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Iron Maiden - The X Factor CD (album) cover


Iron Maiden


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3.19 | 381 ratings

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4 stars You have to admire the cojones of Steve Harris... the long-adored singer of his band leaves, he hires a relative nobody (Blaze Bayley from defuct metallers Wolfsbane) and kicks off this album with a downbeat, depressingly brilliant 11 minute epic "Sign of the Cross." He may have alienated virtually everyone with this album, but I stubbornly argue that it's not only a great album, but one of Maiden's best. THE X-FACTOR is very much a reflection of Steve Harris' crumbling emotional state at the time, as he was going through a divorce with his wife. As such, this is unquestionably Maiden's darkest album, but it's also one of its most progressive! Whereas FEAR OF THE DARK clocked in at just under an hour and featured quite a bit of filler, this album is a whopping 71 minutes long and there's not a bad song on it! Blaze's vocals are a big departure from Dickinson's, and he spends most of this album singing in his low-tuned style. This is not an album to be listened to once or twice and, like all great albums, it's most certainly a grower. Over time, the nuances are revealed and one comes to appreciate just how much work went into this intricate and sophisticated collection of depressing stylings. The lyrics are culled from literature ("Lord of the Flies" and "The Edge of Darkness"), film ("Man on the Edge"), war angst ("Fortunes of War," "The Aftermath") and angst in general come to think of it ("2 AM"). Sonically, the album is almost intentionally gloomy, with the muddled guitars toned down in the mix and Harris' accentuated bass providing technicality... don't look for any overt metal stylings here... it's all texture and shading.
JohnGargo | 4/5 |


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