Rating:
8.9
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


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.

"Virtual XI" is simply miles above "The X Factor" and I would say the material is the strongest since "Somewhere in Time." With Bruce on vocals it surely could've competed with the classics. Except from the vocals everything here has been improved since "The X Factor." There are few bad things to talk about at all but the vocals have to be one of them. Blaze is way better here and on most of the album I really like him but he simply isn't good enough for Maiden. The other really bad thing has got to be the repetitiveness of some tracks like "The Angel and the Gambler." It actually doesn't bother me that much and it has actually been a common issue on many Maiden albums. "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" has repetitive choruses in almost every song and songs like "The Assassin," "Tail Gunner" or even "Run to the Hills" have the same "problem."

Many of the song structures are similar to the two last albums with Dickinson before his departure. The melodies are way catchier, the lyrics are better and not as goofy, and the material is simply stronger overall. The solos are insanely great and the album is really very even - there are no songs in particular that I don't like which is very unusual for a Maiden album. "Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger" has got to be the worst one but it does have a great up-tempo piece in the middle and great solos.

If you can stand Blaze, the utterly ugly cover art, and the stupid album title, or if you simply like Iron Maiden - get this album! Except from the vocals it is just as good as any other Maiden classic.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: Virtual XI


 


written by Spyroid | 27.08.2008


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
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)



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pdepmcp - 30.08.2008 at 01:59  
well,you're surely right: "Virtual XI" is simply miles above "The X Factor" and I would say the material is the strongest since "Somewhere in Time."
that's not because this is a great album,but because The X Factor and No Prayer For the Dying are embarassing even for an average band...but they are by Iron Maiden!
the only challanger is FOTD.

anyway a thing that needs to be pointed out is the new rockish attitude that started here and went on for some year after BB departed. riffage is different and even song structure is easier, more direct, of higher impact....and less interesting. same happened with the next BNW

and "When Two Worlds Collide" need a shorter ending...because when that chorus starts there is really "no place to hide"!

anyway, good review for a difficult album.
Spyroid - 30.08.2008 at 02:06  
Written by pdepmcp on 30.08.2008 at 01:59

well,you're surely right: "Virtual XI" is simply miles above "The X Factor" and I would say the material is the strongest since "Somewhere in Time."
that's not because this is a great album,but because The X Factor and No Prayer For the Dying are embarassing even for an average band...but they are by Iron Maiden!
the only challanger is FOTD.

anyway a thing that needs to be pointed out is the new rockish attitude that started here and went on for some year after BB departed. riffage is different and even song structure is easier, more direct, of higher impact....and less interesting. same happened with the next BNW

and "When Two Worlds Collide" need a shorter ending...because when that chorus starts there is really "no place to hide"!

anyway, good review for a difficult album.


Thanks for the comment! I agree with you that No Prayer and X Factor are shite, probably the worst albums they recorded. And I'm not a huge fan of FOTD either but it contains a bunch of good songs. I made a mistake in the review though, I actually don't think this album can compete with 7th son, which was infact released after Somewhere in Time... But I sure would put it in my top 7 of favourite Maiden albums
Don't agree with you about the song structure though - even if there are a couple of long compositions here I can agree that the riffing and song structure is quite simplistic or rockish, but I definately think that changed on BNW, especially in the long songs. Dream of Mirrors, The Thine Line Between Love and Hate, Ghost of the Navigator... there all much more... epic, and with a lot of acoustic guitar passages that are more complex than on any earlier Maiden album too me.
Daggon - 25.05.2009 at 05:44  
Yeah, it has good songs but you stated the main problem in this album "Except from the vocals it is just as good as any other Maiden classic." That is the real problem in this album, Blaze, oh man, he is not that bad but, oh man...
Spyroid - 08.06.2009 at 23:11  
Written by Daggon on 25.05.2009 at 05:44

Yeah, it has good songs but you stated the main problem in this album "Except from the vocals it is just as good as any other Maiden classic." That is the real problem in this album, Blaze, oh man, he is not that bad but, oh man...


