Rating:
6.3
Iron Maiden - Virtual XI
23 March 1998


01. Futureal
02. The Angel And The Gambler
03. Lightning Strikes Twice
04. The Clansman
05. When Two Worlds Collide
06. The Educated Fool
07. Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger
08. Como Estais Amigos


Virtual XI was an album made under the Blaze Bayley banner (along with X Factor). I might just as well stop here with this review-but no, I will not.

The common notion about Blaze is that he has no talent whatsoever, he is rigid like a stone on stage and he is just not an Iron Maiden-type vocalist. As a matter of fact, someone had said that Steve only admitted him in the band cause of the fact that he played football well and he was a Manchester fan. I highly doubt these rumors, so I will disregard them now.

The Blaze Era wasn't the most blazingly glorious era of the Iron Maiden epoch, but it is definitely worth a notice. Let's start with the known facts: very few B-Sides were made during this era and they were not released until Blaze left Iron Maiden, a totally commercial game was created and after seeing a drastic decline and dislike from Maiden fans, Steve decided to go on a football tour where the band promoted Virtual XI (Some of the team members: all maiden band members, Stuard Pearce, Faustino Asprilla, Ian Wright, Patrick Viera, Marc Overmars). Additionally, with Blaze came the technology era and Eddie became a CG character (which changed his outlook and in my opinion looked like a water-coloured tomato after a stampede of elephants had gone through it).

Aside the details that build up the reputation, let's talk about music here. I was surprised when I heard Virtual XI, and I'm sure you would be if you just gave it a chance. The truth is, the Blaze era is only different and there's no chance anyone can compare Bruce to Blaze - they are too different. One reason Steve probably chose Blaze was because he wanted to give Maiden a slight vibe from a near 15 year homogeneously sounding period.

The first song from the album 'Futureal' is a fast-paced song somewhat a 'Be Quick or Be Dead' clone with deeper vocals and less dynamic composition. Yet, Bruce's cover of 'Futureal' proved to be outstandingly successful!

'The Angel and the Gambler' is the killjoy of the album. I don't remember Iron Maiden making such a long song (10 minutes) which is so oppressively boring and irksome.

'Lightning Strikes Twice' is lyrically much better performed and has that catch and melody which 'The Angel and the Gambler' misses. This song is a potential single - great chorus, great build up, catchy riffs and Blaze did his job well.

'The Clansman.' Now we are talking real talent - I just can't decide whether Bruce's version or Blaze's version is better. I think I will go with Blaze on this one, his voice fits perfectly: it's slow, soothing, calm. 'The Clansman' is one of the most powerful songs Iron Maiden has ever made and can strongly compare with other Harris-composed classics such as Hallowed be thy name. The message in this song is so strong, the guitars so well played, if I were to grade this album only this song, I'd give it a 9.5. 'The Clansman' was clearly created for passionate, singing crowds.

'When Two Worlds Collide' - When I first heard the song I thought Blaze was singing 'words' instead of 'worlds' in the chorus. Not as good as 'The Clansman.'

'Educated Fool' is the second jewel in this album. This song is indeed very deep in thought and sound. As a matter of fact, the chorus is a bit peculiar:

"Time will flow And
I will follow
Time will go
But I will follow"

It is almost as though this song was the last song Iron Maiden ever made. And the absolute message grabs you wildly - "Time will go, but I will be with you Iron Maiden - whatever happens - from here to eternity!"

'Don't look to the eyes of the stranger' and 'Como estais amigos' are two mediocre, if not less, songs.

Overall, this album is slightly above the category 'good.' Although it has two excellent songs and two good songs, on the whole it is balanced by rest of the commonplace songs. Actually I hate the CG graphics inside the booklet, they are pathetic.


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: Virtual XI


 


written by Demunarath | 18.04.2004


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
un4givendemon

Rating:
6.0
Iron Maiden is one of the most legendary bands of all time. They practically created the genre and have influenced countless bands with their unique New Wave of British Heavy Metal sound. They have gone through three singers in their career; Paul Di'Anno (inception to 1981), Bruce Dickinson (1981-1993, 1999-now), and Blaze Bayley (1993-1999) the singer for this release. Bruce Dickinson is clearly the best singer; the success of their three most recent releases show how important he is to the band. Another example is, well, the Bayley era (1995's The X Factor and 1998's Virtual XI).

