The sound, at its whole, was unlike anything Maiden had previously authored and they had even made poor Eddie a helpless medical test subject on the cover. Desperately in search of a direction that would stick without compromising their ideals, Maiden were stuck in an era where they were unconvincingly trying to reclaim previous successes, returning to their roots see No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark.
Their inherent need to evolve and stake out new territory defiantly contrasted those efforts and the results come off as confused, cheap and underwhelming… or do they? The ill-will garnered by the album at the time of its release was warranted key word: was , but that was when Maiden fans and their beloved heavy metal were both in a time of turmoil.
Bruce and Adrian are back and Maiden are doing just fine, touring the world in custom-outfitted jumbo jets piloted by their own damn singer. Some other have at least a certain number of decent sequences "Look for the Truth" , but a lot of comparatively soft instrumental sections kill any form of vigorous expressiveness. The longer the full-length lasts, the more it becomes clear that Maiden suffered from a strange kind of collective identy crisis - and no doctor was available.
Instead of coming to the point, the guys formed overlong tracks without rhyme or reason. Tennis players would speak of "unforced errors" when listening, for instance, to parts like the senseless bass introduction of "Blood on the World's Hand". As a result, this partly dark track lacks compactness and falls through the net. But it's a general problem - too many soft sections hurt the power and the flow of an album which is simply too long and, sorry for that, predominantly boring.
The production is okay, Blaze does his best and Maiden songs always have a certain substance, but the complete absence of thrilling moments during the last 50 minutes constitutes an evidence of incapacity. As much as I regret it, songs like the faceless and uninspired "2 A. From my point of view, the first songs save this album as far as possible. Especially "The Sign of the Cross" marks an essential track for the followers of Harris and his comrades.
One of his previous comrades, Blaze Bailey, has recently said in an interview with the German magazine Deaf Forever that he loves both albums, but I am sorry that I cannot share the point of view of this upstanding artist. Anyhow, as mentioned before, the engagement of Blaze was not the reason for the pretty weak result called "The X Factor". I must say that "The X Factor" is not only a very technical album, but splatters the paint with a lot of originality which keeps marking its dark presence in many melodies and interludes on this record.
The musical quality manages to maintain itself throughout the whole album. The X Factor has epics songs that honour the things which Maiden did in the past, just like the strong masterpiece and long opener "Sign of the Cross" with technical combination of Murray's and Gers' guitar skills and that one of fantastic monastery's orchestra, "Fortunes of War" is another long song that takes you through a seven-minute musical trip, the bass at sounds very lugubrious, then comes a good solo which could sound as a soundtrack for desolate places in movies, "The Edge of Darkness" with those melodic guitar harmonies and killer riff right in the middle is just a signal of being alert.
And finally "Blood on the World's Hands", a worthy song with an emotional guitar touch and a contagious keyboard atmosphere, featuring the best Bayley's vocal performance on this masterpiece. Blaze try to do the impossible to please old fans who would see this new proposal which Maiden did prepare for them: finally, his voice fits perfectly with the album's dark ambient, as a result.
Although the controversy did spread because of his voice, his real and sincere tone gave a breath of fresh air for this band's sound. If you are going to enter into Maiden's world, be sure to avoid this one as first listening, try to make it the last Maiden album to hear and instead listen to their classics ones like "Powerslave" or "The Number of The Beast".
This is only for expert ears. If you're already a Maiden fan, try to be positive and open-minded, don't be disappointed. The cover is actually pretty cool, is a classic gore art and is probably the best feature of the record. The album is competent enough in light of progressive influences. It's not old Maiden at all, might be another band as well. I'd probably never guess it was Maiden when I was listening to it: no old lyrical themes, no same guitar solos at all, the production and even voice is more or less unrecognizable.
But it's heavy metal which approaches standards measures, the "annoying" songwriting is what a lot of people will take away from it. The production is probably the best part of The X Factor, better than Fear of the Dark, and I guess it bodes well for fans who love live versions, especially when Bruce sings Sign of the Cross, look for the live versions with Bruce, I think you'll like it. Don't fall for fans' defamatory statements.
Looks like that this is a definite love-or-hate-release, therefore I advise you downloading it before you buy it. If you prefer. The argument Brucey Brucey is the media star of Iron Maiden is a never-ending debate. His farewell from the band, which curiously coincided with their decline in popularity, almost provokes a cataclysm and the end of the band. Blaze is not exactly a paragon of virtues, who can't perform at Dickinson's level. However, something good this good gorilla had, and Harris must have seen something in him when he put him into the studio for recording The X-Factor.
Were backfired on them? If we could use the wildcard of the public, we'd say yes, but I'm going to risk and I'll say no, and I'm saying no because the first moment I put The X-Factor in my musical tinplate I've perceived this was a good record. Everybody knows the reason to buy a disc again. Because it's Maiden. It becomes an even bigger challenge if the vocalist is the one replaced, since the voice is the hallmark of a music group.
