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Old 08-05-2015, 05:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trollheart takes on "1001 Metal Albums You Must Hear Before You Die"

Yeah, I hate to admit defeat and I dislike not seeing a project through to the end, but I have to admit my interest in and enthusiasm for the "1001 Albums" journal is gone totally, and it may as well be considered dead now. I honestly thought there would be a better mix of albums on the list, and some that were there baffled me, and I have no idea why they were considered essential listening before one catches the final busride home. Be that as it may, wrong or right, I'm not going to keep pursuing a project I've lost interest in, so in its place let's do this.

As compiled by the metal community here, and a work in progress, I'll be taking the list in order and reviewing each album, telling you what I think of it and inviting discussion, debate, fist-fights, death threats and long bouts of sulking. This fits in perfectly with my research for Metal Month III, and initially I was just going to do it as a feature in that, but even doing an album every day (which I wouldn't) I still would need several years to get through it, and that would never work.

So stand by for the first album sometime this week I hope. Feel free to tell me I don't know what the fuck I'm talking about, as I usually don't.

Link to the index so far http://www.musicbanter.com/rock-meta...bum-index.html

Link to the actual list, where you can add albums http://www.musicbanter.com/rock-meta...e-you-die.html
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Old 08-05-2015, 05:31 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Even though I've already reviewed the first album (and probably some others too, as I contributed to the original thread: hell, I created it!) I'm going to re-review it as I plan to do this in my "new" format, ie the patented "Love or Hate?" style, complete with colour coding and track-by-track reviews, sans the usual Trollheart waffle. May throw in a video, if I do it will only be one as the reviews will be necessarily shorter than my usual.

So, first up:

1. Powerslave --- Iron Maiden --- 1984

Coming soon!
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Old 08-05-2015, 06:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Yeah, I hate to admit defeat and I dislike not seeing a project through to the end, but I have to admit my interest in and enthusiasm for the "1001 Albums" journal is gone totally, and it may as well be considered dead now. I honestly thought there would be a better mix of albums on the list, and some that were there baffled me, and I have no idea why they were considered essential listening before one catches the final busride home. Be that as it may, wrong or right, I'm not going to keep pursuing a project I've lost interest in, so in its place let's do this.\
Why? Because we didn't cover Iron Maiden's entire discography on the first page?
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Old 08-05-2015, 07:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Why? Because we didn't cover Iron Maiden's entire discography on the first page?
No. I'm talking about the official "1001 Albums You Must Hear", NOT the one we did. And not the metal one.
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Old 08-05-2015, 07:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No. I'm talking about the official "1001 Albums You Must Hear", NOT the one we did. And not the metal one.
Oh yeah. That was a thing. I took one look, saw a bunch of generic indie entries, left. Well, I'm resurrecting the metal one I guess.
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Old 08-06-2015, 05:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh yeah. That was a thing. I took one look, saw a bunch of generic indie entries, left. Well, I'm resurrecting the metal one I guess.
Yeah, I thought it would be cool, but even though there are a thousand (and one) albums, I had to go really far down the list (or up it, in my case) before I saw anything I was interested in or that I thought should be there. I mean, I don't particularly like Thriller or Nevermind, but I can see why they should be on the list. Ce-Lo Green? Not so much. And an awful lot of it was like that.

So yeah, if we can get the Metal list going again that will be great. Hopefully this journal will give something of a spur to others to add their albums.

You know, if you wanted to collab... but then, you have that other thing don't you? Well, the offer's there if you want. Could be fun.
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Old 08-06-2015, 01:32 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I'm gonna put a link to the list in the first post, but in case you're too lazy to click it, I'll do a "Love or Hate?" and drop in the next three albums I'll be doing. In which case...

Note: Due to personal requests, the order has now changed, as reflected below.

Up first:

1. Powerslave (Iron Maiden) Added by me

77. Monolith of Humanity (Cattle Decapitation) Added by Primeval Scum (Requested by Frownland)

89. Bonded by Blood (Exodus) Added by The Batlord (Requested by The Batlord)

I'm rethinking my review style. I'll probably still do a track-by-track "Love or Hate?" style, but I think I may go into the albums in more depth. Assuming Batty doesn't take up my kind offer, I want to not just review the albums but really look into their history, what they mean to the genre and why they are on the list, and if they deserve to be.

