Iron Maiden - Powerslave

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It's way too easy to write off Iron Maiden as the preserve of maladjusted boys with fluffy, budding moustaches, stuck in the murk of the British 1980s. They were preposterous, they were anachronistic--in utterly appropriate Spinal Tap terms--and their growth rate could not even be charted. But they really do rock, which, as ever, lets them off the hook. Besides which, Powerslave is arguably the best Maiden album precisely because it's so bombastic and lugubrious; it achieves its effect with bludgeoning tactics. Obsessively fast and brutal riffing, interminable repetition and lyrics so epic and gruesome they're irresistible ("The body bags and little rags of children torn in two/And the jellied brains of those who remain, to put the finger right on you"). Grand and absurd, it's also pretty brilliant. --Taylor Parkes