Welcome back! We’ve arrived at what has been my personal favourite Maiden album for a long time, 1984’s
Powerslave. It’s another consistent effort without anything outright bad and some absolute all-timers. It’s also the
first album to feature the same band lineup as the previous album. Hooray, consistency!
One of the reasons why I love this album is because of this AWESOME Egypt-inspired cover art. It’s probably my
favourite album art for Maiden. It just LOOKS as epic as the music you’re about to indulge in. It’s been a desktop
background for multiple computers over the years.
8. “Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)”
We start off with the fourth and final (as of November 2023) Maiden instrumental, and probably my least favourite. It’s decent, but it doesn’t feel as memorable or dynamic as the other three. It also does go on a tad long for what it has to offer. If nothing else, it made for good background music for the Visions of the Beast DVD menu.
7. “The Duellists”
The first of two songs on this album about swordsmen swording it up, “The Duellists” details, well, a duel, and not of
the ‘pistols at ten paces’ variety. The song itself is certainly fine with a catchy chorus and good instrumentation, but
it’s nothing that’s going to stay with you after the record/cassette/CD/MP3 stops.
6. “Back in the Village”
The second composition based on the classic British TV show The Prisoner, “Back in the Village” does get the edge over “The Duellists” because of some very good guitar work. The opening riffs are pretty underrated, but again, the song as a whole gets vastly overshadowed by the next five tracks.
5. “Flash of the Blade”
From this point forward, it’s all bangers. The second song about swordplay and far and away the better one, “Flash”
has a killer opening guitar riff that segues into a powerful driving rhythm. Bruce Dickinson’s vocals are strong here, as are the lyrics. It’s definitely one of the more underappreciated Maiden songs as it doesn’t get the same level of acclaim as the heavier hitters from this era, but it’s excellent.
The title track pounds the listener’s senses right off the bat with a powerful opening beat that continues to drive the
action with meaty riffs and pounding percussion. Dickinson gets to flex his Egyptology geek muscles this time with
lyrics that paint a picture of an arrogant pharaoh staring down the barrel of mortality. It’s an effective exploration of
death in an ancient Egyptian dressing.
3. “2 Minutes to Midnight”
One of Maiden’s most famous songs, this middle finger to the Romanticism of war is driven by stellar instrumentation and a singable chorus. The guitars in particular stand out with headbanging riffs (especially that opening) and intricate solos. However, what really elevates this one is the lyrics. Some of the more poetic, relevant, and descriptive lyrics Maiden’s ever written. Some may argue that it’s kind of overplayed, but whatever. This one still rips.
2. “Aces High”
Another song about war and flight, it’s possibly Maiden’s best one. Narrated from the perspective of a British RAF
pilot fending off the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in World War II, “Aces High” is frantically paced with
blistering guitars and drums and howling vocals from Dickinson; probably Bruce’s best performance on the record. This is very much “air raid siren” Bruce on full display. Suffice it to say, a hell of a way to kick off the album. Another personal favourite of mine.
1. “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
“This is what NOT to do when a bird s**ts on you”
The sweeping epic based on the Coleridge poem about a mariner who kills an albatross and gets all cursed and stuff takes the number one spot over some fierce competition. This is likely going to be a controversial pick because of the sheer length, but I LOVE me some “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. I’m all about that opening riff. For a song over 13 minutes, it’s remarkably well-paced with multiple tempo and mood shifts that keep things exciting. The guitars are substantial throughout, and the slower central portion does an excellent job of building a brooding
So the big takeaway here? Don’t kill birds. ESPECIALLY ones of good omen.
More of Ryan Ranks coming soon to CGCM Rock Radio/Website: Ryan Ranks