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Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This record sounds so empty! We were used to listen to the powerful voice of Bruce Dickinson; not that the new voice is bad, but it really doesn't fit! What HAPPENED to the bass? Steve Harris is no more there! What happened to the guitars? It's like they removed all their heavy razor distortion! The drums are so basic and minimal! I think the guys are tired and they decided to take a break! Fortunately "the clansman" is a good song. It is the worst of the Maiden's albums!
Report this review (#93551)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars A hollow album that made no points of interest for me, some how I was albe to make it through the album a few times enough to come to the conclusion that this was truely the eara where Iron Maiden lost it's edge. It's emotionless, and the vocals are hollow with a definate lack for the true musicianship that Iron Maiden produced. Clansman was supposed to be good, but it wasn't to me. I really didn't enjoy the song, or any of the others for that manner. I'm sorry to say but I can only give this albuma 2/5, it's an album that stands as a failure to Iron Maiden, and isn't a great album to even listen to on one's own. It's a disapointing album and is meant only for those compeleting the ultimate collection of Iron Maiden. If your curious to hear some of their better stuff, may I suggest Brave New World, Bruce's triumphant return, and their three masterpieces so to say. Give it a listen and see if you agree with me, but I'd say that unless your an Iron Maiden fan, you'll probably find this album very undesirable.
Report this review (#94035)
Posted Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Crossover Team
1 stars Iron Maiden's second album featuring Blaze Bayley on vocals is less inspired than the first one. Unfortunately. The problem is that Harris &co did not use Blaze properly again; he still seems to be the guest vocalist, not the full member that he was supposed to be.

I used to be more tolerant towards this album some years ago, but I dislike this album these days. To me, it's Iron Maiden's weakest effort. The songs are uninspired and repetitive and drag on for too long. The only decent songs are the opener Futureal (short and straight forward, to the point, I wish they tried making more songs like that) and The Clansman (a bit repetitive, but it's got a nice atmosphere). The other two longer songs are simply dreadful, especially the Angel and the Gambler. Had this song been shorter, it could have worked much better, but the repetition is annoying, simply pointless (at least I don't see it). Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger is less annoying, but goes on for too long as well and it got boring with repeated listens.

The songs sound rushed, like doing a sloppy job just to meet a deadline; did they make this album just for contractual reasons because the musicians sound like they did not have their hearts into it.

My first one star review; frustratingly poor and uninspired.

Report this review (#94794)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album isn't as bad as people make it out to be. If Bruce were singing this would probably considered at least an average album. Bayley isn't a bad singer, but he sings much darker and doens't have Bruce's vocal range. His voice isn't bad, but very different from Bruce's, and I think that really made this album seem bad in most people's minds

This album is a big step up from X Factor and actually has some good tracks:

The Clansman: 5/5: as good as anything done with Dickinson. Great epic track.

Futureal: 4/5: short, radio friendly song, but I enjoy this one, very fast

Lightning Strikes Twice: 4/5 - pretty good song with awesome (although repetative) chorus

Como Estais Amigos: 3/5 decent song to finish off the album although nothing that special.

The Educated Fool: 3/5 love it or hate it song. Song is nothing special, but I found the chorus very catchy

The Angel and the Gambler: 2/5 - good enough song although I've never been a huge fan. It is an epic yet never seems to progress anywhere. Chorus is repetative and boring. Has some good musical qualities though

When Two Worlds Colide: 2/5 - okay shorter song, nothing special

Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger: 2/5 - good versus but flat chorus

Overall, I'll give it 3/5. It is a good album, although certainly not Maiden's best. It would have been better with Dickinson, and it isn't the best written material, but there is enough here to satisy most fans. The Clansman is awesome and there are no truly horrible tracks. While I wouldn't really hesitate to buy this, there are other Maiden albums to buy first.

Report this review (#94886)
Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars I have a lot of feelings and memories regarding this record. I was absolutely hooked the first time I heard Futureal on a local radio station and then (a few days after that) my father bought it as a gift for my 14th birthday. At that time I already knew some other Maiden songs from the Dickinson era and my brother insisted that they were a lot better than the knew ones, then I didn' care about eras or whatever, I loved Virtual XI then and I still do. Of course is far from being one of Maiden's best outputs but has several great moments and is very underrated, as all the Bayley era is.

Futureal is a great opener, fast and melodic, pure Maiden energy.

The Angel And The Gambler is the weakest song on the album and one of Maiden's worst songs. It'll be a bit better if shortened to five or six minutes. Is not that horrible as a poppy commercial cut but it gets boring and repetitive

Lightning Strikes Twice is a fine rocker, nothing brilliant but effective nonetheless. It has nice guitar harmonies at the beginning and I love the way it explodes.

Well, the fourth song here is one of Maiden's best moments ever imo. Musically and lyrically, The Clansman is a masterpiece, so uplifting and glorious. It's useless trying to describe it, you have to listen to this beatiful piece of music. And hey, Blaze does a great job with this one.

