This album has been my favourite Iron Maiden album for a pretty long while. I have changed my mind throughout the years and I prefer "The X-Factor" and "Somewhere In Time" today, but "Powerslave" is without the glimpse of a doubt in my definitive top 3 albums of the band. Almost every song of this album is great but most of the songs have also some negative points.
"Aces high" is an amazing opener, probably the heaviest, fastest and straightest that they have ever done to date. Especially Bruce Dickinson delivers an amazing job on the vocals. The only negative point of this song is that the brilliant introduction of Churchill's Speech that has been used on the concerts, hasn't found its way on the studio album.
"2 Minutes To Midnight" is darker than the opener but it has a brilliant introduction and main riff, a very catchy chorus and an atmospheric bridge and is as brilliant as "Aces high". This heavy metal high quality double pack fits perfectly together even though they sound very different from each other and convince each one in their own way. The lyrics are very interesting and the music video is maybe the eeriest and weirdest stuff that the band has ever done. The only negative point of this song is that it has a little bit lost its magic because of its yearlong presence on greatest hits album, live concerts and other stuff.
"Losfer Words" is a very tight and interesting instrumental song without any doubt and maybe the most diversified as well as the heaviest and most amazing instrumental song the band has ever done. It fits to the epic style and conception of the album and is quite underrated in my humble opinion. But the song has still somehow the touch of a filler for many fans and has some little lengths and this is its only negative point about this very good song.
"Flash Of A Blade" is a heavily underrated song. The intro riff sounds really melodic, straight and innovative. The song itself has a very fast and intense main riff. Bruce Dickinson is in absolute top form and performs his vocals in a very stunning way by almost aggressively rapping the verses while singing the chorus with his high pitched and powerful voice. The contrast created by this phenomenon creates a very particular and special style and sounds overall new and fresh. The twin guitar parts sound amazing and this is surprisingly the very first track on the record where there is not a single negative point that I could mention.
"The Duellists" starts with a very tight main riff and has some very melancholic and melodic vocal lines. Bruce Dickinson does an amazing job in the verses. The instrumental parts in the song only have an average quality and are a little bit too long in some parts. The most negative point of this song is without any doubt the chorus. It is epic, but way too happy and doesn't fit with the atmosphere created in the rest of the song at all. It is one of the weaker songs of the album.
"Back In The Village" begins with a very melodic and still heavy introduction and the verses are once more very straight and great. The closing moments of the song are very straight and fast and I like this surprising effect. The hypnotic chorus is though the negative point of this song and neither very catchy nor very well developed. The instrumental parts of the songs are of an average quality and comparable to "The Duellists". This song is probably the weakest one on the album just behind "The Duellists".
I didn't like the song "Powerslave" when I listened to it for the first time, but this song has really grown on me within the last few years. It all begins with a very interesting intro, has some heavy, but still mystical and innovating verses and a very epic and catchy chorus. The middle part of the title track is amazingly melodic and sounds more elaborated than some of the other instrumental parts on the album. The song gets you in a magic atmosphere and creates a very special tension. All instruments do a brilliant job here, especially the bass guitar who has been too much dominated by the guitars in some of the previous songs. Today, I must admit that there is no negative point to find within this great title song.
"Rime Of The Ancient Mariner" is one of the greatest, if not the best song Iron Maiden has ever written. This song has everything that a metal fan needs. It is catchy and attractive the first time you listen to it, but you will still discover new passages years after your first experience with this song. The song is heavy and straight, but it also has its slower parts which create a dark and mysterious atmosphere. The guitar solos are intense and simply amazing. Bruce Dickinson does a very diversified and energetic job on the vocals. The drumming is tight and stunning. The bass guitar is as strong and particular as in the title song and even surpasses the previous opus magnum. The song has many changes in style, but all parts fit perfectly together. The song is never boring or seems to be long even though it is the longest one the band has ever written until today. Sure thing, there is no negative point about this masterpiece. I don't like to give too general comment or prejudices, but if you don't like this song, you do simply not like heavy metal and Iron Maiden. For me, this song is the opus magnum of heavy metal in the eighties.
As you can see, I would say that there is one masterpiece ("Rime Of The Ancient Mariner"), two extremely brilliant ("Powerslave" and the underrated "Flash Of A Blade"), two brilliant ("Aces High" and "Two Minutes To Midnight"), one very good song ("Losfer Words") and two average or rather good songs ("The Duellists" and "Back In The Village"). The album cover is more than brilliant and probably the best one that Derek Riggs has ever done. Even after years, you still discover something new on it. The production of Martin Birch is simply brilliant and better than some of the modern Iron Maiden records. Iron Maiden combines their style and heritage (on more traditional songs like "2 Minutes To Midnight" or "Flash Of A Blade") with some new and innovative elements (like the atmospheric parts on the title song "Powerslave" that can only be compared to "Hallowed Be Thy Name" and "To Tame A Land" but it definitely reaches a climax on this record). That's why, even if there are some little negative points to mention related to some of the songs, this is album in all its imperfect perfection is one of my favourite albums of all time and has been my favourite Iron Maiden record for a long while!