead specifically.

Rating: 8/10

Favorite songs: Powerslave and Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Stay Metal,