When Two Worlds Collide is another great track, not as good as the one that precedes it, but its quite unique and the melodies and masterful solos are heaven-sent. Huge metal song, not prog at all thugh.

The Educated Fool begins with the tipical quiet intro and gains strenght shortly afterwards. A great mini-epic with a very particular bridge and chorus. Again, the two axe attack on the second half of the song is very inspired.

Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger begins in a magnificent and intriguing way, then comes the great and energetic verse that (sadly) doesn't last long and comes the chorus, that is not that bad, but is repeated way too much. In the other hand, the calm middle section is not bad musically, as it builds the climax 'till we reach the fast solos and melodies wich are, by the way, very good. The problem is that is useless and tiring to repeat the chorus over and over again. Still an enjoyable song imo, but it could have been a lot better.

Como estais amigos is obviously not the typical Maiden song, inspired by the Islas Malvinas / Falkland Islands conflict between Argentina and England, it serves as a good ending to this record. Despite its intro and tempo, this song has a lot of energy and is often underrated by the narrow-minded metalheads around the world. The solos and melodies towards the end fit well with the song's theme and atmosphere. I see this song as a nice, gentle gesture to the Argentinian and British people and to the soldiers who fought that war.

3 stars in prog archives 3.5 stars in any metal site

Report this review (#95409)
Posted Sunday, October 22, 2006 | Review Permalink
1 stars At that point of time, this could have been the last Maiden album... Clearly "Virtual XI" is not Maiden style at all. Where are the guitars? the grand solos? All that can be heard here is a basic rhythm guitar and a guitar synth on almost all of the songs. The melodies are almost all conventional and fairly repetitive. A poor album, by far the worst Maiden album.

The album starts with "Futureal", a very short rocker that wants to capture the old days feeling again ("Wrathchild" was the same type of song), ok but not transcendental. "The Angel And The Gambler" is a really weak track, in fact probably the worst song ever written by Iron Maiden - it's repetitive as hell with those same three lines repeated over and over, totally unmelodic and irritating. "Lightning Strikes Twice" has the typical Murray/Harris quiet intro, but it turns into a totally conventional song. "When Two Worlds Collide" and "Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger" are again two really weak track. "The Clansman" and "The Educated Fool" are exceptions here - these epic tracks manage to give back the cool feeling of the past album, in fact they sound more like leftovers from "The X Factor" with the mix of quiet moments, mid paced metallic melodies and great guitar solos. And "Como Estais Amigos" is probably the best song on this album - Janick Gers clearly wrote that song, as it sounds like a mix of "Wasting Love" for the quiet part and "Look for The Truth" for the heavier moments - a good enjoyable power ballad.

Rating: 59/100 (1 1/2 stars)

Report this review (#98428)
Posted Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tarcisio Moura
2 stars Warning: this is clearly one of Iron Maiden's weakest effords ever, if not the weakest. Being a long time fan I was writing a Maiden biography for a brazilian site when I got this CD. Aside from some average good material, like Futureal and Lightning Strikes Twice, the rest of it is really dire. Gone are the great solos, there are too much misused keyboards and an almost total lack of inspiration. Honestly, The Educated Fool is the worst song Iron Maiden has ever recorded. And please don't blame Blaze Bailey, the new singer, he did all he could.

Unlesss you are a die hard fan, stay way from it. I'll rate this album 2 stars because no Iron Maiden is a total disaster, but it is the one that comes closest to that. Being a admirer of the band for over 20 years this is the only CD I ever gave away to friend a few weeks after I bought it and never bothered to get it back after all these years. That tells it all.

Report this review (#99717)
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars If there's one album that unites the Iron Maiden congregation, but in a negative way, it's this one, VIRTUAL XI. Almost universally heralded as their weakest effort (right alongside NO PRAYER FOR THE DYING), there are only a few people that actually defend the record and like it. I have to say, without doubt, that I may be one of the most fervent of those exceptions, as I think it's a pretty good album.

This was the second and last album featuring Blaze Bayley on vocals. After the commercial and critical failure of this disc, both the band and the singer decided to part ways. Within a few months, legendary frontman Bruce Dickinson was back at the helm of the Beast's ship, and the world was perfect again for most Iron Maiden's fans.

For me, VIRTUAL XI is a very good album, a flawed album but one of good music nevertheless. The songs are slightly faster, in general, than those found in THE X-FACTOR; the sound of the recording is pretty much the same; there are many solos and instrumental sections and a lot of great melodies. The progressive elements of the preceding album are still here, though slightly less evident. The two possible reasons that come to my mind when I try to find why this album generates so much despise are:

1) Bayley's vocals. As with the previous record, they're not brilliant, his low range is poor, he mostly follows the guitars, and, specially, he's not Dickinson.

2) There ARE solos, there ARE multi-sections, but the bass, the almighty Steve Harris' bass, for the first (and only) time it's a little bit off in the mix, in the background, and doesn't really shine as usual. These two factors must have played a big role in making this album a must for target-practicing for Maiden fans.