To replace Dickinson is not easy. No Prayer is a rambling record, with no history. While Fear of the Dark was a bit more bearable as you'd had to skip only about 3 fillers throughout the album. Perhaps entangled in melancholy and nostalgia. Perhaps the historical weight and quality of Dickinson was an inevitable slab in this world of comparisons, which you know they're hateful, but if we analyse this disc bypassing their discography, we'll realise that we're before an interesting disc.
Musically speaking the album is darker, slower, and introspective at times. At the first time, this doesn't start with a fast and hook song, but it's fine done with a jewel called "Sign Of The Cross", a convoluted song of more than 11 minutes. Keyboards on the front line and with Blaze's voice gaining serving as the musical protagonist.
If there's a boring and soporific album in the history of heavy metal, this disc is. The guilt of all this has Harris and company That's who Bruce's fanboys will talk about. So far, there's everything to be a good record: inspired musicians, a correct production very Maiden , and especially good songs. So far we found a much better album than several ones of Bruce's comeback, and I say so far because I haven't said anything about how wonder, great treasure this stuff is.
Why did they close the way to proposals like "Judgment Of Heaven"? For me, it's the definitive track from the album. Unfortunately, the band forgot it like many others; but with no leaving their classic patterns, which are a true breath of fresh air from these British musicians.
I'm with the opinion that Dickinson would never return if Virtual XI was successful. In the end, the duck which was less at fault did pay. Which was Blaze and not the Boss, as it happens in all companies. For every Iron Maiden fan who has played the 80's classics on their player times over each, coming into an album like this, probably you're not going to be pleased at all.
In fact, you're probably going to be so pissed off that you would deem it the worst Iron Maiden album ever made. The X Factor was the first album of Blaze Bayley, and he has input on the songwriting on his first album unlike anyone else in maiden excluding Harris and Murray. And it's quite easy to see that he influenced this album indeed. If you don't like Blaze as a singer, of course, you're going to not like this album. I like Blaze's voice, it's world apart from Bruce, but it suits this album.
This is the darkest, stormiest Maiden album, and they will never again make material like this. Lyrically this album features Harris' divorce and there are a few tracks that reflect how lost he seems to be feeling like in "Judgement of Heaven" or "2 AM", and also war, which some songs reflect the Vietnam war. The production is fairly good, it's a lot different to previous maiden albums, I would say it is the darkest sounding production, toned down upper midrange in the guitars and recessed treble, but not rolled off.
The guitars are sort of sound a bit veiled and energy lacking in low tone and on some songs, there's a bit of distortion on the snare drums. All these "factors", make this album a heterogeneous disc in terms of compositions, structures and performance. At most the best part of this album, which is simply amazing is that some of the guitar riffs and basslines and drums working together are amazing, some of the greatest things that maiden has ever done.
Such as when Maiden has this progressive part of "Sign of the Cross" which gets the listener more and more built up. It's fucking amazing. There are other instances of this on the album too. There are some top songs on this album that are not recognised enough as Maiden greats, and those songs are "Blood on the World's Hands", "The Aftermath" and "The Edge of Darkness".
These songs have powerful lyrics, normally I've no problem with the lyrics, but those songs stand out from the rest on the album in this category. Not only that, but the structure, music, solos, acoustic bass are equally as fantastic. The Aftermath portrays most of the feelings a soldier would have after coming home from a war, as having done plenty of war history. Listening to this album is like giving an expensive wine to someone who doesn't like wine. At first he will detest it for its rough taste, its hardness of palate and strong aroma.
While the same liquid in a discerning palate, will have the necessary time to repose, to perceive its aromas and nuances in a suitable cup, which becomes an unique experience. Now I can say my palate has evolved. I'm a wine taster.
And now that I've explained invalid 90 percent of all Maiden album rankings in existence, I'll tell you why. After the happy eighties Maiden's sound gradually got darker, more introspective. But even with its darkness and its gloomy sound, the album does hint at positives.
Most often in the guitars. Dave Murray and Janick Gers make their third Maiden record together and their chemistry is tighter than before. The overall guitar sound is also a big improvement from the previous two albums. Sometimes Murray feels a bit laid back while the brisk Gers keeps even the darkest tracks alive. Very few Maiden albums have had song material this strong.
Most albums have one or a few half weak songs, but The X Factor has zero. In its entirety, the album reaches 70 minutes. That's a pretty long album. Despite this, no single song feels like filler, even to the point that I'd have wanted at least one more song. Of course, the one who takes the hardest beating for this album is Blaze Bayley. Only because he isn't Bruce Dickinson or his clone. But the truth is he is perfect for the part. The song is straight to the point, hinting of classic Maiden, with a sublime bass line by Steve Harris, with a distinct 90's touch.