I'm happy to take contributions from anyone, especially on the album(s) you nominated for the list. And anyone who wants to can add to it: it currently stands at 100, with Batty having the veto over whether it's metal enough to be accepted. Link also in the first post.
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Old 08-11-2015, 10:14 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Overview

One of Iron Maiden's most revered and accomplished albums, Powerslave comes right in the middle of their “Golden age” (1982- 88), where the band rose from being NWOBHM rising stars to true global sensation and did a lot to put Heavy Metal back on the world map, and during which time they could really do no wrong. Comprising the “classic” lineup, this album is one of their most consistent and most will agree there is not a bad track on it. It also contains the band's longest and most ambitious song to date, the thirteen-minute-plus “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”

Artwork

A stalwart of the Iron Maiden camp, artist Derek Riggs was again in demand to design the cover of the album, and it still stands as one of their most iconic. With its Egyptian theme echoed in the title track, the sleeve shows Eddie (who has appeared on every Maiden album cover to date) in the guise of a massive stone sphinx-like statue of a pharaoh, sitting on a throne and flanked on either side by effigies of Anubis, the Egyptian guardian of the dead, as well as two Tutankhamun-like statues, while above his head a giant green cobra-like snake rears. The Eddie pharaoh is in fact part of a huge temple, up whose steps and into which troop slaves carrying tribute, or possibly the ornate coffin of the pharaoh, as is alluded to in the song.

(Derek Riggs, the genius behind the album sleeve, and almost all other Iron Maiden album covers)

There are of course hieroglyphs all over the place, and the sheer breadth of the design here, the intricacy and the attention to detail just shows what an amazing and dedicated artist Riggs is. This must go down surely as one of his best ever works. It also showed the depth of detail Maiden intended to go into when the album went on tour, as although I wasn't fortunate enough to see them on this tour, I'm reliably informed that they mostly constructed this very set onstage. It definitely gives you a feeling of awe, wonder, fear and respect, majesty and grandeur and the impression that we are all but the tiniest of ants in the grand scheme of things. Even before you hit play, just holding this sleeve in your hands you know you are in for one hell of an album.

Band lineup

As mentioned, this is the classic Maiden lineup, made up of:
Bruce Dickinson (Vocals)
Adrian Smith (Guitars)
Dave Murray (Guitars)
Steve Harris (Bass)
Nicko McBrain (Drums)

The classic Iron Maiden lineup, which lasted from 1982 to 1990.
l-r: Nicko McBrain, Adrian Smith, Bruce Dickinson, Steve Harris, Dave Murray.

Songwriting

The album is pretty evenly divided into two, with Steve Harris writing four of the tracks (“Aces high”, the instrumental “Losfer words”, “The Duellists” and the epic “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”) and Bruce Dickinson involved in the other four, writing two with Adrian Smith (“Two minutes to midnight” and “Back in the Village”) and going solo on the remaining two (“Powerslave” and “Flash of the blade”).

This split more or less mirrored the setup for the previous album, Piece of Mind, although Dickinson had had no input at all into 1982's The Number of the Beast, mostly due to contractual issues. The songs follow various themes, such as impotence and the feeling of being powerless, being lost and abandoned, fighting for your country and the album even features a reprise of/return to 1982's “The Prisoner”. The standout is however undeniably the thirteen-minute epic closer, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The inclusion of this track makes this the longest ever Iron Maiden album up to that point, at just over fifty-one minutes, though it would be eclipsed by a mere six minutes with the next one. It would also set a precedent for longer songs to be included on future albums, with 1988's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son having an almost ten-minute title track, an eleven-minute one on The X-Factor seven years later and eventually an eleven-minute closer to their last album, 2010's The Fional Frontier. Rumour has it that the new one, due in a few weeks, has an eighteen-minute track on it, which would certainly make it Iron Maiden's longest track ever, but as the album has not yet been released I can't yet confirm that.