Futureal (8.5/10) A typical fast, strong opener. It has a lot of energy and drive, Bayley sings very well, and the chorus is good, if not great. The guitar solos give this song a boost. A very good opener.

Angel and the Gambler (9.5/10) This song has received a lot of bashing but also some praise; I'll go for the second option. It starts with a decent riff punctuated by (I have to agree) slightly "cheesy" sounding keyboard-chords. The main verse and the bridge have decent melody. Nothing is too fantastic but what I like is that the song creates a scene, it sets you in a horizontal mood, in a certain world of doubt and ambiguity but nothing too extreme; then the much maligned chorus comes and it works perfectly to make all the preceding parts have a meaning. It's repeated a few times and then the middle section starts, always marked by the repetition of the chorus' words and melody in different ways. The guitar solos also have to go over the chorus' main idea and rhythm. Everything blends wonderfully and dissolves into a reappearance of the first verse, the bridge, and then the chorus again, this time repeated till exhaustion. For me, despite what others may say, in that repetition lies the magic, lies the key to this song. It may not be the most varied tracks ever by The Beast, but it lasts almost 10 minutes that go like a breeze. I think, for one, that this is an excellent song, different to anything Maiden has done.

Lightning Strikes Twice (8/10) A (now) typical pensive melody in the guitar opens this faster track. Very melodic beginning, Bayley sings well here (I think that he actually sings BETTER instead of worse in VIRTUAL XI). The main verse is desperate, powerful. After a repetition, we get to the faster section. Full force now, Bayley's voice suffers. The melodies are not that great, but the song is good enough. In between the two fair choruses we have a short instrumental section.

Clansman (9.5/10) Another long song, another epic, another success. Very good lyrics mark this song that has been saved from the bashing the rest of the album has received, and I can see why. It's a fantastic Iron Maiden epic, with fantastic melodies and a sense of power, of liberation, lyrics and music come together to announce the cry for freedom. Bayley's vocals are a rollercoaster: at times he sounds awful, at times he actually sounds like a very good singer. The instrumental section is great, the guitars trying to outclass each other and show that they're the true liberating weapons. Near the end the song just gets heroic, though I would have changed the tempo for a faster one to give the song the final touch of perfection. As it is, an excellent song, the best in the album, but not the best from Bayley's Maiden.

When Two Worlds Collide (8/10) Lyrics that remind us of disaster-extinction movies set the mood for this good song. In typical Maiden "throttling" tempo, the vocal sections are decent, the guitar-solo sections are great. The ending is semi-anthemic, reminding us of the Maiden of old.

Educated Fool (9/10) A quiet start that seems to come straight from THE X FACTOR opens this great song. The descending melody from the pre-chorus is quite unique for Maiden, Bayley follows it exactly. The chorus is absolutely unique, though, sounding more like a march from a thousand warriors than anything else. Then the tempo gets faster and another melodic solo that makes us fall in love with this track.

Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger (8.5/10) Another short-epic, the opening riff marked by guitars and synth. The initial eerie passage is not that great, but the faster section that ensues is much better, enhanced by a intelligent choosing of cymbals and drumming from McBrain. After two repetitions, we get to a very sad lament by Bayley and the guitars, a great moment followed by a dance-like figure (?!?) with a marching rhythm. I don't get why this album is so criticized when it contains quite the most unique moments in all of The Beast. Great song.

Como Estais Amigos (6.5/10) Well, a long tradition of good closers has been interrupted by this boring piece. Maybe this is the reason for all the bashing; after all, THIS is the last song one hears when listening to VIRTUAL XI, so maybe that causes people to leave the album with a bad impression. Not only is the music boring but the "Spanish" sung by Bayley is just atrocious. But even this track has its redeeming features, namely the slightly faster, more interesting instrumental section at the end. Not a disaster, but a weak closer, specially for the first very bad minutes.

As my analysis has showed me, I actually love this album just as much as any in the Maiden catalogue with the exceptions of the best ones (SEVENTH, SOMEWHERE and XFACTOR) and the worst ones (PRAYER, PIECE). I think it's full of good music and great melodies, and I give it a 4, which will probably be the highest score this album has ever received (in this site, that's true.)

Recommended for: Iron Maiden fans with open minds (not Bayley-haters), good metal fans.

. anyway, this was it for Bayley-Maiden. The next album would bring back the legend, and with it, fans would rejoice for the Resurrection of the Beast.

Report this review (#127368)
Posted Monday, July 2, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars This is by far the worst Iron Maiden album and I won't blame it on Blaze because X-Factor was pretty decent. There's not much to defend about this album. It has it's moments, but the flaws far outweigh any good parts. The production is lacking and much of it is just generic.

High Points

The Clansman is the best tune and if I could cut the "can't let them take anymore" intermission out with some instrumental parts it would be a great song.

The Educated Fool is the 2nd best song on here, but that isn't saying much.

The breakdown in Lightning Strikes Twice is awesome, but the rest of the song sucks really bad!