Many of the lyrics Bayley gets to sing are soul searching, introspective, almost haunted. They are clear testament to Harris' mental health at the time, having gone through divorce, the loss of front man Dickinson, long time Maiden producer Martin Birch and the passing of his father. Harris' sound on The X Factor is deep and dark and seems to go hand in hand with Bayley's uncontrollably emotive voice. The bass intro to 'Blood On The World's Hands' is 70 seconds in length and gives the song a distinct sense of self.
The guitar leads in the song are also close to perfect, while the vocal melodies do lack in something that I can't put my finger on. It's by no account a bad song, quite the opposite, but still is the weakest on the album. A seven minute relic where Bayley goes through close to every emotive state there is. Somewhat repetitive in its "chorus", but Harris makes one of his career's best deliveries.
And the lead guitar, melancholic, foreboding and among the best I've heard. Another highlight is 'Judgement Of Heaven'. It's insane that Maiden haven't played it live. It's only as of late that Bayley has picked it up for a few solo performances.
Even though it goes through the same darkness that the rest of the album does, it does hint of some positivity. As if Heaven's judgement might not be bad, in the end. In fact, that might be the biggest flaw that The X Factor makes. Song placement. Instead, the opener would have been my choice of closing song. It's Maiden's most theatrical song. And one of their best. It's a "Harris epic" dealing with the Spanish inquisition.
Slow, low key and foreboding. It's the greatest song Bayley has ever sung, and as I said, one of Maiden's greatest tracks. In its eleven minute run time, it has everything. The slow build up leads to fast, heavy parts where Bayley's singing is simply sublime. Murray and Gers shines with perfect guitar parts. In short, probably the most underrated song ever. As a whole, The X Factor is one of Maiden's most complete albums. Several lists that I've read ranks it as Maiden's worst, and to tell you the truth, that's all bullshit by idiots writing what "fans" want to hear; that everything Maiden has done after the 80's suck.
The kind of people who covers his ears and goes "la la la la" when you try to convince them to give the album an honest chance. But no. And so The X Factor is the most underrated album there is. Simply because Bruce Dickinson or his clone doesn't sing on it. And no, not many good things came out of it Life after Bruce… it wasn't an easy stage in Iron Maiden's career.
Not only did traditional heavy metal as whole take a major bust in popularity during the 90s, but Iron Maiden's earlier studio output from that decade wasn't all that encouraging. It took them a long time to find a replacement for Dickinson, and by that time the band's popularity had dropped quite a bit.
But he was nonetheless chosen to carry Eddie's torch, and at least he tried. Iron Maiden's tenth studio recording is quite a large beast, clocking at one hour and eleven minutes. There are, however, painfully few moments of true Iron grandeur to be found here. Greater emphasis is placed on the guitars and Steve's muscular and acrobatic as usual bass, as if to compete with the groove metal outfits polluting the scene. The solos are quite alright, but again, I believe Iron Maiden's golden era of guitar solos were the 80s.
Nicko's drums also sound heavier than usual, not in a good heavy metal way, but stale and slow, heavy as in something that's difficult to lift, like he's playing without drive and energy. The snare in particular, almost sounds St. Anger -esque. But unsurprisingly, the lowest point of the album is of course Blaze's voice, which has nothing incendiary to it. Au contraire; it's monotone, unexpressive and remains in the same gruffy mid-range register throughout the entire recording.
He attempts a few Dickinsoninan, passionate screams, but the unaccomplished results sound fake and unoriginal. In fact, he does try to sound like Bruce most of the time, but ends up sounding like an older, yet to be heard, version of him.
Why did they choose this bloke as their frontman is beyond me, but history has been written. Unlike Judas Priest's replacement for the Metal God during the 90s and beyond, who at least had the technical chops, Blaze is mediocre at best and gets tiresome really soon. I couldn't help myself but to envision these eleven tunes with Bruce at the mic.
Not that it would instantly transform it into a masterpiece, though. That's right, I also prefer Bruce's lyrics to Blaze's. Even so, it is my favorite Blaze-era song. But truth is most songs blend into one another and lack enough personality to be remembered or recognized. They do still sound Iron Maiden, but in a generic, uninspiring way. It's amazing how the return of our beloved Bruce and Adrian would reinvigorate and rejuvenate the rest of the Irons at the turn of the Century.
As for The X Factor , whenever I'm curious enough to revisit it, which doesn't happen too often, I just can't avoid picturing a geriatric Eddie, reassembled from the pieces the industrial butchering on the Hugh Syme cover artwork left, and strolling in a wheelchair at a slug pace, mindlessly drooling, its glowing tiny eyes staring lifelessly at a fixed point maybe a Blaze pic hanging on the wall. Bayley would remain with the album for yet another disappointing release, but fortunately for us, Eddie would return later, as mighty as ever.
