Countdown to Senjutsu. 17 albums in 17 days.

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
I used to think X Factor was better than Virtual XI. But, while I can't stand most of X Factor, The Virtual XI is kinda enjoyable to listen to.
Best listening to it while you are also doing other things (as background music) if you listen to it too attentively, then it shows up as very repetitive and almost too happy. Like moronically happy. It's like the band were depressed when Bruce left, then over the top happy once their depression finally wore off. BNW sees the band coming back to their senses and moving on with life.

The Blaze years weren't the best. Studio recordings well below par, live shows atrocious.
Blaze wasn't the right singer for Maiden. Especially since they had a massive back catalogue of songs Blaze couldn't hit the notes on.

I don't condone people spitting on the performers or anyone for that matter, but I understand how annoyed that person must have felt, hearing Blaze up on stage "singing" so badly. I would have walked out of that concert. I know there is no promise of QOS at a concert, but I would have wanted to ask for my money back.
 

MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
Virtual XI
If you needed absolute proof that the problem wasn’t Blaze: here it is! The Clansman is great, Futureal and Como Estais Amigos are particularly good for me, everything else falls on its face due to terrible songwriting. There is definitely more energy (and fewer plodding borefests) here.

Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion about most things, except for The Angel and The Gambler. It is, unequivocally, the worst thing Maiden has ever done or will ever do. It’s pure trash. Stinking, rotting, awful fucking stuff. Nothing else here is as bad, but everything is pretty clunky and dull. I do enjoy this one more than its predecessor, but only as a novelty.
 

R@inmaker

Educated Fool
like a lot of folks here i've "rediscovered" Blaze-era Maiden albums and can now appreciate now what i wasn't able to before. but let's not get too carried away with "not Blaze's fault". the guy is likeable but he's nowhere near qualified to stand in Bruce's shoes, never has been never will be. Maiden could still have picked plenty of other better options than Blaze back in '93 or whatever. the guy has a definite blue collar work ethic and his heart is in the right place - and he's gracious as hell (again, a fan, right?) - but he was always out of his talent league being in Maiden. Steve was clearly in crisis and the whole band was playing at a somewhat JV level at least production-wise and an inability to self-edit enough. but, hey, these albums are nowhere near as "bad" as everyone has made them out to be and, yes, they are even worthy (in own way) of places in the Maiden canon at this point !
 

srfc

Ancient Mariner
No matter how much you lower the volume the distortion will always be there

I just meant from a point of view that I'd jumped from a perfectly acceptable listening level to an annoying the neighbours level just by switching the CD
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
I disagree. My first ever Maiden concert was the VXI tour and it was superb. Blaze was/is a great front man with lots of stage presence. He just wasn't Bruce and struggled to hit those high registers. The show I attended certainly wasn't atrocious.

These are all atrocious. Blaze can't hit the notes, he sounds awful.
They should have picked someone that sings in a higher register. This was just a poor matchup.
 

TheMercenary

Ancient Mariner
These are all atrocious. Blaze can't hit the notes, he sounds awful.
They should have picked someone that sings in a higher register. This was just a poor matchup.
I must agree. It's awful. But, on the studio albums, Blaze is sounding great. Anyway, just have a look on song "Tough As Steel" on the Blaze 'Alive In Poland' DVD, at the end of this song he's singing easily higher than in his Maiden era. ;)

 

TheTalisman

Ancient Mariner
These are all atrocious. Blaze can't hit the notes, he sounds awful.
They should have picked someone that sings in a higher register. This was just a poor matchup.
His voice was clearly shot by that point in 1996, He might have had monitor problems on that gigs as well, he struggled with the X Factor material on that gig too, even Fortunes of War. He was a little bit better in the fall of 1995 though.

I think Stockholm 1998 is a good bootleg btw:

He struggles with the choruses even on his own tracks though, they should have transposed the songs down one step propably.

On the other hand, even Bruce struggled with these two tracks in 2019 - the vocals in The Clansman sounded horrible on the Nights of the Dead. They are challenging.
 
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MrKnickerbocker

clap hands
like a lot of folks here i've "rediscovered" Blaze-era Maiden albums and can now appreciate now what i wasn't able to before. but let's not get too carried away with "not Blaze's fault". the guy is likeable but he's nowhere near qualified to stand in Bruce's shoes, never has been never will be. Maiden could still have picked plenty of other better options than Blaze back in '93 or whatever. the guy has a definite blue collar work ethic and his heart is in the right place - and he's gracious as hell (again, a fan, right?) - but he was always out of his talent league being in Maiden. Steve was clearly in crisis and the whole band was playing at a somewhat JV level at least production-wise and an inability to self-edit enough. but, hey, these albums are nowhere near as "bad" as everyone has made them out to be and, yes, they are even worthy (in own way) of places in the Maiden canon at this point !
This just furthers my point: it’s not Blaze’s fault. I agree with the differences in their voices. Steve shouldn’t have hired him. I agree that the songs are too high. Steve should have lowered the keys. I agree that the albums are weaker than Bruce albums. Steve should have written and produced better. I maintain my original claim.
 

TheMercenary

Ancient Mariner
Almost everyone here is saying that Steve shouldn't have hired Blaze for the job. BUT, that's a good point that Blaze was in the band because without him there wouldn't be any Bruce return. If Doogie White or Michael Kiske (this one would have been a weird choice as his voice doesn't fit to the Maiden's music) would have been chosen, it's sure that Bruce would have not been in the band anymore, nor Adrian. So, for me, Blaze was THE right choice during this period of 4 years. ;)
 

DJMayes

Ancient Mariner
Day 12!

