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Album Art Analysis #1: Iron Maiden - Powerslave

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Topic: Album Art Analysis #1: Iron Maiden - Powerslave
Posted By: Unitron
Subject: Album Art Analysis #1: Iron Maiden - Powerslave
Date Posted: 31 May 2016 at 12:27am
Here's something I've started making on my blog, I decided to toss them on here as well.

Artist: Derek Riggs
Album release date: 1984

Just as the music contained on an album, which is of course the most important part, can be reviewed, so can the album cover. While some may say that album covers don't matter much anymore now that we have the internet and can go look up any album on YouTube, what about an album will make one go look it up on YouTube? Well, an obvious answer would be knowing what style of music a band or musician plays so one can know if it's to their tastes or not. However, what happens if you know absolutely or next to nothing about a style of music and have no idea what something will sound like. The album cover may give a hint. This is a series of reviews devoted to an underrated art form, to see what makes album covers work, and what makes them not. So, without further ado, let's look at one of the most iconic album covers of the 80's.

To a metalhead, Iron Maiden needs no introduction. However, for those into other styles of music or only a casual listener, here's some background. Iron Maiden was at the forefront of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) scene of the 80's. While bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest were the early masters of metal, bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon propelled the genre into the 80's, continuing the innovation that the creators did and adding new ideas that would end up characterizing the genre of heavy metal. Iron Maiden, especially, laid the groundwork for many later bands that would have an epic and majestic presence about them. No other album showcases Iron Maiden's epic and grandiose sound like 1984's Powerslave. 

This is an album full of classics, from energetic classic metal songs like 'Aces High' and '2 Minutes to Midnight', to the epics of gigantic proportions such as the title cut and the nearly 14-minute behemoth 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner'. So, knowing the epic nature of the album and Maiden's music, how does the album cover work in its favor? 

The album artwork is extraordinary in it's style and composition, yet it takes more than being artistically great to be a perfect album cover. Powerslave does just that, as the ancient Egyptian setting combined with a massive statue of Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie portrayed as one of the great pharaohs in the forefront perfectly captures the epic nature of the music featured on the album. The bright, almost electrifying, lighting near the top of the pyramid suggests the work of a higher power. The landscape at the bottom is minuscule compared to the towering figures of Eddie and the Egyptian gods.

The key for a masterpiece of an album cover, is not only to be a fantastic artwork in of itself, but also be able to perfectly reflect the music on the album. Imagine if this album cover was on a Genesis album, wouldn't work so well anymore would it?

Stay tuned for the next album cover analysis.

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What are other's thoughts on the album cover? Do you agree, disagree? Feel free to give your input!

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