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Virtual XI - Song quality

Discussion in 'Maiden Chat' started by nuno_c, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. nuno_c

    nuno_c A hollow universe in space

    Many times, people (myself included) seem to have a tendency to like certain songs because of the way they were performed, the attitude and other elements. Songs, many times, are liked because of elements not directly related to the quality of the song itself.

    I've been recently listening to Virtual XI and, basically, i think it's major faults are the vocals, the drumming and the overall lack of energy. But the songs themselves are not bad. In fact, some of them even have potential to be live staples (like The Clansman).

    So my question is: Do you think, looking at the album with some objectivity, it could have been a much more loved album had it been recorded with Bruce on vocals, a more "traditional" Nicko drumming and, of course, a "normal" Maiden energy level? Just focus on the songs with those circumstances.... What do you think?
  2. Whooten

    Whooten Educated Fool

    I agree with a lot of what you say here. The Clansman is one of the top few songs Maiden did in the 90s, To my ears, When Two Worlds Collide sounds like classic Maiden and I would love to hear a version with Bruce as singer. I like VXI a lot better than X Factor which sounds like a completely different band (than Maiden) at times. That being said, more editing during the song writing process (see The Angel and the Gambler, Don't Look to the Eyes of a Stranger) is just as important as better vocals (Bruce) and a more enthusiastic Nicko.
  3. Wayne Bond

    Wayne Bond Nomad

    I never had a problem with Blazes vocals on his two maiden albums and would rank the X-Factor in my top 5 maiden albums!

    VXI is a puzzler of an album. First off it's quite blatantly trying to be the opposite of the x-factor. It feels like the band consiously deceived to try and write a classic maiden album and whilst overall it contains a lot of great stuff it's the only maiden album that to me sounds a bit forced.

    It's like they sat down and went "hmmmm the last album was a bit to dark and progressive lads, we need a classic maiden album"

    "Ok right well we only need 8 songs on the album this time, make sure the opening track is a classic speedy maiden number in the vein of the trooper, oh and we need a historical them for the standard epic on the album".

    I think that VXI shows maiden in a bit of a flux and not sure what to do with themselves so just went and put out an album they thought the fans wanted using their old template. Having said that I really like a lot of the songs and my only real gripe is the over long repeated sections on some of the songs, Angel and the gambler and don't look to the eyes of stranger are the biggest s culprits but there are others. The songs just needed a little trimming. Thought Blaze sounded really good overall.

    Drumming was flat and it feels like Nicko was bored.
  4. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Duh. Is there water in the sea? Of course. Everything Bruce does has in general an extra advantage over Blaze.

    You are not asking about my own improvement of love, you ask if it could have been more loved, so that can be everybody who is interested.
  5. nuno_c

    nuno_c A hollow universe in space

    I don't think so, Forostar... For instance, i truly think the Paul songs sound better with Paul than with Bruce. Not everything Bruce sings on sounds better strictly because of him. But of course, considering overall he's a much better singer, pretty much everything he sings has the potential to be better, but it's not a written rule...
    harrisdevot likes this.
  6. Wayne Bond

    Wayne Bond Nomad

    I honestly don't think VXI would have been any better or more successful had it been the exact same album just with Bruce singing. Look at the disdain people hold for no prayer for the dying and fear of the dark (two albums I personally think are quality).

    The problems with VXI are not the vocals in my opinion. Poor drumming and songs that had far too long repeated word sections are the first things that spring to mind. Plus as I said in my previous post it's the only maiden album that feels forced to me like they sat down and instead of just writing good songs they tried to follow a formula.

    You've got to think that the x-factor was a very dark and in some ways progressive album that was greeted with a lot of negativity. A lot of people didn't take to Blaze and felt that iron maiden had moved to far away from the sound and song structure that they were known for. Plus Steve wasn't happy around the x-factor with his divorce and various personal things he had going on. By the time they got round to thinking about the follow up to the x-factor I bet the band weren't sure where to go. Blaze wasn't being accepted, the general metal world was going through a change and nu metal was the big thing. Maiden tried to write an album that was in line with their biggest period of success up to that point so VXI was written using the 80's template of 8 tracks only on the album. A few traditional rockers a la the trooper and a historical epic thrown in.

