Iron Maiden - The X Factor review


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Band: Iron Maiden
Album: The X Factor
Release date: October 1995

Disc I
01. Sign Of The Cross
02. Lord Of The Flies
03. Man On The Edge
04. Fortunes Of War
05. Look For The Truth
06. The Aftermath
07. Judgement Of Heaven
08. Blood On The World's Hands
09. The Edge Of Darkness
10. 2 A.M.
11. The Unbeliever

Disc II [Japanese Release]
01. Justice Of The Peace
02. I Live My Way
03. Judgement Day

Well, this is the one. The X Factor, Iron Maiden's tenth studio album, is probably the most controversial record they have ever put to tape. Yes, this was the first album not to feature the thunderous vocals of Bruce Dickinson since Killers way back in 1981. Outrage swirled about when the announcement was made, and before long the band drafted in former Wolfsbane singer Blaze Bayley to fill Dickinson's epic shoes. Bayley sported a lower voice that resembled almost nothing to the sound Dickinson had supplied the band for seven studio releases. It is well known that this is the first of two records Iron Maiden created with Blaze Bayley singing. What a lot of people don't seem to realize, however, is that The X Factor breathed new life into a legendary band that had previously released two underwhelming subpar albums with its larger than life lead singer.

This is a truly immense, atmospheric, and haunting album. Opener "Sign of the Cross" is unquestionably one of the greatest songs Steve Harris has ever penned. Every song on this album is enjoyable. "Lord of the Flies" and "Man on the Edge" are the two somewhat standard shorter tracks, and they both get the job done and are quite pleasing to my ears. "Fortunes of War" contains a very heartfelt intro and I still get chills every time I hear it. Other songs such as "The Aftermath" and "The Unbeliever" take longer to get into, but there is an undeniable power held within if one seeks to find it. "2 A.M." is simply beautiful, and is one of the more curious songs in the group's catalogue. Blaze Bayley does a solid job throughout the record, and he does not sound out of place in the slightest. Truly, The X Factor is, to my ears, a great record from a legendary metal band.

Why is it then that so many people hate this album? I think it is because of two things. The first is the production, which I admit is not one of the best the group has received during this course of fifteen studio releases. The second, of course, is that Blaze Bayley is here and Dickinson is nowhere to be found. This is a dark album, as I have already said, and Dickinson's voice is not suited to sing on it like Bayley's is. I love Bruce with all of my heart, but this is one moment in time when he would have sounded out of place on an Iron Maiden album. The "Blaze Experiment" only worked once as I feel the next album is a huge step down in quality than this one. This is an album for open-minded people who can handle legends trying something different and can appreciate bleak music. Listen to it in the dark, perhaps with candlelight. Criminally, criminally underrated.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 9
Production: 7

Written by Papa_Ray | 23.08.2010


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Guest review by
Every fan of Iron Maiden knows the story about the "The X Factor" album - out with Dickinson, one of the best metal singers of all time, and in with Blaze Bayley, an unknown stranger with a voice very far from Dickinsons. And what the hell would that result in? Well, when I heard this album for the first time I had very low expectations, I had the expectation that this was Iron Maiden's worst album. But I was really surprised by the epic and experimenting opener, and the next two tracks were also really good apart from the vocals which wasn't bad but not near Dickinson. I began to believe I really liked 'The X Factor', but when the I came to the end of the last track, my mind had made an 180-degrees-turn.

published 29.07.2008 | Comments (29)

Comments page 2 / 2

Comments: 41   Visited by: 187 users
25.08.2010 - 00:30
Written by Daniell on 23.08.2010 at 23:47

I don't think that production and singing are the biggest flaws. they aren't. The biggest flaw is that most of the songs plainly fucking suck and bore the listener to death.

I think this album sucks big time, indeed. Excrutiatingly boring. Like you're saying, many songs just plain suck and have no potential, regardless of production or vocals. (though production and vocals are horrible too and add to the problem)
Several songs are long and lead nowhere. The album has a general feeling of blandness and lack of inspiration I've rarely seen. Simply godawful in all departments.

I remember my state of mind when it came out. I thought "at least it's sure they will never be able to do more awful than that". Guess what? They did it a few years later with "Virtual XI".

To tell the truth, I'm aware it's a matter of tastes but it's simply impossible for me to figure out how someone can like "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI". There's no word to describe how excrutiatingly bad they are.
Even Helloween's "Chameleon" and Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake" are more 'enjoyable' than the utter crap Maiden released with Blaze.

