The eleventh full-length studio album by the legendary British Heavy Metal band.
It was the second and final Iron Maiden album recorded with vocalist Blaze Bayley.
In 1993, Iron Maiden and their popular vocalist, Bruce Dickinson, parted ways. Not going to be stopped by the loss of their 11 year singer, the band began the search for their new front man. They auditioned hundreds of vocalists including Doogie White, who at the time was in Rainbow, and even James LaBrie, of Dream Theater fame. Finally, in 1994, Iron Maiden decided that Wolfsbane singer, Blaze Bailey, would be their next vocalist. After Blaze was brought on board, the band began writing new material for their next album, and in 1995 was released "The X Factor". The album was met with a mixed reaction from fans, but the band soldiered on and entered the studio in 1998 to record their eleventh album, "Virtual XI".
"Virtual XI" met the same fate as "The X Factor". It was even more unpopular among fans than its predecessor, and it suffered in sales, and is to this very day, the only Maiden album to not hit the 1 million mark. As of April 2009 "Virtual XI" had sold 84987 copies in the United States and more than 1050000 worldwide according to Billboard, making the album the poorest selling of the band's career.
The album is slightly unusual in the Iron Maiden catalogue for its extensive keyboard use. For this album, some keyboard parts were performed by band founder/bassist Steve Harris whereas on previous albums all the keyboard parts were handled by session musician Michael Kenney. The album also had a reduced song-writing input from Janick Gers compared to the previous Iron Maiden albums since he joined the band in 1990.
"Virtual XI" was the end of another era for Iron Maiden. Following the Virtual XI World Tour, Blaze Bailey left Iron Maiden and two former members, Bruce Dickinson and Adrian Smith returned. Overall, "Virtual XI" is a very long album to listen to, despite being only 53 minutes long. The album is very repetitive, and listening to it takes a lot of patience. However, it has a few gems, such as "Futureal", "The Clansman", and "Como Estais Amigos". With a little more variety, it could have been something special!
Iron Maiden Holdings Ltd./EMI Records Ltd., 1998 (7243 4 93992 2 8) Made in UK. First press. Limited Edition. Used: good.