Brave New World is a nice return to form. It has a couple of special moments, a whole lot of good songs, and one dud.

On that dud: it's The Nomad. The best part of the song is the bit from Life's Shadow.

With that out of the way, the rest of the album is various shades of good to great. Blood Brothers is my pick of the bunch, and amazing during TBOS tour. After that I'd probably pick The Fallen Angel, which seems wildly underappreciated.

The Wicker Man and Out of the Silent Planet are both good, fun singles, though the context of the former is wasted on me as I am too young. Dream of Mirrors and The Thin Line Between Love And Hate are cool longer songs, though not at the same level as your usual Maiden epic. Ghost of the Navigator and Brave New World are more offbeat, but very solid songs. Oh yeah, The Mercenary is here too. It's an enjoyable song, but doesn't stand out to me.

Good to be back in the Bruce era. Especially looking forward to tomorrow.
 

TheMercenary

Ancient Mariner
Day 12!

Brave New World is a nice return to form. It has a couple of special moments, a whole lot of good songs, and one dud.

On that dud: it's The Nomad. The best part of the song is the bit from Life's Shadow.

With that out of the way, the rest of the album is various shades of good to great. Blood Brothers is my pick of the bunch, and amazing during TBOS tour. After that I'd probably pick The Fallen Angel, which seems wildly underappreciated.

The Wicker Man and Out of the Silent Planet are both good, fun singles, though the context of the former is wasted on me as I am too young. Dream of Mirrors and The Thin Line Between Love And Hate are cool longer songs, though not at the same level as your usual Maiden epic. Ghost of the Navigator and Brave New World are more offbeat, but very solid songs. Oh yeah, The Mercenary is here too. It's an enjoyable song, but doesn't stand out to me.

Good to be back in the Bruce era. Especially looking forward to tomorrow.
You forgot to mention The Nomad. ;)
 

TheMercenary

Ancient Mariner
BNW is my favourite Maiden album of the new era. I remember I went to my local little record store (which doesn't exist anymore) and bought the record that the retailer put aside for me. I immediately felt in love with this CD, not only because Bruce and Adrian were back (OK it was one of the most important reasons) but because all the songs were really powerful, well written, catchy and the sound was amazing compared to the poor production of TXF and VXI. All the band have done an amazing work and Kevin Shirley was for me the right producer, having the heavy task of take over from the unique Martin Birch (R.I.P.). 10/10 for me. <3 I just regret that The Fallen Angel and The Nomad were always underrated and have never been played live in France or on the Rock In Rio live CD/DVD. :(
 
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Brave New World.
Another cover that depicts my life at the time as I was living in London. Working in the financial sector, close to the river, down from St. Paul's and Blackfriars – I'm sure the building's visible in the picture.
Also, I began posting on the official bb(Eddie in the sky) and I met a few of them.

There's a brio and vigour not heard for a decade, noticeably present on Wicker and Mercenary.
A new found maturity on personal favorites Thin Line and Brothers.
I love Nomad too, and Bruce's vocals on Planet are great.
In fact, there's not a bad track here, but I do find Mirrors overlong.

Listening on reissued vinyl, I miss the segue from Nomad to Planet that's on the cd. A quick comparison with Thin Line and I think I prefer the cd. The part after the main vocal, where different guitar parts compliment the rhythm, they sound clearer on cd.

Unflattering photos, I thought they looked a bit passed it at the time!
Great comeback.
 
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Abas

Jester with no tears
I spent the day with my cousin yesterday, so I didn't have the time to do Virtual XI until today.

This is a very uneven album. It's not a musical masterpiece. Drumming-wise, there's nothing apart from the first track that gets me hyped or going. But guitar solo-wise, it's a high ceiling there. This isn't a mindblowing album at all, but it's not an uncomfortable listen either. You know how you sometime just look through the glass door in a laundry machine, and just get lost in the motions of everything that's flying around? Or when you sit on a bus while it's raining to see the waterdrops racing or something like that, while sitting comfortable and just going through the motions? This is pretty much what this album feels like. This album was actually instrumental in me rating Iron Maiden as my GOAT band. How can something with a relative sub-standard still hold such a high standard?

Futureal is a short and sweet opening track in every sense. I don't necessarily think that this album contain any filler tracks at all - but some tracks themselves contains a lot of filler in them. Well, two in particular.
The only thing going against The Angel and the Gambler is the repeated choruses for almost two minutes in the middle of the song.
I like the way that they recycled the intro from The Aftermath in Lightning Strikes Twice. It's not a great song, but I don't dislike it either.
The Clansman is probably the only Iron Maiden anthem with Blaze Bayley as the singer. There really weren't any in the Paul Di'Anno era. This is enough to make me to rate the Blaze era in more favour of the Paul era.
When Two Worlds Collide has one of my favourite Dave Murray solos.
The Educated Fool has the best lyrics of this album.
I think that Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger is a greater offender of the repeated chorus in the middle part than The Angel and the Gambler is. Those solos in the faster section are top tier, strangely enough.
It's seldom to see Como Estais Amigos to be mentioned in any capacity at all. I think this song deserves better than that.

This album marks the end of Blaze Bayley's stint in Iron Maiden, but it's a fortunate thing that he has plenty of solo material. I for one am an admirer of him and I personally have no reason to shit on him.
 
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