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on March 1, 2017
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After vocalist Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden,and in 1994 Blaze Bailey was the chosen one to replace him.Bruce sang in higher key while Blaze was singing low-key,to many people Bailey wasn'the right choice for the band.It might be true but the band had a chance to do things they never could do with Di'Anno and Dickinson,experiment and sound different.Of course many Maiden fans just bash "X Factor" and "Virtual XI" rather than giving it any chance.Bailey was perhaps too much of a change of vocalist for fans to handle.It doesn't sound like classic Maiden for sure,it sounds like a different band,different but good,they have a totally different style and energy.

For Virtual XI(1998)the band went towards a less epic style than "The X-Factor"(1995)to a somewhat more pleasing atmosphere.A good thing that Virtual XI does is that all songs sound different unlike X-Factor who has many similiar sounding songs(due to many songs being played in the same key).Despite being an improvement over the previous album it had even lower sales than the X-Factor.The album would mark the end of the Bailey era for Maiden as he would leave to be replaced by the one he originally replaced,the inimatable Bruce Dickinson.This second album has one big fault tought,it can get repetitive."The Angel And The Gambler" is the best exemple with its "Don't you I can save your,don't you think I can save your life?" chorus repeated 22 times!

The best songs to me are "Futureal","Lightning Strikes Twice","When Two Worlds Collide" and "Como Estais Amigo".The opener "Futureal" is the shortest song but is really good featuring great guitars and being little speedy."The Angel And The Gambler" Is Too Repetitive and too long at over 9 minutes."Lightning Strikes Twice" is the most melodic song on the album and ahs a great chorus,I particularly like the beggening of the song,the guitars sound great."The Clansman" is the epic song here,its the song most people talk about when talking about "Virtual XI"."When Two Worlds Collide" is a great song,perhaps even my favourite on Virtual XI.I think the sing reflects the union of the two worlds that are Iron Maiden and Blaze Bailey,in some ways that could be true."The Educated Fool" is a filler to me,I don't like this song much."Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger" is good,not exceptionnal but still pretty decent,an interrresting track to say the least."Como Estais Amigo" is the closer and its a great one,its a ballad,at least sort of.It's a reflection mostly,not the song isn't in spanish!Great track.

Overral I'd say its better than the X-Factor,It's not a Maiden classic but it does beat a lot of other stuff out there.Don't expect too much and you might be surprised,Virtual XI has some really good songs that are definatly worth checking out.
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Note: Amazon have this listed as a special edition with lenticular cover. It's not. That was a very limited edition import and it has been out of print for over a decade. This is the regular CD edition.

As much as I enjoy Blaz Bayley as a solo artist and singer in Iron Maiden, I will be the first to admit that he was the wrong singer for this band. His voice is just too deep to sing the back catalogue stuff. Anybody who has heard him live with Maiden knows that the songs did not sound right with him singing. With Bruce back in the band, we can look back fondly on these albums as a side road that Maiden did not pursue.

I personally enjoy the dreadfully-titled Virtual XI. I bet Steve Harris wishes he could take that title back. It is not as strong as the powerfully dark X Factor album. This is Iron Maiden trying to relax a little more, be more comfortable in their new sound, and trying to lighten up a bit after an entire album of dark thoughts and suicidal tendencies. Witness "The Angel And The Gambler" which is as close to a good-time rocker as Iron Maiden get. Sure it's almost 10 minutes long, but it sure is catchy and it had a great video to boot.

This album kicks off with "Futureal", a short fast rocker akin to "Man On The Edge" but better. Check out Dickinson's version of this song from the "Wicker Man" CD single if you want to hear it truly come to life! It is a great song and that's why Bruce sang it.

Next up with the single "Angle And the Gambler" and my only complaint is that it is overly long with too many repeated choruses of, "Don't you think I'm a saviour, don't you think I can save you, don't you think I can save your life." Just a little too repetitive, but Steve Harris' keyboard riff anchors this song in the 70's alongside bands like UFO.

Then, back to the darkness. "Lightning Strikes Twice" is an awesome tune with quiet verses and a powerful chorus. A total winner.

Side One of the original LP ended with The Clansman, a song about the Scottish clans and based on Braveheart. This was the "epic" of the album, and another one that Bruce really sunk his teeth into live. You'll be chanting, "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" by the end. This one sounds very traditional Iron Maiden, especially the fast parts.

Side Two of the LP kicked off with a personal favourite, "When Two Worlds Collide". Here's Maiden's take on the whole Deep Impact/Armageddon thing. "For the hundredth time I check the declination" sings Blaze, but even his computer shows that two worlds will collide. I love this song.