As I sit here listening to The X Factor, I can't help but feel frustrated with the undeserved hatred towards this misunderstood masterpiece. If you ask metal fans what they think about Maiden's first album with Blaze, more often than not they'll say it was a mistake, the album that should've never been, the lowest point in Maiden's career. Granted, everybody is entitled to their opinion and many of my Maiden-loving friends share this attitude towards The X Factor, but I certainly wish there were something I could do to make them appreciate the dark beauty of this superb album.
Now, I've always thought that if you have to explain why something is good, chances are it's actually not that good at all. See, you can't make people like sushi if they find it disgusting no matter how many times you explain why sushi is delicious. They know what they like and what they don't like, but sushi is an acquired taste I was sitting there in my bedroom feeling totally baffled. I just couldn't figure out what Maiden had tried to do with such a weird collection of sad and dark songs.
There was no The Trooper, no glorious choruses, no hooks, no catchy songs, no trace of the Iron Maiden I'd come to love. The biggest problem with The X Factor is not the music, but the fact that people fail to appreciate it for what it is.
Fans of Maiden that don't get The X Factor compare it to the albums Maiden recorded with Bruce back in the early s and that's where the problem lies. Let me explain why I love The X Factor and the reasons you should listen to it in a different way. If this review makes you want to listen to it again and give it another chance, I'll be satisfied. Who knows? You may well rediscover it and come to love it. There are bands that have chosen to always write about the same topic over and over again, bands like Cannibal Corpse gore and Deicide Satan and a never ending war against Christianity.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. I actually happen to like them both, but there are other bands that like to write about many different topics. A myriad of them, if you will, bands like Megadeth, Metallica and Iron Maiden.
A song about a prostitute. Fear of the Dark? To Tame A Land? A famous book you should read if you haven't already. Where Eagles Dare and Tailgunner? World War II. Weekend Warrior? Soccer hooligans. What am I getting at? Well, Steve Harris has never restricted his songs to a single topic.
He's penned songs about movies, TV shows, literature, history, etc, etc. Such composers can't help it if the way they feel in a particular period of their lives influences their songwriting. I mean, I guess Alex Webster Cannibal Corpse will always write about zombies, regardless of what's going on in his life.
They forget that when it came to writing songs for the album that would eventually be called The X Factor, four major changes had taken place in Steve Harris' life, changes that undoubtedly impacted his music. What changes? He got divorced, 2. Bruce left Iron Maiden, 3. Martin Birch stopped producing Iron Maiden records, and 4. His father passed away. These four major changes are not to be underestimated and neither should their immediate effect on Maiden.
First his divorce. He had been married 16 years. Not And it all came crashing down in with all the pain a divorce usually entails. How do you think he felt? I don't know how many years he dated his ex-wife before they got married, but we could be talking about a relationship that may have well lasted 20 years. Maybe even more. Then, Bruce announces he's leaving the band.
Another important relationship in his life comes to an end, and a painful one at that. Remember, Bruce Dickinson never told Steve he was leaving the band. Steve found out because Rod told him, and according to the official biography, Steve felt betrayed and hurt. The frontman of your band, a person you may not be the best of friends with, but with whom you undeniably had an important relationship with, stabs you in the back and walks away after what?
How would YOU have felt? And then another blow. His friend Martin Birch who had produced and engineered every single Maiden album since decides to call it quits. The man responsible for that classic Maiden sound we all love says "ok. I'm done". I'm sure that was not an easy time for the genius behind Iron Maiden. And on top of all that, his father passes away. So, in the face of all that, how can we expect Steve Harris to write about books, historical figures, or pyramids?
The man was depressed, for God's sake, and that depression can be heard throughout The X Factor. All you have to do is read the lyrics. It's pretty clear, actually: "I'm scarred for life, but it's not my flesh that's wounded", "Sometimes I wake, I feel that my spirit's broken", "Now that your faith will be put to the test.
Nothing to do, but await what is coming", "I've felt like suicide a thousand times or more". These lyrics are, if you ask me, a cry for help. They're a unique opportunity to get inside Steve Harris' head and feel what he was going through in such a dark period of his life. So no wonder The X Factor is a dark album.
It just couldn't have been any other way. Iron Maiden was a different band when they wrote Infinite Dreams. It was a different time period with different circumstances. Sometimes it's easy to forget how much a producer can influence a band's sounds or the decisions made during the recording process.
But remember the role played by Bob Rock in Metallica's eponymous album? Remember Scott Burns' influence in death metal? And he was now gone. And then there's the issue of Blaze's voice. I think he takes too much flak, considering the fact that his voice fits perfectly with the dark atmosphere of the album.
And not only that, you must also take into account the fact that the odds were stacked against him from the get-go. He was chosen to replace Bruce Dickinson, one of the greatest heavy metal singers of all time. Blaze had big shoes to fill. Well, that sounds like an understatement. He had HUGE shoes to fill. There's just no way he was going to live up to the expectations. It was an impossible job. Even if there are many fans out there who like his voice, most people can't help thinking "he's no Bruce Dickinson", and that's also unfair.
