|2. The Angel And The Gambler|
|3. Lightning Strikes Twice|
|4. The Clansman|
|5. When Two Worlds Collide|
|6. The Educated Fool|
|7. Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger|
|8. Como Estais Amigos|
The nineties were a rough time for Iron Maiden. First of all, guitar genius Adrian Smith was replaced by the far less-received Janick Gers. Second, Bruce Dickinson departed the band so that he could work on his solo material. Many fans turned their back on the band they had loved so much in the nineties. Although guitarist Dave Murray saw the band's first album with new vocalist Blaze Bayley, The X Factor, as one of the band's greatest successes, fans didn't see things the same way. The band attempted a return to roots in 1998 with their second and final album with Blaze - Virtual XI. Did they succeed? Read on and find out.
As stated above, with this album the band attempted to return to normalcy, although they still didn't have Bruce back. What ultimately resulted from this is a mixed package. The opening track, Futureal, is one of the fastest and heaviest Maiden tracks ever released. In my opinion this is one of the finest songs the band ever released during the Blaze Bayley period. Even those who aren't fans of Blaze often praise this track. The Angel And The Gambler was the big hit off of the album, and although it is a strange track when compared to other Iron Maiden material, it is still a good song (if you think the song is weird, check out the music video!) The Clansman is one of the album's few tracks that comes off as truly outstanding. It's probably the most "epic" sounding thing here. Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger is another excellent rocker, although it sounds as if it was written with Bruce in mind. In fact, that's true of many of the songs on this album. Overall, it's a good album, but I'm sure the band learned its lesson - you can't sound like Bruce unless you have Bruce!
Overall, I feel that this album is superior to the band's other album with Blaze Bayley, The X Factor, but I still don't think of this as one of the band's better albums - in fact, it's pretty close to the bottom. However, Maiden's worst albums are better than the lot of band's best albums. I don't recommend buying this unless you're a die-hard Maiden fan, though. But, if you only buy one Blaze-Maiden album, this is the one to get.
Futureal is a great rocker featuring the best guitar work of Iron Maiden's career!
Other highlights include The Clansman, The Educated Fool, & Don't Look To The... Read more