I'd argue that after the reunion they went for a much darker and more progressive sound than trying to sound like old maiden. In fact I can't think of an instance where post reunion era sounds anything like classic maiden at all Maybe I'm just a fanboy, but I firmly believe that all the albums since Bruce and Adrian's return have been stellar. Yes, there's filler here and there but even those songs like New Frontier or The Alchemist have some fine moments. I don't really know what to say to someone who ranks Virtual XI ahead of AMOLAD
Let's start from the end. "Virtual XI"is a great album, the songwriting is consistent throughout the tracks, the songs are relatively short and in your face (for being Maiden's, of course), and the 3 longer songs are not boring as hell. Maybe and I say maybe "the Angel and the Gambler" is, but it eventually grew on me. Is it a masterpiece? No, but it was something fresh -as was X factor- and showed a potential new direction.
As for the post-reunion, "Brave new world" IMHO was a wannabe-carbon-copy of 'Seventh son" and partly succeeded without being as good as the original. The first time I played "Dance..." I thought it was a slightly darker remake of "Piece of mind" with a disastrous production. "AMOLAD" was a mess, but they tried too hard to get the style of "Phantom of the opera" and "The rhyme..." back.
Having said that, I hope this new album will be a TRUE return to the ol' Maiden style rather than a soulless imitation.