He did the job he was hired to do and his performance on The X Factor is superb. The X Factor is not an album for everybody. There are no songs to sing along to with the exception of Man of the Edge, perhaps. It's not a fun album in the conventional sense of the word. It's slow and you won't hear Maiden doing what they do best, but every song is haunting and seductively simple.
The lyrics are powerful and evocative. The feelings that emanate from them are not consistent with your typical heavy metal spirit, but that's the beauty of this album. I don't know if I've managed to make you see things in a different way. I certainly hope so. But if not, let me try one more time before I end this review. Listen to The X Factor without comparing it to any other Maiden album. Appreciate it for what it is.
Carefully read the lyrics and submerge yourself in Maiden's darkest period. Feel the pain Steve Harris felt and the endless questions that surely tormented him at the time. Let the gloomy atmosphere of The X Factor surround you and you'll understand why it doesn't have a single truly catchy song. The X Factor is a beautiful masterpiece. A pessimistic, melancholic, and heartbreaking album.
But it is indeed not beautiful in a conventional way. See for yourself. Listen and understand. I tend to talk a lot of shit on the Blaze Bayley era of Iron Maiden. I'm just not a fan of him fronting the band. I honestly disliked the album the first few times I tried it, and I was very open about it.
However, in recent years it's grown on me a lot more, and while many of my original complaints are still intact, I think I rate this album much higher now than I would have even a year ago. And yet, I've never been as open about how I've come around to it as about my original dislike for it.
However, the rest of the band has adapted to this change, adopting a darker overall feel for this album, but still staying undeniably Maiden. Other songs of excellence here are Man on the Edge, with some high speeds, sounding not entirely like some of their earlier works. Blood on the World's hands kicks off with a somewhat interesting bass intro, going into a somewhat aggressive but very Maiden sounding song about corruption and the state of the world and whatnot.
Obviously, the lyrics here have also taken a darker tone, not that Maiden have always written the happiest of lyrics. It actually almost has traces of Iron Maiden's later song Dance of Death keeping in mind that's a pretty loose comparison. As a whole, while not entirely bad the song just seems to not really go anywhere; however the individual parts are somewhat interesting.
In case you might not have noticed quiet intros going into heavier songs is something of a theme here. It happens on almost every song. And when listening through it becomes somewhat tiresome. With beer. Decent, cool ending, but not incredibly interesting otherwise. The verse riff is somewhat start and stop-ish and awkward, and the pre-chorus is bland and not worth noting, but the chorus is very good.
If you can appreciate a darker Iron Maiden without Bruce, give it a shot. I know that this is not a very common or popular opinion, but for me, the X-Factor is my favourite Iron Maiden record. I have known the band with Bruce Dickinson as a singer and I really liked their classical records like "Powerslave" or "Somewhere in time" and even their early stuff with Paul Di'Anno.
I discovered the Blaze Bayley era of the band quite late and had heard a lot of negative comments about him and the band's style and direction at the time when he was in it. When I first listened to the x-Factor, I really liked the dark and profound atmosphere but I found many songs on the album too long and too similar. Today, four years later, I have completely changed my point of view. This album has grown on me like no other album of the band.
It is way more intense and atmospheric than any other stuff the band has ever tried. It is probably the best metal record of the whole nineties to me. The album starts with one of my favourite Iron Maiden songs, "The sign of the cross". Many people say that this song is too long, too dark and too complicated to take it as an opener, but I don't think so.
The album introduces perfectly to the dark atmosphere of this whole piece of art. It is courageous to put this song as an opener but this courage was worth the try. The song starts with monk choirs and some really dark vibes before Blaze Bayley introduces himself as the new singer of Iron Maiden. I think that it was an excellent choice of Steve Harris to not choose a similar singer to Bruce Dickinson and take the easy way out with high pitched voice singer.
When Paul Di'Anno with his wild voice and punk attitude had left the band, Steve Harris had also chosen to not take a similar singer but to try something different with Bruce Dickinson's very particular voice and it has been the best choice at that time, too. It's the same thing here. Bruce Dickinson would have never been able to sing as dark, as melancholic, as angry and desperate as Blaze Bayley on the X-Factor.
Bruce Dickinson does some great performances of some of the album's songs on later live releases, but he sings the songs way too emotional, way too positive. Everything fits on this album. The guitar solos are emotional even if Adrian Smith isn't present here. Steve Harris is probably doing the job of his career on this album, you can very often hear his diversified and brilliant bass play and this dark tuned instruments fits perfectly to the atmosphere of the album and it sounds really fresh and surprising that this metal record is more based on the bass guitar than on the ordinary guitars.