Read more ››
published 09.09.2007 | Comments (14)

Guest review by
Spyroid

Rating:
8.9
Probably more than 90% of the people I talked to about this album claim it to be complete shit, with the exception of "The Clansman," and I never really bothered to check this album out. Once I saw a documentary about some Maiden fans and one of them is talking to the other on the phone in one scene saying "Have you heard the new album? It has got to be their best so far!" He's talking about "Virtual XI" and I laughed my ass off at that comment. However, when I finally did listen to this album I almost had to punish myself for listening to other people instead of getting an opinion of my own.

Read more ››
published 27.08.2008 | Comments (19)



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homas - 06.12.2006 at 07:55  
I am exactly with marillionfan . This review is very subjective and one should not do it .
It deserves 9 at least although is the weakest of them .
Lord_Regnier - 19.04.2009 at 20:22  
This pathetic attempt at a metal album didn't even deserve to be recorded on a cd.

Everything is god awful: vocals suck, guitars suck, drums suck, songwriting sucks, lyrics suck, even the cover art sucks.

Probably the worst album recorded by a famous metal band. Yes, even "St.Anger", "Chameleon" or "Rocket Ride" are less horrible than that, imo. If it had been released by a new band, people would dismiss it instantly and say "this band has no future". Only because it's Iron Maiden, some say "it's not that bad", as if the fact the Iron Maiden logo appears on the cover ensures decent quality. Well, this album is the proof it doesn't.

Don't take me wrong, I love all the stuff Maiden did during the 80s and consider every album from TNOTB to SSOASS as a masterpiece. I don't like "No Prayer For The Dying" because of production and vocals, I find "Fear Of The Dark" quite uneven (it has great songs but mediocre ones too on a 50/50 ratio), I think "The X Factor" sucks for the most part and I don't really like anything Maiden have done since Bruce's comeback (even if I consider BNW, DOD and AMOLAD as better albums than NPFTD, FOTD and "The X Factor") but none of them is near as bad as "Virtual XI".

I don't find the review harsh at all. I'd be ten times harsher than that with "Virtual XI". Fucking garbage.
Immortal - 06.01.2010 at 07:32  
"Steve only admitted him in the band cause of the fact that he played football well and he was a Manchester fan"

United or City??? There's a world of difference!
ashwinkm - 01.11.2010 at 08:40  
Virtual XI is a sadly overlooked maiden album. I feel the songs were even better than x factor and the guitar work was at its melodious best. Songs like educated fool, dont look through the eyes of a stranger and clansman are some of my favourite maiden songs (incl. class maiden)
Whats not to like with that beautiful guitar intro to educated fool or the fast dual lead work in the same song?
The latest album (final frontier ) for me sadly lacks the classic maiden feel. Although Bruce is a great singer, I feel he just sings too much, and there was less of the typical maiden dual( or three) guitar melodic leads that I like so much
Daniell - 01.11.2010 at 10:36  
Written by ashwinkm on 01.11.2010 at 08:40

Virtual XI is a sadly overlooked maiden album.


And rightfully so, because it's Maiden's second worst release. Before you accuse me of anything, check my favourite bands in my profile please.
ashwinkm - 02.11.2010 at 05:21  
In my opinion Maidens worst release is the final frontier. Theres only one good song - when the wild wind blows. The rest of the songs are just average for an average band - very poor for Maiden.
But then again - my fav Maiden album of the early era was Somewhere in time( probably rated the lowest by most other Maiden fans)
Vikcen - 02.11.2010 at 09:55  


The Maidens worst release is Killers , no doubt .
Daniell - 02.11.2010 at 10:39  
Written by Vikcen on 02.11.2010 at 09:55


The Maidens worst release is Killers , no doubt .


I sure as hell hope you're kidding.
Vikcen - 02.11.2010 at 10:51  
Written by Daniell on 02.11.2010 at 10:39

Written by Vikcen on 02.11.2010 at 09:55


The Maidens worst release is Killers , no doubt .


I sure as hell hope you're kidding.


No, i'm not kidding haha. It is the only album of Iron Maiden that i don't like.
vezzy - 03.11.2010 at 06:37  
Written by Vikcen on 02.11.2010 at 10:51

Written by Daniell on 02.11.2010 at 10:39

Written by Vikcen on 02.11.2010 at 09:55


The Maidens worst release is Killers , no doubt .


I sure as hell hope you're kidding.


No, i'm not kidding haha. It is the only album of Iron Maiden that i don't like.


I am very sorry to hear such travesty from you.
Metal_Elle - 28.03.2013 at 14:23  
For me it's a good hard rock album. I really like it ! Great melodies and Blaze is singing better than on X Factor.

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