I think he's pretty good but he totally doesn't fit with Iron Maiden. To like this album I almost have to think of it as a record by another band.
angel_heart - 15.09.2010 at 10:14  
I don't understand why this album is rated last, i love it. bruce is absolutely incredible and miles away from blaze, but blaze is cool too. i must be the one person in the world who loves blaze's voice. and "the clansman" is just gorgeous (admittedly, better with bruce, but the song itself is beautiful), "educated fool" has great lyrics, "don't look to the eyes of a stranger" has that awesome awesome instrumental part, "como estais amigos" is inspiring and "lightning strikes twice" is insanely catchy. it has better songs then a lot of maiden albums and blaze's voice rocks on them. so why all the hate?
Daniell - 15.09.2010 at 11:38  
It's not the vocals that are bad here, it's the music. Endless repetition of motives in almost all songs is annoying to say the least. Take "The Angel and the Gambler". Why the fuck to they repeat some things 100 times? What was their purpose?
The album has 3 decent songs though, "Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger", "Futureal" and "The Clansman". They save the whole album from being an utter disaster.
RavenKing - 15.09.2010 at 14:26  
Written by Daniell on 15.09.2010 at 11:38

It's not the vocals that are bad here, it's the music. Endless repetition of motives in almost all songs is annoying to say the least. Take "The Angel and the Gambler". Why the fuck to they repeat some things 100 times? What was their purpose?


Vocals are quite bad but I'm convinced this album would still be a piece of shit with Bruce on vocals. Music is piss poor. If "Virtual XI" is not the worst metal album of all time, then it's surely very close.

Why do they repeat choruses so much (to the brink of insanity)? Lack of inspiration and laziness in songwriting are the only reasons I can fathom. They stretched the songs to a ridiculous degree (something they never stopped doing to this day, in fact - the songs drag and drag quite often).

Anyway, I will always hate "Virtual XI". The artwork alone is enough to make me puke.
RavenKing - 15.09.2010 at 14:30  
Written by angel_heart on 15.09.2010 at 10:14

I don't understand why this album is rated last, i love it. bruce is absolutely incredible and miles away from blaze, but blaze is cool too. i must be the one person in the world who loves blaze's voice. and "the clansman" is just gorgeous (admittedly, better with bruce, but the song itself is beautiful), "educated fool" has great lyrics, "don't look to the eyes of a stranger" has that awesome awesome instrumental part, "como estais amigos" is inspiring and "lightning strikes twice" is insanely catchy. it has better songs then a lot of maiden albums and blaze's voice rocks on them. so why all the hate?


Why all the hate?

Because the album sucks ass.
Vikcen - 15.09.2010 at 15:48  
Written by angel_heart on 15.09.2010 at 10:14

i must be the one person in the world who loves blaze's voice.


No woman, you're not the only, you are not alone , to me also like. If you love Blaze try with:
http://www.metalstorm.net/bands/band.php?band_id=322
Bovinus - 25.11.2010 at 18:22  
How did they dare ?

This album just plain sucks. It has a shitty soft sound (actually, it doesn't sound rock at all). It's packed with poorly performed poor compositions. Blaze Baylay should learn how to sing (how did they manage to recruit such a lame ass ?). I mean, it's not his voice, his face or whatever, it's his ability. Maiden has a style that requires some real skill, and Baylay clearly cannot compete. Even the musicians play somewhat sloppy from time to time, except perhaps the drummer and the bassist. This is especially perceptible on "The Clansman", which, by the way, is the only good thing on this album. A true, epic, genuine masterpiece. Just listen to this song on "Rock on Rio". This alone, and some classy guitar solos (I did especially appreciate the one on "The lightning strikes twice") save the album from being a total piece of crap.
JypsyRock - 28.07.2011 at 08:42  
If you have not given this album a chance yet, either because it is not Bruce on vocals or you don't like the album cover or whatever...you are missing out on the VERY BEST Iron Maiden ever! No joking here, folks. Yes, it is better than Piece Of Mind and The Number Of The Beast and that is an incredibly high standard. This album absolutely rocks and you must give it a chance. Every song is brilliant and i listen to the whole thing over and over and over and never get sick of it or skip over any songs. I truly believe that Steve and the boys reached the pinnacle of their careers right here with this album. Awesome choice with Blaze, Steve (no offense, Bruce...i love ya man). The Angel And The Gambler is the best song ever by Iron Maiden and don't even listen to the guy who dropped the earlier post about how it is boring etc. Boring?! Wow man, you have no taste. I'm talking this song is an absolute masterpiece! The Clansman is fantastic also and truthfully the whole album rocks all the way through. History will have the final word on this album and it is a travesty that it was not marketed better or whatever the hell reason it only sold 84,000 copies in the USA and a million worldwide. Ironically, this bands' finest work through and through somehow became their worse selling album. I tell everybody i know to listen to this album and they won't for some damn reason. Well, it is their own loss and i am not going to beg them. By the way, the synthesizers were an awesome idea...they fitted in perfectly and complimented the songs. My final words are...thank you Iron Maiden for taking the time to put together an exceptional compilation. It just simply rocks...every song in perfect sequence. Blaze Bayley, you have a kick ass voice and did a tremendous job. A perfect 10 album. Not 9.0 or 9.5...this album is a perfect 10.
R'Vannith - 28.07.2011 at 10:10  
There's some real gems on this album, most of it though is pure garbage regardless of the vocalist.
Never have understood why some are so opposed to the album artwork, I've seen far far worse
Daniell - 28.07.2011 at 10:20  
Written by JypsyRock on 28.07.2011 at 08:42