Angel and the Gambler is one of those sing-along live numbers and while it is a cool song, at 8 minutes I would expect more substance, but instead we get the same chorus for most the song.

Low Points

Lightning Strikes Twice is terrible except for already mentioned climax/breakdown of the song.

Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger is horrendous. The lyrics are terrible. Most the riffs are goofy. I don't care to hear this song ever again.

I am a huge Maiden fan and I've seen them live over 10 times, but I have to honest. I don't know what happened with this album. I saw them on the X-Factor and they were great, but on the V-11 tour it was really bad. I have this MTV video filmed in Brazil on this tour and Blaze sounds like poop. It's actually painful to watch. I like Blaze(his 10 dimension album is very good) but Maiden must have realized he would never be able to keep up for a whole tour. I know they picked him for his unique voice and it worked good on The X-Factor, but they had to have known he couldn't hang with Evil that Men Do or Hallowed. they never once played Run to the Hills with Blaze because it would have been a tragedy!

Report this review (#130497)
Posted Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars Argh!

It took me ten years to get my acts together and buy this album. Only after the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith did I have the nerve to buy it, knowing that Maiden had been saved.

"Virtual XI" is the worst Iron Maiden album ever, in my opinion. Is simply can't listen to it from the first track to the last track. I can't I have to turn it off, skip through songs or at the very least fast forward now and then. Otherwise, it's too painful. Most of the track are totally void of energy, there are hardly any catchy melodies, the production is all muddy, whatever twin guitar melodies are there are uninteresting and hollow, Blaze's performance is sub par on many of the quieter tracks (and sub par compared to the previous Maiden album and to his years in Wolfsbane), the tunes are generally weak (some sections bordering the pathetic, one section even sounding like polka played by old tired men), and the album is uninteresting and uninspiring on the whole.

Okay, not everything sucks. I think "Futureal" is okay, and "Clansman" is good. Other tunes contain certain interesting parts, such as the unusual chorus of "Lightning Strikes Twice" and "Educated Fool" contains one or two okay sections. The rest of the album is simply too depressive.

Although his performance is not optimal on this album, we shouldn't blame Blaze Bayley. It's the empty music that is the problem, as it limps forth like a sick, old, dying mammoth. I thought this was the end of Maiden... but then Bruce and Adrian came back, and the band was reborn on "Brave New World".

I wouldn't recommend this album, well, only to completionists. It certainly is not a good first hand introduction to Iron Maiden.

Report this review (#142711)
Posted Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is not the best of the Maiden albums of course.

Some good but conventional metal songs like the opener "Futural", "Lightning Strikes Twice" or "When Two Worlds Collide" (one of my fave).

The epic of this album starts as a pop-rock oriented song and tranquilly evolves to a more hard-rock work. Very good guitar break after the weak intro. Unfortunately, the long finale is too repetitive to make a highlight out of this. Not on par with their "true" epics of which "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" was the last great one (released ten years prior to this). But this reflects only my view.

The band records another nine minutes song as well : "The Clansman" features an interesting and quiet acoustic start but turned out to be a simple hard to heavy metal song. If ever you like this genre, you might consider this track as a good one (as I do). The guitar solo comes again at the rescue (but this characteristic has been noticed already in their work).

This album is not that bad after all. Take "The Educated Fool" for instance. It is clearly a classic Maiden song. Great beat and a fantastic guitar solo again. Like in the good old days, I would say.

The band proposes several long song on this CD. "Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger" is another eight minutes+ one. Multiple beats, from running wild to slow paced with some Oriental scent. A bit too long during the middle part but the closing is damned great. A highlight.

This album is better than "No Prayer For The Dying". I like it. Three stars.

Report this review (#155234)
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars The Educated fool, Como Estais Amigos and The Clansman are great, the remainder is really awful. With its abominable cover art (Derek Riggs, please, COME BACK !!!), Virtual XI is the worst Maiden album ever. The second and last with Blaze Bayley, I really prefer his voice on the previous release (The X Factor) than on this one. I don't like his voice anyway...

Most awful track, probably Futureal, or The Angel And The Gambler, which is too long and uninteresting after its 4 first minutes.

Definitely to be forget.

To be throw down in a garbage can.

Don't buy this one.

Don't listen to it.

Forget it.

Report this review (#164141)
Posted Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permalink
Queen By-Tor
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When two worlds collide.

Iron Maiden have always had a very unique sound. As soon as an Adrian Smith riff rips through time and space to allow Bruce Dickinson's unearthly scream to fill the void you know that the Maiden is present. Through the ages Maiden has had two distinct styles, their street sound which borders on punk and their fantasy metal which borders on prog. Of course on this album the previously mentioned musicians who gave Maiden's music such life are not present, and at this point in the late 90s the musical styles of the time were obviously pressing in on Maiden making this record sound like they're trying to combine their old fantasy style with the work they'd been doing recently. The result? Cataclysm. This record is revered as Maiden's worst. Whether this be the work of a lack of Dickinson or simply the schizophrenic sound of the album as the band tries to pick a direction is unknown. In any case, this is an album that is not highly regarded.

