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VIRTUAL XI

Iron Maiden

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2.36 | 211 ratings | 22 reviews | 1% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Futureal
2. Angel and the Gambler
3. Lightning Strikes Twice
4. Clansman
5. When Two Worlds Collide - Steve Harris, Iron Maiden,
6. Educated Fool
7. Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger
8. Como Estais Amigos

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Blaze Bayley / vocals
- Dave Murray / guitar
- Janick Gers / guitar
- Steve Harris / bass guitar, keyboards
- Nicko McBrain / drums

Guest: - Michael Kenney / keyboards

Releases information

Audio CD (March 26, 2002)
Original Release Date: March 24, 1998
Label: Sanctuary Maiden
ASIN: B000063DGM

Thanks to chipiron for the addition
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IRON MAIDEN Virtual XI ratings distribution


2.36
(211 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(1%)
1%
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(9%)
9%
Good, but non-essential (32%)
32%
Collectors/fans only (36%)
36%
Poor. Only for completionists (21%)
21%

IRON MAIDEN Virtual XI reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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!

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#93551) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, October 05, 2006

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#99717) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 20, 2006

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#127368) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 02, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#155234) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR 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.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#165497) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Review by Tom Ozric
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to Tom Ozric (BETA) | Report this review (#189047) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 13, 2008

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "ONLY FOOLS MAKE MISTAKES TWICE"

"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.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#230035) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Review by friso
PROG REVIEWER
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.

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Send comments to friso (BETA) | Report this review (#284620) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Latest members reviews

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#468576) | Posted by sv_godspeed | Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 voca ... (read more)

Report this review (#379085) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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 Coll ... (read more)

Report this review (#368862) | Posted by dunyata | Friday, December 31, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 FUTUR ... (read more)

Report this review (#305613) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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 targ ... (read more)

Report this review (#217768) | Posted by LSDisease | Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 gl ... (read more)

Report this review (#187605) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Saturday, November 01, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#164141) | Posted by Zardoz | Monday, March 17, 2008 | Review Permanlink

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 f ... (read more)

Report this review (#142711) | Posted by Time Signature | Monday, October 08, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#130497) | Posted by JD-Buckeye | Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

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 conventio ... (read more)

Report this review (#98428) | Posted by zaxx | Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 Dickinso ... (read more)

Report this review (#95409) | Posted by mistertorture | Sunday, October 22, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 rea ... (read more)

Report this review (#94886) | Posted by G_Bone | Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 to ... (read more)

Report this review (#94794) | Posted by Cristi | Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 music ... (read more)

Report this review (#94035) | Posted by Xeroth | Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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