Iron Maiden: Blaze Bayley (vocals); Dave Murray, Janick Gers (guitar); Steve Harris (keyboards, bass); Nicko McBrain (drums).
Additional personnel: Michael Kenney (keyboards).
Recorded at Barnyard Studios, Essex, England.
Iron Maiden's eleventh record, aptly titled VIRTUAL XI, is a wonderful addition to the band's legacy. Refusing to sell out and go "alternative" or "electronic," the group sticks to what it knows; heavy metal epics focusing on world peace, paranoia and technology. This is the second release with vocalist Blaze Bayley who adds his own powerful element to the Maiden mix. His voice is deeper and more brooding than his predecessor Bruce Dickinson, but just as effective.
The technical virtuosity and the unfettered production (by bassist Steve Harris and Nigel Green) of classic Maiden are still solidly in place. Some keyboards are used for ambience, but this is mostly speed and power ala vintage Maiden. The songs are on the long side, with "The Angel And The Gambler" clocking in at over 9 minutes. All in all, fans of the band, or of heavy rock in general, will be satisfied, as all the traditional ingredients that make this a great band are evident in VIRTUAL XI.
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