But is all this flak warranted?

Not at all! The album is actually rather good as soon as you get over the lack of two key members. Instead we have permanent fixture Janick Gers and Blaze Bayley, the latter of which often gets shot down for fronting the group with his low pitched grumble as opposed to Dickinson's high wail. This makes a very different sound for Maiden, as clearly evident on the opener, the single FUTUREAL. The shortest track on the album, this one is a powerhouse that rocks, demanding heads to bang. Likely the only other simple rocker on the album would be LIGHTNING STRIKES with its cacophonistic chorus working more towards than against it and it's heavy riffs.

Other than those tracks the album is still heavy, but in a more drawn out way. Almost progressive, in fact. THE ANGEL AND THE GAMBLER is a great track clocking at around 9 minutes that shows that Maiden still knows what they're doing when they're not hammering on the guitar as is THE CLANSMAN (although this one is better performed by Dickinson). Other songs on the album tend to lead towards a darker subject manner like the apocalyptic WHEN TWO WORLDS COLLIDE and the eerie DON'T LOOK TO THE EYES OF A STRANGER.

Iron Maidens best album? No way no how. Iron Maiden's worst album? No, but it can be argued. A bad album? No, it's actually quite enjoyable if you know that Dickinson's gone. So what is this thing then? Well, it's a good album deserving of 3 stars. Recommended for people who don't mind if Maiden's signature front man is absent. However, if you have no desire to hear this legendary metal band without their main man then just skip this one because it won't make you a believer. Good but not great and not poor by any standard. Just enjoyable.

Report this review (#165497)
Posted Tuesday, April 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars Is this Iron Maiden ? REALLY ??????? I had to check the album over more than once because what came out of my speakers did not sound like this band. The second track even have a Hammond organ !! A Hammond organ on an Iron Maiden album !!! When this album was released, I did not even give it a glance in the record shop. I lost my interest in this band after No Prayer For The Dying and I only returned after the release of Rock In Rio. When listening to this album, I am glad I did not buy the album ten years ago. You can say a lot about Blaze Bayley. He thinks he has been made into the scapegoat by the band itself. He is probably right because mostly of what is wrong here is not his fault. The responsibility lays on Steve Harris doormat because he is the leader/dictator of Iron Maiden. This album and all it's shortcomings is his responsibility. Yes, I can understand why Blaze Bayley is bitter because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. His vocals cannot be faulted at all.

This album has, with only one exception, no good songs. The only exception is The Clansman. That is a superb song which is now on Iron Maiden's set-lists. And rightly so. The other songs ? Turkeys. None of them is worthy of the trademark Iron Maiden. It seems like the band, read Steve Harris, was trying out new things in a desperate search for commercial and artistic success. The result is Hammond organs, strange guitar harmonies, synths and rock/pop songs. Most of the material here is not even metal. These songs would had been met with sarcastic laughter by the record labels if Iron Maiden was an unsigned band. And if Iron Maiden had not bitten the bullet and got Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith back into the band again, that is where Iron Maiden was heading. Humiliation or a split up. Thankfully, the Iron Maiden saga got a happy ending and they have never been more popular than they are now. This album is therefore just an freak accident and not the end of the band.

2 stars.

Report this review (#187605)
Posted Saturday, November 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Tom Ozric
3 stars Over the years, I've found IRON MAIDEN to deliver quality 'heavy' music that incorporates an itelligent and well thought out approach to composition. Virtual XI either displays a band in the throes of creative burn-out (especially after what I consider as their absolute technical and most Progressive MASTERPIECE, The X Factor...), or, a conscious attempt at basics, (meaning a focused and accessible example of Hard- Rock). I haven't decided. I love the sound of the album, I enjoy the change of voice (Blaze Bayley) and I don't find much wrong with the album - except ; the riffs and choruses suffer from repetition, and the overall complexity and musical density of the arrangements is toned down. Amongst all this antithesis, the songs actually kick butt !!! Opening song 'Futureal' is CLASSIC Maiden, only the amazing 'Sign of the Cross' surpasses this one. This track is fast, short and straight-to-the-point. I don't understand those who think Harris is inaudible - his magical Bass-lines are quite present and provide the back-bone to this hard- rocker. Love it, and love the Bass Chords during the mid-section. 'The Angel And The Gambler' is an almost 10 min 'epic'. This piece suffers from being too straight-forward and uninspired, although bearing a marginally 'Progressive' structure. I've found this piece to be Maiden at their 'Rocking' best. The choice of Keyboard sounds and phrasing of them is definately dubious. Not bad, but not that great, either. Owning the double-vinyl doesn't change the fact that this is a weaker album (and it shouldn't....) The main body of 4 tracks, 'Clansman' through to 'Don't Look To The Eyes of a Stranger' are pretty decent, though perhaps a tad overlong for their own good. I don't even think that vocalist supremo Bruce Dickinson could pump any more life into these tracks than Bayley, so, I feel a 3 is an honest rating.
Report this review (#189047)
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Virtual XI is a result of Steve Harris ideas for making such thing new fans could be gained. So after very controversial X-Factor album Harris decided to drift toward the world of computer games and his first love (football). Kids sitting whole day on internet or playing games were the main target. Ed Hunter videogame was released few months after Virtual came out. And this album's artwork is like advertisment of that game. Gimme a break. Futureal is short and good piece of music. Something like Be Quick Or Be Dead from Fear Of The Dark. Then Angel And The Gambler strikes and it's sooo boring. It lasts for 9 minutes but could easily be reduced to 4 because repeating that chorus for couple of minutes isn't good idea. Single version of this song is much better. Such rock and roll piece. Lightning Strikes Twice is something like taken from previous record. And it's a great gloomy song. Clansman is even better. This song is like mix of X-Factor and Sevetn Son. So every Maiden fan should enjoy it. The best two songs on this album to me are Two Worlds Colide and Educated Fool. First of them isn't typical Maiden song and it's about mighty catasrophy when two planets collide. Educated Fool is again like something taken from X-Factor and even lyrics fit for that introspective previous release (remember Judgement Of Heaven or The Unbeliever?). Last two songs on this album don't move me at all. First of them is boring and second even more boring. It's kind of ballad but if Wasting Love was touching this one is annoying. Lack of succes of this release was deserved punishment for making it too commercial. It failed in many old fans eyes. But objectively it does deserve 3 stars.
Report this review (#217768)
Posted Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator

