Iron Maiden
The X Factor


3.5
great

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
August 2nd, 2006 | 74 replies | 33,785 views


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist


After 1992's Fear of the Dark, an album that, for the last time for another eleven years, hit #2 in the UK, Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson left the band he fronted for 11 years. Iron Maiden than began auditioning for new vocalists, both known and unknown. After listening to dozens of tryouts, the band finally selected Wolfsbane singer, Blaze Bailey. I find the changing of vocalists very welcoming, as I am not a fan of the raspy style of singing Bruce used on the previous to albums.

With Blaze, a new era began for the band. It was on the band's first Blaze Bailey album that they began writing what ended up being the precursor to their current day songs. The X Factor, the band's tenth release, featured songs unlike ever heard before on a Maiden record. These songs featured slow, quieter intros courtesy of Steve Harris bass lines, often with Blaze softly singing the first verse over them. The song then becomes heavier and faster resembling the traditional Iron Maiden sound, before the song fades out just as it began. Of course, The X Factor also features short, speedy songs such as Man on the Edge.

The brooding and melancholic music found on this album fits both Blaze's voice and the dark atmospheric lyrics that were written. Song subjects range from the inquisition in Sign of the Cross; to war in songs such as Fortunes of War, The Aftermath, and Blood on the Worlds Hands; to insanity in Man on the Edge, and The Edge of Darkness; as well as many other introspective subjects. Primary songwriter Steve Harris (who wrote or co-wrote 10 out of 11 songs) must have been going through a rough time during the writing of The X-Factor as the lyrics are darker and more negative than they have been on any release prior to The X Factor and since it was released.

An important part of the album is the often criticized Blaze Bailey himself. With his lower vocal range, he may not have been able too sing the old Iron Maiden classics as well as Bruce, his voice was perfect for the new release. His singing fits the melancholic feelings of The X Factor, and he sings with the needed emotion throughout the album. Blaze enhances the album's mood and atmosphere with his lower vocal register, bringing the depressing feelings of the songs to life. The band made an excellent choice picking their new frontman, given the direction the wanted to take. Blaze doesn't disappoint [me] and was very fun to listen to, especially on Sign of the Cross, where he sings "They'll be saying their prayers when the moment comes/There'll be penance to pay when it's Judgment Day" or his performance on The Edge of Darkness, one of the band's best songs from the Blaze era.

Despite the more metallic feel slightly disappearing, guitarists Dave Murray and Janick Gers are still excellent in The X Factor. While I don't like the production on their guitars at all, they work with what they have and churn out some impressive riffs. Catchy, melodic riffs (especially when combined with Blaze's singing) make up for the lack of heaviness. Murray and Gers solo at the right times, adding speed and power to songs. Dave and Janick are best on the opening, 11 minute epic Sign of the Cross, where they spearhead the long instrumental that makes up almost half of the song.

The X Factor was a change for Iron Maiden, and a very important one at that. At over 70 minutes, this album paved the way for future albums of similar length, like Brave New World, Dance of Death, and their upcoming album A Matter of Life and Death. To this very day, the album remains one of the more unpopular Iron Maiden albums, along with Virtual XI. The X Factor is the kind album you either really love or really hate, as it doesn't feature the band's traditional sound. If I could recommend one album to get samples from before purchasing, it would be The X Factor, as it seems to have a mixed bag of supporters and haters. Personally, I really enjoyed The X Factor, its introspective lyrics, and Blaze's singing. That said, I would prefer the band refraining from recording an album similar to this one.

Recommended Songs:
The Sign of the Cross
The Edge of Darkness
Man on the Edge
Lord of the Flies



Recent reviews by this author
Funeral for a Friend ConduitPropagandhi Failed States
Tycho DiveMegadeth Th1rt3en
Fair to Midland Arrows and AnchorsArch Enemy Khaos Legions
user ratings (906)
Chart.
2.8
good
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
south_of_heaven 11
August 2nd 2006



5433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review, but this is Maiden's weakest IMO. I can't stand Blaze...