You've got all of this already in the first song and that's what makes him so innovative. The melody of the bridge and the chorus is really catchy and doesn't go out of your mind any more once you have listened to it. It is a very fresh banger and welcome change in style in the very tension filled album. A very dark, sad Blaze Bayley gets you in a very dark and emotional mood, the bass introduction by Steve Harris is the best one he has ever done.
The guitars that interrupt the brilliant plugged and unplugged bass play sound very melodic and remind me of Mike Oldfield. The bridge to the second part of the songs fits perfectly and the songs is very diversified with very slow and very fast parts, sing-along parts and storyteller parts, melodic guitar solos and brilliant bass guitar passages. The outro closes the circle perfectly to the beginning of this masterpiece.
Blaze Bayley sings in a stunning way after the intense introduction, you can really feel his desperate anger. He is not only a singer, he "lives" the lyrics and you get completely absorbed by his style. This song has great and atmospheric but very simple sing-along parts that fits perfectly with the rest of the song. I really like the somehow dreamy and melancholic guitars in the introduction and the intelligent lyrics of this song.
The chorus is really not what you are used to listen to when you listen to this band and this is what makes this song very special and interesting. Give this song the time it needs to convince you, but once it makes "click" in your head you will really be into its very particular style and atmosphere.
The lyrics are so personal, so intense and so heavy that it really touches you. After the dark and desperate introduction and first verse, the chorus is so optimistic and the band makes you travel from hell to heaven and back. The melodic twin guitar parts are brilliant in the bridge are just amazing and the gallopping bumble bee bass guitar and Blaze's angry voice create a create contrast and an antithesis that fits with the lyrics.
The screams in the outro are somehow a little bit inappropriate and strange but I take this as another surprise that underlines the emotions of the song. Some people say that it just sounds as if Steve Harris was tuning his instrument and playing some simple chords, but I wouldn't say that. The bass guitar has almost some mysterious folk sounds and the transition to the body of the song is perfectly done.
Blaze Bayley sings then in a stunning and very emotional way. The uneasy and unusual chorus fits with the atmosphere of the song and the melodic bridge of the song gives you a little break and even some chills. Some dark orchestrations or keyboards underline the atmosphere of the song like in the opening track and this is very well done. It's introduction, with a helicopter sound and once again a very dominant bass guitar play and some simple guitar harmonies over it, seemed very long and unnecessary to me.
Today, I realise that this part is necessary to create a very slow paced and depressive atmosphere that underlines the lyrics of the song. But it's worth waiting the time before the song gets heavier and has some very fast and stunning parts with a few melodic guitar solos.
The song really grows more and more on me and has passed from the bottom to the top 3 songs of the album for me. It gives you a little break from the dark and complicated songs but it contains a very melancholic atmosphere.
The melodic guitars dominate the bass guitar for the first time on the album and Dave Murray and Janick Gers do a brilliant job here. The chorus is simple and melancholic and this song would also have been a good choice for a single.
Many people say that this song is the weakest one of the album, but I think it is a melodic and melancholic masterpiece and a welcome little change in style. It is very long, very complicated, has many changes and breaks. Blaze is really on the loose and sings in a very particular style, once almost rapping, than angrily screaming or roaring.
Almost folkloric bass interruptions, simple riffs, chill-out acoustic guitars and melodic guitar parts are all mixed together in this song and it is not easy to get an approach to that. Even after four years, I recognize the brilliant and innovating style of the songs but have some difficulties to really appreciate it.
It is a very interesting experiment and I believe that this song still needs some time and that I will appreciate it even more in a couple of years. It is like a good wine that becomes better with its age and this song has already passed from the state of "too weird" to the state of "innovative" so that I'm sure that this song is even able to grow more and more within the next years.
All in all, you have eleven dark and melancholic masterpieces on this album. This album is intense and difficult, but it is worth waiting and trying to get an approach to it. I am sure that this album will be considered as a classic and heavily underrated album in one or two decades just like "Somewhere in time" that was criticized when it came out and is considered as a masterpiece nowadays by many fans.
This album is the most intense and the most personal album of Iron Maiden. All the tragedy around the separation of Bruce Dickinson, the pressure and anger of the fans, Steve Harris' difficult divorce - all these things got combined and created an image of the band's surroundings and inner life that you can see and also listen to on this album.
The only negative point I see about this album is its average production especially "The sign of the cross" should kick out a little bit more as an opener. I would also understand if some people would say that some songs of the album are too similar and that one or two songs less would have done a better job but on the other hand, I am very happy to have them all on an album and I would have even add the brilliant "Virus" to the album which has been added on the "Best of the beast" greatest hits compilation one year later.
Even the b-sides "Judgement day" and "Justice of the peace" are brilliant and one could have easily created two great albums with this material! That's what i think is a sad thing as many fans do not even now those three masterpieces. Give this album a chance and let the band pull and drown you towards the edge of darkness! With Bruce Dickinson flying the coop, Iron Maiden were faced with a dire situation Who would even try?
