Countdown to Senjutsu. 17 albums in 17 days.

Midnight

The Ever Present "It"
On the one hand, I don't like how blurry that photo is, but on the other hand, I really don't want to see that Eddie more clearly.
 

Powrslave

Prowler
Late to this party, playing X Factor now. I cant find my FOTD CD, I think I have two copies, one of which is the Tour version with a few bonus tracks I bought after seeing them Live in Sydney. Gotta say I enjoy No Prayer alot more now than back then, its an enjoyable Album, feels happier than XF atleast.
 

Abas

Jester with no tears
I went out for a pathetic jog way later than I should have. But given how dark this album is, it was enough of a happy accident to go well hand in hand.

In my book, Iron Maiden is a band that doesn't really have any X factors. What makes them so special to me, and the reasons why their music resonates with me are very apparent. It's nothing hidden there. It weighs heavy, and it hits heavy. The melodies and the harmonies sound absolutely right. They have some songs that really sound as natural as the fact that it's bright when the shines, and the sky is black at night. If I'm allowed to be crass, Iron Maiden's music is the perfect sound porn for my musical fetish. Hearing Bruce Dickinson's majestic singing when he sounds as if he shouts from the top of his lungs, standing top of a mountain, for all the world to hear, lifts me up and makes my spirit soar.

Sometimes, the inversion of a claim can also be as valid and true. This album makes a great case of it. This particular album with music that sounds thin, and Blaze Bayley's singing when he sounds as if he shouts from the top of the lungs, being well below water, for no one to hear, lifts me up and makes my spirit soar.

I hold this as one of their top-tier albums. This is one of the better feel-bad albums that I know of, in general. This album may not be the view of a grey and colourless day with a rainfall that never seems to stop, while being wrapped in a thin blanket, and still shivering a little, as much as A Pleasant Shade of Gray by Fates Warning is. But the feeling of dread, and the sensation of staring into ones inner void is greater in this album. The bleakness and darkness of this album is a good companion when life is bleak and dark, and I feel like shit.

As far as I know, no one in this forum has heard Senjutsu yet. I think it was Metal Hammer that had a review of Senjutsu saying that it was the most emotionally compelling album Iron Maiden had done to date. As I myself never have heard Senjutsu either, I can't agree or disagree. But until I am able to listen to it and make my own judgment, The X Factor is still the holder of this award.

Sign of the Cross has one of the best musical sections of any song ever.
The only thing unfortunate about Lord of the Flies is that it has too long of an intro and build-up for something not particularly mind-blowing.
Some strange lyrics in places at times aside, this is a good fast and angry rocker.
Fortunes of War is one of my favourite songs overall from Iron Maiden. Could this be considered the spiritual follow-up of Afraid to Shoot Strangers from the prior album? That song was about someone being confident, yet reserved, while preparing to go into war. This song is about someone coming back from war completely fucked up and suffering from PTSD. The combo of immersive lyrics and immersive melodies makes this a winner.
The same thing that was unfortunate about Lord of the Flies is also unfortunate about Look for the Truth. The originality of these lyrics are more interesting than the ones in Lord of the Flies - although the story in Lord of the Flies is told better.
The Aftermath is an interesting song. If the song 2 Minutes to Midnight is about the glamour of war, then this is about whatever the opposite of glamour is. It's not a particularly balanced song with slow verses, slow choruses, and lightning fast solos. But it doesn't dilute it..
The chorus and the section after the solo in Judgement of Heaven is another brief flash of brilliance of this album. The introspection from of the lyrics in this one in particular becomes too real sometimes.
Blood on the World's Hands is another song where the lyrics becomes to real. Could this potentially be the most brutal and darkest lyrics they have written? If there is a single thing I'd change about this song, I'd make it 5% faster.
I've brought up the point of longer intros and build-ups that isn't proportional to the climaxes of the song. But this concept is appropriate on this particular song when you consider the source material. I only watched that movie for the first time last year. It's a good fit. I also like the slingy guitar melodies of this song.
If you're not living it, you'll never appreciate the take on the menial grinding of a prospect-less life that 2 A.M. conveys. Those who know, they know.
Although the cadence of the verses are a bit awkward, this song manages to match the lyrics of ones faith and spirit being completely skewed and gone astray with a chorus that sounds like it feels when running away in shame.