Place in Metal History

If you ask most metal fans to name their favourite Maiden album, it's going to be this, The Number of the Beast or Piece of Mind. They're kind of seen as the holy trinity of Maiden albums, and encompass between them not only a time when Maiden were at the very top of their game, but also some of their very greatest songs, including the likes of “The Trooper”, “The Number of the Beast”, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, “Aces high”, "Powerslave", “Run to the hills” and of course “Hallowed by thy name”. The diversion into classical poetry, never before to my knowledge attempted by a metal band, marks this album as special and as I say it was the classic lineup, before both Dickinson and Smith temporarily left the band. The whole Egyptian theme fit Maiden perfectly, even if it did slightly echo Dio's The Last in Line, released the same year, and the World Slavery Tour was both one of their biggest and most successful, bringing their music to countries who had never witnessed their phenomenon before.

It's not going to ever be number one metal album, but it has certainly earned its place on this list and I don't think there are any true metalheads who would deny that.

So then, let's get down to cases.

The Album in depth

Steve Harris has always been fascinated by war and adventure, with songs like “The Trooper” and “Where eagles dare” on the previous album, and here he again pens a song that pays tribute to the bravery of the men who died in World War II, this time it's the airmen of the Royal Air Force as “Aces high” opens the album. The twin guitar attack of Adrian Smith and Dave Murray is immediately recognisable, as is the strident voice of Bruce Dickinson, and the song is an uptempo, high-octane adventure that puts us sitting beside the fighter aces as they protect the skies over England during the Battle of Britain. Maybe. As with most Maiden songs, it has a great hook in the chorus “Run, live to fly, fly to live, aces high!” There's a great sense of chaos as the song approaches its bridge, with words shouted like “Rolling, turning, diving, coming in again!” which really gives you an idea of the constant danger these men were in while airborne and how fast and cheap life was. One moment you're targeting a BF-109, next you're ejecting and opening your parachute, if you're lucky. The very fortunate few survived to return to the airfield and wait to do it all over again. We certainly do owe to these heroes a debt that can never be repaid.

Supermarine Spitfires, which formed the vanguard of the defence of the English Channel and fought, and won, the Battle of Britain in 1940, preventing the planned invasion of England by the Nazis.

The main lynchpin of the song is excitement, adrenaline pumping, orders shouted, warnings given, and it has a superb solo plus ends on a powerful guitar punch, dragging you breathlessly into “Two minutes to midnight”, as Maiden go all political and warn about the impending doom facing the world from the threat of the wars raging across the globe almost constantly. There's a real boogie feel to this as it rocks along, and Dickinson's voice is a little more restrained, with a slower section in the bridge as he growls “Go to war again, blood is freedom's stain, don't you pray for my soul any more!” Another great solo (never sure if it's Murray or Smith but they're both excellent guitarists anyway, and often the solos are more like duets, if that's what they're termed: two guitars playing a solo together?). The midpoint of the song takes, not surprisingly, a sort of militaristic rhythm, before it kicks up again for the big finish. I must admit, I don't care for the ending: “Midnight, midnight, it's all right!” Huh? Just seemed a little tacked on there. But it's a small niggle.

A larger niggle is the inclusion of the instrumental “Losfer words (Big 'orra)” which really doesn't do a whole lot for me. I mean, I know these guys can play, and there have been good instrumental before on the Di'Anno era albums, but the previous two albums survived without any and I don't believe suffered from their lack. For what it is, it's good enough I guess, and yes, I am contradicting myself from earlier, when I said there were no bad tracks on this album. Maybe there's one. Or maybe I'm being over-critical. Still, to me, it just seems like an attempt either to fill up space or have the axemen front and centre, or else give Bruce a chance to slip off and have a smoke. Anyway, it's relatively short and leads into one of two songs about swordsmen, which is again strange, the moreso when you realise Harris wrote one and Dickinson the other, and that they directly follow each other on the album. For my money, “Flash of the blade” is the better of the two, with its clearer message and its better melody.

