Rating:
5.5
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


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.

The vocals actually aren't as bad as proclaimed by almost everyone, it's just that Blaze Bayley is very far from Dickinson in terms of talent. But most songs of this album are just unbelievably bad for being Maiden material. As said, the first three tracks are great but then the experimenting goes too far, and I only find 'Look For The Truth' and 'Judgement Of Heaven' acceptable. Strange song structures, no solos, bad lyrics (!) and strange parts like the staggering intro in 'Fortunes Of War', bass solo attempts and parts that sounds like rehearsals and tunings.

As I first heard this album after the return of Dickinson, I'm aware that they managed to get back on their feet again, but if I've heard this album just when it was released I sure would've lost a lot of hope. Both tours with Blaze Bayley had to be cancelled before they were finished because Bayley got allergic reactions on stage - maybe if he had some in the studio as well the band would've released a good EP with the first three songs. Instead we've got Maidens worst album so far, an album which I don't recommend to anyone.

Performance: 7
Songwriting: 6
Originality: 7
Production: 8


Band profile: Iron Maiden
Album: The X Factor


 


written by Spyroid | 29.07.2008


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
Papa_Ray

Rating:
8.8
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.

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published 23.08.2010 | Comments (40)



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Katatronik - 30.07.2008 at 17:20  
One of their worst album, with Virtual XI, and not because of the Blaze voice (weak and unsuitable anyway)... Many songs here aren't good...
Spyroid - 30.07.2008 at 18:10  
Written by Katatronik on 30.07.2008 at 17:20

One of their worst album, with Virtual XI, and not because of the Blaze voice (weak and unsuitable anyway)... Many songs here aren't good...


I agree, I like Virtual XI because of the material. It's ten times better than on The X Factor.
totaliteraliter - 30.07.2008 at 19:40  
This is pretty easily one of my top three albums of theirs. Don't look at it expecting Bruce Maiden - too many people view this album as a failure at pumping out another standard, by the numbers Maiden album instead of a successful attempt at pursuing a new, darker direction. It's the culmination of 1990s Maiden, where historical/mythical themes were becoming tired and attempts were made to shift to a more modern focus. Here that works well, this isn't powerful and upbeat classic Maiden, this the is the bleak and disillusioned Maiden that was finally ready to address modernity in more direct terms. It's an important step for the band, and a precursor to their later classic: A Matter Of Life And Death. AMOLAD and X Factor are the albums that have kept Maiden alive and relevant, in spite of albums like Brave New World where they have risked turning into their own cover band.
Spyroid - 31.07.2008 at 01:50  
Written by totaliteraliter on 30.07.2008 at 19:40

This is pretty easily one of my top three albums of theirs. Don't look at it expecting Bruce Maiden - too many people view this album as a failure at pumping out another standard, by the numbers Maiden album instead of a successful attempt at pursuing a new, darker direction. It's the culmination of 1990s Maiden, where historical/mythical themes were becoming tired and attempts were made to shift to a more modern focus. Here that works well, this isn't powerful and upbeat classic Maiden, this the is the bleak and disillusioned Maiden that was finally ready to address modernity in more direct terms. It's an important step for the band, and a precursor to their later classic: A Matter Of Life And Death. AMOLAD and X Factor are the albums that have kept Maiden alive and relevant, in spite of albums like Brave New World where they have risked turning into their own cover band.


I don't see why a band has to "address modernity" when they can stick to a retro sound that is awesome. Because of that I love "Brave New World" but not this album. Sometimes experimenting/evolving can be great and create a band much better than the old one, but that really isn't necesary with Maiden. Or maybe it is, but not in the way of "The X Factor". Still - it's not really the atmosphere or "modernity" I don't like, I just think most of the songs stink an feel uninspired.
totaliteraliter - 01.08.2008 at 05:13  
Written by Spyroid on 31.07.2008 at 01:50
I don't see why a band has to "address modernity" when they can stick to a retro sound that is awesome. Because of that I love "Brave New World" but not this album.