This has all the blueprints of the stuff that makes 21st century Iron Maiden so great. Sure, they sound prototypical enough compared to how they apply the concepts and styles used past the millennia. But that's more of a sign of how well they evolved and refined themselves.
 

MindlessPieces

Educated Fool
if Bruce have sung on these two very underrated CDs, Maiden fans would be less critical or fussy with this band's era.
A lot of Maiden fans don't like No Prayer (I like it alot), a lot of Maiden fans don't like Fear of the Dark (I agree with them, it's a dull and poorly produced album).
X Factor is also poorly produced, The drums sound awful, the loud and heavy bits are so contrasting, it drives me nuts. It's true that the singing isn't great. Bruce would have lifted this album, but not enough to save it.
 

DJMayes

Ancient Mariner
Day 11! A little early, but I'm attending a wedding today so 7:30 was the appropriate time.

I really like Virtual XI. It sounds like Iron Maiden are back again. Some of the songs may be a little flawed, or have a few too many choruses, but the energy is back, and every song on the album is at least enjoyable to listen to.

The Clansman and Futureal are the obvious pair of standouts. I actually really quite like DLTTEOAS. A lot of people don't, presumably for the repetition, but I love the music going on here, especially leading up to the solo at 5:23. Similarly, I'm not really bothered by the repetition of TAATG.

Of the remaining four songs, LST is probably my standout. I like the other three, but don't have particular thoughts about them to share.
 

Patrick92

Educated Fool
Day 11 finished! Virtual XI

I dont really like this album either, but it has grown on me a bit. I think its better then X Factor. The cover sucks though. It kinda has the same problems like X Factor imo, but its not as much. It really helps that its only 8 songs. And the production feels a tiny bit better. And the songs mostly sound more focused and memorable. Still, The Angel and the Gambler and Eyes of a Stranger are very week imo. Clansman just like Sign of the Cross is amazing, but its so much better live with Bruce.
Worlds Collide and Como Estais are pretty good though. I can actually remeber those. Unlike The X Factor songs

2/5 for me. Goodbye Blaze and 90's Maiden.
 
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Randalf

Ancient Mariner
The cover sucks though.

I think the Virtual XI cover is actually... quite good! It's obviously not on par with Somewhere in Time, Seventh Son and such, but I like the colours and it's actually quite well drawn; the apocalyptic, infernal vision is quite cool and I don't mind the... shall we say very different Eddie either. The football game is bit of a fun addition, but oh well...

I do understand why a lot of people don't like it, but I think it's a bit underrated nonetheless. I mean, as an album cover art, it's quite well done!

I guess that those days in general, the horrible CGI mess and football stuff of the inner sleeve, TAATG chorus repeat trauma and Eddie being some grotesque Gollum of Apocalypse were, all together, a bit too much..?
 
Virtual XI.
I bought the cd late, in 2002!, after Brave New World. I think I gave it a try after hearing The Clansman on Rock In Rio.

If The X Factor was suited to teenage goths, this must've been squarely aimed at the preteens. It sounds incredibly lightweight.
About the repetition, I think Steve was trying to create a heavy metal version of the trance dance culture that was around at the time. I wasn't really up on it, but a favorite computer game of the era, Wipeout!, used this type of music as a soundtrack.

When playing this nowadays I just play side three of the reissued vinyl(Collide and Fool) as I quite like them, but today I played it all for this. There's some nice instrumental stuff throughout but it's all too brief, as evident on Amigos.

So it's 16th, hopefully soon to be 17th, but the most mind-blowing thing for me about this album is the title and the artwork! Now, that's seriously heavy! :wow:
 
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TheMercenary

Ancient Mariner
I really like this album. It not as good as 'The X Factor', but it's enjoyable to listen to. It's luminous and contains some very nice tracks as "Futureal", "Lightning Strikes Twice", "The Clansman", "When Two Worlds Collide", "The Educated Fool", "Como Estais Amigos", one good song in "Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger" and a little bit too repetitive filler "The Angel And The Gambler". For me, Blaze and the band have done some decent record with 'Virtual XI'. That's enough for me. I'm not that picky about the music of the band. And the artwork is cool. Like it too. It's better than the cover of 'Dance Of Death'.
 