With a great rolling guitar riff opening the song it really sets it up as Nicko McBrain's thunderous drumming pounds in and Dickinson's voice is snarly and almost sneering as he talks about a child who plays at swordsman but “You had to grow up early/ A house in smoking ruins/ And the bodies at your feet.” Dickinson fences, and his experience shows in the lyric as he describes the young man's training as he attempts to wreak revenge on the killers of his parents. However, like “Sun and steel” on the previous album, this is not a movie and the young hero fails in his quest, as Dickinson growls “You'll die as you lived/ In a flash of the blade/ In a corner forgotten by the world”[/i] and it's clear that there is to be no happy ending here. Harris's version of the tale is more based in the disciplines of the sport, as “The Duellists” concentrates more on the idea of honour, with another driving guitar line but quite different, reminds me very much of “Where eagles dare”, which perhaps interestingly Harris also wrote. It's more a rolling, romping kind of rhythm, where Dickinson sings “Fight for the honour, fight for the splendour, fight for the pleasure.”[/i]

Another great guitar solo, on which I think both the guys take turns, with one of them doing the sort of picking first part, then the other breaking into the more riffing section and the two of them joining for the main part. It's got far more instrumental work than the previous, with Bruce only coming back in for the final minute to take the song to its triumphant conclusion.

The stage show for the World Slavery Tour

With vinyl coming somewhat back into vogue, we'll let you know when, if an album was originally released, or re-released even, on vinyl, the sides end. And that brings an end to what I had at the time as the original vinyl side one. It's already been quite a ride, and the best is yet to come.

Side two opens with “Back in the village”, as Dickinson and Smith envisage a return to the enigmatic hamlet that was the centrepiece of the cult TV series “The Prisoner”, and also featured in the song of the same name on The Number of the Beast. Another fast guitar assault, with crazy drumming from Nicko, a song that thunders and careers along and really doesn't take a break until the end. There's the inevitable guitar solo, and it's a doozy. Using some of the lines from the series Dickinson roars “Questions are a burden, and answers a prison for oneself”[/i] and the song gives those of us who have been Maiden fans all along the chance to nod and say, yeah I remember the song that came before this, kind of like we felt when “22 Acacia Avenue” continued the story begun with “Charlotte the harlot” on the debut.

With a big bombastic ending it's a perfect opener for the second side and a continuation of the high quality that's to be seen all through this album, but the boys have saved the best till last without a doubt. With the sounds of wolves howling, a slowing heartbeat, attended by screams and then a big evil laugh that surely could only have come from the throat of Eddie himself as he sits on his massive throne, master of all he surveys, the title track powers in on a galloping guitar and tumbling drums and we are allowed a peek into the last days, or minutes, of a living god. A suitably Egyptian riff runs through the song as Dickinson sings “Tell me why I have to be a powerslave? I don't wanna die: I'm a god! Why can't I live on?” The pharaoh clings desperately to life, perhaps fearful now of having to pay in the afterlife for the evils he has perpetrated on the Earth. Although there is incredible arrogance in the song, seen through the eyes of the pharaoh, there is incalculable fear too, as he realises he is after all not a god, just a man, and must die like all men. A great guitar passage halfway through before the song takes off running again into the final chorus, a powerful solo and then a final Egyptian riff, a warning from the dying god --- “Open the gates of my Hell and I'll strike from the grave!” --- before he finally gives himself, unwillingly, up to his fate, growling “In my last hour I'm a slave to the power of Death!” As are we all.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (1772-1834) who wrote the epic poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, upon which the closing track is based

And then the album ends, on one of the now best-loved and certainly at the time most ambitious songs Maiden had ever attempted. Drawing on the eighteenth century poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” runs, as mentioned several times already, for thirteen, in fact almost fourteen minutes, and follows very closely the poem itself. Not as literally as the progressive rock band Hostsonaten do on their album of the same name, but very closely. It starts off on a romping, energetic guitar as the Mariner sets sail, unaware of the horrors soon to befall him. Killing an albatross, it seems he has damned the ship as it becomes becalmed and Death Himself comes for the crew, with His consort, Life In Death.

