Iron Maiden – Virtual XI

Alright, alright. I’ll put up with this again. Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.

Futureal starts off with high energy promise. Now this sounds like Maiden. Still with the wrong singer, but at least it’s something. It’s also the shortest song here, by far. And they still crammed in great guitar riffs and solos and driving drums. Already I have hopes it could get better.

The Angel And The Gambler keeps hopes high that we’ve got a rocker on our hands. Wait, an organ? Whoa. Aaaand that intro? Somebody’s been listening to too much Dire Straits mixed with the Top Gun soundtrack and ZZ Top on random in their CD changer. The verse bits are chugging barrom blues rock and then it inexplicably slows. This is gonna go on for ten minutes? Oh I hope it changes up. Haha at 2:30 “So why don’t you go, just leave well alone?” Buddy believe me, I’ve contemplated it. “Don’t you think I’m a saviour?” Hahaha no. No no no and no. At least there’s another rip-snorter instrumental section that saves the whole thing at 5:37. You know what I want? Less repetition! And a dollar for every time he used the words “saviour” and “life” in this song. I could buy everyone here a beer, for sure. This track? A good three minute rocker trapped in a ten minute bloater’s body.

Lightning Strikes Twice. Does it? ‘Cos this is your second album with this bum, and I wouldn’t call it lightning strikes. We may wish we had been struck by lightning, but… Look. Would somebody please tell this asshole to stop singing? He’s terrible. No, I couldn’t do better, but I still don’t need to listen to him. What, did his grade 4 teacher tell him he was a good singer? So then he discovered metal in high school and he’s all full of himself, or something? The song takes off at 1:50 or so, at least there’s that. But it’s still not achieving lift off with his anchor of a voice wrapped around its ankles. Can they still not see it? It’s got thick chain and everything. Hanging right there. It’s gotta be heavy, don’t they notice? Guys! Look! LOOK!

The Clansman I’ve heard on a hits collection, am I right? That riff sounds familiar. So far, it’s Winner of the Most Like Maiden award on their own bloody record. But when they start chanting “Freee-dommmm!” all I can see is Mel Gibson in Braveheart, strapped to a rock and being eviscerated. Haha ouch. Probably the best track here, at any rate. Even with that visual.

When Two Worlds Collide… Hey, has anybody ever done a mashup of this one and Def Leppard’s When Love And Hate Collide? I mean, just the titles, it could work to smash the ballad and this rocker together. Heh. Can you tell my mind is wandering? This guy is really distracting. I know there’s great Maiden riffage going on in the background. I just can’t get my mind past Mr. Atonal. Like all songs here, the instrumental bits are far and away the best bits.

The Educated Fool sticks to the formula, pretty intro that squashes any energy that the song previous may have made us hope would carry forward. Crap lyrics again. Look (and the same really applies to X Factor), if you want to sing about your feelings and your need for some form of therpy, go join Metallica. This is Maiden! Leave that crap in the diary you keep under your bed, Blaze. The one with the little key and lock. Yeah, the pink one with the rainbows and the unicorns on it. Anyway. This song’s middle section is typically awesome, but the rest could be OK if… sigh, I still hear Bruce doing all of this better.

Don’t Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger, another gentle intro. Guys, seriously, this is two albums’ worth of this stuff. Mix it up more often! When this song takes off, after that repetitive stuff at the start, it REALLY takes off. Woo! And then… whuh? He’s got a whispering solo? Ah, now I see why this song is bloody 8 minutes long. And now I’m flashing on the Police. Why?  “Don’t look to… don’t look to” could be “Don’t stand so… don’t stand so… close to me!” Sigh. OK boys, let’s go. Waaay too long on this bit. No, really. I’m gonna scan ahead if you don’t stop… I’m serious… 5:25 of whew. Lucky for them they cut that crap out and let it rip for a bit. And what a silly ending! Oh well.

Como Estais Amigos is the only spanish in the song. “Shall we kneel and say a prayer?” What, that you’ll leave soon? YES! Wow this intro is bad. And look, ANOTHER slow-builder! But this one only achieves mid-tempo. An OK song, I guess. Not a keeper. And that’s that.

Hm.

In Sum:

I will say this: the production is way better here than on X Factor, which was very fat and dark sounding. This one is lighter and clearer. That’s a relief. And at least the music sounds more like Maiden. I know I’m supposed to want a band to try new things, but that last record sounded like a bad Maiden cover band – when they could manage it. This one, at least, has their energy and verve. They just need to “accidentally” chuck this “singer” off the tour bus on a country road.

If I had to choose between the two, I would take this one over X Factor, surely. Why? At least the music, for the most part, sound like Maiden. If they would re-release this as a karaoke album, sans vocals, it could be a decent instrumental record. But given broader range, I wouldn’t take either one. Comparing to their established discography, both of these are not worth mentioning. It’s a total shame. I know they are capable of so much more. I kow, because I’ve heard it, a few albums ago.

Get rid of this singer, guys. Please. For the sake of us all.

Here’s Mike’s review: http://mikeladano.com/2012/11/12/iron-maiden-virtual-xi/

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