I would have to think that the financial benefits of fronting one of the world's most recognizable heavy metal bands would certainly bring the roaches out of the woodwork, and in fact Maiden did audition a great many prospective replacements for their infamous second singer.
The band had survived the transition from Paul Di'anno to Bruce Dickinson, to be sure, but keep in mind those were the years the band was only beginning to generate buzz, they hadn't grown massive until the 80s, at which point Dickinson was the vocalist many identified with.
Obviously the band would be after someone with a professional pedigree, and that person wound up being Blaze Bayley, frontman for the band Wolfsbane who had released a few albums at that point; the first of which, Live Fast Die Fast, was quite a rollicking romp of fist fighting pub speed metal that generated some buzz at the end of the previous decade. The man had a good voice, at least one which fit his band's down to earth, brawling excess, but it was really nothing like Bruce Dickinson, so the decision felt quite controversial.
Still, an admirer of his previous band, I took the bus from University after classes the week this was released, and enthusiastically picked up my copy of The X Factor What I was greeted with when I first played the album, was, well Not shock that the new singer sucked, or that the band had somehow changed their direction.
Shock that even after No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark, both good but not great albums, the band could not rally up an acceptable set of songs to debut their new singer. Slowly, the latter half of the album started to grow on me, but the first half is almost inaccessibly boring. That is correct.
I am not blaming this one on Blaze Bayley, who seems to give it all he can, but simply cannot succeed when the music he is fronting is so crushingly mediocre. He's stretching himself out here, taking a more mellow approach than the Wolfsbane material I enjoyed, and his voice does seem to hold together, but it simply incapable of all the peaks and valleys of a Bruce Dickinson. Yet, he's the man with the job. It's plodding and dull, all of its best moments arriving when the band either makes the slight, sluggish lean towards warp drive, or provides Dominican-like chanting or some other nuance to distract the listener from how sterile the central riffing is.
Why this song has been included in the band's set list for years is far beyond my ability to comprehend, when so many others never made it there. Even this very album has better songs which have gone long ignored. Unfortunately, "Lord of the Flies" did not smack the taste out of my mouth, another of the band's Dire Straits-like intro rhythms descending into bland verse riffs that even the pumping of Harris' bass cannot salve.
Sadly, the center of the Tootsie Roll is still a few good licks away. After that, "Look for the Truth" wastes another few minutes in morose, wasteful balladry before it starts to bare its fangs, and the riffs barely carry it to the level of average. It wasn't until "Judgement of Heaven" that I got a song which didn't outright leaden my eyelids and pass me into a dull dreaming. It's not perfect, mind you, but at least the vocals, riffs and leads perk up the attention span, like the sad little melody after From here on, the album slowly tries to redeem itself like a slowly evolving beast that exchanges its fins for webbed feet to travel quick along the banks of mud at the edge of the primordial swamp.
Is it too little, too late? Yes it is. Thanks to the CD technology, it's not so hard And for all I might sing in favor of some of the album's later tracks, there are still none I would find worthy of any 'greatest hits' list when shuffling tracks about an.
It's almost as if the fan's negative, precognitive reaction to hearing a new album without their lord and master Bruce Dickinson not only psychically willed this album the chart lower than many of its predecessors, but also sapped the life energy directly from the band. Highlights: turn over enough rocks and you might found two or three, later in the search.
The 90s sure were a hard time for metal bands. With the rise of grunge and nu-metal the old bands were cast aside. The old metal was somehow fading away and most 80s bands tried different styles, and so did Iron Maiden. Besides their vocalist replacement, which probably needs no further explanation, they obtained a very dark sound for this album. When finally after a minute or so the band kicks in it becomes clear that the band have tried something different from the past.
The rest of the opening song continues to be very epic, and the long interlude might seem confusing at first, but evolves into something very enjoyable at second. I first wondered why the hell this mid-paced long song would be the album opener, but then I realized this song was the definition of The X Factor. The lyrics are mostly about war and related themes, but instead of concentrating on the battlefield, they tell the tale about what war does to the soldier.
These two songs, especially the latter, are truly two of the best songs off the album, leaving me struck not only by the epic music, but also by the great lyrics. The latter was based on one of the best movies I ever saw, Apocalypse Now. I this song is truly magnificent and certainly one of the best. This song is to this day still a one-of-a-kind Maiden song.
It starts off with a nice riff, and then changes to a guitar melody consisting of natural harmonics. Before you know it Blaze is rapping, and then after a sudden speed change we get an atmospheric chorus, which gets repeated a little faster later. The intermezzo is really epic, and at the end we have the previous mentioned parts repeated a few times. Not that Iron Maiden are progressive, but they certainly try to be in their most recent albums.
