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Released: 1998, n/a
Well the new Maiden CD "Virtual XI" is out. I've had it for a few weeks now and I've waited a while before actually reviewing it to see if the first impression was lasting. My first impression was - where is the aggression, and where are the guitars?? After numerous listens I still feel the same. The guitars, on Maiden's standards, are way too far back in the mix. What happened to the biting guitars of such classics as "Powerslave" or "The Trooper"?? Unlike some others, the problem I have with this CD is not with vocalist Blaze Bailey. Sure Blaze will NEVER top Bruce Dickinson, but that doesn't mean he can't sing. The problem is in the mix and in some cases the song writing. Plucking away on three chords doesn't cut it when you look at Maiden's past and the degree of technicality displayed in their playing. It seems that ever since "No Prayer For The Dying" Maiden are content to be for all intents and purposes a rock-n-roll band - simple song structures and lousy mixes.
Virtual XI is not all bad news. Decent songs like "The Clansman" and "Futureal" would of been killer material if mixed properly. I'm not into the first single "The Angel and the Gambler" with it's WHO-influenced keyboarding. Let's hope that's as far as that goes! So overall it's good, but on Maiden's standards - mediocre.
On a side note, we all know of Maiden's love for soccer. However, the inside CD centerfold of an entire soccer team was way out of place...but hey it's their band and if they think that showing off their soccer team is integral to their music then good for them.
If you're like me you'll probably buy Virtual XI just because of who it is, not because of how great it is. And like me you'll probably respect the CD and Maiden's musical decisions. But also like me you'll probably be cranking up Bruce Dickinson's "Accident of Birth" a hell of a lot more than Virtual XI!!!
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