If you have not given this album a chance yet, either because it is not Bruce on vocals or you don't like the album cover or whatever...you are missing out on the VERY BEST Iron Maiden ever! No joking here, folks. Yes, it is better than Piece Of Mind and The Number Of The Beast and that is an incredibly high standard. This album absolutely rocks and you must give it a chance. Every song is brilliant and i listen to the whole thing over and over and over and never get sick of it or skip over any songs. I truly believe that Steve and the boys reached the pinnacle of their careers right here with this album. Awesome choice with Blaze, Steve (no offense, Bruce...i love ya man). The Angel And The Gambler is the best song ever by Iron Maiden and don't even listen to the guy who dropped the earlier post about how it is boring etc. Boring?! Wow man, you have no taste. I'm talking this song is an absolute masterpiece! The Clansman is fantastic also and truthfully the whole album rocks all the way through. History will have the final word on this album and it is a travesty that it was not marketed better or whatever the hell reason it only sold 84,000 copies in the USA and a million worldwide. Ironically, this bands' finest work through and through somehow became their worse selling album. I tell everybody i know to listen to this album and they won't for some damn reason. Well, it is their own loss and i am not going to beg them. By the way, the synthesizers were an awesome idea...they fitted in perfectly and complimented the songs. My final words are...thank you Iron Maiden for taking the time to put together an exceptional compilation. Steve, Blaze, Adrian, Dave, Nicko...you outdid yourselves on this album. It just simply rocks...every song in perfect sequence. Blaze Bayley, you have a kick ass voice and did a tremendous job. A perfect 10 album. Not 9.0 or 9.5...this album is a perfect 10.


You sir are the strangest Maiden fan I've seen.
RavenKing - 28.07.2011 at 15:10  
People just don't get it when it comes to this album.

Virtual XI was an experiment conducted by the music industry to see how unbelievably shitty you can be, while still selling only by name. lol
JypsyRock - 29.07.2011 at 00:06  
Admit that you never gave the album a true listen because you walked in with premeditated murder. The X Factor didn't do it for you so this one was just slapped together before the return of Bruce or you were not willing to give Blaze another listen. I would LOVE to see Iron Maiden somehow re-release this album. Perhaps if they mention the name Bruce Dickenson somewhere on the cover people will buy it (not steal it...that is not supportive) and kick back and listen. With one full listening i was floored and that has never happened to me before with any album from any band. This album is a perfect 10 as i mentioned before. Steve Harris...you fucking rock and it is another travesty that Iron Maiden is not in the Rock N' Roll Hall Of Fame. Metallic makes it before Maiden? What a joke. Iron Maiden would never allienate themselves from their fan base like Metallica did and they would never toss out anything less than their best effort. Remove your preconceived thoughts about Blazes' second album and listen to it. Then jump back on this forum and let the world know the truth about this album.
Daniell - 29.07.2011 at 09:21  
Written by JypsyRock on 29.07.2011 at 00:06

Admit that you never gave the album a true listen because you walked in with premeditated murder. The X Factor didn't do it for you so this one was just slapped together before the return of Bruce or you were not willing to give Blaze another listen.


Utter hogwash. Back in the 90's, when Iron Maiden released a new album, I listened to it for WEEKS. So Virtual XI, just like The X Factor, got at least 100 listens. It was shit then, it's shit now.
Don't fucking take me for granted.
Bork - 31.07.2012 at 18:11  
I must be the only one who's a fan of this album, IMO the production lets the album down.
Warman - 31.07.2012 at 18:34  
Written by Bork on 31.07.2012 at 18:11

I must be the only one who's a fan of this album, IMO the production lets the album down.

I'm a huge fan of this album. Love the Blaze stuff.
Bork - 31.07.2012 at 19:24  
Glad I'm not the only one then. Has some super tracks on the album.

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