Sound — 8
"Powerslave" is an album that delivers a relentless enslaught of pure rock from start to finish. Though it seems like a run-of-the-mill, average album it contains a collection of classic songs from Maiden's younger years. With such anthems as "Aces High", "2 Minutes To Midnight", "Powerslave" and "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner", the five-piece (at the time) band setup provides a versatile roster of talent and an equally impressive range of sound. Bruce Dickinson returns for a third time to add some of his flair to the album - the passion and vocal range he possesses and puts to full effect will surely amaze listeners. Steve Harris and his bass prowess transform songs that would be mundane in another band's hands into an energetic display of dexterity. Dave Murray and Adrian Smith endeavour to keep listeners' attention with catchy licks and blinding solos throughout. And finally let's not forget about Nicko McBrain, the man often forgotten behind his mammoth drum kit. McBrain fuels each song with a mixture of powerful fills and atmospheric beats. Though my critisisms are few, I must uphold a fair argument. Some songs seem to drag on for longer than needed - "Powerslave" for example lasts around 7 minutes when the song could have come to an effective close around the 5 minute mark (in my opinion). Some may find the guitar solos to be too common, though I definitely am NOT one of those people.
Lyrics — 10
The lyrics featured on Powerslave are truly superb - written by Dickinson, Harris and Adrian Smith (guitarist), each song feels unique due to the combined intelligence used to write them and deliverance Dickinson gives. A favourite extract of mine is the opening to "2 Minutes To Midnight", reading, "Kill for gain, shoot to maim, we don't need a reason. The golden goose is on the loose, and never out of season". The song is not even past the first verse and already we are given some food for thought. The song itself points to the problems with warfare and uses some great imagery to expose the horrors involved - Dickinson talks of warped brains, unborn babies dying and corpses being shrewn amongst the battleground with great intensity. The pace at which the song travels can sometimes cause some of the subject matter to be lost under the guitar, bass and drum riffs but the controversial lyrics remain a cornerstone of Maiden's success. Bruce's capability as a singer is unquestionable - just hearing one of the band's songs will show any listener that the man is something special behind a microphone. He shows much flexibility throughout the album and displays a wide variety of techniques on each song. The scream featured on "Aces High" feels powerful and puts many of the current singers that claim to have prowess in screaming to shame. The harmonies in "2 Minutes To Midnight" and "Flash Of The Blade" make Dickinson's vocal seem like an instrument of it's own, complimenting the guitar and bass riffs masterfully. And finally, the stamina he possesses to sing such songs as "Powerslave" and (of course) "Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" - the 13 minute behemoth of a song - is rivaled by few other vocalists.
Overall Impression — 9
Compared to other albums, it is truly an original (unless compared to more of Iron Maiden's own catalog). With such lengthy songs and intricate riffs, it stands as a benchmark for other bands to aspire to and marvel at. In my opinion, the best songs on the album are "Aces High", "2 Minutes To Midnight" and "The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" due to the uniqueness of each of them and the way they have remained classics throughout the course of rock history. Overall "Powerslave" is what it says on the tin, and that is an Iron Maiden album that will thoroughly involve and enthrawl the listener.