Another dark and moody one is up next, "The Educated Fool", which is followed by "Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger". These songs are good tunes, but by this time we've already had several dark and moody ones with repeated choruses. Maiden were lacking variety in their songwriting at this time. Still, great songs, just not nesesarily better or worse than what has come before.

Last up is the closer "Como Estais Amigos", translated as "How are you my friends". This one has an epic vibe to it as well, with its wonderful chorus of "No more tears, no more tears. If we live for a hundred years, amigo no more tears." It is as if Maiden are saying, "We have been through some rough patches but better times are up ahead." And yes, Maiden really did go through rough times, Steve Harris in particular. I'm sure by now he was seeing the light in the tunnel.

And that is it, a mere 8 songs, but they are 8 winners. There were no extras recorded, all B-sides from this album were live cuts. A year later, and Blaze Bayley would be out as lead singer of Iron Maiden. Having heard Blaze sing on this tour, I can tell you that he was definitely having voice problems that night. He lacked any sort of pitch control, but not only on Bruce's songs, his own as well. Having heard him on the X Factor tour as well, he was once very powerful live, with good pitch. The night I heard him, his voice was all over the place and at times reduced to a whisper. Very difficult to listen to for an entire show. They did play almost all of this album live. Whether it was bad monitors or Blaze truly was having voice problems, Steve Harris revealed that they were going to change singers once again even if Bruce didn't come back. That's how bad it got.

So Blaze's legacy is two all but forgotten Maiden albums. I think they are pretty good. Pick up Virtual XI if you want to hear a darker, moodier side of Maiden. They only got better when Bruce came back, but I think this is still pretty good.

4 stars.
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on December 7, 2003
I reviewed X factor by saying that it was a solid overall album.
When x factor came out originally, it was 1995 and i didn't originally like it (still missing bruce). So when virtual XI came out, there was a hope for optimism (as is the case with every maiden album). however, nothing disappointed me more than when i heard the first two minutes of angel and the gambler. I hope i don't insult anybody but songs are too long, boring and repetative. In angel in the gambler, he says "Don't you think i'm a saviour" like 65 times or something. and there are other songs that are repetative like this.
What I like, the clansman and futureal and the guitar solo's. some of the best solo's i've heard. but overall, it is a forgetable album. Don't get me wrong, the reason i don't like it is not because blaze is the singer, i just find that maiden was trying too hard to be maiden. i would give it a 1.5/5. Tour for that album was quite good though.
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on February 20, 2004
Virtual XI (1998.) Iron Maiden's eleventh studio album, and the second and last to feature vocalist Blaze Bayley.
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.
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on September 24, 2006
This second Blaze-Maiden album shows some improvements over the X-Factor in terms of production quality and musicianship. Even Blaze's voice is pretty good. He's not Bruce but then again, I had no problem with Paul Di'Anno's contribution to IM. The main problem is the lyrics. Songs like Angel and the Gambler and Lightning Strikes Twice are so repetitive they are irritating and I find myself skipping tracks, something I never do on some of their 80's albums. Even Bruce couldn't do anything with this material to make it better. Futureal and Clansman are pretty solid tracks but I would suggest investing in Rock in Rio to hear a killer version of the Clansman. Don't blame Blaze for this album...
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on September 24, 2008
I just ordered this album and aparently it must not exist in any other format other than the regular cd, which I ended up receiving from Amazon...

while I am a bit bummed out that I didn't get the enhanced version, it is a decent album. Blaze Baily sounds an awful lot like Bruce when he is singing in a low key (I have trouble telling the difference), Alot of people do not like this album compared to the other Maiden cds but this one is a decent album that while not as good as other maiden albums, is still far from the worst that they have done. I give this 3 stars becuase it isn't bruce singing, and Amazon screwed up.
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on May 1, 2009
I have been a Maiden fan since the Killer days, Di'anno is amazing and I think Bruce is outstanding. That being said the first album with Blaze was so-so but this one rocks big time. Great songwriting, great vocals only bad is that the Angel is a little too repetitive, other than that I cannot understand how a true maiden fan cannot appreciate this disk. I recommend that you play no prayer back to back with this one then you tell me which one is better. Blaze is basically Bruce minus an octave. But that lower range works on this music
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on May 29, 2005
This rocks!
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 Eyes Of A Stranger.
The Angel And The Gambler and Como Estais Amigos are both pretty much average rockers.
When Two Worlds Collide is a all-out slam-dunk rock-fest!
Finally, Lightning Strikes Twice features a great build-up to chorus.
Sure, it dosen't sound like Maiden, but does that really matter as long as it rules!?!
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on September 21, 2015
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