The whole retro thing I just find sad. BNW reeks of pandering, like it was a play-it-safe-so-we-don't-lose-all-our-fans sort of exercise. If that was the kind of route they were going to stick with they might as well followed in the footsteps of so many classic rock bands who perpetually tour on the popularity of songs written decades ago without an attempt at relevance. But fortunately we've realized that BNW was a necessary(?) evil, it was a safe record that brought the casual fans back in while stagnating the band for a moment. On the last two records they must be feeling more confident in their popularity or at least more financially secure, because they're taking chances instead of giving the fans another predictable Maiden record. It finally sounds like they're having fun writing music again, instead of just having fun playing it.
Richard - 15.08.2008 at 04:30  
I think you both made some valid points (Spyroid and totaliteralier) - this is a pretty good album with an unexpected darker ("bleak and disillusioned") feel, and I think it's underrated... but there's nothing wrong with them playing their trademark style on albums like Brave New World. It's not necessarily about being 'retro', as they do have elements of progression as well.

I agree that some of the lyrics are a bit poor on this album - "once he built missiles, a nation's defense - now he can't even give birthday pres-ents" springs to mind! Although having said that, Man on the Edge is still a damn good song and probably my favourite on this album!
Spyroid - 15.08.2008 at 18:07  
Written by Richard on 15.08.2008 at 04:30

I think you both made some valid points (Spyroid and totaliteralier) - this is a pretty good album with an unexpected darker ("bleak and disillusioned") feel, and I think it's underrated... but there's nothing wrong with them playing their trademark style on albums like Brave New World. It's not necessarily about being 'retro', as they do have elements of progression as well.

I agree that some of the lyrics are a bit poor on this album - "once he built missiles, a nation's defense - now he can't even give birthday pres-ents" springs to mind! Although having said that, Man on the Edge is still a damn good song and probably my favourite on this album!


Thanks for the comment! I totally agree with you that Man on the Edge is a great song, it's better than most songs on No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of The Dark. Still, that's the only song I REALLY like on this album, thus the rating.
JohnDoe - 15.08.2008 at 21:01  
I like this album a lot - I guess I am a minority in this situation. It's a bit different from what they usually do, that's one reason why I like it. Blaze was a wrong choice for a replacement in the first place, he never fitted in, he was just a substitute i think, never a full time member, Harris and Co. did not use him (his abilities) properly; nevertheless, he did a pretty good job I understand why so many are disappointed, he is inferior to Bruce by far.
Favourite songs for me: Sign of the Cross, Blood on the World's Hands, The Aftermath, judgement of Heaven and Man on the Edge.
Spyroid - 15.08.2008 at 22:10  
Written by JohnDoe on 15.08.2008 at 21:01

I like this album a lot - I guess I am a minority in this situation. It's a bit different from what they usually do, that's one reason why I like it. Blaze was a wrong choice for a replacement in the first place, he never fitted in, he was just a substitute i think, never a full time member, Harris and Co. did not use him (his abilities) properly; nevertheless, he did a pretty good job I understand why so many are disappointed, he is inferior to Bruce by far.
Favourite songs for me: Sign of the Cross, Blood on the World's Hands, The Aftermath, judgement of Heaven and Man on the Edge.


Agree with you on Blaze. But I simply don't like the material on this album. Virtual XI is far superior, it's even better than a couple of albums with Bruce - atleast the material.
JohnDoe - 15.08.2008 at 22:47  
As i said i understand the disappointment around this album; yet, i enjoy it, i like what IM did on this album. I find Virtual XI weaker, but then again that's me. I like Virtual XI as well.
Richard - 16.08.2008 at 06:11  
Written by Spyroid on 15.08.2008 at 22:10

Virtual XI is far superior, it's even better than a couple of albums with Bruce - atleast the material.


Yeah, Virtual XI is a vastly underrated album - if I'm in a Maiden mood, I often reach for this album. The Angel and the Gambler is pretty crap but all the other songs are good, and a few are superb. Blaze's voice really shines on songs like 'The Clansman' and that Amigos one..
4look4rd - 21.08.2008 at 04:35  
Honestly I try to stay away from Maiden reviews, simply because people worship Bruce... Another thing, I personally dont like the "classic" albums, production is horrible and pretty much kills it, although most if not ALL songs from the whatsocalled classics are really good live...

Anyways, back on topic... Blaze has a pretty nice voice, I really enjoy it and I bet a lot of people would do too if he didnt have the "Iron Maiden" label upon his head
Spyroid - 21.08.2008 at 09:05  
Written by 4look4rd on 21.08.2008 at 04:35

Honestly I try to stay away from Maiden reviews, simply because people worship Bruce... Another thing, I personally dont like the "classic" albums, production is horrible and pretty much kills it, although most if not ALL songs from the whatsocalled classics are really good live...