Diesel 11

As you scream into the web of silence...
About the repetition, I think Steve was trying to create a heavy metal version of the trance dance culture that was around at the time. I wasn't really up on it, but a favorite computer game of the era, Wipeout!, used this type of music as a soundtrack.
Yo, the idea of Virtual XI being video game music makes me like it even more than I already do. I love that concept.
 

Michalis

Trooper
Probably in bottom 3 of Maiden albums. Futureal is good, Clansman is great. I like Como Estais Amigos very much and i do not hate The Angel and the Gambler. The rest of the songs have some moments but still they are below Maiden average. We got some songs from this period that shined with Bruce in the BNW album.
 

Samantas5855

Ancient Mariner
VXI was my first album, what made me wanna get it was the cover (it was 3d btw), I even have a shirt of VXI Eddie.
Looking back at it now, it's not a masterpiece like TXF is (one of my top Maiden albums) but it's a happier one and it had to happen.

This album does a lot right, while I liked TXF's different cover by a great artist but VXI's cover is more of a Maiden cover without that meaning that any of them is better or worse. The length was also a thing that it did right, while a big length worked on the x factor (the bonus songs added) it didn't on Fear Of The Dark or most albums that came after VXI, LP length appart from one particular song.

It did some things wrong too, the whole football mundial promotion sucked assss, original cover looked better. This fucking Ed Hunter abomination, Maiden got 3 excellent Derek Riggs covers yet used these ugly 3d renders. They should have used the 6 minute edit for TAATG instead of the 10 minute one. Production,mixing, mastering I don't even need to comment on that.

Now on the songs, you have some true Maiden songs;
Futureal is for me one of the two songs to start a Maiden gig, the other one is Aces High. This song has so much energy, perfect opener awesome riff. Bayley and his band harmonized the intro a bit, imagine what could have been if the album had better production.

The Clansman is a classic Maiden epic, awesome song I got to witness live, love it. I don't know if 04 is the right position for it tho.

When Two Worlds Collide is another very energetic song that sadly was played too fast live to be enjoyable. I really like this song, listen to it very regularly. I think its about a planet crashing into earth.

And well most of the other songs are 70s hard rock songs that could have easily been radio hits back then without that being a bad thing.
The Angel and the Gambler (6 minute version), Lightning Strikes Twice, The Educated Fool, Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger tasty guitars nice solos very enjoyable songs in general, colorful and musically happy.

We also have the Bayley and Gers penned Como Estais Amigos, thats a very nice closer, doesn't belong to any of these too categories. Weird name for a Maiden song for sure, it's more sad than the rest of the album, it has a TXF vibe. A highlight for me
 

Spaldy

Ancient Mariner
Thoughts on VXI

  • It's not a great album but it's an improvement over TXF. At least it's mercifully shorter
  • Blaze’s vocal performance is far better this time. His range has increased and his control has improved
  • The production is clearer and the guitars can be heard this time. Still sounds like a demo though. Nicko's kick drum is lost in the mix
  • Futureal is shorter than the intro to SOTC. Steve's bass work is superb on it
  • TAATG could have been a solid rocker if it wasn't 10 minutes long. There's also a really obvious cut and paste job around the 6:30 mark
  • MLST is ok I guess? The chorus is typically un-singable. I'm amazed Blaze sang it live
  • The Clansman is the best song of the Blaze era. A true Maiden classic. I love Janick's solo on this. Unfortunately it's been done better live. There's also an obvious cut and paste job around 7:45
  • WTWC has a nice gallop and punchy chorus. Unfortunately Nicko's tempo is all over the shop, getting way too fast by the end
  • I genuinely love the chorus on TEF. The rest of the song is meh
  • DLTTEOAS is the worst song. I especially don't like how the mid section seems to building to something epic only for it to become some crap attempt at speed metal
  • I won't lie. I think Como Estais Amigos is a belter and a great album closer.
I got into Maiden as a teenager around Best of the Beast. VXI came our roughly a year or so later and this was the first album proper of their's I owned. Back then there was no Spotify so you couldn't just instantly get a band's entire discography. And I didn't have money to buy tons of CD's so I was stuck playing this album a lot.

Maybe it's because of that and some nostalgia involved but I don't hate VXI like a lot of folk do and would rank it above TXF and NPFTD at least. I know it's very flawed but at least it's quite enjoyable and mercifully short.

Anyway, goodbye Blaze. Hello Bruce and Adrian. The next one's a doozy.
 
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