Sound — 10
Whereas 1983's "Piece Of Mind" took a strictly themed and consistent approach, on 1984's "Powerslave", Iron Maiden pretty much did the exact opposite. And hell, let's face it; it worked. I personally believe that "Piece Of Mind" was the band's best work, but "Powerslave" no doubt has some great highlights. Manipulating a more mainstream, direct approach, the band seem to return to more of their "The Number of the Beast" roots; as far as production value and sound go, anyway. Using more direct and dominant guitar harmonies than the band had possibly ever done before, songs like "Aces High," "Flash Of The Blade" and "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" contain some of the most memorable instrumental harmony passages in the band's career. As usual, Steve Harris plays his bass loud and fast, and in many cases, the bassline becomes the most noticeable and recognizeable part of the song. Songs like "The Duellists" and "Powerslave" seem to swerve the focus around to Harris, whereas songs like "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)" (it's an instrumental; clever title) and "Back In The Village" seem to contain a fair balance of guitar and bass. As usual, drums and vocals are incredible, too. Nicko McBrain deserves massive amount of credit for his ridiculous drum work on "Losfer Words," "Back In The Village" and other tracks. Bruce Dickinson's vocals are, as usual, better than awesome. Be it the falsetto's and growling of "Flash Of The Blade" or just plain epic vocal passages of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", the album holds to be one of Dickinson's best vocal albums (apart from "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son," of course).
Lyrics — 9
Lyrically, this album is just cool, for lack of a better term. "Aces High" holds to be one of the catchiest songs Maiden have ever done, and the verses and chorus are just so well-written, it's ridiculous. Though "Bandits at eight o'clock move in behind us, ten ME-109's out of the sun" seems like it'd be hard to remember, it's amazing how well certain parts like will stick in your head. "Back in the Village" is basically "The Prisoner Part 2." The Village is mentioned in the British television show The Prisoner, and in fact, the line "Questions are a burden, an answer's a prison for oneself" is taken directly from the show. And of course, "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is bases on the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem of the same name, and even contains two passages from the poem. So, it's nerdy reference after nerdy reference, as usual, and that's why I love Maiden as much as I do. They're the hardest rocking geeks I can think of.
Overall Impression — 10
Overall, this is a great addition to your Maiden collection. Though it's not my top favorite Maiden album, it's certainly one of their more awesome ones. My fourth favorite, if I honestly had to choose. It's just amazing how much ground Maiden cover in just 8 tracks. Whether you're a Maiden fan or not, I strongly suggest getting this album. I seriously doubt it'll leave your CD player (or your head) for quite some time.