Anyways, back on topic... Blaze has a pretty nice voice, I really enjoy it and I bet a lot of people would do too if he didnt have the "Iron Maiden" label upon his head


It's all quite simple - it doesn't matter how good you are when you have too big shoes to fill. At least for most people. I like Bayley a bit, atleast on Virtual XI, but I simply like Bruce 50 times more and I also think he's a more versatile and talented singer. Therefore it's quite hard for me to appreciate Bayley's performance in Iron Maiden.

You're welcome to read my Virtual XI review if this was to mainstream for ju
4look4rd - 23.08.2008 at 07:39  
Written by Spyroid on 21.08.2008 at 09:05

Written by 4look4rd on 21.08.2008 at 04:35

Honestly I try to stay away from Maiden reviews, simply because people worship Bruce... Another thing, I personally dont like the "classic" albums, production is horrible and pretty much kills it, although most if not ALL songs from the whatsocalled classics are really good live...

Anyways, back on topic... Blaze has a pretty nice voice, I really enjoy it and I bet a lot of people would do too if he didnt have the "Iron Maiden" label upon his head


It's all quite simple - it doesn't matter how good you are when you have too big shoes to fill. At least for most people. I like Bayley a bit, atleast on Virtual XI, but I simply like Bruce 50 times more and I also think he's a more versatile and talented singer. Therefore it's quite hard for me to appreciate Bayley's performance in Iron Maiden.

You're welcome to read my Virtual XI review if this was to mainstream for ju


No no, the review was great! You clearly expressed your views, I quite enjoy the album and Bayley's voice, I do like Bruce better with Iron Maiden too! However, if some people had listened to this album or Virtual XI without knowing it was Iron Maiden, I bet it would be more accepted (some would still not like those albums ofcourse)

So my final word is, its not an spectacular album, definitely no something maidens fan are used to hear, but its not a bad album nonetheless.

also, about filling Bruce's shoes I'd say that no vocalist would ever be able to do it, so instead of getting disapointed with whoever will try this impossible task, why not give the person a chance and listen to whatever he has to give... I know he didnt please many people, I guess I was just one of the few ones that enjoyed it XD

btw by no means Im saying I want Bayley on maiden instead of Bruce
MrSpaceman |BR| - 28.08.2008 at 22:17  
Man, Iron Maiden didn't made a such great album like The X-Factor since long time! It's one of the greatest Iron Maiden albums ever, just (a lot) different!

BTW, I think it shows that Steve Harris could start writing and call guest musicians to play with him, instead of the Iron Maiden... then he would have no problems to make more dark and deep songs like X-Factor's without the Iron Maiden flag on his back.
You can say that maybe it was just a moment, but songs like Sign of the Cross, Lord of the Flies, 2 AM, Edge of Darkness, The Aftermath and Blood on the World's Hands and Look for the Truth shows that Steve can really write something more political and with a singular point of view from the world and the society than just heavy metal fantasy music. (nothing against, I really love Iron Maiden and I'm a hardcore fan!)

Well... this is what I think!

Regards!
pdepmcp - 30.08.2008 at 02:09  
Written by totaliteraliter on 30.07.2008 at 19:40

This is pretty easily one of my top three albums of theirs. Don't look at it expecting Bruce Maiden - too many people view this album as a failure at pumping out another standard, by the numbers Maiden album instead of a successful attempt at pursuing a new, darker direction. It's the culmination of 1990s Maiden, where historical/mythical themes were becoming tired and attempts were made to shift to a more modern focus. Here that works well, this isn't powerful and upbeat classic Maiden, this the is the bleak and disillusioned Maiden that was finally ready to address modernity in more direct terms. It's an important step for the band, and a precursor to their later classic: A Matter Of Life And Death. AMOLAD and X Factor are the albums that have kept Maiden alive and relevant, in spite of albums like Brave New World where they have risked turning into their own cover band.


You have very interesting points.
I have to admit I never looked at it that way.

I can't really like it, though (I tried again last winter, after some years of silence, to give it 1 more chance, but...), but you opinion kind of woke me up and made me think.

thank you.
Nicko's Nose - 23.10.2008 at 03:49  
Extremely underrated!