"Virtual XI" is the 11th full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The album was released through EMI Records in March 23rd, 1998. I was not very fond of Iron Maiden´s last album "The X-Factor (1995)" mainly because of the weak vocals by new frontman Blaze Bayley. Unfortunately Iron Maiden opted to keep him on as the lead vocalist for yet another album and that´s why I find one of my rare review headlines that says "Only Fools Make Mistakes Twice" so suiting (the quote is taken from the song "Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" from the Type O Negative album "Slow, Deep and Hard (1991)").

The music on the album is typical melodic heavy metal in true Iron Maiden style. Hard rockers and more epic heavy metal songs. As on the equally weak "The X-Factor" I have major issues with Blaze Bayley´s vocals and I´m finding it hard to enjoy the music with his forced and strained vocals in front. A track like the fast opening rocker "Futureal", which could have been a real treat with Bruce Dickinson on vocals, falls to the ground with a resounding smash because of Blaze Bayley´s vocal delivery. The production is fortunately a bit more enjoyable than was the case on the predecessor so there´s one minor plus. The tracks, while being of an acceptable quality most of the time, do seem rather uninspired (with the exception of "Futureal" and the great epic of the album "The Clansman"). Why for example "The Angel & the Gambler" is nearly 10 minutes long when there´s only quality material for a 4 minute track is beyond me. There´s way too much repetition and rehashing of ideas here to entertain me.

This album along with "The X-Factor" are by far the weakest albums by Iron Maiden. First and foremost because of a weak vocalist, but the compositions seem less inspired too. As I also said in my review of "The X-Factor" I wouldn´t recommend this album to anyone I know. Pick any other album by the band and they will be stronger and more inspired than these two albums. a 2.5 star (50%) rating might be slightly too high.

Report this review (#230035)
Posted Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permalink
2 stars Iron Maiden - Virtual XI (1998)

This moment had to come...

Regression. I liked X factor, the album that introduced Blaze Bayly to the Iron Maiden fans. On follow-up Virtual XI Iron Maiden looses it's grip and slips. Most of the songs aren't that good, there are no innovative ideas and there aren't many memorable instrumental parts.

Futureal is good up-tempo opener. The Angel and the Gambler is more commercial, but not that interesting. Lightning strikes Twice is a standard Iron Maiden track with a catchy refrain, but again nothing new here. The Clansman is a stronger track, it became a good stage song. Still this isn't one of my favorite Maiden songs. When two World Collides is has a catchy refrain, but still nothing new. Actually.. all songs can be described like this, so I'm going to stop writing about the track on this album.

This is by no means a bad album, but it's just un-asked for. There is no innovation like on X- Factor and there are no great epics like on the older Maiden records. Therefore it can be seen as an album that is mainly interesting for fans of the band. Luckily things will be alright again on the next album: Brave New World. Two stars for this one.

Report this review (#284620)
Posted Wednesday, June 2, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars This being the final Bailey album, id have liked it to go out with a bang...but unfortunately they kinda lacked inspiration also with this album, I mean what were they thinking THE ANGEL AND THE GAMBLER? really?? this is Iron Maiden....i really can only see 2 great songs here..the opener FUTUREAL and CLANSMAN the rest? i really have nothing else to report about this, this album just bores me, very repetitive and dull, sorry (just my opinion:) )

Futureal - 9/10 Angel and the Gambler - 4/10 Lightning Strikes Twice - 5/10 Clansman - 9/10 When Two Worlds Collide -5/10 Educated Fool - 5/10 Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger - 4/10 Como Estais Amigos - 5/10

CONCLUSION: If you are a Maiden fan and have not yet heard this album, id say avoid, its not really worth the time...

