Powerslave is the fifth studio album by the English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 3 September 1984 on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in North America. It was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the United States in 2002.
The album's cover artwork is notable for its Ancient Egypt theme. That theme, taken from the title track, was carried over to the album's supporting tour, the World Slavery Tour. This began in Warsaw, Poland on 9 August 1984; it is widely regarded as being the band's longest and most arduous tour to date, and led to the live album Live After Death.
The release contains a musical re-telling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the lyrics of which include some lines from the poem. At 13 minutes and 45 seconds in length, it was Iron Maiden's longest song for over 30 years until it was surpassed by the 18-minute "Empire of the Clouds" from the 2015 album The Book of Souls.
Powerslave is notable as the band's first album to feature the same personnel as their previous studio release. This lineup would remain intact for two further studio releases. Also, it is their last album to date to feature an instrumental piece.
Following the conclusion of their highly successful World Piece Tour in December 1983, during which Iron Maiden headlined large venues and arenas in the US for the first time in their career, the band took three weeks off in January 1984, before regrouping at Le Chalet Hotel in Jersey where they rehearsed for six weeks.[a] As with Powerslave's predecessor Piece of Mind (1983), this was where most of the album's writing took place; the band then began recording it at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas.
Bassist Steve Harris recalled how, under time pressure, the song "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was written in a relatively short space of time. Influenced by Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name (drawing heavily from his 1815–16 gloss), the song directly quotes two passages from the poem, the former including the famous lines: 'Water, water everywhere – nor any drop to drink'. At over thirteen minutes long, the track contains several distinct sections with differing moods and would become a fan favourite. During the 2008–09 Somewhere Back in Time World Tour, guitarist Dave Murray, vocalist Bruce Dickinson and Harris cited the song as their favourite to play live.
Once finished, the band undertook another short break while the album was mixed at Electric Lady Studios, New York, before reconvening in Fort Lauderdale, Florida to rehearse for the World Slavery Tour.The tour began in Poland in August 1984 and ended in California in July 1985. The stage set was an eye-opener, echoing the album cover, including monumental pedestals several stories high, atop which the musicians appeared at times during the show. The set amply filled even the gigantic proscenium of Radio City Music Hall. The tour was the first time a heavy metal band had taken a full set behind the Iron Curtain, visiting Poland and Hungary, a landmark achievement at the time. It continued into South America – the first time the band had toured there – where they played to an estimated audience of 300,000 at the inaugural Rock in Rio as special guests of the band Queen. The Live After Death album and video, recorded over four nights at Long Beach Arena in LA and Hammersmith Odeon in London, were also released; these respectively peaked at No. 2 and No. 1 in the UK charts.
In total, the tour was eleven months long and touched 28 countries. Powerslave debuted at No. 2 in the UK Albums Chart, as a result of their record company (EMI's) third Now That's What I Call Music!pop compilation. According to both Nicko McBrain and Adrian Smith, Powerslave began making Iron Maiden famous "very fast, very quickly", such as in Brazil, where hundreds of fans waited outside hotels and restaurants for the band.
The song "Flash of the Blade" was included on the soundtrack of Dario Argento's 1985 horror film Phenomena and was covered by the American band Avenged Sevenfold on their double live album/DVD, Live in the LBC & Diamonds in the Rough. Rhapsody of Fire have also recorded a cover of the song that is featured on the deluxe edition of their album From Chaos to Eternity. "Flash of the Blade" can also be heard in the Jem and the Holograms episode "Kimber's Rebellion", just after the cartoon band members return home from Paris, on a boom-box stereo being carried by a passerby.
- The 1995 re-release contains a bonus disc, which contains the B-sides of the original singles.
- It was re-released in 1998 with an extra multimedia section, which featured the music videos for "Aces High" and "2 Minutes to Midnight".
- Originally, "Back in the Village" and "Powerslave" had running times of 5:02 and 7:12 respectively, but when remastered for the 1998 reissue, the introduction to "Powerslave" was merged with the end of "Back in the Village", resulting in "Powerslave"'s length being cut to 6:48 and "Back in the Village" being extended to 5:21. Also, in the remastered release, silences at the beginning and end of some tracks were cut, which caused the total length of the album to be cut down to 50:34.
- (1984 LP) EMI POWER 1/EJ 2402001 [UK]
- (1984 LP) Capitol ST-12321 [USA]
- (1984 CD) EMI/Capitol CDP 7 46045 2 [Worldwide]
- (1998 CD) EMI 7243 4 96920 0 8 [UK]
- (1998 CD) Sanctuary/Metal Is/Columbia CK-86212 [USA]
- (2002 CD) Sanctuary CK-86044 [Album Replica] [USA]
|Single||Chart (1984)||Peak position||Album|
|"2 Minutes to Midnight"||German Singles Chart||70||Powerslave|
|Irish Singles Chart||10|
|UK Singles Chart||11|
|"Aces High"||Irish Singles Chart||29|
|UK Singles Chart||20|
|Single||Chart (1990)||Peak position||Album|
|"2 Minutes to Midnight/Aces High"||UK Albums Chart[b]||11||—|
- ^ The History of Iron Maiden: Part 2 – Live After Death documentary erroneously lists the place as Guernsey.
- ^ Re-release of both singles as part of The First Ten Years box set. Exceeded the length limit of the UK Singles chart.