Rating:
8.8
Iron Maiden - The X Factor
2 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.

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


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: The X Factor


 


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
Spyroid

Rating:
5.5
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.

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published 29.07.2008 | Comments (28)



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Fat & Sassy! - 23.08.2010 at 23:07  
I agree. This album is great. One of my favorite Maiden albums. The album holds such great atmosphere. It gets a lot of shit, and it kinda irritates me, but whatever. It's WAY better than Maiden's last two efforts to date; that's for sure.
iMorphball - 23.08.2010 at 23:14  
The vocals just don't do it for me. His voice is just too sloppy I find.

The music throughout the album is fantastic though.
vezzy - 23.08.2010 at 23:19  
*bursts into tears*

I don't really see why we should consider the lower quality albums as some sort of classics.
Fat & Sassy! - 23.08.2010 at 23:21  
Written by vezzy on 23.08.2010 at 23:19

*bursts into tears*

I don't really see why we should consider the lower quality albums as some sort of classics.


You can consider whatever you want to be good or not, dude. :/
vezzy - 23.08.2010 at 23:26  
Written by Fat & Sassy! on 23.08.2010 at 23:21
You can consider whatever you want to be good or not, dude. :/


Well, sure, but it simply doesn't rank up, I think this can be agreed with, though personally I detest this album.
Fat & Sassy! - 23.08.2010 at 23:30  
Written by vezzy on 23.08.2010 at 23:26

Well, sure, but it simply doesn't rank up, I think this can be agreed with, though personally I detest this album.


I think it's different, and ends the transitional movement (being No Prayer and FotD) from classic Maiden to a new sound. They've kinda kept this sound since then, and well... *I* like it. I'll always dig the classic stuff more, but I think this part of Maiden's history is worth remembering.
PazuzuSKOM - 23.08.2010 at 23:34  
For the Record ,, i think Blaze vocals are really goood

a really good album, one of the most underrated albums
Papa_Ray - 23.08.2010 at 23:41  
Written by vezzy on 23.08.2010 at 23:19

*bursts into tears*

I don't really see why we should consider the lower quality albums as some sort of classics.


I never said it was a classic album by any means. It is not. But it is extremely underrated.
vezzy - 23.08.2010 at 23:45  
Written by Papa_Ray on 23.08.2010 at 23:41

I never said it was a classic album by any means. It is not. But it is extremely underrated.


Hm, well, 8.8 is quite a high rating by my standards.
Daniell - 23.08.2010 at 23:47  
One brilliant song, "Sign of the Cross". Two very good songs, "Edge of Darkness" and "Lord of the Flies". By far, not enough to call this album good. Going against the flow and trying to prove that it's good won't help it either.
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. 10 fucking million of bass guitar intros also don't help me appreciate this turd of a Maiden album.
Chill out, they recorded 2 even worse albums, "Fear of the Dark" and "Virtual XI"...
I_Die_Often - 24.08.2010 at 00:51  
Written by Fat & Sassy! on 23.08.2010 at 23:07

I agree. This album is great. One of my favorite Maiden albums. The album holds such great atmosphere. It gets a lot of shit, and it kinda irritates me, but whatever. It's WAY better than Maiden's last two efforts to date; that's for sure.

I agree, I don't like Dance of Death or A Matter of Life Or Death at all!!! And the new one sounds like crap as well.
Blaze doesn't deserve the bad press, the current Maiden does!
Ellrohir - 24.08.2010 at 00:59  
I always said - the only Blaze's mistake is, that he simply isn't Bruce...but the music still sounds as Iron Maiden and still is great...i dont have problems with this album
magatouve - 24.08.2010 at 02:07  
This is one of Iron Maiden's very good albums. The atmosphere of is very dark (it was written at a time when Steve Harris had some personal prbolems; divorce, I guess) and the vocals of Blaze, being of a lower range than Bruce, suits the atmosphere. I think Bruce had with Iron Maiden at least 5 albums which are below that one (last 3, fear of the dark, and No Prayer for the Dying). This reviewer did far more justice to the album than the previous one who couldn't see the album outside Blaze-vs-Dickinson lenses. If you see it that way, you will never like it!! I think I was lucky that the first two albums I heard for Iron Maiden were those made with Blaze; so I did't have this "Blaze vocals OK but nothing near Bruce" complex. I agree that Bruce is overall much better than Blaze. But leaving that aside for a moment, this is a great album.