Report this review (#305613)
Posted Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Virtual XI is one of the most underrated albums in the heavy metal history. The reason? In my opinion - the unability of the conservative Iron Maiden fans to accept other idea about band's music. It's not a precedent - many people disliked Deep Purple with David Coverdale, Genesis with Phil Collins or Van Halen with Sammy Hagar. So the problem is that Maiden-lovers wanted the sounds from the Dickinson era, the high vocal ranges from Dockinson era, the charismatic frontman presence from Dickinson era... Blaze Bayley didn't give them all that.

But the truth is the Iron Maiden very well adapted their sound to the voice of the new singer. If they were brave enough to continue the experiment, they could reach new and undiscovered spaces for musical development and improvement.

The separation with Blaze bayley and the re-unification with Bruce Dickinson and guitarist Adrian Smith is a matter of show business, not of creative searchings.

First, Blaze Bayley is not an imitator. He's not even trying to imitate Dickinson. He has his own singing style and it's good. Second, with his muffles voice Bayley is able to create specific atmosphere (especially in the slower moment) - many people call it darker - which Dickinson as a typical screamer from the 80's can't. Third, Bayley enriched Iron Maiden's legacy. Without him, the band could produce two tired and semi-boring albums like "No Prayer for the Dying" and "Fear of the Dark" and nothing more. In my personal ranking both albums of Bayley era are in top 5 Maiden albums.

Let me review the album's songs:

1. "Futureal" has the quality of the classic "Flight of Icarus". Fast, enthusiastic, full with energy. 2. "The Angel and the Gambler" is long, dynamic, very sexy song. The keyboard reminds me on some 70s hard rock classics. 3. "Lightning Strikes Twice" is good, almost heart-shaking. 4. "The Clansman" is an epical anthem, which makes me prick, which can lead my on war. It's a song about freedom and it's about Scotland, of course. Excellent composition! 5. "When Two Worlds Collide" is nice, strong, heavy, melodic. 6. "Educated Fool" is among my favourites. Wonderful song! 7. "Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger" is also good, but maybe too long and repitative. 8. "Como Estais Amigos" is very good final. Sadly, it was Bayley's epitaph with Maiden.

In conclusion I admit that Bruce Dickinson is a great singer, one of the greatest in heavy metal and - yes - he's the right man for Iron Maiden. But I claim that it's time to stop with all these stupid comparisons between Bruce and Blaze. I'm broad-minded to accept the things as they are. "Virtual XI" is an amazing album and that Blaze Bayley deserves only good words for his work with the band! "Virtual XI" is a persuasive album, with some very sophisticated musical moments. I believe that someday more people will discover its strength and beauty!

Report this review (#368862)
Posted Friday, December 31, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Virtual XI" is a truly unique album in the discography of Iron Maiden. It's an album with a very special mood and atmosphere that you can entirely adore for some special occasions. I would describe this mood as slow, progressive and really hypnotizing with many melancholic melodies, repetitive vocal lines and long instrumental parts. The production is as simplistic as the music and the lyrics and I think that the band or at least the leading parts of it were exactly looking for this kind of mood even if some people might call it a poor lack of creativity which I honestly can't entirely deny. The band wanted to sound different and unique on this album and from that point of view the album could be described as a success. The record fits most as background music on a grey autumn or winter morning and during those occasions this album opens before me like the pages of a book and I truly enjoy it. The album is not a heavy metal record but rather an experimental and sometimes spontaneous progressive jam surrounding the topic of melancholy. This all sounds very positive but I can't deny that there are many flaws on this record that rate the final judgement down.

First of all, some songs simply go too far in their monotonous attempts and the most quoted example is surely the chorus of "The Angel And The Gambler" which would be a great effort if the band would have chosen to put the much shorter and still atmospheric single version on the record. "The Educated Fool" has the same dumb problem and even the emotional and conceptual masterpiece "The Clansman" is spared from this. I prefer the shorter and still unique and melancholic tracks such as the underrated "When Two Worlds Collide" or the hypnotizing ballad "Como Estais Amigos" which presents maybe the best vocal effort done by Blaze Bayley when he was in Iron Maiden. The second thing that really harms the album is the rather poor lyrics. A part of the inspired and more traditional epic track "The Clansman" and Bayley's emotional farewell track which is the brilliant and underrated ballad "Como Estais Amigos", the topics are rather one dimensional and remain superficial which is the exact opposite of what the band has done with Bayley on the previous record which was very intense and profound. This fact underlines my idea that the band simply wanted to try out something new. The third negative point is the lack of inspired and emotional instrumental passages. The guitar work is somewhere between mediocre and good but the bass guitar sounds lame as never before and the drumming is lacking of power. One feels that Nicko McBrain wasn't that much into the new musical direction of the album and the continuous problems with Blaze Bayley and the lack of commercial success and popularity attached to this.

