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54
4.1 out of 5 stars
The X-Factor
Format: Audio CDChange
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2004
Like many fans, I was initially turned off by the drastic change of vocal style when Bruce Dickinson left and Blaze Bailey stepped in. Bailey's style is so different to Dickinson's that the 'Maiden' sound took a step towards another dimension!
At first, I could not get into this new sound, particularly Bailey's style of singing.
But, as all the best albums achieve, 'Sign Of The Cross' began to grow on me. I found myself humming the title track, 'Lord Of The Flies' and 'Man On The Edge' without realising it. More importantly, this new arrival breathed a new life into the band's writing and performance. Maiden's music became more disciplined, yet more emotional (very lacking with the Dickinson era).
It still took more time to get used to Bailey's style but, honestly, there is something addictive about his voice.In fact, it was so addictive that I eventually went out and bought the 3 'Blaze' albums he produced once he left Maiden! The man has become one of my favourite vocalists!
If you are new to Iron Maiden, then a 'Best Of' compilation is best. This should also feature Maiden's original singer, Paul Di'anno. You will then have a broad idea of what Maiden are all about.
Essentially, the ultimate Maiden sound is the band that featured Dickinson, but 'The Sign Of The Cross' and, more importantly, Blaze Bailey, gave the band the kick up the a** it needed.
All the songs on the album are pretty much classic, full of energy, and have a catch to 'em that will make them hammer around your brain.
Personally, this is my favourite Iron Maiden album. But, be warned, give the album a chance to grow on you. You will learn to love it!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2003
This isnt bruce dickinson or indeed bruce dickinsons iron maiden but don't be put off because Blaze does a great job. I think the introduction of Blaze changed iron maiden, this album is much darker and slower and in many ways more intense than those before it. If you're new to the band and want straight foward speed and iron maiden agression then buy something like Piece of Mind, but if your a fan and you want to hear a different iron maiden Buy this album, listen with an open mind and you will thoroughly enjoy it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2006
Iron Maiden seemed to blow open a new gateway with this album.Compare it to Number of the Beast or Seventh Son of a seventh son, and it seems to be a step backwards. But perhaps what makes it a good album is that it is so different.

Certainly, Steve Harris states that he feels it is one of the best they've ever done.

Sing of the cross is possibly one of the darkest songs I've ever heard, and a long album opener, rather than the shorter sprints they usually do, make it a good opener. Lord of the flies is one of the songs I find it hard to get into, but it's alright. Man on the edge is one of the best maiden songs going.

Its when the album progresses that the true sense of darlness hits you.Judgement of Heaven: "I've felt like death a dozen times or more" is exactly what SH was going through at this stage in life.

My ultimate favourite on the album is Blood on the World's hands. Musically brilliant, and one of the bst bass introductions to any song. It proves Steve's brilliance at what he does best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 December 2007
I'm so sick of everyone slating blaze b'coz bruce was better. Granted maiden peaked with bruce in 1988 but by 1993 they were so stale that they had to do something. Blaze is a lot darker and with steve harrisons life trouble at the time this was always going to be a broody emotional album.

Some class song writing here and my personal fav album. Best trax include Sign of the cross (candidate fo best maiden song of all time) lord of the flies (partially butchered by bruce on death on the road) and the memorable man on the edge. A must have for any fan of proper of metal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
With their front man and arguably their most famous band member Bruce Dickinson leaving for a solo career and 2 poorly received albums behind them Iron Maiden had drifted into dangerous territory. Not only did most charts around the world see them as dinosaurs (not that that had ever mattered to them) but most importantly their fans and the metal community had begun to see them as a spent commodity, ready for the scrap heap. Sure they had released any number of classic albums but their time had come and gone. The rest of the band clearly didn't feel the same way and wanted to prove to everyone (not least themselves) that they still had it. Taking all the recent struggles and changes as a challenge they channeled everything into creativity and with the help of new singer Blaze Bayley they made an album which surpassed their last two. Would it reach the heights of the best?

`Sign Of The Cross' is one of the band's longest songs, perhaps a strange choice to open the album but one which sets things up nicely. We get some strange chanting for the first minute or so, holding back eager fans who want to hear the new vocalist. A dark riff starts, echoed by the earthy vocals and it seems like we could be in for something special. A look at the album cover, with Eddie seemingly being destroyed in some sort of Saw trap hints that the band wish to crush everything they have done in the past. Near the third minute the song finally kicks off with what would become the Bayley-era Maiden trademark, a plodding pace. Here it is effective as the writing is strong and it is something new, but after a while many songs become samey. While the song is overlong and seems empty in places, the guitars and chorus are nevertheless good.

`Lord Of The Flies' opens stylishly with nice guitar effects and a thumping pace. Bayley has a strong voice here even if he always sings on one level, the chorus is effective (even if it doesn't appear to make sense) and there is a nice tone throughout.

