Review Summary: a jewel in the crown of eighties metal
When the best metal band in history release their best album, then logically we must conclude it's The Highlight of the genre in general. In my opinion Powerslave is the culmination of the metal movement at it's peak. Maiden was an established ensemble, overflowing with creative power and the will to show the world their qualities and ambitions. The song writing couldn't be better, and I disagree with people who proclaim that there are some 'fillers' to be found. 'Back in the Village' is absolutely not a filler. The song is a moving and intelligently structured story based on The Prisoner. And 'Losfer Words' is a beautiful, passionate instrumental, unfortunately the last the band would record. Every aspect seems to fall in it's right place on this album: the emotional, agressive but controlled singing style of Dickinson, the guitar harmonies never sounded better and the authentic Iron Maiden Style withstands the demands of commercial consessions ('Hello America'). Above all the production is excellent, granting excellence to every single instrument, establishing a coherent sound that defines the Maiden sound we all love so much and yearn for ever since.
The special status and outstanding qualities of Powerslave are even more evident when compared to releases by fellow giants Judas Priest (Defenders of the Faith) and Metallica (Ride the Lightning). The former is too commercially oriented, with lots of repetition and easy to digest melodies, the latter a good album, but never top (except for 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'). Powerslave is a combination of top quality and intricate songwriting. It contains 'complex' songs like 'Powerslave' and 'The Duellists', but there is so more interesting going on. 'Two Minutes to Midnight' has always been a public favourite, due to the musicianship and the cynical lyrics. Maybe one could designate the melodic, slightly repetitive 'Flash of the Blade' as the weakest song, but this is still one of the best metal singalong anthems of the period. I can only highlight the pinnacles of this true masterpiece, from the overwhelming intro of 'Aces High' to the concluding, 'second longest' song ever: 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. This is a monumental epic that I can listen to over and over. Although the riff is quite simple, it is also very effective in creating this huge, ominous atmosphere.
The general impression Powerslave provides, is a multi-faceted jewel of mature eighties metal which represents the band that cofounded the NWOBHM. It's replete with emotion, agression, melody, variety and intricate songwriting. A must for the beginner, an obvious album for the fans.