Blaze Bayley, good or bad?

Which was the better album; The X-Factor or Virtual XI


  • Total voters
    86

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
Blaze sounds off key at times on both albums. S0 I'm not really sure what sets Virtual apart as far as that goes.

Why put so much weight on his voice anyway when judging the albums? There's also the songs, the performances by other members, etc.
 
I like Blaze, especially on his solo stuff...and Bruce is like Mark Hamill was to Star Wars when I was a child, the front man of a major entertainment production...and it's really hard to replace your main Jedi on the front line...I would also say Blaze is better suited to a somewhat darker Metal genre...he described himself in one interview as an "underground artist"
 

Luisma

Years Wasted
Hmmmm I don't hear Blaze being off key on Virtual... However, I put the weight on the voice because it contributes to the overall sound of the song, I mean, you can have an astounding performance musically speaking but if the singer sucks most common people are going to say the song sucks at least that's my experience. As an example, I know a lot of people that say that Death Metal songs are awful (although most of the musicians that I have heard are quite good) because of the gutural singers.

I don't think that the performance of the band in Virtual XI or even on The X factor are something special, but they, as always sound like Maiden...

Oh and by the way, I think that The Angel & The Gambler is by far one of the most if not THE MOST horrible & awful song of the Maiden catalog
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
I haven't heard the album in awhile but the parts I remember sticking out as off key are in Lightning Strikes Twice and The Clansman. I get that most people are going to identify with the voice and that's fine, that's how our ears have been trained to work. But, for a band like Maiden where I try to get as familiar as I can with every album, I like to move past the singing eventually and appreciate what the band brings as a whole. X Factor or Virtual might not have very good vocals, but I think the music is top notch still.

They're not special, no. But it's still Maiden and they know their formula and do it well. I think the songwriting is especially exciting on the two Blaze albums, especially compared to what came before in the 90s.

Angel and the Gambler would be a great song if it was cut down a bit. I really don't understand why they thought it needed to be so long. Either way, I find Don't Look To.. to be so much worse. Rest of the album is great though.
 

LooseCannon

Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
I like Virtual XI quite a lot. It may not be as in-depth a production as The X Factor, but neither was Brave New World in a lot of ways. I think a lot of the songs clicked, and clicked nicely. And yes, I love The Angel and the Gambler. I think it's Steve Harris being brave, and making a song that really tips its hat to the prog rockers that came before.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
It's a bit unfortunate that Virtual follows The X Factor. You could argue that none of their albums (with the exception of AMOLAD and maybe TFF) are as in-depth as The X Factor. Virtual is very much a return to form for the band and, like I said earlier in this thread, really sets up the next decade. It's a very underrated album.
 

SixesAlltheway

Ancient Mariner
Virtual XI is a weird album. It's sort of a transition album. Maiden deciding they weren't gonna follow the path laid out with the X-Factor album and going back to a more traditional Maiden approach..And then basically being beat at its own game by Brave New World when that came out. I consider this period one of the low points of Maiden, creatively. There IS decent moments throughout this album but they are few and far between. Nothing really stands out and makes me go "That was amazing" on this album. I can't really point out any particularly nice guitar solo or memorable instrumental section on this album. The songs just sort of plod a long. Rather generic and overlong. Two songs on this album are "up to scratch" with what you'd expect out of the songwriting from Maiden, and that's Futureal and The Clansman, but overall I rank this album as bottom two album material.
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
VXI: Bottom two material for me too. Still I rank this (plus all other nineties albums) higher than the majority out here.
 
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Luisma

Years Wasted
I also like Virtual XI. Songs like Futureal, The Educated Fool, The Clansman & Como Estais Amigos to me sound much, much better than any song of The X Factor. I still remember the first time I listened to TXF, the intro to Sign Of The Cross, Blaze's low voice (which I thought was alright) and then BOOM he starts to really sing and I thought "What the hell is this?!" I didn't like it but I gave a chance to Maiden, then I listened to the rest of the album and I thought "they've lost it" I really thought it was going to be Maiden's last album... Time passed and they released VXI and I thought "Hmmmm maybe they can survive..." and well, we all know what happened afterwards
 

CA Bryers

Educated Fool
Angel and the Gambler would be a great song if it was cut down a bit. I really don't understand why they thought it needed to be so long. Either way, I find Don't Look To.. to be so much worse. Rest of the album is great though.

The single version of Angel and the Gambler is in the ballpark of 5 minutes long, basically cutting out most of the ridiculous repetition of the chorus. It's much better--I have no idea what Steve was thinking when he wrote it to be 9+ minutes long, essentially a studio version of what they'd do live by extending it with extra choruses for crowd participation.
 

Mosh

Winner of the 2020 Dumbest Comment Ever Award
Staff member
The single version of Angel and the Gambler is in the ballpark of 5 minutes long, basically cutting out most of the ridiculous repetition of the chorus. It's much better--I have no idea what Steve was thinking when he wrote it to be 9+ minutes long, essentially a studio version of what they'd do live by extending it with extra choruses for crowd participation.
I've heard the cut version and it's definitely a step in the right direction. Although it's not much use to me because no matter what, if I want to listen to Virtual I'm going to have to sit through the album version.

Still could've made some improvements I think. For example, the chorus should've only been heard once in the entire song, IMO. I would've structured it more like this: Intro -> Verse -> Pre Chorus -> Verse -> Pre-Chorus -> Guitar Solos -> Soft chorus -> Chorus -> Outro
That way the first time you hear the chorus is during that slow section, and it slowly builds into this huge sing a long chorus that repeats but doesn't overstay its welcome. Repetition can work, but it has to be done in a way that's effective. The pre-chorus (adrift on the ocean...) functions as more of a chorus in this setting, which works out because it's much better than the "don't you think I'm a saviour" bit. This would've been a much stronger song, imo. And it only clocks in at about 5:30!
 

Forostar

Ancient Mariner
The single version doesn't only cut out lots of choruses, it also cuts of lots of nice atmospherical music (for me the best part).
 

mckindog

Living for Sanctuary from the law
Staff member
I think Angel and the Gambler would be a lot of fun live.
I'm putting it in the setlist when I invite the lot of you to the Iron Maiden plays for Maidenfans intimate pub show next year.
They will play it around our fifth or sixth pint and I expect to see Foro and Loosey with their arms around each other, belting out the chorus at the top of their lungs.
 
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