Review of the Album "The X Factor" by Iron Maiden
"The X Factor" Is Still a Good Album So Give It a Chance
“The X Factor” is the 1995 studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden and this one is the first one to not have Bruce Dickinson doing the vocals since Killers back in 1981. Doing the vocals is Blaze Bayley and the sound is noticeably a bit crunchier for Iron Maiden standards and this one will receive criticism from many longtime fans. One person does not make up a band so even with Bruce Dickinson not in the band at the time that this album was made, Iron Maiden had to continue as a band or quit and they chose to continue as a band and 1995 also marked the 20th year of Iron Maiden’s existence and they have now been active for almost 44 years!
The X Factor Weak Point: Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies has a strange guitar sound that dominates most of the song but this one is a decent song about the flaws of human nature. It may be the weakest song in the album though.
The X Factor 2 Strengths: Songs Fortunes of War & The Aftermath
Fortunes of War start softly as the lyrics describe the life of a soldier after he has come home from a war. He has flashbacks in his mind and he has recurring nightmares from the horrors of warfare and this describes how a person with PTSD feels. For soldiers such as this, no amount of time can heal the torment or their emotional wounds that they have to deal with every day. Does anyone remember the famous song One by Metallica? This one lyrically is similar to that song. “The Aftermath” may be my favorite song on The X Factor as lyrically the song tells the tale of a war that is being fought and this war seems like this is a futile conflict where no one wins. The questions mount as they wonder if the war is even worth fighting. After the war, there is the feeling that no one has won. It is often said that most wars are lost politically and not on the battlefield.
Other Thoughts on The X Factor
The X Factor will not bore you, but the songs are long so patience may be required for some that want to get through listening to the album. I can tell you that this album beats Megadeth’s Youthanasia if we want to compare this album to others. Lyrically the album focuses a lot on world problems such as the mentioned warfare, chaos across borders and the generally assumed human dysfunction. Blood on the World’s Hands is a song that tries to tell us that the world is turning to a pile of garbage and that there is nothing we can do about it. Is the world powerless to act? It sure seems like it but the album was made almost a quarter century ago and I first heard this album in my early 20’s. Looking back, yes this album is no Fear of the Dark but at the time that it was written it is still a darn good album. Even if Blaze Bayley wasn’t the best fit vocally for Iron Maiden which in some way he may not have been, the songs are still for the most part at the very least manageable and listenable for most heavy metal fans.
"Man on the Edge"
The X Factor Has Two More Cons: Too Much Lyrical Focus on One Topic and Blaze Bayley Could Not Measure Vocally to Bruce Dickinson
The album has a focus of often times starting soft and then getting heavy and lyrically the album focuses a bit too much on the horrors of warfare. The Edge of Darkness in particular lyrically and musically in terms of the style is similar to a few other songs on this album that I’ve mentioned before. The X Factor is not like Metallica’s And Justice for All but then again, Metallica seems to be in a class of their own in terms of the older heavy metal groups. This article is not meant to compare Iron Maiden to Metallica but at this time in their career in 1995 Iron Maiden was undergoing a transition period and obviously, Bruce could not have been adequately replaced.
The X Factor Is a Little Weaker Than the Band's Previous Effort But Still Good
However, on taking a second analysis of this album, is it really as good as previously thought? No Iron Maiden album is the same without Bruce Dickinson. It is really tough for any person to fill in for this legend of a heavy metal singer. Even so, for the situation and circumstances that the band was going through at the time, The X Factor is a good album even if a few of the songs are a bit too long for some of our tastes.
How Does The X Factor Sound in 2020?
Note: it is now 2020 and I am taking another in depth look at “The X Factor as an album because back when it first came out, I really liked it as an album even if Bruce Dickinson wasn’t singing on it. The Sign of the Cross has a terrific middle section that sounds kind of modern and almost orchestrated though there are no classical instruments being used here. Even if the song Lord of the Flies is the weakest point for this album it is not a bad song at all. The song 2AM which I had not really reviewed or analyzed may be one of the forgotten songs in this album. The song is about a person that gets home from work at 2AM, sits in front of the TV and he is drinking a beer. He wonders if this is all there is to this life that he is in. He feels defeated and he wonders what is there for me? In this song, Blaze Bayley shows us that he in fact can sing and he holds on to one note very well!
The X Factor Compared to Fear of the Dark & No Prayer for the Dying
Which one of these three Iron Maiden albums is the strongest one?
© 2019 Ara Vahanian