Rating:
6.0
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


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).

Virtual XI is interesting because you can literally narrow down the problem to one aspect. Typically albums have a few distinct issues or one issue that may even infect another (ex: music influences lyrics). But Virtual XI is different. It's definitely Blaze. Now, I am not saying Blaze is talentless, or that Maiden was completely reliant on Bruce for their success. However, Blaze's voice is flat and not flexible by any means. His words remain monotone throughout the entire album and after a few songs it becomes annoying. It seems like every word is the same, which, in most cases they are. Every word is sung with the same pitch, and the choruses typically consist of the same five word line repeated eight times. If you think I am lying, here is an example. "Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger" is broken down into eight distinct stanzas. The chorus consists of two of these, and is repeated twice. Therefore it makes up half of the song.

Here is the chorus:
"Don't look to the eyes of a stranger
Don't look through the eyes of a fool
Don't look to the eyes of a stranger
Somebody's watching when the light goes down

Don't look to the eyes of a stranger
Don't look through the eyes of a fool
Don't look to the eyes of a stranger
Somebody's watching when the night comes down"

Yes, that's right. The chorus itself is virtually a repeat, no pun intended. I wish I could say this was an isolated incident, but it is quite typical throughout each song. The music is fine, you just get sick of hearing the same words over and over. Sometimes it isn't even the chorus, just a random line. Also in a few songs such as "The Clansman", "Como Estais Amigos" and "When Two Worlds Collide", Blaze likes to follow along with the music with his voice. Usually a good touch on a live album; however, it is very annoying here.

The music on the album is very much like Iron Maiden of the mid-90's and a foreshadowing of the future 2000's Maiden. It's more of a generic Heavy Metal and not the classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal that is most commonly associated with Maiden. The guitars rock, the drums pound; it's metal, pure metal. It really is the lyrics that make this album suffer. It's a shame because if they had a little more lyrical creativity, the album would have been good all around.

As a hardcore Maiden fan, it's ok. That is very rare for me to say because I have always put every Maiden CD in highest regards. But, in this case, Blaze just doesn't have the voice. It just drones on and on almost like he's falling asleep; he is painfully repetitive and unfortunately that is really the only thing wrong with this album. The problem is that the lyrics are so important in all of Maiden's songs, that there is no room for annoying tones and repetitiveness. Blaze doesn't deliver; he just dumps it on you and says, "You make sense of it".

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 5
Originality: 6
Production: 7


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: Virtual XI


 


written by un4givendemon | 09.09.2007


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
Demunarath

Rating:
6.3
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.

Read more ››
published 18.04.2004 | Comments (11)

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)



Comments

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Katatronik - 10.09.2007 at 15:27  
Agree, the worst Iron Maiden album IMO... And Blaze's Voice isn't really suitable for their music...
Syk - 27.09.2007 at 06:54  
Hey, pretty good review here. I've only heard The Clansman which I love, but I know some people say it's the only decent song...
Harmonic - 30.09.2007 at 05:35  
For anyone who likes The Clansman, Maiden does it live on their Rock in Rio album. So there's really no point to owning Virtual XI, except maybe Futureal - or if you want to own EVERY Maiden album... .
GT - 01.10.2007 at 19:25  
Been a while since i listened to this album, but I remember that I didn't like it much...as said in the review it's just boring and repetative and Blaze is just not good enough on this.
Very nice review and the rating is unfortunatly deserved
Nighthowls - 16.10.2007 at 05:20  
Personally, I think this album is severely underated. There alot of great tracks and the music is adjusted to Blaze's voice so there's a slight destiction in a good way though. It's still Maiden people are just narrow minded because its not Bruce, which he's a much better vocalist but Blaze is just as good its just different style. Great album in my opinion.
Harmonic - 16.10.2007 at 18:12  
Written by Nighthowls on 16.10.2007 at 05:20

Personally, I think this album is severely underated. There alot of great tracks and the music is adjusted to Blaze's voice so there's a slight destiction in a good way though. It's still Maiden people are just narrow minded because its not Bruce, which he's a much better vocalist but Blaze is just as good its just different style. Great album in my opinion.


Still, if I find an hour in my busy life to listen to an album, am I going to choose Powerslave or Virtual XI? That's the problem. If I owned the album I'd still never play it. It's not a bad album and sure it might be underrated - but it doesn't stand out, either. In the world of metal, just good isn't good enough.

True, I've heard of people who prefer Blaze over Bruce - and that's their call to make. Heck, some people stand by Di'Anno as Maiden's best vocalist. To each their own, but Virtual XI will never be a part of my collection. (I'm not even sure why I bought Fear of the Dark!) IMO the most underrated Maiden album is No Prayer.
Nighthowls - 17.10.2007 at 00:28  
Cool, true it really doesn't stand out, but there's still good musicianship there none the less. I respect your honesty and comments though its an open minded way of thinking. Yeah, overall I agree with you
un4givendemon - 02.11.2007 at 22:27  
Written by Guest on 30.09.2007 at 05:35

For anyone who likes The Clansman, Maiden does it live on their Rock in Rio album. So there's really no point to owning Virtual XI, except maybe Futureal - or if you want to own EVERY Maiden album... .


Yeah, if you're buying it just for Futureal it's also on "Edward the Great", so you may get more for your money with that "best of" album. Like he said The Clansman is on Rock on Rio. So yes, I completely agree with Harmonic.
IronBlackZepp - 06.04.2008 at 07:36  
I agree with Harmonic, if you had a choice between listining to Powerslave and Virtual XI it will be Powerslave. That is a pretty good quote. Why own this album if you already have the best work that the band ever put out. I have heard Virtual XI and I really dont like it. I even think that Fear of the Dark and No Prayer are way better albums. Fear of the Dark in my opinion is a great album. No Prayer is ok too. Blaze sounds boring and lame on both this and the X Factor. For me its just not Maiden. Thank god we got Bruce back in the band.
Southern Wind - 06.04.2008 at 08:04  
This is a very good album if you ask me, the only low point is The Angel And The Gambler that must be the worst maiden song ever... and they made it single!
gerrard888 - 20.07.2008 at 18:54  
some people might under rate this album cause of blaze's voice wich is not so bad the only downside that blaze's voice doesn't suit maiden's style anyway this album has 2 great songs when two worlds colide, the clansman( great long time hit )
Powerslavex - 28.11.2008 at 12:26  
Maybe the worst Maiden album but still 3 good songs Futureal The Clansman When two Worlds collide
Lord_Regnier - 13.04.2009 at 09:43  
One of the most pathetic piece of shit in the history of metal music. There's no wonder Maiden played before 5000-6000 persons at this time, instead of 20 000.
Void Eater - 25.07.2011 at 01:28  
No need to blame this album on Blaze, Steve Harris has always been the main songwriter of Maiden. It's his fault that the chorus' are so repetitive. Listen to Silicon Messiah and The Man That Would Not Die to see Blaze's true potential; fine albums they are. Steve Harris was just writing poor songs during this era, and Blaze's voice, although good, isn't fitted for Maiden.

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