Ginger Nuts of Horror
I was terrified of listening to this album. I had listened to X Factor long before Virtual XI and I hated it and this one was supposedly worse. However after giving it 3 or 4 tries, it kind of grows on you. The only issue I had throughout the whole thing was the sound of Blaze’s voice, which to me doesn’t really fit at all with Iron Maiden musically, but that’s just me.
The opening track on the album, Futureal, lulled me into a false sense of security. Blaze’s voice actually sounded decent, musically it was on par with some of Iron Maiden’s better work and I was surprised. The other main thing is that they kept it short, it’s barely 3 minutes long, maybe not even that, my main issue with a lot of the Blaze Bayley material is that it feels like it drags on and on for ages and it gets really tiresome, this wasn’t an issue with Futureal and I really dug it.
BUT… track 2, the Angel and the Gambler is perhaps one of the worst things to ever grace my ears. It’s a borderline pop song! Synthesizers? Was that harmonica I was hearing? Let us also not forget the 22 FUCKING chorus refrains dragging the song out to a dastardly 9 minutes and 48 seconds. Nearly all of which is Blaze Bayley repeating the same 4-5 lines far too many times. This song made me want to drive my car into oncoming traffic, that’s how much I hated it.
Lightning Strikes Twice, while not as good as Futureal, is still miles better than the Angel and the Gambler. Blaze doesn’t sound like he’s struggling to sing or get words out of his mouth, and nothing else stood out as being god awful sounding.
The Clansman is my second favorite song on the album. Blaze’s voice is once again solid and doesn’t sound absolutely terrible. The chorus isn’t repeated 80 times and it actually sounds pretty badass. It does drag on a little bit and overstays its welcome towards the end of the song but other than that I liked it.
Track 5, When Two Worlds Collide, is another mixed bag. Musically it’s pretty awesome and it didn’t make me want to toss the CD out of my player like a Frisbee. However, this is one song I disliked Blaze’s vocals, I found them grating and obnoxious to listen to. The guitar solos and everything else in the song were so great it’s a shame Blaze had to open his mouth.
The Educated Fool is about the same as the previous track. Musically great, lyrics are pretty silly, and Blaze’s voice doesn’t do it for me, unmemorable track in my opinion.
This is where the pattern emerges, “musically great, lyrics are silly, Blaze’s voice doesn’t do it for me.” Don’t Look to the Eyes of a Stranger is just bland, like the previous track…
I thought that Como Estais Amigos was marginally better than the previous three songs but not by much. It’s just… generic and I had the same overall thoughts as the previous three tracks. It’s probably my biggest gripe with the album, it all sounds the same at the end, after the Clansman it all runs together in this big stream of “meh”.
Closing thoughts? If this album would’ve never been made we probably would’ve been better off. The tracks on the second half of the album just kind of blended together for me and they weren’t very memorable. It starts out great with Futureal and then immediately steps into the garbage pail with The Angel and the Gambler, but then sort of attempts to turn around with Lightning Strikes Twice and the Clansman but ultimately fails in my opinion. In the future I will sum up my feelings on this album with one sentence. The coolest thing about this album for me, was the unused AOL Online free trial slip that came in my copy of the CD.