Thursday, May 31, 2012

Iron Maiden - Powerslave [1984]

There's not a single metalhead out there that hasn't heard of Maiden and at least a few of their most essential songs, if not whole albums. Going strong and growing stronger with each release, Maiden forged an unbreakable barricade of classic albums, consecutively releasing five albums within just five years, starting from 1980's infamous ''Killers'', to this, their eternal and timeless classic, ''Powerslave'', an album so majestic that it's condemned to stay a virgin for infinity. Maiden already found the sound that would use for the next 9-10 years with ''The Number Of The Beast'', but on Powerslave, everything is established perfectly and every single detail is worked out masterfully; from Steve Harris's bumping, groovy bass line, to Nicko's simple yet balanced drumming, to the beautifully worked out harmonies and eccentric leads and melodies, to Bruce's dominating voice that soars over everything.

The songs are nothing extremely intricate really, but they're displayed so extravagantly that's its hard to omit them. The clean, warm atmosphere and production quality provides viability for the riffs and renders them clean, and melodies sound sharp and vigorous as they're calm and melodious, beautiful. Most verse sections of the songs are driven with power chords and typical NWOBH gallops and chugs, but an occasional narrating melody also seems to be prominent during certain passages. The luminous effect of the melodies is what makes this album so special, but the delivery is also fantastic as the songs never lack life energy or any sort of garnishment to improve themselves. The music is as soft as it can get, so there's really no need to add anything decorative into the mix, and as mellow tides of harmonious melodies effortlessly, swiftly roll into a catchy little gallop, you'll be too concerned with the efficiency of the music to give a fuck.

As important as encompassing aspects are, it's obvious that its the real musicianship here that makes the music special and the perfect adjustment of the delivery that disables any nitpicking. Seriously, how can a band be so effectively balanced and coordinated... and Maiden aren't even trying to be pretentious here. It's hooks are gripping yet so polite that you'll basically allow them attach themselves to your flesh, doubtless just another piece of meat out of many, many others who have fallen into the hooks of ''Powerslave''. The epic side of Maiden kicks in substantial amounts of time on this album, which is another difference from all the other albums, because on ''Powerslave'', copious amounts of riffs are choruses are driven into epic territory, and we have Bruce's amazing vocal work to thank for that. Take the chorus on the title track for example. A  canorous quartet of back up vocalists murmuring, while Bruce's voice soars on top of the main material, which is basically three durable power chords. Three fucking power chords, two back up vocalists and one, ear piercing tone soaring with resonance. Three fucking chords, people! It's absolutely perfect yet so simple, and you can't top that, no matter how hard you try.

The durability of the album keeps renewing itself as the album progresses, and you even keep the enhancement as you will be too baffled a listener to even notice. ''Aces High'' is an exceedingly robust start for the album, wherein thundering melodies of swiftly channel in and forth, as if moving on butter. Yes, butter. And its chorus has to be one of the best metal choruses ever written both music and lyric-wise.

''Run, live to fly, fly to live, do or die
Won't you run, fly to live
Live to fly, Aces High''

''Two Minutes To Midnight'' is a glamorous 70's metal flick, its swaggering array of bluesy riffs and excellent bridges never failing inconsistent, as well as pumping the old metal spirit up. ''Losfer Words ''(Big 'Orra) is a basically a beautiful churning of an abundance of melodies, sharp and is crisp all the time. ''Back In The Village'', ''Flash Of The Blade'' and ''The Duelists'' all embrace the catchy momentum of classic Maiden songs, each flailing out a nifty riffs with a slightly different demeanor of its own. The title track is dripping with mystery and cryptic hints of heavy metal, and most importantly, it stands as the first ever song to entwine with Egyptian subjects, hinted in both the lyrics and the music. The title track is dotted with tiny segments of groove laden arabic riffs and scales, and even Bruce's voice has adopted a sort of mystical, ominous tone to accompany the music. And the journey ends with a rather long exploration into the ocean with ''Rime Of The Ancient Mariner'', guiding its hefty body and over thirteen minute structure most delicately, swaggering with mid paced riffs, attached to each other with subtle melodies, right before breaking into a brooding, queer hiatus. Such a classic an timeless album this is, and there's no way it can lose its virginity, not in this world. You cannot call yourself a metalhead without listening to ''Powerslave'', this is the quintessence and essence of heavy metal, responsible for influencing a large amount of the genre. It will never die.

''Tell my I had to be a Powerslave
I don't wanna die, I'm a god,
Why can't I live on,
When the Life Giver dies,
All around is laid waste,
And in my last hour,
I am a slave to the Power of Death''

''Flash Of The Blade''
''Rime Of The Ancient Mariner''
''Two Minutes To Midnight''
''Aces High''

Final Rating
Legendary [10/10]