Its a great album and I KNOW that a lot of people hate it only because the guy who sings on it isn't called Bruce Dickinson.

Btw, Blood On The World's Hands is perfect for Blaze's voice and it wouldn't sound better with Bruce's voice.
Spyroid - 23.10.2008 at 09:08  
Written by Nicko's Nose on 23.10.2008 at 03:49

Extremely underrated!

Its a great album and I KNOW that a lot of people hate it only because the guy who sings on it isn't called Bruce Dickinson.

Btw, Blood On The World's Hands is perfect for Blaze's voice and it wouldn't sound better with Bruce's voice.


Check out my Virtual XI review. I don't dislike this album mainly because of BB, but because it has gt the worst MAiden matieral.
Nicko's Nose - 23.10.2008 at 23:19  
Written by Spyroid on 23.10.2008 at 09:08

Written by Nicko's Nose on 23.10.2008 at 03:49

Extremely underrated!

Its a great album and I KNOW that a lot of people hate it only because the guy who sings on it isn't called Bruce Dickinson.

Btw, Blood On The World's Hands is perfect for Blaze's voice and it wouldn't sound better with Bruce's voice.


Check out my Virtual XI review. I don't dislike this album mainly because of BB, but because it has gt the worst MAiden matieral.

I disagree with your review... IMO, VXI is Maiden's most unoriginal and uninspired album. The riffs are generic and the melodies are FUCKING weak for Maiden.

BUT its not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be! The Clansman is a great song and Futureal, Lightning Strikes Twice and Como Estais Amigos (it sounds a lot like Look For The Truth in parts though) are good songs!
nana.MD - 24.10.2008 at 23:40  
I think this is one of maiden's most underrated albums...i don't seem to much many ppl that like it and the seem quite disappointed with it but i think it's a great album...man on the edge is one of my fav songs ever
Powerslavex - 28.11.2008 at 12:23  
I really like this album better than Virtual XI the first 2 tracks are magnificent
Ellrohir - 16.09.2009 at 12:20  
For example Sign Of The Cross is very nice song, if nothing else
Dangerboner - 16.09.2009 at 12:38  
I find it funny that people are calling this a darker side of Maiden. A darker side of Maiden is like a heated WNBA game, the Teletubbies arguing about purse accessories or a Batman coloring book - just totally irrelevant and lol-worthy.

One of the worst albums that I own, and I honestly don't give a shit that Bruce Dickinson isn't on it

@Joose
Lord_Regnier - 16.09.2009 at 13:53  
This album and "Virtual XI" both are horrifyingly bad.
Pathetic garbage boring as hell that doesn't worth listening to and should never have been recorded.

It's not the darker side of Maiden, it's the shitty side of Maiden. For a band that released so many great albums during the 80s, "The X Factor" and "Virtual XI" are an atrocity.
Ellrohir - 21.09.2009 at 11:30  
Listened to it and have to say - Sign Of The Cross and Look For The Truth are very good songs, with Bruce on vocals there would be nothing that people can criticize imo...then there is a number of "average" songs, but average only for Maiden, it means "good" among all songs...and only a few those i would call "bad" (or more likely "those, i wasnt interested by them")...i would give 7.8 to this album
thewall30 - 24.01.2010 at 07:15  
I really enjoy this album, Blaze does a pretty decent, par job on vocals (especially compared to the next album Virtual), some really great stand out songs on this albums such as: Sign Of The Cross, Lord Of The Flies, Edge Of Darkness to name a few...
Amadís - 04.05.2010 at 15:27  
Not bad album at all guys. All right, is not the best one, but is so much better than No Prayer for the Dying, and even Fear of the Dark. Long and epic songs like Look for the Thruth, and good tracks like Man on the Edge, I don´t know. I think the album is underrated.
Lord_Regnier - 05.05.2010 at 04:08  
"As I first heard this album after the return of Dickinson, I'm aware that they managed to get back on their feet again, but if I've heard this album just when it was released I sure would've lost a lot of hope. "

Now you have a slight idea how the old fans who followed Iron Maiden during the 80s felt when they heard this piece of crap. But to really understand the full extent of the disappointment and frustration lots of old fans felt, you would need to have been there during the 80s.

And there's no way this garbage can be underrated. It can only be overrated.

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