Powerslave is the fifth studio album by Iron Maiden, released on September 3, 1984 on EMI in Europe and its sister label Capitol Records in the US (it was re-released by Sanctuary/Columbia Records in the US in 2002). It is notable for its Egyptian theme displayed in the album art, as well in the title track's musical style. It contains a musical re-telling of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner", which uses pieces of the original poem as lyrics. Furthermore, it is the second longest song Iron Maiden have ever recorded, at a length of 13 minutes and 34 seconds. The album is also notable amongst the band's albums as being the first to feature the same lineup as the previous one. "2 Minutes to Midnight" and "Aces High" were released as singles. World Slavery Tour was the tour supporting the album, which began in Poland, in August 1984.
The lyrics to "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" are influenced from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the same name (drawing heavily from his 1815-16 gloss), and directly quote two passages from the poem, the former including the famous lines: 'Water, water everywhere - nor any drop to drink'. The song can be divided into three phases, the first subscribing to the quintessential 'galloping' metal, the second (around 5 minutes in) being simple and quiet yet dark, and the final stage returning to an upbeat instrumental, and lastly repeating the initial tune. Often played in set lists from its release, the "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" is a very popular and highly-regarded song from the band.During the 'Somewhere Back in Time World Tour', Dave Murray, Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris cited the song as their favourite to play.
According to Iron Maiden's DVD Live After Death, the recording of the album took place in the Bahamas in 1984, in the same way its predecessor, Piece of Mind, was in early 1983. After weeks of drinking and partying on the island, which singer Bruce Dickinson recalls in the video of consisting of Banana Daiquiris, the band set about recording the songs. Steve Harris recalled how, under time pressure, the song "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" was written in a short period of time. The video for "2 Minutes to Midnight" was apparently filmed close to where Bruce lived as a student, and illustrated the rate at which computers in the '80s were taking over the world. Once finished, the band began the World Slavery Tour, beginning in Poland in August, 1984 and ending in California, USA in late 1985. It was the first time a heavy metal band had taken a full set behind the Iron Curtain into Poland, a landmark achievement at the time. The tour continued into South America for the first time where they play to an estimated audience of 300,000 fans at the inaugural Rock in Rio as special guests to the band Queen. The Live After Death album and video, recorded over four gigs at Long Beach Arena in LA, are released and respectively go to Nos. two and one in the UK charts.
In total, the tour was 11 months long and touched 26 countries. Powerslave debuted at number two in the UK charts, as a result of their record companies (EMI)'s very first "Now....That's What l Call Music" pop compilation. According to both Nicko McBrain and Adrian Smith, Powerslave began making Iron Maiden famous "very fast, very quickly", as, in South America, hundreds of fans waited outside hotels and restaurants for the band.