And "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" very well put Mr.!
Angelic Storm - 24.08.2010 at 02:30  
I really like this album a lot. Although Blaze really did struggle with the Bruce era material live, for this album, his voice fitted very well. A couple of boring fillers aside ("Fortunes Of War" is especially sleep inducing!), this is a very good album. xD
Papa_Ray - 24.08.2010 at 02:49  
Written by vezzy on 23.08.2010 at 23:45

Written by Papa_Ray on 23.08.2010 at 23:41

I never said it was a classic album by any means. It is not. But it is extremely underrated.


Hm, well, 8.8 is quite a high rating by my standards.


Yeah, I guess it depends on the person. 8.8 in my mind's a very strong, stellar album. When it gets to 9.0 things start to heat up in the legendary department.
Vikcen - 24.08.2010 at 02:57  
I agree. One of the best records for me. I love grave voices like Blaze Bayley or Víctor García (from Avalanch and WarCry), and Blaze in this particular album is a 10.

By the way, i recommend the last Blaze's record, "Promise And Terror", very good, wich i bought recentily (it has to come home yet =) ).
Lit. - 24.08.2010 at 04:44  
I love the instrumentals, but Blaze's voice kills it for me. He's good, but let's face it, doesn't suit Iron Maiden.
Maybe they should redo this and Virtual XI with Bruce's voice. That would be awesome.
Angelic Storm - 24.08.2010 at 10:24  
Written by Papa_Ray on 24.08.2010 at 02:49
Yeah, I guess it depends on the person. 8.8 in my mind's a very strong, stellar album. When it gets to 9.0 things start to heat up in the legendary department.


For me, Id only give albums I classed as great, a 9.0. With 10's reserved only for albums Id label as classic. Anything below 9.0 has enough flaws to stop it from be a truly great album, even though it may be still be a strong album.
Papa_Ray - 24.08.2010 at 10:30  
Written by Angelic Storm on 24.08.2010 at 10:24

Written by Papa_Ray on 24.08.2010 at 02:49
Yeah, I guess it depends on the person. 8.8 in my mind's a very strong, stellar album. When it gets to 9.0 things start to heat up in the legendary department.


For me, Id only give albums I classed as great, a 9.0. With 10's reserved only for albums Id label as classic. Anything below 9.0 has enough flaws to stop it from be a truly great album, even though it may be still be a strong album.


That's pretty much how I go about my reviews. If this album had better production I would have no problem giving it a 9.0. It is a very special record.
vezzy - 24.08.2010 at 10:49  
Okay then... it's dark. You know, you could've used more words to describe the general tone and riffing in the music, not just the atmosphere it sets.

I'd say it's underrated for a reason. It's simply boring.
Ozman - 24.08.2010 at 11:18  
Written by vezzy on 24.08.2010 at 10:49

Okay then... it's dark. You know, you could've used more words to describe the general tone and riffing in the music, not just the atmosphere it sets.

I'd say it's underrated for a reason. It's simply boring.


I always find it funny that people call any of Maiden's albums dark. I don't find the atmosphere to any of the Maiden albums dark at all. And if they have so-called darkness there, I would dare say that Iron Maiden and Killers are their darkest albums.
vezzy - 24.08.2010 at 12:33  
Written by Ozman on 24.08.2010 at 11:18
I always find it funny that people call any of Maiden's albums dark. I don't find the atmosphere to any of the Maiden albums dark at all. And if they have so-called darkness there, I would dare say that Iron Maiden and Killers are their darkest albums.


I've always found Iron Maiden... cheery, actually.