I agree with you that this album fucking sucks, plain and simple. And I definitely find it boring to death.
Also, I must say I absolutely hate the artwork.
They shake your hand and they smile and they buy you a drink
They say we'll be your friends we'll stick with you till the end
But everybody's only looking out for themselves
And you say who can you trust I'll tell you nobody
25.08.2010 - 00:46
Angelic Storm
Written by Fat & Sassy! on 24.08.2010 at 23:51
I think "uplifting" and "inspiring" may be better words. You know... Getting you in that rockin' mood or whatever. Maiden is known to be like this, even on quite a few tracks on No Prayer. The same thing can be found in The X Factor. Actually probably more-so on that one. :O

Hmm... "uplifting" perhaps, but certainly not in any sugary or "happy" way! lol The production of No Prayer... is quite grimy as well, which adds to the darker feel of the album. The same kinda thing with The X Factor, even the more upbeat songs like "Judgement Of Heaven" don't really sound "happy" at all. Only "Man On The Edge" has a vibe of being fun, and just being a good rocker.
25.08.2010 - 18:22
I like the album, though I must say "Sign of the Cross" sounds very good on Rock In Rio with Bruce's voice... I think he could have sung this album just right.
25.08.2010 - 20:10
I think Bruce did fine on the chorus. He really made it soar. He seems to struggle on the verses, in my opinion. He didn't sound as good on it as he did on The Clansman.
25.08.2010 - 20:26
I find this to be far the stronger of the Blaze albums and on par with a couple of the Bruce albums. The song structures are a lot tighter than on the follow-up and the choruses not nearly as repetitive. "Man on the Edge" is my favourite track featuring Blaze's vocals, but that might have more to do with my fondness for the movie Falling Down than the actual quality of the song.

I know a lot of my fellow older Maiden fans will want to string me up for this, but I find this album the equal of Somewhere in Time, an album I've never understood the popularity of. Decent enough, but compared to Maiden's great albums, pretty humdrum.
You can't fight evil with a macaroni duck!
25.08.2010 - 20:29
Fat & Sassy!
Written by Derwood on 25.08.2010 at 20:26

"Man on the Edge" is my favourite track featuring Blaze's vocals, but that might have more to do with my fondness for the movie Falling Down than the actual quality of the song.

Michael Douglas should have done guest vocals.
You do you, brozzio.
25.08.2010 - 20:35
Angelic Storm
I also think The X Factor is the stronger of the two Blaze albums. There is a couple of fillers, but Virtual XI has more filler, despite being 3 songs shorter. The reptetiveness of some of the choruses on Virtual really cripples those songs. "Dont Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger" and "The Angel And The Gambler" being the worst examples of this. The song arrangements on the The X Factor are far superior, IMO.

"Man On The Edge" is a great song! Its fast and fun, and I love the solo. Its also great to play on guitar as well. xD
25.11.2010 - 15:31
1 point for the trouble to actually make an album ; 1 point for the cover (really cool one, probably the best Iron Maiden cover art) ; 1 point for good sound and 1 point for some good solo guitar play in the last part. That makes 4.
25.07.2011 - 01:35
Void Eater
Account deleted
This was a fine review, until you threw in that bit about being 'open minded' at the end. Some people just don't like the album, it has nothing to do with them not being as enlightened and open minded as you. Maybe 15 years ago that would have been a somewhat valid argument, but the albums been out long enough for people to judge it objectivley. I like the album, although it is a step down from FOTD, which I quite liked, although below Maidens 80' standards. Cover art is also fucking br00tal.
25.07.2011 - 05:16
I think that's true for people who were around then, but most new fans do not get into Maiden through this album. Usually, they have a definite idea of what Maiden is by the time they give this album a chance. You don't have to be enlightened and open minded to like or dislike the album, but given how it was ravaged critically then and now it just may take an open mind for new fans to listen to it without the history around it hindering the experience. That is what I was trying to convey when I wrote this, I suppose.
27.12.2016 - 03:20
Bad English
About voice I think band wrote album later when knew new singer will be Blaze, so its perfectly written for his voice, as you see his solo lathly is not so good
I wonder how whoul band sounded whit Doggie white who was sencodn after Blaze to step in
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing

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