    I would bet a months wages that if the whole Bruce Adrian reunion had fallen flat and not happened steve would have called time on the band after VXI and there would not have been a third Blaze album.
  7. nuno_c

    nuno_c A hollow universe in space

    It's interesting, i never really saw Virtual XI as being a possible throwback to their "classic" albums... Although it makes some sense, like you said...
  8. jeffgt14

    jeffgt14 Nomad

    Ewww no. The X Factor was great. VXI was absolutely terrible. Long overdrawn out songs, terrible production, and uninspired playing. I think Blaze sings fine on it. Bruce wouldn’t have made The Clansman any better in the studio. It’s a cool song live but boring in the studio. I actually think TAATG would work live as well. The only song probably worth its weight on the album IMO is Como Estais Amigos— a song Steve had nothing to with.
  9. GhostofCain

    GhostofCain Ancient Mariner

    Although I agree that some of Paul's songs sound better with Paul, I much prefer Phantom of the Opera and Remember Tomorrow with Bruce.
  10. GhostofCain

    GhostofCain Ancient Mariner

    Virtual XI is such a mediocre album that I would save little off it. The Clansman is good, but pales in comparison with most recent Harris-penned epics, and Futureal and Como Estais Amigos are OK, but that's as far as it goes for me. Bruce is an amazing singer, but he could not have salvaged such poor material.
  11. Zare

    Zare Dream of broken citadels

    Those two albums have only one song that manages to sneak into subsequent live sets, and that's Fear Of The Dark.
    Those two albums presented a significant drop of quality compared to 1980s. They are very, very good albums, but the summit of Seventh Son was hard to top.

    Smith left and Dickinson changed his vocals. A lot of fans weren't satisfied.

    When we're talking about TXF/VXI with Dickinson, I imagine his voice as it was in those years. Which means top of the fking game. That would be the period between 'Alive' releases and Chemical Wedding. So don't compare FOTD vocals and how they'd fit into Blaze era, compare the latter Bruce solo career before he rejoined.

    I think that Lightning Strikes Twice, for instance, would sound immense with Bruce and AOB/TCW style production. The riff played underneath verse, ' lone dog howls in the park', is extremely similar pattern to that epic 'gotta move, gotta move' Roy Z's riff in Dark Side Of Aquarious, just the LST riff is faster. Imagine if it had that guitar sound from Accident Of Birth.
  12. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

    Bruce is more popular. A written rule.
  13. Wayne Bond

    Wayne Bond Nomad

    I think Bruce sounds awesome on both no prayer for the dying and fear of the dark. Never understood why people had an issue with his voice during this time. You'd think he was singing raspy like a thrash metal singer all the time on every song the way people talk. I think the grit in his voice on these albums is used very well and reasonably sparring as there's plenty of examples where he soars and hits the big notes as he had been doing previously.
  14. Mosh

    Mosh The years just pass like trains Staff Member

    Definitely agree that Virtual's main problem is the production. The songs are fine. Just poorly arranged, recorded, and performed.
    Zare likes this.
  15. Zare

    Zare Dream of broken citadels

    It's not just the grit, it's the nasal thing he used. ATSS was sang way better couple of years ago than originally live, if you ask me.
  16. soundwave

    soundwave Educated Fool

    Production and performance count for a lot. I can't even imagine a song like Aces High being recorded with Blaze's lower register and VXI's thin guitars.
  17. Wayne Bond

    Wayne Bond Nomad

    We'll have to agree to disagree here. I listened to both no prayer and fear of the dark yesterday and really can't hear this nasal sound you mention. Just sounds like Bruce to me with a bit of extra grit and gravel in a few places.
    Frosst and Forostar like this.
  18. GhostofCain

    GhostofCain Ancient Mariner

    Agreed! :edmetal:
  19. Forostar

    Forostar Conjure the Death Star again

  20. GhostofCain

    GhostofCain Ancient Mariner

    They do, but in the case of most of the material in Virtual XI, you cannot really polish a turd! :lol:
    soundwave likes this.

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