We all know, this is the most controversial subject in Maiden history. Anything with Blaze in Maiden is. After a recent topic in the Maiden chat section, where once again a lot of silly things were said, I came to this topic. It was to be a single message in that topic I mentioned, however, I think that a new topic is more suitable Well, I will not even worry about the things that had been said about Blaze and Janick. I really love these guys as for the rest of the band so it would be pointless. I would not say that Virtual is the worst album ever in Maiden career. As a true maidenfan that I believe to be there are no worst song or album for me, there are WEAKER ONES. And that is true, Virtual XI is the WEAKEST album in Maiden career. I guess that we all agree with the Pro Tools thing. Yes, on this album Maiden used technology in a way that was never used before. The album was recorded on a Hard Drive of a computer and then digitally mastered and mixed. As farther as I know this had happened on BNW and DoD too, however, on VXI for the first time, Maiden abused a litlle on the technology. No, I´m not saying that the drum is a computer generated drum or something like that. Of course not ! Anyone who had listened a computer generated drum (midi???) will agree that the sound is far from being perfect and realistic. There is a drummer in there and its Nicko. As someone can say that there´s is not Nicko because of the lacks of fills I could say that there is no nicko on BNW because of the false "double-pedal" thing. But Nicko was there, maybe a litlle different. We should remember as well that Nicko never was a real impressive drummer on studio, keeping his stamina to the shows, where he is always fearsome. But in some parts we can almost "see" the abuse of technology. Take for example the chorus on Lightining Strikes Twice. Did you ever get the impression that Blaze is almost "choking" there. Well, that´s because he only did one phrase which was repeated on the rest of the song. Anyone with good ears can spot that (I´m not saying that Blaze sucks. As I said I love him, one of my favourites singers. But we cannot deny, on the beginning he WAS very unexperienced. The X Factor was a more dark album so his voice fitted very well in there, but VXI isn´t dark, so his lack of experience is more visible. But, as I´m going to try to prove to you, he wasn´t guilty of the weakness of VXI). But VXI is made of 8 songs, and this is only a small chorus of one song. So what the hell, for Steve sake, is the matter of Virtual XI ??? Well, this is very personal I think. But, have you ever heard this album as a "too much mechanical album" ? Think about this for a minute. In all the previous records there were some songs, or at least part of songs which were THE HIGHLIGHTS of the album. The moments when you really feel like "Yeah ! That´s a good fucking metal thing !!!". We don´t need to much effort to remember some of these moments. I would point the introduction of Aces High, the instrumental section on Phantom of the Opera, the whole Killers song, the solo in Children of The Damned, the instrumental section on To Tame a Land…… I could spent hours pointing these high moments ! On VXI these high moments are very rare. Most of the songs are lacking on these. You don´t feel the excitement of the musicians as they are playing. You listen to Tailgunner for example and almost see the blasts of energy going out in the bass lines, guitar lines, and vocals (some may say that the vocal style isn´t good, but that´s another question). Then you listen to When Two Worlds Collide. Hell ! It is a very impressive song, but where is the feeling ? Where is the PASSION that almost overflow in songs like Still Life, Infinite Dreams, Prowler ? For me that´s the real problem with VXI. It a mechanichal album. Not in the sense that the chorus n The Angel and The Gambler are repetitive. Come on, what is a chorus ? Is part of the song which IS REPEATED. If you find the it boring then why do you keep listening to Run to The Hills ? Maybe it’s a poor chorus ? Well that´s another question… If I didn´t know Maiden I would say that the record process was something like that : The boys arrive at the studio. Some one from the management of Sanctuary comes to then with a bunch of papers in the hand. -- Here are the songs that you are going to record for the new album. It will be called Virtual XI. Learn them as fast as you can ! The band take the papers and starts recording. As ROBOTS they play one songs after the other. At the end of the day they have it almost done. We all know that it wasn´t that way. Of Course ! But this is how I feel listening to this album. The songs are good but they weren´t played with all passion they deserved. The only exceptions are Futureal, The Clansman and Como Estais Amigos. In these three songs we can see Maiden at their full power, playing with their hearts instead of their minds. Joining all of this, a unexperienced vocalist, a high-tech production that took over the music itself, and a not so inspired band, we get to Virtual XI, the WEAKEST album in their career. But in the end it is a good album, look at the themes of the songs. We have historical themes (Clansman, Como Estais Amigos), some sci fi themes (Futureal, When Two Worlds Collide), introspective themes (The Educated Fool) and some social themes (Don’t look to the eys of a Stranger and The Angel the Gambler). It is a good album, a good but mechanical album. Mechanical doesn´t mean the drum was done by computer. Means it sounds mechanical. Hope you can understand my point.