Harris really takes over in the midsection as we hear the creaking of boards, dark, echoey sounds, the shriek of distant, insane laughter, his bass ticking out a steady rhythm of doom like a gloomy metronome, as the Mariner watches helpless as Death takes his crewmates one by one. Life In Death, having diced with her mate and won the Ancient Mariner, allows him to live and be the sole witness to the extermination of the rest of the crew. Dickinson speaks the lyric here, putting all the horror and revulsion he can into it, his voice that of the Mariner, and a perfect job he does of it. One guitar moans and cries as another howls, painting counterpoint to Harris's steady, deep bass.

The final section of the song begins then when the Mariner, realising his error in killing the bird and praying for forgiveness, is answered as the albatross falls from his neck and a breeze finally stirs up as the ship begins to move. This is all attended by nascent guitar before the drums cut in, that laugh we heard in the previous track peals out again and the twin guitars take the song in a superb solo, with I think elements of “Genghis Khan” off Killers in there somewhere. As the Mariner heads towards home, his lesson learned, the music swells triumphantly behind him, returning to its original melody, itself a sail filled by the wind and guiding him to shore, as Dickinson sings the final lines and the last chords ring out, bringing to a close not only a fantastic song but also one of the very best Iron Maiden, even one of the very best metal albums, you will ever have the privilege to hear. You could do worse than read the poem, while you're at it.

Full Tracklisting and Ratings

1. Aces high (Harris) 4:31
2. Two minutes to midnight (Dickinson/Smith) 6:04
3. Losfer words (Big 'orra) (instrumental) (Harris) 4:15
4. Flash of the blade (Dickinson) 4:05
5. The Duellists (Harris) 6:18
6. Back in the Village (Dickinson/Smith) 5:02
7. Powerslave (Dickinson) 7:12
8. Rime of the Ancient Mariner (Harris) 13:45


Album total running time (original) 51:12 (reissue 1998) 71:21

Bonus tracks on 1998 reissue:

1. Rainbow's gold *(Slesser/Mountain) 4:57
2. Mission from 'Arry (Harris/McBrain) 6:42
3. King of twilight **(Albrighton/Brockett/Freeman/Howden/Moore) 4:53
4. The Number of the Beast ***(live) (Harris) 4:57

*Originally by Beckett
**Originally by Nektar
***Originally from the album The Number of the Beast

Final word

Is this a perfect album? Well, no it isn't, for the reasons I've outlined above. I don't think the instrumental was necessary and there did seem to be a little sporadic recycling of ideas. But it's certainly one of Iron Maiden's strongest albums, and in a year when other albums released in Heavy Metal included the likes of Dio's The Last in Line, Anthrax's and Bathory's debuts, two Hanoi Rocks efforts, to say nothing of Priest's incredible Defenders of the Faith and Scorpions' Love at First Sting, and in a year in which both Sodom and Slayer burst onto the scene, Powerslave still stands pretty much head and shoulders above most if not all of the releases of that year. Maybe that's because of Eddie's huge statue? Or maybe it's because this is, to quote the Batlord himself, one bitchin' album, and definitely not for poseurs!

Tell me why I have to be a powerslave? Well, if that means hearing and enjoying albums of this quality, then chain me up!

Final rating:
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:10 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'll read this later, but do you think you could take requests about his thread? Not as many as Love/Hate obviously, since you're doing much more in-depth reviews, but it would be cool to be able to point you towards albums that the members consider more important. Maybe something like one album per member?
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Old 08-11-2015, 12:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I'll read this later, but do you think you could take requests about his thread? Not as many as Love/Hate obviously, since you're doing much more in-depth reviews, but it would be cool to be able to point you towards albums that the members consider more important. Maybe something like one album per member?
Well I'm not sure how that would work. This is supposed to be linked to the list, and so surely it would make more sense to take it in order? I suppose I could maybe go in random order if necessary, but would that then kind of defeat the purpose of the journal? And for any requests to be taken, they'd have to be on the list, otherwise it wouldn't make sense. I'm not really sure that taking requests here would really pan out, would it? I suppose rather than going in numerical order it might be interesting to jump around as directed by, as you say, those who consider a certain album more important than the next one on the list...

By the way, your collaboration is still welcomed if you want to do the journal with me, with your vastly superior knowledge of metal. I understand if not, as I know you're busy like I am, but it seems like it could be a good thing to team up on maybe.
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