This album can only please to very patient and open minded fans that have no problems with slow, monotone and hypnotizing progressive music. Even if the band tried out something new in a surprisingly radical way, the previous two records had already a couple of signs that showed us the way in the direction that the band would take and anybody that liked the slow and dreamy passages of "Fear Of The Dark" or "The X-Factor" might appreciate this album and know what I mean. For the majority and those who liked the legendary works of the eighties, this release is a deception as it goes far away from the band's roots and no one would have ever thought that this band would sound like that one day. A part of the opener "Futureal" which is a good and straight song in the key of "Be quick or be dead" but which really doesn't fit at all on this record where the other songs are very coherent and homogeneous, the other seven songs of this record are dreamy, hypnotizing and cumbersome.

Even though I happen to be musically very open minded and even though I like the experimental flow of this record, I prefer the heavier and darker side of the band and must admit that I don't listen quite often to this disturbing and yet beautiful record. But when I'm listening to it, I do it with much more intensity than I listen to most of the other records of the band and I want to underline this unique status of the album. It really takes some time and a lot of patience before the record grows on you and maybe several years or decades. But if you happen to have listened to this record when it was initially released and if you have put it in some dusty corner of your collection after a few disappointing tries, I really suggest you to pull this album out of the shadows and appreciate it with a new distance and from a more objective point of view and you might finally discover at least an interesting gem. But I wouldn't be surprised if this procedure would still not work and you need another five or ten years to understand and appreciate this simplistic and yet complicated flawed masterpiece. After all, this record should really please much more to the progressive rock fans here than to heavy metal maniacs.

Originally published on on June 23rd of the year 2011.

Report this review (#379085)
Posted Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars i dont want to write this review, i really don't.

"what were they thinking"? that was pretty much my first reaction when i heard Virtual XI for the first time and the first thing that came to my mind when i started this review.

i'm a die-hard Iron Maiden fan at least since 1982's The Number of The Beast (i had only heard a few songs from the D'Anno albums before they became available as digital downloads in the recent years). 13 years after "The Beast", they came up with "The X Factor" and another 3 years after that this really, really, poor effort.

can you imagine that because of these 2 last Bayley albums, i almost didnt bother with Brave New World until i saw that the Air Raid Siren and Adrian Smith were back. then, i had to scramble and scour the CD shops because there weren't many copies left.

now, thats why i hate Virtual XI - can i give it 0 stars?

Report this review (#468576)
Posted Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Basic XI

2.5 stars

With the dark and creative "The X-Factor", MAIDEN showed they can renew without betraying themselves. Despite all this, the fan-base was divided about this orientation, but especially about new singer Blaze Bayley, who couldn't match Bruce Dickinson's high-pitched vocals during concerts on old songs. Therefore the band decided to go back to basics.

"Virtual XI" abandons the controversial sinister atmosphere and doom incursions of its predecessor for typical IRON MAIDEN stuff. However, although more dynamic and classic, this eleventh studio album presents some major flaws. The first one is obvious. Bayley's low tone was well suited for somber and mid-tempo compositions, like on "The X- Factor", but, as mentioned before, not adapted to epic maidenien tunes. Second, some tracks do clearly not justify their 8-9 minutes duration. This disc contains too much repetitions and offers not enough variety. Finally, and most important, surely wanting to please the fans, the Englishs didn't take many risks on this one. Simplistic and averagely inspired music for an uneven result.

Nearly half of the material is good though. "Futureal" is quite pleasant, fast-paced and punchy, typically in the direct lineage of MAIDEN's openers. Beginning with delicate arpeggios, soft and heavy passages, "Lightning Strikes Twice" takes us by surprise with its ferocious riff and main theme. It rocks! Nonetheless, the memorable title from "Virtual XI" is undoubtedly "The Clansman". Inspired by the movie "Braveheart", this epic possesses is a powerful hymn, crafted for and still played at concerts. The tapping at the end is just gorgeous! Freeeedooooooom! "When Two Worlds Collide" is average but has enjoyable moments.

And... that's it. The other tracks are boring, too long and definitely repetitive. No memorable tunes, no breathtaking bridges. A good example is the longest track of the record, "The Angel And The Gambler", which does certainly not deserve its 10 minutes duration. A little originality is "Como Estais Amigos", soft and melancholic, but not really Spanish sounding and a bit deceiving.

As a return to the original recipe, "Virtual XI" is an half-failure. There are a few interesting tracks, more suited for the vocal range of Dickinson, however the rest is flavorless, basic, lengthy and not varied enough. Not too bad, not the worst MAIDEN album of the 90's, just unequal. So if you don't know this disc, do not skip it.

This eleventh opus will be the second and last recorded with Blaze Bayley. The band asked him to leave, and historical singer and guitarist Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith will come back. But was it worth it?

Report this review (#1677970)
Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2017 | Review Permalink

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