(by the way, I didn't say I found it dark, I worded it from the perspective of the reviewer)
Ozman - 24.08.2010 at 12:36  
Written by vezzy on 24.08.2010 at 12:33

Written by Ozman on 24.08.2010 at 11:18
I always find it funny that people call any of Maiden's albums dark. I don't find the atmosphere to any of the Maiden albums dark at all. And if they have so-called darkness there, I would dare say that Iron Maiden and Killers are their darkest albums.


I've always found Iron Maiden... cheery, actually.

(by the way, I didn't say I found it dark, I worded it from the perspective of the reviewer)


I know you didn't. I was referring to the reviewer as well, and also to loads of other people.
Ozman - 24.08.2010 at 12:37  
And YES Iron Maiden are alway cheery.
vezzy - 24.08.2010 at 12:44  
Written by Ozman on 24.08.2010 at 12:37

And YES Iron Maiden are alway cheery.


The closest they've gone to "dark"... well, I haven't really listened to Maiden in some time besides The Final Frontier, but pretty sure it was "Sanctuary". And that's just an up-tempo hard rock/metal song.
zagibu - 24.08.2010 at 15:13  
Actually, I think the only problem this album has is that most songs are only partly brilliant, and when rated as a whole song, somehow don't convince. It does have some great choruses and solos, though, and even some whole tracks are decent, if a little repetitive (e.g. Sign of the Cross, Man on the Edge, 2 A.M.).
The repetition was even worse on the following album, although that, too, had its moments.
Papa_Ray - 24.08.2010 at 22:50  
This is a different kind of dark, especially in regards to the material. The music and lyrics to this album are more introspective, from the mind of Steve Harris and his struggles with religion to the mind of soldiers. As a matter of fact, I think "Fortunes of War" and "The Aftermath" are among the more hopeless Maiden songs. Hopelessness and the feeling of being lost really fuel this album.

As for Maiden being happy all the time, I wholeheartedly disagree. There is hardly an ounce of the happiness in this disc that crippled No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark. It seemed to me like they were going out of their way to sound happy on those two albums, not to mention Bruce purposely singing rougher, which just sounded awful to me.
Angelic Storm - 24.08.2010 at 22:59  
Written by Papa_Ray on 24.08.2010 at 22:50

This is a different kind of dark, especially in regards to the material. The music and lyrics to this album are more introspective, from the mind of Steve Harris and his struggles with religion to the mind of soldiers. As a matter of fact, I think "Fortunes of War" and "The Aftermath" are among the more hopeless Maiden songs. Hopelessness and the feeling of being lost really fuel this album.


That is very true. As for those two songs, I dont like "Fortunes Of War" at all, but I love "The Aftermath"! xD

Quote:
As for Maiden being happy all the time, I wholeheartedly disagree. There is hardly an ounce of the happiness in this disc that crippled No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark. It seemed to me like they were going out of their way to sound happy on those two albums, not to mention Bruce purposely singing rougher, which just sounded awful to me.


Hmm... I dont think No Prayer... is a happy album at all. Aside from "Hooks In You" and "Tailgunner". None of the other songs are happy IMO, either in their lyrical or musical content.
vezzy - 24.08.2010 at 23:05  
I meant how it's upbeat and cheery. "Bring Your Daughter... To The Slaughter" for example.

There is nothing actually dark about it. Not at all. Sure, the lyrics may be (never noticed they were), but that doesn't affect the instrumental.
Fat & Sassy! - 24.08.2010 at 23:51  
Written by Angelic Storm on 24.08.2010 at 22:59

Hmm... I dont think No Prayer... is a happy album at all. Aside from "Hooks In You" and "Tailgunner". None of the other songs are happy IMO, either in their lyrical or musical content.


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
RavenKing - 25.08.2010 at 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.
Angelic Storm - 25.08.2010 at 00:46  
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.
Zergaloth - 25.08.2010 at 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.
Papa_Ray - 25.08.2010 at 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.
Derwood - 25.08.2010 at 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.
Fat & Sassy! - 25.08.2010 at 20:29  
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.
Angelic Storm - 25.08.2010 at 20:35  
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
Bovinus - 25.11.2010 at 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.
Void Eater - 25.07.2011 at 01:35  
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.
Papa_Ray - 25.07.2011 at 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.

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