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, it's not for everyone. This album took me a long time to get into.

south_of_heaven 11
August 2nd 2006



5433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This was actually the first album I bought by Maiden, which means it was the first time I had ever heard them. A sub-par representation of what they're capable of. Luckily I sucked it up and gave their self-titled a try...and the rest was history.

tom79
August 2nd 2006



3363 Comments


Nice Review. I haven't got this album yet though.

Leafs eh...Habs all the way :p

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

deflepp0925
August 2nd 2006



213 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Blaze is horrible
has anyone else here heard futureal???? iron maiden started to sound bad after blaze came in
even the music sounded different we should all be damn glad that bruce came back
as for the review, i disagree highly with some of it, although it was fairly well written review,
and by the way tom, i wouldnt waste your money on anything with blaze on it

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


This was actually the first album I bought by Maiden, which means it was the first time I had ever heard them. A sub-par representation of what they're capable of. Luckily I sucked it up and gave their self-titled a try...and the rest was history.

I agree that it was sub-par by their standards. Their debut to SSOASS is much superior to this.


as for the review, i disagree highly with some of it, although it was fairly well written review,

Fairly well written reviews get negged? :confused:
Any advice then?


Leafs eh...Habs all the way :p

Habs are pretty cool, too. :pThis Message Edited On 08.02.06

south_of_heaven 11
August 2nd 2006



5433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

silly negs ftw

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 2nd 2006



4405 Comments


That's him trying to play it cool.

Don't worry. T'was a marvelous review.This Message Edited On 08.02.06

south_of_heaven 11
August 2nd 2006



5433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Mike. Remember. It is required of you to review 'A Matter of Life and Death' immeidiantly upon its release. If not...well, lets not go there sonny...

francesfarmer
August 2nd 2006



1477 Comments


Great job.

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


Mike. Remember. It is required of you to review 'A Matter of Life and Death' immeidiantly upon its release. If not...well, lets not go there sonny...

Of course. :p

When's the release date?

south_of_heaven 11
August 2nd 2006



5433 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

September 5th I believe homie...I know its early september...

mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
August 2nd 2006



17920 Comments


Nice review.

deflepp0925
August 2nd 2006



213 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

sorry, i think i accidently negged you, i will see if mods can take it off, i just realized, i havent logged in since earlier,
sry, i am pretty sure it was me, but just to let you know, i wouldnt have negged it so...


Mikesn
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


September 5th I believe homie...I know its early september...

Oh ok. It should be a great fall. Maiden, Megadeth, and Motorhead. What more could you ask for.


sorry, i think i accidently negged you, i will see if mods can take it off, i just realized, i havent logged in since earlier,

sry, i am pretty sure it was me, but just to let you know, i wouldnt have negged it so...

No sweat man, I was just wondering.

Thanks for the comments.

deflepp0925
August 2nd 2006



213 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

i just sent a message to the mods, see if they can fix it
although you are extremely incorrect about blaze, again, pretty well written for the most part

Mikesn
Emeritus
August 2nd 2006



3709 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It's all opinion. :p

I don't think Blaze would be that great on Maiden's older material, his singing in Afraid to Shoot Strangers was ok, but he doesn't really have the voice for Maiden's classic material like Aces High or something.

Bron-Yr-Aur
August 3rd 2006



4405 Comments



sorry, i think i accidently negged you, i will see if mods can take it off, i just realized, i havent logged in since earlier,

sry, i am pretty sure it was me, but just to let you know, i wouldnt have negged it so...


You can just click 'Yes' and the neg will change. You already said it's well-written, mods aren't needed here.


Monty666
August 3rd 2006



12 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I havent gotten this yet, great review

temporary
August 3rd 2006



207 Comments


I love Blaze's voice, his solo stuff owns. Very good review, showing how underrated he is.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy