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Iron Maiden The X Factor album cover
3.18 | 403 ratings | 29 reviews | 8% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Sign Of The Cross (11:17)
2. Lord Of The Flies (5:03)
3. Man On The Edge (4:13)
4. Fortunes Of War (7:23)
5. Look For The Truth (5:10)
6. Aftermath (6:21)
7. Judgement Of Heaven (5:12)
8. Blood On The World's Hands (5:57)
9. Edge Of Darkness (6:39)
10. 2 A.M. (5:37)
11. Unbeliever (8:10)

Total Time 71:02

Line-up / Musicians

- Blaze Bayley / vocals
- Dave Murray / guitars
- Janick Gers / guitars
- Steve Harris / bass, co-producer
- Nicko McBrain / drums

- Michael Kenney / keyboards
- The Xpresion Choir / Gregorian chants (1)

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme

CD EMI United Kingdom ‎- 7243 8 35819 2 4 (1995, UK)

Thanks to Bj-1 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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IRON MAIDEN The X Factor ratings distribution

(403 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(8%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (32%)
Collectors/fans only (24%)
Poor. Only for completionists (12%)

IRON MAIDEN The X Factor reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars I've always been a fan of the albums bands made that were completely different from the rest of their catalogue. They are usually my favorite releases. Iron Maiden's The X Factor is no exception.

The X Factor is one of Maiden's most creative, different, and technical efforts. Many Maiden fans claim Seventh Son of a Seventh Son or Dance of Death to be Maiden's best Progressive efforts, but I disagree. The X Factor is the most if not the only Progressive album from Iron Maiden. The songs are rich and developed, the composing has an unbelieveable amount of variety, and many of the songs feature Maiden's most proficient techincal skill on display.

A sore spot for many fans is that this album doesn't have fan favorite vocalist Bruce Dickinson, Blaze Bayley takes care of the vocals. I don't see this as a negative at all. Blaze has a unique and interesting vocal style that completely changes the atmosphere of the album/band. I personally started to grow tired of the "formulatic" approach Dickinson used in his vocal phrasing, Blaze's style is something new and refreshing.

There are quite a few "gems" on this album. "Edge of Darkness", "The Aftermath", "Lord of the Flies", and "Sign of the Cross" are just a few. The top composition however may be the shorter "Blood On the World's Hands". This song is as different as Maiden gets with virtouso bass playing by Harris in the intro, and weaving guitar harmonies between Jannick Gers and Dave Murray. The lyrical aspect is one of the few "political" endeavours from Maiden.

Another aspect of this album is the variety of composers. Most of Maiden is composed by bass great Steve Harris, but with Murray and Gers more active in the composition, the band tapped into more creative sources than it ever has before.

X Factor is a winner for sure, it's Progressive, creative, different, and a breath of fresh air from Iron Maiden, an album sure to stand out in their catalogue.

Review by Cristi
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover / Prog Metal Teams
3 stars The X Factor is an album which definitely deserved and deserves better. Obviously, many people reject this album because Bruce Dickinson is not here and Blaze did not rise to the high expectations that people have with Iron Maiden. Blaze has a different style and lacks the vocal range that Dickinson has; and the problem of the Bailey era Iron Maiden is that Harris & co did not use Blaze properly. He sounds like a guest vocalist than the band member he was supposed to be.

The good thing about this album lies in the fact that it's different, most of the songs are mid paced, a bit repetitive at times, but they do have a nice atmosphere (like the epic Sign of the Cross, Judgement of Heaven and Blood on the World's Hands, Unbeliever just to name a few).

Harris's bass playing is great, some nice intros; Murray and Jers complete each other nicely and cleverly, there are some nice riffs and guitar leads. Blaze did a good job believe it or not and last but not least, Nicko did some nice drumming. The album's got some competent songwriting and definitely good musicianship.

Overall, this is a good album, it was a successful attempt to survive after losing Bruce Dickinson; he is surely missed here, I too sometimes wonder how this album could have sounded if Bruce had sung on it (and I have listened to live versions of Sign of the Cross and Lord of the Flies).

Review by Tom Ozric
5 stars Been waiting ages for Maiden on the Archives. I have to say that I'll be quite biased when it comes to rating this album, my standout preference from IM, which I will try to explain.... Firstly, former vocalist extraodinaire, Bruce Dickinson, had left the fold by this time, only to be replaced by the seemingly less appropriate Blaze Bayley. (Now you think Steve Harris would've employed the singer from Helloween, who is very close to Dickinson, but he is German). Wow !! Blaze's voice suits the nature and vibe of the music perfectly!! He possesses a much lower range, a tad gruff/gritty, and he tries really hard, closer to Paul Di-Anno. Every song has something proggy on offer, be it varied tempo, occassional odd-time sigs, structural complexity, Harris' Bass playing, quiet passages, frantic passages etc., and I feel that the band really pushed themselves on this wonderful album, especially Steve, who seemed to given some of his unique clanky Bass playing extra boost, and a really cool solo intro to 'Blood on the World's Hands'. We still get the masterful twin-guitar assaults and Nicko's excellent Drumming, which has always been tasteful and more complex than original drummer Clive Burr could ever be. Too many songs to assess here, but notable winners are : Sign of the Cross, Fortunes of War, The Edge of Darkness - actually, all songs from the 6 minute mark and up are fantastic !! I own the beautiful gatefold, double clear vinyl LP with fold-out sleeve, which seems to enhance the power of the music contained within. The overall feel of the album is quite gloomy and dark, depressing at times, sometimes Gothic - and the music's denseness brings to mind (my mind anyway) what vibe Swedish bands Anekdoten and Anglagard were giving off with their albums. The X Factor is quite a different offering from Iron Maiden - and something of a Masterpiece - but I do see how lots of folks would be turned off by it.
Review by Zitro
3 stars 2.7 Stars.

X Factor is a different album. Possibly their darkest and one of their most technical. The contrast between X Factor and the weaker and straightforward "No Prayer for the Dying" is huge. Many songs here are long, elaborated, and not very catchy. The main problem I have with this album is the singer, Bruce Dickinson is not here. Instead, we have the lower-ranged Blaze Bayley that is mediocre, and is especially bad on Sign of the Cross , a great epic which sounds better in "Live in Rio" due to Dickinson's return. It begins with creepy Gregorian chants, then a very memorable bass line introduces the song. It grows into a well-arranged instrumental section until the song gets really heavy with the verses/choruses which are good, but kind of ruined by terrible vocals. The chorus especially has a catchy refrain, but from Blaze's voice, it comes off being somewhat annoying. Luckily, he shuts up for five minutes and we have a complex and virtuosic instrumental with the Maiden musicians at their very best. The chorus is repeated again, and the song ends with the introductory bass line and Blaze's whispering.

Lord of the Flies is a rock song, but quite soft for Iron Maiden. It is quite a decent song with a good guitar solo, if only we had Bruce singing. Man on The Edge is better, has better riffs, and is energetic. Once again, vocals suck, and Bruce could have done a great job on the choruses, but the music is good. Fortunes of War has quite a good instrumental introduction that lasts for 3 minutes, with some good musical ideas on the rhythm section. The rest of the song is also quite good, with the guitar being once again the highlight, and the song being quite sing-along. Look for the Truth begins with a soft acoustic intro and turns into a catchy rocker. The ending is the song is different from the rest, changing the rhythm section and allowing the guitar to shine once again. The Aftermath is another dark song that starts softly and then turns a bit heavier. The second half makes this song one of the highlights of the album, it's faster paced and jeez, Am I tired of saying that the guitars are the highlights? Judgement ofHeaven is typical and sounds like anything from this album. Blood on the World's Hands is a highlight here and quite an experiment for Iron Maiden. It begins with a bass solo which sounds awfully dark and gloomy. The song is very inspired, with unconventional guitar riffs that sound very good. I especially like the guitar riff near the end, madee better thanks to the keyboards. The Edge of Darkness is again a typical song and after so much music, songs like these make you tired of listening to X Factor. 2 A.M is slow-paced and quite soft for Iron Maiden. It ha a good instrumental part, but this song as a whole is not a highlight. The Unbeliever is a prog song full of rhythm changes. I love the inspired instrumental break around the middle with possibly the best guitar solo in the album.

Overall, this is quite a good album that I could have given as much as 3.5 stars if Bruce Dickinson or Paul Di'ammo were singing instead. Musically, it is inspired and some of the songwriting is excellent and fresh, such as in "Sign of the Cross", "The Unbeliever" and "Blood on the World's Hands". I gave this album less than three stars because it suffers from having a few dull songs that sound very similar to each other and because the singer irritates me even more than James Labrie, and that says a lot.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Even though this will be far from a popular opinion, I have to say it from the beginning: THE X-FACTOR is probably my favorite Iron Maiden album, and in my eyes, their most progressive to date.

The year was 1995 and The Beast had to face quite a challenge: they had to record and release an album without one of their most important and charismatic members: vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who left after the tour for FEAR OF THE DARK. If there was one member that every fan adored and regarded as, probably, the quintessential element for Maiden's true sound it was, (maybe besides Harris' bass), Bruce Dickinson and his over-powerful vocals. One of the most respected singers in the metal genre, right along names like Dio, Dickinson was surely quite a difficult act to follow, and quite a gigantic loss for the British metal machine. How could the group ever recover from the absence of their frontman? That question led many to believe that the immortal Eddie had finally been sent to Hell for good.

The solution to the problem was radical, no doubt about it. Instead of trying to find a Dickinson-sound-alike replacement, Harris and Co. chose a rather unknown vocalist with a very different style to that of the legendary front man, Wolfsbane's Blaze Bayley. With a far shorter range and far weaker throat, Bayley was a huge departure from the omnipresent thundering that Dickinson voice delivered for The Beast. And the fans were puzzled as to how would the experiment sound like, specially when the man chosen to fill their hero's shoes was not a big star nor was he regarded as one of the top performers in the metal world.

THE X-FACTOR, Maiden's tenth album, finally came out in 1995 and the response to it was mixed. Many loved the long songs, the dark mood, the amount of instrumental passages and more mid-tempo moments, while others vilified and hated the lack of more pure-metal, lightning-fast tracks, the generally weak voice of Bayley and, most of all, the absence of Dickinson. Ultimately, the album wasn't successful and many considered it the beginning of the end for Maiden. The next release, VIRTUAL XI (another favorite of mine, though not in the same level) helped only to confirm this idea, and it was only with Dickinson's return in the triumphant (and more typically Maiden-esque) BRAVE NEW WORLD, that faith in The Beast was restored again. That "resurrection" of sorts also helped, strangely, to somewhat restore the appreciation for THE X-FACTOR, as fans now viewed it without the fear that this was going to be Maiden's last opus, but more like an odd experiment that belonged to another era, long gone by.

I, for one, felt in love with this album from the beginning. Yes, Blaze Bayley's vocals are sub par; he just can't sing were lower volumes are need, his voice gets lost in the mix; yes, he has not much melodic creativity for the vocals, as they always seem to follow the guitar melody note-by-note; yes, even when he yells and sings at his best, he's nowhere near the level of crushing power that Dickinson is able to produce just by opening his mouth to speak; yes, there are no real lightning-fast, pure- energy songs in here (maybe with the exception of "Man on the Edge"). All of that is true. But I think Harris and the whole band chose a wise path to make up for their shortcomings in the vocal department. They wrote a more progressive album, darker, filled with instrumental sections, slower to differentiate it from traditional Dickinson-fronted Maiden albums; an album with a big focus on melody rather than on pyrotechnics; an album where the guitars get a chance to show their most atmospheric side instead of their most gravity-law-defying side; subtlety, tension over speed and energy. The album sounds so much different that any other by The Beast, but at the same time the usual characteristics CAN be found: great guitar melodies, good choruses, multi-sectional songs, Harris' superb bass-playing, that sense of "epic", of glory that some moments bring about. This is an odd Maiden album as much as it is a typical Maiden album. And I think, for that, it's a masterpiece, as it combines the elements of old with the new. In the end, Bayley' voice becomes less of a problem and more of another instrument, not a star but a participant, he joins the band in the back of the stage, leaving the front place deserted, integrating with all of them. In this perimeter-Maiden there are no stars. Out there they were like stones, immaculate (couldn't resist).

Just a word about the recording: it's MAGNIFICENT. I don't know how many people would agree with me but this is one of my favorite albums in terms of sound. The bass is just SO clear, in-your-face, the guitars are so easy to distinguish, their sound pure; the drums sound perfect, one of the best drum sounds I've ever heard; and Bayley.For his kind of voice, the recording is also spot-on: he's raised above the rest when he needs help, and only in the beginning of the album and of a couple short tracks the production couldn't help him to hide his shortcomings as a singer in lower volumes.

Sign of The Cross (10/10) An epic, THE epic, my favorite track ever from Iron Maiden. It starts ominously, with dark choirs over low pedals and murmurs; the main theme of the song is announced by the guitar and the bass, while a synth provided background, everything in the utmost quietude. Bayley joins the declamation, almost whispering. The eerie melody somehow tries to get more optimistic, some tension is built, we think we're near explosion but we go back, and in the next try we finally get to the main verse, and the first time ever that Bayley showed his true color. The music seems like a quest, like a quest with not much future, more like a quest to find something that would bring more doubt. Everything sounds crystal-clear. The guitars adorn everything with short melodies. After what could be called the chorus, the guitars and the bass join for a desperate short instrumental section when they announce a pessimistic, powerful but dark theme. Suddenly we get to another land. The choral chants return, everything is calm, but the kind of peace that one doesn't want to feel. Another them, odd signature, all the string electric instruments playing the same theme, the drums mark the march, a march towards doom, oblivion, the underworld. The tension grows. A guitar tries to escape, she flies with melody over the cascade of fire that tries to engulf it, to swallow it. But in the end it emerges, victorious, and a fast, energetic, optimistic, glorious riff of those that Maiden only can produce unfolds. Speed, glory, melody, everything intertwined. Defeat was not unavoidable after all. And the guitars join in chants of celebration. Bayley comes back with a slowed-down version of the chorus, no longer sounding defeatist but just like reminding bad times. Those times are gone now. As is this superb song. My favorite epic, my favorite song ever from The Beast. And one of my favorite tracks from any band altogether. And if every Maiden album had been opened by a great track, this time they finally made the first song the best in the album.

Lord of the Flies (9.5/10) Exactly like we needed, the mood is different now. A guitar riff opens this fast, if not quite lighting- fast, powerful track. This time Bayley sounds like a man in a battle, in a battle that he CAN win, speaking about how the world is, while trying to view it as how it should be. A song full of hope, speaks of the darkness of the soul but at the same times carries a hidden message, we don't have to be like that. A great song. A great solo with a passionate ending, a cry for hope. Fantastic.

Man on the Edge (9/10) The more "classical Maiden" track in the album, this is also the fastest. Bayley's lyrics are good, as is his performance. It seems he sung better when he was singing his own words. Pure energy, we truly feel like a man on the edge, everything goes so fast that the man gets caught in a whirlwind that ultimately absorbs him and leaves him ready for schizophrenia. All the band is at it: the guitars climbing ladders, the drums marking the precise rhythm, the bass providing the safe net so that the falling man doesn't actually reach the ground after he falls from a very tall skyscraper. Excellent.

Fortunes of War (9/10) An acoustic guitar and the bass; atmospheric guitars sing a lament for dying souls; wars that needn't be fought; lives that could've been spared. Bayley sings well here. He dares to show emotion, something that he should've done more. A rare bass-solo moment leads us to the main verse, a mid-tempo rhythm marked by guitar melodies. Bayley gets angrier (and his voice shows its shortcomings from time to time), and then a sudden change occurs, a faster section with great melodies and a bass that throttles overpowering everything underneath. A mini-chant near the end like those of old bring this great track to an end.

Look for The Truth (8/10) This one begins even quieter. The guitars at the lowest volume, they seem like they are praying for some unknown gift from heaven. Bayley sings very well here, one of his best moments. The main verse starts, again a mid-tempo one. Another dark introspection, the chorus is not really brilliant but good enough. The instrumental section sounds somewhat awkward but it works. A good song, if not up to par to the preceding ones.

Aftermath (8/10) Some arpeggios that sound like if they were brought straight from the 80's. The mid-tempo verse comes immediately, Bayley not at his best. He doesn't create a good melody with his voice, he follows the guitar lines exactly. The song is not going that well up until now, but the second main-section, that attacks suddenly after the first, is much better; an instrumental part starts, everything gets better, the solos are good, Bayley sings better, too. Finally, the mid-tempo is lay aside and the metal machine strikes back. Full speed, full force; Gers and Murray fingering like crazy, showing their mastery of the axe; after the brief explosion, we go back to the second section. The song concludes. It became a good song after all.

Judgement of Heaven (9/10) An odd optimistic, almost happy (not the usual mood for 1995's Maiden) riff in bass opens this song. Bayley sings along. The energy grows. The vocals are not great, but the music supports them pretty well. The main verse is fast, is Maiden. The chorus is good, like a ray of light. The solo doesn't start that well but then the guitars join and we get a fantastic pure-Maiden moment of glimmering hope. Even with the sub par vocals, the song is fantastic, thanks to everyone else who perform at their best. Another success.

Blood on the World's Hands (8/10) Quite the most unique start ever from Maiden, Harris has a chance to show-off (?!?) with a good bass introduction that shows what we already know: he's a master of his instrument. It's not only dexterity: it's atmosphere, created just by the bass. Then the whole band joins him in another riff that sounds like fight, like the quest to overcome a problem, a huge one like the stupidity of men. The chorus, like mankind's skills for causing chaos and destruction, goes up and down but doesn't show any signs of ever stopping. The last chorus is more like a resignation, it will always be like this. A good song.

Edge of Darkness (7.5/10) Some helicopters. It feels like "One" from Metallica. The opening lines are as quiet and sad, expressing sorry for what has happened and worry for what it's to come. When the main verse attacks, it feels too much like the one from the last song, so we don't love it immediately. But then another faster section starts and we forget what happened, The Beast punches us in the head, telling us never to mistrust her. The solo is lightly chaotic but also sounds like a solo from earlier days. The least successful song in the album, it's decent, almost good, enjoyable.

2 A.M. (7.5/10) Another quiet, slow start just with guitars and bass. Bayley's lyrics again, and just as last time, he sings with more emotion. The main verse is good, not great. The alternation is what enhances the track and doesn't let it fail. But near the end the guitar solo is good, and has some beautiful melodies, so "2 AM" doesn't become the dark hour for THE X FACTOR but another pleasant moment.

Unbeliever (8.5/10) We change mood. We get energetic. A very progressive passage. Bass, guitars, the ride cymbal join in a great intro. Then the main verse starts, great. It feels like a man trying very hard to go out and fight, but someone holds him back, saves him from himself. The chorus, very melodic, is sung over acoustic guitars. We get a brief instrumental recapitulation and then the same chorus but more powerful strikes back. Bayley sings at the top of his capacity. After a second chorus, the drums and the bass join in like feels like the final attack, the final charge, all the cavalry facing the enemy now and going after it, with no fear nor remorse. A short fast section leads to the return of the phrases from the beginning, the first verse, and the chorus. A great closer.

All in all, after every word has been said, THE X-FACTOR would've been a perfect album, in my opinion, if it had been trimmed a little and the two enjoyable but not very good tracks near the end had been eliminated. But, as it is, it gets a 4.5 from me. And the way I do my reviews, as I don't think an album has to be 100% perfect to earn the highest rating, I give it a 5, and specially having in mind that this, even though many people may not agree with it, is Iron Maiden's most progressive album. Even though Bayley's vocals are definitely average, his performance doesn't hurt the music which suits him well.

Recommended for: Iron Maiden fans; fans of good metal and good progressive metal, with dark overtones; fans of Blaze Bayley (if there are any).

.At times I wonder how this could've sounded with Dickinson holding the microphone. Maybe it would've been even better, and maybe it would've been more respected by the fans (that's for sure). But something inside me tells me that this music would've lost its magic, and that, in the end, Blaze Bayley was the imperfect-perfect vocalist for the Tenth by The Beast.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars I've got to have respect for Iron Maiden carrying on with such an ambitious record without their iconic front man, "X-Factor" being a dramatic shift in mood and tone for the band, featuring some good atmospheric work as well as occasionally creative guitar and group playing. However, everything good the band is doing is utterly sabotaged by the utterly lame Blaze Bayley-- who is at best tribute band material and carries NONE of the power, range, or emotion present in even Bruce's wimpiest delivery. His voice is stale, bland, and out of place, and in my opinion makes this album almost unlistenable. The band makes a good show though, and for those who can look past the uninspired vocals (which I can't) they'll likely find some of Maiden's most creative instrumental work. Maybe not even for committed fans, since Bruce's voice is such a huge part of the band's sound. Listen before you buy!

Songwriting 3 Instrumental Performances 3 Lyrics/Vocals 2 Style/Emotion/Replay 2

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Important change for this album. Bruce Dickinson who was the lead singer since "The Number Of The Beast" in 1982 has left the band and is (temporarily) replaced by Blaze Bayley.

His low-tone voice is rather different than Bruce's one. It is of course difficult to adapt to a new "voice" unless it is a little close to its predecessor (but it is not the case here).

I won't be as laudatory as most of the reviewers about this album even if there are of course some excellent songs which belong to the good Maiden repertoire. I particularly like "Lord Of The Flies" even if it is a simple and pure hard to heavy rock. "Fortunes Of War" as well. It is more elaborate, combining acoustic intro with great metal riffs. The crescendo part is catchy as well and will lead to a nice instrumental and upbeat guitar solo.

The same kind of structure applies for "Look For The Truth". When you listen to the chorus, there is no doubt that "Arena" listened to this one while writing "Crying For Help". I could not really enter into the "epic".

IMO, "Sing Of The Cross" is too monochord. The pace is set with the choir intro. Dark and intriguing, just as the second part. It takes almost three minutes for the song to actually start. But from then on, the same beat is reigning for four minutes. Slow and heavy for a big chunk ("Kashmir" oriented). Only the last section is seriously rocking. Great guitar, faster and fresher mood. It is only a pity that this song doesn't feature more of these moments.

I have the same feeling about "The Aftermath". Almost dull for over four minutes, and then the tempo changes dramatically and opens on a killer guitar break. But this only a short part of this song.

On the good side as well, "Judgement Of Heaven" has maybe a more commercial approach. Sustained beat, catchy melody and again superb guitar work. I also particularly like the passage during which guitar & vocals are fully in line. Opposite to the call / response : the guitar player doing exactly as the singer does, at the same time.

Some darker atmosphere during "Blood On The World's Hands" (no wonder, with such a title). It is also the heaviest song so far. I have never been keen on these slower beat and very heavy sounds. Almost doom actually.

The band will still produce a "running" song with "The Edge Of Darkness". Great and charging beat mix with some heavy metal riffs. You know, like some of Dream Theater's offering.

I am not transcendent about the rock ballad "2 A.M.". If it weren't for a guitar solo, it would be a very average song. But great songs are not that many on "The X Factor". The closing number "The Unbeliever" also belongs to the good musical moments of "The X-Factor".

It will peak at the 8th spot in the UK charts. Almost their worse position since their debut. This honour is incumbant to "Killers" (Nr 12). Three stars in my charts.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The X-Factor" is the 10th full-length studio album by UK heavy metal act Iron Maiden. The album was released through EMI Records in October 2nd, 1995. "The X-Factor" sees a major change in the lineup as Lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson had left the band to pursue a solo career (and study to become a pilot). During the tour supporting Iron Maidenīs 9th full-length studio album "Fear of the Dark (1992)", Bruce Dickinson announced his departure to the rest of the band and after the tour ended the rest of the members of Iron Maiden began searching for a replacement singer. After countless auditions with various singers, Blaze Bayley (Wolfsbane, Blaze) was chosen as the replacement for Bruce Dickinson. I remember reading an interview with bassist Steve Harris where he praised Blaze Bayley and said he felt that Blaze Bayley was the perfect replacement for Bruce Dickinson. Steve Harris emphasized that Iron Maiden had been searching for a vocalist that didnīt sound like Bruce Dickinson. Instead they had been searching for someone with a personal sound. I remember from the interview that Steve Harris said, that there had been one guy at the auditions that sounded so much like Bruce Dickinson that it was almost eerie, and they didnīt feel comfortable with that.

The instrumental side of the music on the album hasnīt changed much compared to earlier releases by Iron Maiden. The music is melodic heavy metal ranging from hard heavy rockers like "Man on the Edge" to more epic heavy metal songs like the 11:17 minutes long "Sign of The Cross". The vocal style of Blaze Bayley, while being in a somewhat similar vein to the vocal style of Bruce Dickinson, completely lacks the power and the conviction of the latter though. This is a major issue IMO and even after almost 17 years I still think itīs a major flaw and I feel that "The X-Factor" suffers greatly because of it. While I dislike Blaze Bayleyīs vocal contributions and think they are a drag thereīs also something wrong with the production. For the first time longtime producer Martin Birch (Deep Purple, Rainbow...etc.) didnīt produce an Iron Maiden album. Instead bassist Steve Harris and producer Nigel Green took on the task which gave "The X-Factor" a very different sound compared to the bandīs earlier releases. Itīs an aquired taste of course but I think the sound is flat and lacks power. It probably made Blaze Bayley sound even weaker than he already did.

I remember that back then I had my concerns about what this album would sound like but I hoped for the best. I was sadly very disappointed and that feeling remains after listening to the album again before writing this review. I may be sligthly harsh but I canīt give more than a 2.5 - 3 star (55%) rating and I wouldnīt recommend this album to anyone I know.

Review by friso
4 stars Iron Maiden - The X-Factor (1995)

Former lead-singer Bruce Dickinson went of to become a pilot and the band had this use problem: how to replace the best metal frontman alive? Blaze Baily became new lead- singer and frontman. Iron Maiden has already shown the quality to get the best out of the personality out the lead-singer. During the Paul Di'Anno years they adopted a very suitable style and with the transition to the Dickinson era the sound of the band changed quite a lot to fit it to Dickinson vocal range and style. The same was done on the X-factor. The album art is less good then on other Maiden albums, but acceptable.

The sound of Iron Maiden had matured a bit and the recording differs a bit from all album of the Dickinson era. The sound is very professional and Maiden showed to be capable of reaching some innovative progression on this album. The album has less metal, instead it sounds like heavy art rock. On some tracks the full voice of Baily works quite nicely, but on other tracks his vocal qualities are a problem. His pitch isn't perfect and I think the band should have been more careful during the recording sessions when it comes to the vocals. The album has lot of quiet and sensitive moments for an Iron Maiden album.

I will now discuss some highlights.The opening track, The Sign of the Cross, is an amazing epic with an adventurous atmosphere and a demanding sound. The instrumental parts are very strong. Lord of the Flies is a shorter song with a good lyrical theme based on the novel. The refrain is catchy and the sound is professional. The best part is however the powerful couplet theme. Man on the Edge is an amazing up-tempo track with fierce guitars a great vocals of Baily. Fortunes of War has some progressive elements with quiet moments and technical instrumental parts. Blood on the World's Hands has a very sophisticated sounding refrain and demanding but good illogical vocals of Baily. The Unbeliever is a strong ending track, though some of the vocals of Baily aren't up to the challenge.

Conclusion. Iron Maiden had this long career and it's nice to see them exploring new grounds after all these years. This the album with an amazing mature Iron Maiden sound, it sounds experienced and sometimes it even sounds calm and relaxing. I like the recording, most of the songs are very good and it's and different album then all other Maiden albums. While I'm writing I listened to the album again for the first time in years. Before writing it I had a three rating in mind, but I was convinced otherwise. Four stars for this album. It's underrated even by fans of the band. New vocalist Baily isn't perfect, but some of his moments are brilliant, which compensates. The album would have been a bit better if two of the less essential songs were excluded, but there's still 55 minute of great material here!

P.S. I would like to add it's very interesting to look for a Maiden track called 'Virus", which is very likely to be a great addition to your music collection if you like this album.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars The four albums between "Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son" and "Brave New World" are regarded as MAIDEN's worst recordings by the majority of fans. This particular album is included in there and it was the first without Bruce Dickinson, and to be perfectly honest those are huge shoes to fill. Harris and the band decided to go with someone who didn't sound like Bruce at all in Blaze Bayley. It's weird hearing IRON MAIDEN without those amazing and familiar pipes. Being such a big fan that I am I really think that only Ronnie James Dio would have satified me. So yes it's not fair to dump on Blaze but I just don't like his style within one of my all time favourite band's music. And why make it 71 minutes long ? Anyway the instrumental music here is classic MAIDEN and i'd have loved it if this was all instrumental.

"Sign Of The Cross" is kind of strange in that it takes so long to get going. I mean those who were interested in hearing what Blaze sounded like would have to wait around 3 minutes. Anyway it's fairly catchy once it gets going and some nice guitar around 8 1/2 minutes. "Lord Of The Flies" opens with guitar that doesn't do much for me but it's better when the song kicks in. Some vocal melodies on this one too. "Man On The Edge" kicks in quickly followed by vocals. An uptempo track with that trade mark galloping rhythm.The guitar lights it up 2 1/2 minutes in. "Fortunes Of War" is laid back early then it kicks in at 2 minutes. A native vibe here. Good track. "Look For The Truth" is mellow with almost spoken vocals until it kicks in after 1 1/2 minutes.Vocal melodies come and go.

"Aftermath" is my favourite. Love the intro then it kicks in as contrasts continue. I like when the tempo picks up 4 1/2 minutes in and the guitar rips it up for almost a minute. "Judgement Of Heaven" doesn't start so well but it gets better when it turns fuller. "Blood On The World's Hands" is my second favourite track on here. Some crazy bass from Harris to start before the song kicks in. I really like the guitar after 3 minutes too. "Edge Of Darkness" opens with samples of a hellicopter and relaxed music, then reserved vocals join in. It kicks in after 2 minutes and the tempo picks up 3 minutes in. Ripping guitar 4 1/2 minutes in then the song starts to wind down a minute later. "2 AM" contrasts the mellow and heavier sections well. "Unbeliever" has these fast paced vocals that just don't sound very good.They do come and go. It's better 2 1/2 minutes in but I can't help but wish Bruce was singing here. A good instrumental section follows then the vocals return.

It was interesting to hear this album and it is a good one but for me it pales when compared to most of MAIDEN's albums.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Maiden's best 90's album is also its darkest

After two average albums and Bruce Dickinson's departure in 1993, the survival of IRON MAIDEN was questionable. Despite the loss of their charismatic frontman, the band decided to pursue the adventure, by recruiting Blaze Bayley from WOLFSBANE. However, the new singer hasn't really the same vocal range as its predecessor as his high-pitched predecessor, his tone is a lot lower. How to solve the problem? Well, unfortunately for Steve Harris, but fortunately for us, the bassist was then facing personal issues in his life, so he will restranscribe his state of mind in the songwriting. Therefore the musical ambiance is somber, sinister, which is a novelty in the group's history, and perfectly fits Bayley's low tonality by allowing him to affirm his identity.

"The X Factor" simply features the darkest compositions ever written by IRON MAIDEN. At last, after several years, the band's music finally evolve and find their marks in the 90's. The tempo slows down, the songs are sometimes heavy, sometimes doomy, sometimes progy, but always with their own touch of epicness. Furthermore, despite a duration of more than 70 minutes, the longest studio opus ever recorded by the musicians back then, the quality is quite homogeneous. There are no genuine bad song. No title track either, the only other record making exception being "Piece of Mind". To sum up, even if you already know your 80's MAIDEN, you'll hear something different here... Don't worry though, this is still IRON MAIDEN, but with new clothes, for an unique result...

... Also unique in terms of cover art. For the first time, Derek Riggs was not collaborating, the well-known mascot is not hand-drawn but represented by a kind of model which looks like it's straight out from an horror movie. No cartoonesque Eddie here, the poor creature seems really tortured and suffering. This is getting serious! Some countries will even censor it and the artist will have to propose an alternative cover, with a wider angle of view. By the way, who is responsible for this disturbing gory picture? Hugh Syme, who usually takes care of... RUSH's. Not really in the same register...

The beginning of the disc is flawless. The more than 10 minutes duration of "Sign Of The Cross" haven't been seen since "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" from 1984's "Powerslave"! Best song of the disc, this progressive suite is simply a little gem! The slow overture with Gregorian chants distillates a somber ambiance, to then turn more aggressive, dark, and even haunting at times. Don't worry, the powerful bridge shows this is still Harris and co. at commands. Wow! THE 90's MAIDEN epic! The very good mid-tempo "Lord Of The Flies" possesses a cool bass, a catchy tune as well as a gloomy atmosphere. Last of the opening trio, and first single of the album to be released, "Man On The Edge" is a fast efficient punchy rocker. The delicate acoustic intro of "Fortunes Of War" can remind "Fear of the Dark", but the overall is quite different. In fact, without the galloping maidenien solo, it could nearly pass as doom metal! "Look For The Truth" is in a similar style than its predecessor, a bit more heroic.

"The Aftermath" displays a tragic atmosphere, while "Judgement Of Heaven" is a little less sinister. The only genuine average title of the record. On the contrary, "Blood On The World's Hands" one of the best moments of the second half. An unusual composition for MAIDEN with its surprising bass and doom tonality. Very nice! The cool and glorious "The Edge Of Darkness" and "2 A.M." are more typical. As the disc opened with a progressive track, it also concludes with another one. In addition to its different ambiances and numerous changes, "The Unbeliever" is quite in the style of 90's modern modern prog bands, with real pieces of maiden in it. A pretty good surprise at the end of the record!

This tenth studio release is an interesting mixture of dark, doom and progressive elements, done the IRON MAIDEN way. Don't expect fast-paced direct tunes here, nor fantasy prog, the leitmotiv here is "atmosphere". Sometimes the loss of an important member can result in unexpected welcomed consequences as the unknown offers also chances to renew. Although a bit lengthy, these 71 minutes of music proves that Harris and co. can evolve without losing their own identity. If only they could have done that again...

There are many ways to describe "The X-Factor": MAIDEN's darkest effort, one of their post-80's bests, their 90's best, in fact their only truly good studio opus from this decade and better than their 2000's albums. To be honest, the Englishs' last creative works since and for a long time...

So, is a new MAIDEN born? The band will unfortunately wear this dark outfit for this very unique representation. After 1996, the music will go "back to basic" (without 's')...

Review by siLLy puPPy
3 stars The 90s were a brutal time for established metal acts with almost all of them suffering a significant decline in popularity. It was both pathetic and amusing to see the most regal kings of the 1980s stumbling around like blind men as the alternative 90s swept away everything that the 80s had excelled at. While a few bands like Metallica adapted with some commercial success, most of the giants of the past were floundering about like fish out of water and so too was the case for one of the greatest of them all, IRON MAIDEN.

When asked which era is one's favorite in the mighty MAIDEN history books, absolutely nobody will point to the Blaze Bayley years as their highlight. After an incredibly successful decade with one amazing album after another and incessant touring that no mere mortal could sustain, by the time IRON MAIDEN reached the eight album "No Prayer For The Dying," it was beginning to be obvious that the band was burning out a bit and although that album had some excellent tracks on board, the album itself was much weaker than anything that came before. While "Fear of the Dark" was a bit of a step up, it too failed to reach the sheer perfection of the 80s output.

Frustrated and exhausted, guitarist Adrian Smith left all the way back before the "No Prayer For The Dying" album. He saw the writing on the wall and the next to depart was lead singer Bruce Dickinson who left after the "Fear of the Dark" tour in order to embark on a solo career. With such impossible boots to fill, Steve Harris was forced between breaking up the band or finding a replacement. After an incredible amount of searching the new singer was former Wolfbane vocalist Blaze Bayley who appeared on what many have deemed (including myself), the nadir of IRON MAIDEN's otherwise stellar career. Yep, the 90s were not kind.

THE X-FACTOR was the first of two albums to feature Bayley behind the mic and appeared in 1995, three years after "Fear of the Dark." The album was a departure in many ways. Longtime producer Martin Birch retired and left another void in the band's status quo as well as the album cover art being the first not created by Derek Riggs. The band's darkest days were reflected by the darker cover art and subject matter that was partially inspired by Steve Harris going through a divorce as well as an established 80s band suddenly losing its way in the alternative 90s wilderness.

THE X-FACTOR was released to lukewarm response and for great reason. The band simply was unable to adapt to the 90s and clung on to many of the aspects that made MAIDEN such an excellent 80s arena metal band. Only a few problems with that approach. First of all Bayley's vocal style doesn't quite have the range required to bring out the best of IRON MAIDEN's musical approach and secondly the music which is excellent, heavily borrows from the "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" playbook and THAT was just not cool in the year 1995 when Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots were dominating the heavy metal world. It also didn't help the band that more extreme forms of metal like death metal, black metal and doom metal were making MAIDEN sound a bit outdated.

This 10th album by IRON MAIDEN is somewhat of a mixed blessing. The band said that one of the singers they auditioned sounded shockingly identical to Bruce Dickinson but they wanted to find a different styled singer. Bad choice. MAIDEN sort of paralleled Judas Priest not only as the metal gods of the 1980s but also in the fact that both bands lost their lead singers about the same time and decided to replace them. While MAIDEN was a superior band in consistency, Priest actually made a better decision once they added The Ripper as their top screamer. Priest got the memo and learned how to adapt the music to the singer whereas MAIDEN simply added a singer and went back to the coffers to pad the music with ideas already presented.

Musically THE X-FACTOR is actually really, really good with the best tracks presented on the first half of the album and some weaker ones providing filler on the second half. Another problem with this album is that it is WAY too long and at almost 71 minutes could have been trimmed down by about 20 minutes. The opening "Sign of the Cross" is a powerhouse and by far the best track on the album with creepy keyboards and Gregorian chants ushering in a very progressive track that features dark lyrics and some of the most interesting instrumental workouts since "Seventh Son."

The single "Lord Of The Flies" provided the catchy single but once again Bayley lacked the vocal dexterity and larger than life charisma that Dickinson exuded in abundance. Despite the weak vocal performances, musically this is an excellent album but due to the lack of a top dog like Dickinson at the helm feels woefully unbalanced due to MAIDEN's failure to adapt the music to the singer's ability. The fact that Harris dropped Paul Di'Anno due to his inability to keep up with the band makes it all the more surprising that this didn't turn out so well. The rest of the album musically speaking is like the sequel to "Seventh Son" with keyboards provided by guest musician Michael Kenney adding eerie atmospheric backdrops to Harris' idiosyncratic bass playing and the twin guitar harmonies of Dave Murray and Janick Gers.

For the seasoned MAIDEN fan, you will hear snippets of past ideas ranging from the intro of "Children of the Damned" providing a recycled riff on "Look For The Truth" and many other examples of MAIDEN mining their past however the band also offers some interesting new ideas to their roster such as the bizarre guitar riffs on "Judgement of Heaven" which sounds somewhat familiar but slightly different. The album is certainly not a waste of time on the music side of the equation and if this one happened to be rerecorded with Dickinson i would dare to say that this would be an excellent album and a major return to form. However as it is the incongruent nature of Bayley's vocals not strong enough for MAIDEN material brings this down a lot.

Basically this album has 4 star music and 2 star vocals but it wasn't really Bayley's fault. His style just wasn't compatible with this demanding music that needed an operatic singer to bring it to full life. What i would like to see happen is this album to be rerecorded with maybe a bunch of guest singers who could hit the higher notes. I rarely listen to this one due to the frustration of wanting Bayley to step up to the plate but alas it never happens! Any true MAIDEN will want this in their collection despite its flaws. It's not unlistenable and is by far a better album than the absolutely awful "Virtual XI" that followed. All i can think of when i listen to this one is "Where was Ronnie James Dio when we needed him?" HA, if only :D

Latest members reviews

3 stars Before starting this review, I was reading around on here and other reviewers have been positive on this record, I expected to be the only defender of it, but it is great to see other people who don't feel it is as bad as the reputation suggests. With the exit of both Bruce Dickinson and Adrian ... (read more)

Report this review (#2601798) | Posted by MetalAndy | Tuesday, October 12, 2021 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Iron Maiden's 'The X-Factor' is certainly a contentious album amongst Iron Maiden fans, and is generally seen among metal-heads as one of their worst records. Luckily, I've never been one to be swayed by the opinions of others, nor do I really consider myself a metal-head these-days. I'm a prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#1434293) | Posted by AndyJ | Friday, July 3, 2015 | Review Permanlink

1 stars i cant believe there are Maiden fans who like this album, i really cant. its unthinkable. not that its a terrible album, its quite allright - its even got some good songs like The Edge of Darkness, it just doesnt sound like IRON MAIDEN. the X factor (with, incidentally, just the 1 band-memb ... (read more)

Report this review (#468575) | Posted by sv_godspeed | Friday, June 24, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars 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'An ... (read more)

Report this review (#379084) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars New frontman?? and who else but the wonderful Blaze Bailey... Iron Maiden enter this new 'phase' with style why?? because they actually make a great album, darker, moodier and sometimes heavier, we open with the wonderful SIGN OF THE CROSS an epic 11 minute track that has a great midd ... (read more)

Report this review (#305610) | Posted by FarBeyondProg | Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I came to this album in order to defend it from the hatred and scorn it constantly recieves from fans of Iron Maiden. I was pleased to find that here on progarchives this is not the case, people see this release for what it is; a remarkable shift in sound and progressiveness of Iron Maiden. ... (read more)

Report this review (#253285) | Posted by Lezaza | Saturday, November 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars In 1993 Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden. Many fans were in shock. I couldn't imagine other singer in Iron Maiden. And I doubt members of the band could. Right, they couldn't. But Bruce didn't want to be part of the band anymore. Blaze Bayley's voice doesn't move me at all. Music saved this rele ... (read more)

Report this review (#217721) | Posted by LSDisease | Saturday, May 23, 2009 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Listen without prejudice. I was pretty sure the seventy minutes long album would be an endurance test. This, the first Blaze Bailey album is not particular loved by Iron Maiden fans. It was also totally ignored by myself on it's release and it is only now I have given it a fair hearing. ... ... (read more)

Report this review (#188531) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Sunday, November 9, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This is a dark, deep, violent and desperate album. Among the best songs here, Sign Of The Cross (the longest, 11 minutes) is probably the best Iron Maiden song ever. The other great tracks are The Aftermath, The Edge Of Darkness (inspired by 'Apocalypse Now' and the Joseph Conrad noval of the ... (read more)

Report this review (#165010) | Posted by Zardoz | Wednesday, March 26, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars An okay album. "The X-Factor" was the first album to feature Blaze Bayley on vocals, something which a lot of Iron Maiden fans have problems with. Don't blame Blaze though. While not as great a vocalist as Bruce Dickinson, Blaze Bayley handles the vocals fairly well, and his dark melancholic ... (read more)

Report this review (#142707) | Posted by Time Signature | Monday, October 8, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album grows on you like a fungus basically. The 1st time I heard it, it was so different I didn't know what to think. One thing you can't complain about is the production which is top notch. The album sounds beautiful. It is hard to get used to Blazes style and many of the songs take awhile t ... (read more)

Report this review (#130505) | Posted by JD-Buckeye | Saturday, July 28, 2007 | Review Permanlink

3 stars ok,the new singer with the maidens,i think that this is one of their best albums .... starting with the sign of the cross,the overture is amazing,so dark,so beatiful.. and the voices are perfect,talking about the music on this one is like a great symphony... is very mistic this one..and i think ... (read more)

Report this review (#127122) | Posted by JgX 5 | Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars First of the two albums without Bruce Dickinson, I would say this one is the best of the two, and by far. Fairly underrated, "The X Factor" contains great compositions by main songwriter Steve Harris. Of course, I still find Blaze Bayley's vocals weak compared to Bruce's and most of Janick Ger ... (read more)

Report this review (#98426) | Posted by zaxx | Sunday, November 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Iron Maiden's first album without Bruce. That first of all doesn't make it a very good album to begin with. But that's not all that disapointed me enough to give it a two star rating. The music didn't apeal to me at all!! There wasn't anything good. Much like I said for Virtual XI, the X-Fac ... (read more)

Report this review (#94036) | Posted by Xeroth | Wednesday, October 11, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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 vir ... (read more)

Report this review (#93247) | Posted by JohnGargo | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I have no idea, why The X-Factor is not considered as one of IM best albums. It's my second best after Brave new world. First of all there's no Dickinson and Smith, which means it sounds completely different than previous records. Bailey's vocals are low, a bit theatrical and much less melodical ... (read more)

Report this review (#93194) | Posted by Crowley | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is one of Maiden's most underrated efforts. Mainly because Dickinson was not part of the band anymore and Bayley's voice is absolutely different than Bruce's. So, in general the songs are toned down to match Blaze's vocals. In addition there are various changes in terms of style and composit ... (read more)

Report this review (#93134) | Posted by mistertorture | Tuesday, October 3, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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