Review Summary: On this website this album is rated higher than The Number of the Beast. And rightly so.
Yes, The Number of the Beast is a classic album, but this was Maiden's peak. Every song on here kicks major ass, and not even Number...had that - Gangland was great, but not kick-ass.
This album begins in a similar way to The Number of the Beast - with a strong, fast-paced opener. On this occasion it's Aces High, an absolute fan favourite. Often the opener at live shows as well, it's powerful riffs and towering vocals grab you by the throat and never let you go. You often end up headbanging and air-guitaring so hard you feel dizzy after. An absolute classic. 5/5.
2 Minutes to Midnight is very similar - fan favourite, live shows, classic. This has an unforgettable riff and has become one of Maiden's most famous songs, featured on video games such as GTA:Vice City. There's a time change within a solo - that's pretty rare. But they execute this and the rest of the song to absolute perfection; you can't help but love this song. This riff has been criticized so many times for being overused - Curse Of The Pharaohs by Mercyful Fate and Raise The Flag by Airbourne both use very similar riffs - but Maiden used it fantastically well. Nicko's drumming is also very powerful in this song. Another 5/5.
Losfer Words (Big 'Orra) follows. Maiden's last instrumental to date, it does remind you of Egypt, in a strange way. It contends with Transylvania for Maiden's best instrumental, and although Transylvania just edges it for me, this is by no means bad. The lack of Bruce's vocals is made up for by blistering music that just oddly gets you both headbanging and thinking of Ancient Egypt at the same time. It is one of the more melodic tracks on the album, occasionally giving a hint of what's to come on the next album. 4.5/5.
Flash Of The Blade is a great song, covered by Avenged Sevenfold for the Maiden tribute album Maiden Heaven, and it depicts Bruce's passion for fencing. No highlight of the album, but definitely not one you'd want to skip in a hurry. Another perfectly executed song. 4.5/5
The Duellists, although my least favourite on the album, is still a very good song. It doesn't take hold of you so well, but is certainly better than Gangland, at least in my opinion. Again, not a song I often skip; every song on this album is just too good for that. Bruce gives a brilliant performance on this song and it features quite a fast rhythm. The song, however, doesn't flow all that well and struggles slightly to keep its momentum and excitement as it goes along. 4/5.
Back In The Village, however, begins with a riff of such ferocity and speed you automatically start paying attention. Also about the TV show The Prisoner (The Prisoner on The Number of the Beast was about the same TV show), I always - always - begin air-guitaring and foot-tapping to this song, and Bruce's vocals are especially brilliant here. A song of such power and speed that it is hard to see it as a 'filler track', as some people claim it to be, and Nicko's performance has to be credited here as well. 4.75/5
The ending of that song is the intro to this song, the title track Powerslave. A very heavy song by Maiden's standards, it depicts Ancient Egyptian mythology about man/gods. Featuring some of the most beautiful solos on record, it is a criminally underrated song that is a must-have for any Maiden fan anywhere. It is a great joint performance from all the members of the band, who show their potential as a band on this song, resulting in an amazing performance. The riff is extremely powerful and engaging, and Bruce gives his all. Again, Nicko displays his brilliance here. 5/5
And of course, Rime Of The Ancient Mariner. Probably my favourite Maiden song ever, this is an absolute MASTERPIECE. Featuring direct quotes, perfect precision and overall epicness, it's it 13 minutes and 35 seconds of perfection and execution. In my opinion, you're not a Maiden fan if you don't like this song. Featuring a trademark galloping rhythm, the music fits the tone of the song perfectly, with an eerie bass solo in the middle, giving you the impression that he is out at sea alone at this point. The solos are some of my favourites ever, before gettting straight back into the galloping rhythm to finish the song. Just...YES. 666/5
Overall, this is an album that's as close to perfect as you're ever going to find. Go buy it now and hear for yourself. A landmark in Metal, I don't understand how this wasn't a #1 album here in the UK. What I do understand though is how this is the album that brought them real global fame. A must-have, and the definitive Maiden album. Buy this before The Number of the Beast if you haven't already got either, or just buy it anyway. Trust me...you WON'T be disappointed. An astonishing masterpiece.