Top critical review
10 people found this helpful
I'm running out of my time, I'm running out of breath
on 17 April 2003
While Bayley didn't, in my opinion, ever top Paul or Bruce's vocals, he uses a wide vocal range on his second (and last) Maiden album. Opinions on this album are extremely varied as you can see by the below reviews, but I believe this album was a worthy purchase!
"Futureal" kicks off the album brilliantly, with 3 minutes of speed and power, and insanely fast bass playing by Mr Steve Harris.
Sadly, this is followed by "The Angel and the Gambler". 10 minutes of cheesy keyboard touches, a hazy subject matter and the most frustrating lines I've heard anyone sing in recent memory ("Don't you think I'm a saviour, Don't you think I could save ya, Don't you think I could save your life") all add up to the most disappointing Maiden song I've ever heard.
Things soon pick up though, with "Lightning Strikes Twice", a song which builds up from slow to fast, perhaps representing the gradual approach of a thunder storm. Decent song.
"The Clansman" is my favourite track on the album, and a tribute to my favourite film, Mel Gibson's "Braveheart". Based in the reign of power-hungry Edward Longshanks, the 9 minute song perfectly reflects the film it's based on, with a gob smacking rendition of the word "FREEDOM!" by Bayley. Guitars sound very Scottish, and a blistering solo will leave you doing traditional Scottish dances to this classic! :-P
The centrepiece of the album, "When Two Worlds Collide" is self-explanatory as to its subject matter. Nothing special, but a solid track nonetheless.
"The Educated Fool" talks about living life to the full, so indeed you should! Another good track, but one which I fear will be overlooked in comparison to "Futureal" or "The Clansman".
"Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger" sounds pretty lame at first, but you'll appreciate it after a few listens. It builds up with tension, and COULD be seen as the other person's point of view in the song "Prowler".
"Como Estais Amigos" mourns the war-dead, and is an emotional album-closer. This is the only song on "Virtual XI" that doesn't have Steve Harris in the writing credits, and is more evidence of the more emotional side of 90's Maiden.
This is indeed a good album with a few classics, and most of the rest are definitely worth listening to many times. However, "The Angel and the Gambler" is a real let-down, and stains the album for me, as I can't get any enjoyment out of that song. There are much better Maiden albums than "Virtual XI", and I'd only advise this to the long-term fan. To me it is much more than a space in my collection, but it's no "Powerslave" or "Seventh Son...".