Iron Maiden - Virtual XI (1998) Aug 2, 2010 8:52:50 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Aug 2, 2010 8:52:50 GMT -5
After the commercial disaster of The X Factor (something of a muddy, progressive mess), Iron Maiden come back a couple years later with a much more traditional album. While not as strong as Piece Of Mind or Powerslave (or even No Prayer for the Dying for that matter), Virtual XI is a fairly solid piece of British Metal all the same.
"Futureal," is somewhat reminiscent of, "Aces High" and, "The Clansman," is classic bombastic, near-epic Maiden. "The Angel and the Gambler," is their take on the songs that the Who did around the Who's Next period, but, "Angel," is more than a bit repetitive and way too long (and while it's still a somewhat catchy song, it also features a fairly annoying keyboard part).
"Lightning Strikes Twice," and, "When Two Worlds Collide," are solid, straightforward Heavy Metal songs that bring mid 80's Maiden to mind, and, "The Educated Fool," is a fairly strong song as well.
The biggest problem some have with this era for Iron Maiden is lead singer Blaze Bayley. His vocals are something of an acquired taste. Some people can never quite acquire an appreciation for Bayley's voice, while others find it somewhat appealing. He was clearly no Bruce Dickinson in either the songwriting or the vocal departments, though, and his tenure with the band was fairly short lived in large part because of that.
Virtual XI sounds better than The X Factor on an audio production level, but the one major knock on the production on this one is the guitar tones used. It sounds like they used sampled guitar tones on a computer rather than miking actual amps. That's the only real issue with the sound of Virtual XI, because the rest of it sounds pretty good - much better than the muddy production on the previous album.
While nothing on this album is quite as good as what they did in their mid-80's heyday, "Virtual XI" showed Iron Maiden working to recapture the magic that seemed to come so easily in the past. Two years later they would take even further steps to recapture the magic of their mid 80's peak with a new album featuring the return of Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith.
It's definitely worth listening to.