The songs are longer, have more content and tend to be more complex. The X Factor marks the beginning of that era by having two 8-minute plus songs and a majority of 5-minute plus songs. Though often looked at as a failure, I think it is their finest release to date. I would definitely recommend this album to anyone, whether they are familiar with Iron Maiden or not. The band was declining in mainstream popularity due to the departure of Bruce Dickinson three years prior, the recruitment of former Wolfsbane vocalist Blaze Bayley, and the general musical climate of the times.
The band members were also going through hard times in their personal lives with bassist Steve Harris dealing with a divorce and the death of his father and Blaze himself coming out of a motorcycle accident that put him out of commission for a year.
The resulting album is easily the darkest and most depressing in the Iron Maiden discography and continues to influence the band's sound to this very day. As expected with the change of vocalist, the album's sound is a lot different than the classic Maiden style that most listeners are used to. Blaze's baritone can't quite reach the high notes so effortlessly hit by the Air Raid Siren but that is really only a problem when he actually tries to do so The somewhat cringeworthy climax of "Judgement of Heaven" immediately comes to mind.
In contrast, he sounds more comfortable in his lower range and his morose tone fits the brooding atmosphere quite well, making it pretty hard to imagine what these songs would've sounded like if Dickinson had performed on them. Judging by the clips I've seen of the reunited line-up performing songs from this album live, I'm pretty sure Blaze was the man for the job While the melancholic atmosphere never lets down during the album's 70 minute running time, the songs themselves are packed with variety.
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If you had the chance again Would you change a thing at all? When you look back at your past Can you say that you are proud of what you've done? Are there times when you believe That the right you thought was wrong? All of my life I have believed Judgement of heaven is waiting for me All of my life I have believed Judgement of heaven is waiting for me Waiting for me Waiting for me Waiting for me All of my life now I have believed Judgement of heaven awaits for me All of my life now I have believed Judgement of heaven awaits for me All of my life I have believed Judgement of heaven is waiting for me All of my life I have believed Judgement of heaven is waiting for me Waiting for me Waiting for me Waiting for me Blood on the world's hands Harris Sometimes it makes me wonder Sometimes it makes me question Sometimes it makes me saddened Always it makes me angry but When you can see it happening The madness that's all around you Nobody seens to worry The world seems so powerless to act It's out of control Blood on the world's hands Each day a new toll Another assassination The same day a new creation But what are they coming into?
It's meaningless and trivial And it washes over me And once again I wonder Is this all there is for me? Here I am again Look at me again Here I am again On my own Trying hard to see What there is for me Here I am again On my own Life seens so pathetic I wish I could leave it all behind This canvas chair, this bed These walls that fall in on my mind Hold on for something better That just drags you through the dirt Do you just let go or carry on And try to take the hurt?
Do you think that you can have peace of mind? And have self believe or be satisfied? Do you think you even like yourself? Or really think you could be someone else? Is there something that you'd rather be? Never thought you'd be, had the chance to see All my life I've run away All my life I've tried to hide away Feel the paranoia creeping in Like a cancer eating at the skin Do you feel you've lost your self esteem?
And your self respect, what can you expect? All my life I've run away All my life I've tried to hide away All my life I've run away All my life I've tried to hide away All my life I've run astray Let my faith slip away All my life I've run astray Allowed my faith to drift away All my life I've run astray Let my faith slip away All my life I've run astray Allowed my faith to drift away Are you scared to look inside your mind? Are you worried just at what you'll find? Do you really want to face the truth?
Does it matter now? What have you got to lose? Try release the anger from within Forgive yourself a few immortal sins Do you really care what people think? Are you strong enough to release the guilt? All my life I've run away All my life I've tried to hide away All my life I've run astray Let my faith slip away All my life I've run astray Allowed my faith to drift away All my life I've run astray Let my faith slip away All my life I've run astray Allowed my faith to drift away.
Am Dm E Fortunes of war Judgement of heaven. Will I ever have the strenght to carry on? Up the Irons! Iron Maiden « The X Factor ». Sign of the Cross. Retrieved 27 June Music Legends. Retrieved 24 May Sanctuary Publishing. ISBN Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. Retrieved 22 September Planet Rock.
Retrieved 22 August Retrieved 26 June Australian Chart Book — illustrated ed. St Ives, N. Hung Medien. Retrieved 22 April Archived from the original on 22 October Retrieved 9 June Select Iron Maiden from the menu, then press OK. GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 26 April Retrieved 16 September Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment.
Official Charts Company. Retrieved 1 November UK Albums Chart. The Official Finnish Charts. Retrieved 17 October SNEP in French. British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 29 September The Soundhouse Tapes Live!! The Book of Souls: Live Chapter. Authority control MusicBrainz release group. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file.
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The X Factor is the tenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October through EMI Records. CMC International released the album in North America. The X Factor is the tenth studio album by English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October through EMI Records. CMC. Track Listings ; 3, Man On the Edge ; 4, Fortunes of War ; 5, Look for the Truth ; 6, The Aftermath ; 7, Judgement of Heaven.