The Lineup: Bruce Dickinson- Vocals
Dave Murray- Lead/rhythm guitar
Adrian Smith- Lead/rhythm guitar
Steve Harris- Bass
Nicko McBrain- Drums
1984 was a very important year for metal. It saw the release of many of metals greatest albums. “Judas Priest- Defenders Of Faith”, “Metallica- Ride This Lightning”, “Haunting The Chapel- Slayer” among others, but in the midst of all these albums one reigned supreme. Iron Maiden’s “Powerslave”
is widely acknowledged as one the greatest metal albums of all time. Why? Well you could start with the damn near flawless guitar, or the fast paced, passionate bass lines. From there you might want to go to the extremely well written drums and the vocals suiting the instrumentals perfectly. This has to be my favourite form of Iron Maiden, as their line up shuffled around quite a bit in the early 80’s. It just seems to me that it was at this point in their career the band was at their best. If you look at the bands page on the site and look at the album listings you may see why.
I’ve always loved Maiden’s style. They’re not quite as dark or as heavy as most metal bands, but that by no means makes them any less metal. I actually like the lighter feel of their music. It rather refreshing to hear after constantly listening to similar sounding metal bands. For example, Metallica Megadeth. I still love them both, but after a while they get a bit tiresome, so I take a break and listen to my Maiden. I’ve actually heard people on this site try and say that metal aren’t metal because of their slightly lighter style. This statement is undeniably false. Everything about Maiden is metal. The angst vocals, the fast paced distorted rhythm guitar, the popping bass lines and solid technical drums. Yes, they are definitely metal and if that’s not enough to convince you just look at their stage attire!
This album has great playback value. I find this to be a bit strange because some songs do
sound similar, yet I can listen to the entire album through and through, over and over again. That’s really saying a lot considering the closer track surpasses the thirteen minute mark. I’m not sure why this album has such splendid playback value. It may be because of how refreshing this album sounds to me at the time as I’m trying to get away from Megadeth and Metallica for a few days, but then again I don’t think there’s ever been a time when I haven’t been able to listen to this all the way through. It just so difficult to get sick of this. It’s probably got something to do with the constantly flawless guitar riffage. Every track has spectacular guitar. Lots of fast hammer on/pull off riffs and at least one solo. There are times when the guitar is just power chords because well you can’t solo forever, but at these points the guitar is still pretty great because it’s still extremely fast paced and distorted. Another thing that keeps this album from getting old are Dickinson’s vocals. He has good range from low to high pitched vocals and the constant slew of outpouring emotion that comes from him keeps the album feeling ‘real’. The drums and bass also get in on the action at times, but usually just in intros and are difficult to notice at times under the guitar. Overall, anyone out there who likes metal should buy this because it never really gets old so you can listen to it over and over again.
This album has no filler.
Every song brings something to the table. Although, as I mentioned some songs sounded a bit similar, each one had something definitive about it that separated it from the others. Whether it was a dueling solo, a crazy interlude, or even slightly different vocals. A good example of something in a song that sounds similar to other ones yet is definitive by itself is the clean interlude in the closer track “Rime Of Ancient Mariner”. There’s not too much more I can say about “The Filler Factor” considering there is no filler. Not too mention it’s only an eight track album so there’s really no room for filler anyways.
As I’ve previously mentioned the guitar on this album was nearly flawless. I enjoyed every single aspect of it. The rhythm guitar was a bit reminiscent of Metallica’s early works at times, but not quite as heavy. Some of you out there may not consider that a positive thing, but take into consideration Metallica are my favourite band (ever). So, I really enjoyed that aspect. I also enjoyed the seemingly constant riffage. If you want to know what I’m talking about listen to the intro to “Flash Of The Blade” or “Back In The Village”. Both of which are cunning examples of this albums splendid riffs. Most of all I enjoyed the solos. I like how Smith and Murray shared the duty of lead guitarists. 2 lead guitarists=more solos, more solos=higher rating (I’ve been concentrating in review math class). Not too mention two lead guitarists opens the door for the possibility of dueling solos. Incase you didn’t catch that DUELING SOLOS! Sorry, if that sounded kind of dumb and fan-boyish, but I love dueling solos. If you also love dueling solos I would recommend track five “The Duellists”. Not only were there lots of solos and some of them dueling but they were also extremely well written. I’ve been having a little debate with myself to try and figure out whose the better guitarist. Thus far there’s been no resolution. They’re both great. Every single riff, progression, or solo was well written. Especially the solos. Those guys really know their scales. Another thing that helped bring up the quality of their solos was the tone of their amps. It was pretty similar to anything you would hear from a regular Eighties metal band, but with a slight hint of something else. It sort of reminded me of Carlos Santana.
I must say listening to this album certainly brought Steve Harris up a few spots on my list of all time favourite bassists. Virtually all of his work was great. The constant guitar riffing on this album made it difficult to just play root notes, so Harris was forced to forge his own path with the bass lines. And forge he did! Good old Steve managed to riff his as
s off right along with the guitar. It’s hard to hear at times, but if you listen closely enough you can hear it quite well. There did seem to be some points where the bass just mimicked the guitar, but that was when the guitar was playing fast paced power chords. So, naturally the bass was going at an insanely fast pace as well, so due to the speed of the bass lines just playing root notes didn’t bother me in the least. I’m not quite sure if Mr. Harris plays with a pick or not. I think based on the sound of the bass that he doesn’t but it’s quite difficult to tell. Personally I prefer it when bassists don’t use a pick. It gives it more of an old school, more wholesome sound. Anywho, regardless of whether or not he uses a pick his bass playing is excellent.
Not unlike everything else on this album the drumming was excellent. Unfortunately though, it didn’t get a whole lot of time to shine on this album. They had brief little stints here and there, but otherwise didn’t get a whole lot of attention. A good example of one of the few points where the drums had some spot light would be the intro to “Aces High”. Although, even then it was over shadowed by the guitar. While ‘Nicko’ may not has been the shining star of this album he at least very, very technically sound. He made no mistakes on this album that I could pick out and kept excellent timing, as well. I also really enjoyed his style of drumming. He didn’t rely entirely on simple beats, although he did use some. It was about 50/50, but there’s nothing wrong with simple drum beats. Sometimes there necessary. I just like to see drummers use more of their kit than just the high hats and snare. Which Mr. McBrain did. There were loads and loads of fast paced roll beats and filled scattered about everywhere.
Pros: Instrumentally sound
Good vocals (which is kind of rare in metal bands)
Had loads of impact there genre
Cons: Drums could’ve been more involved, otherwise no complaints
This album is a necessity
for any metal lover. Like I’ve said several times now it’s nearly perfect from beginning to end. The songs are also a joy to learn as I am just checking out some tabs now. Iron Maiden have just moved into the number two spot on my list of all time favourite metal bands. Truly top notch stuff. Nothing more I can say really