`Man On The Edge' has an old school Maiden intro, sounding like something from Somewhere In Time before the main riff speeds off. Again this is an effective song, supposedly based around Falling Down (Michael Douglas with a rocket launcher). The chorus is ok, the pace is great, the lyrics are strong and the guitars are suitably wild making this one of Blaze's best songs. Again this one would make it onto the setlist once Bruce returned.

`Fortunes Of War' has a moody opening with lyrics about the lonely aftermath of war and the impact on those who fight. The songs starts off extremely well but loses its way when the heavier guitars come in and repeat- the song would have been much more effective if it had been shorter. The middle section shows too much of the Blaze era step stone rhythm; I can't help but feel that if they had simply merged the chorus with the first section and ending it would have been a much better song.

`Look For The Truth' continues the subtle, moody feel sounding almost identical to the previous song in the early moments. Bayley gets to belt the vocals out a bit more here and it is all building promisingly the second minute. Luckily this time the rhythm doesn't irritate and the chorus has a decent melody.

`The Aftermath' again begins softly with some shadowy guitars building and creating a nice mood. The loud guitars crash in and spoil everything again though- the two simply don't work together on this album. That Blaze rhythm returns and although there is nothing particularly wrong yet, after a few listens it soon gets repetitive. The middle section raises things though with contemplative lyrics, good vocals, and strong guitars and melodies.

`Judgement Of Heaven' is a lighter song musically, though the lyrics are fairly doubting, dark, and questioning, this time covering religion, life, and fate. The pace is fairly quick throughout and the chorus is one of the best on the album though I feel it would sound that bit more powerful coming from Bruce. A fast, effective solo brings us round again.

`Blood On The World's Hands' has one of Maiden's most unique and strange openings with funky, electronic sounding bass played over harmonics. After over a minute of that we get a familiar rhythm and guitar part. The lyrics feel very forced here, trying to fit the construction of the song, but the chorus is interesting with its descending riffs.

`The Edge Of Darkness' has a longer, sombre introduction which suits the lower tones of Blaze's vocals. Supposedly based on Apocalypse Now/Hear Of Darkness the lyrics mention some of the feelings and themes mentioned in the film/book. The song gradually gets heavier but lacks a hook to grab onto.

`2.00am' continues the sombre style with a dark tale of depressed routine. Blaze does well again on vocal duty, we have a better melody but the dodgy rhythm is back. The middle section is strong with some great guitars and melody; overall it is a decent track if a little mismatched.

`The Unbeliever' closes the album with a bit of style, more traditional Maiden dual riffs breaking into some bizarre twinkling noises. The rhythm here is quite unique with the verses skipping about, the next section being softer and steadier, then a faster part. All usual Maiden fare but done in a style they were previously unfamiliar with. For such a long song it never gets repetitive and is always shifting to something new. It is messy at times and lacks a consistent tone, but still a decent closer.

Blaze's first album is a competent, confident one even if it does lack some of the heights of previous releases. The X-Factor and it's follow up are much maligned and while much of the criticism is justified we still have (on this album in particular) plenty of good music. At times they do sound like they are struggling for ideas and at times everything seems a little too downbeat and mid paced. It's unlikely that this will be many fans' favourite Maiden album but it is still one to give another listen.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2005
Maidens darkest album by far, Blaze's vocals are a refreshing change from Bruce's. I like Dickinson but it was becoming all the same and X-FACTOR changed it and was very necessary at the time.Any Maiden fan will enjoy this, its got all the trademark Maiden touches, a long haunting start in Sign Of The Cross, slowly it builds up into a great song and although a bit long at 10mins plus it tells a story like all Maiden songs do. If you've never heard Maiden before this will be a classic album for you, if like myself, you're a fan of the band you won't be disappointed, its a really good Maiden album but its also a little bit different.....worth a listen I promise you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2010
First things first this album is absolutely excellent anyone who says negative things about it just haven't given it a chance, Blaze Bayley is a real powerhouse vocalist and incredible songwriter he's also a very nice man I've been lucky enough to meet him three times after various shows but he fits right in on this album which in my opinion is one of their strongest it's definately the best album they made in the 90s, OK so Bruce Dickinson is gone well back then he was at least and yes I'm glad he's back in the band now but I'm still glad they made this record it has very powerful songs Lord of the Flies and Man On the Edge are traditional all out rock numbers that sound great live but songs like The Edge of Darkness, Blood on the Worlds Hands and Fortunes of War are the real flavour of the album Look For the Truth is another highlight Blaze's vocals are strong melodic and haunting on this track the band are in fantastic form as always on the whole album the production is good too it's different and new fans should start with one of the albums Maiden did in the 80s or a best of compilation before this as it may be a bit too much to new fans on the first listen but once you get the taste of Maiden get stuck into this it's well worth it personally I wish Blaze had gone on to do another album or two after Virtual 11(Which is also excellent) but Bruce and Adrian rejoined and thats that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 28 November 2010
i love this album because it sounds like maiden would have to sound at a time when heavy metal was truely dead.they sound like they want to survive and they're fighting just to stay alive.it was a different and brave direction and i feel it stands on it's own and without it they would'nt be hear now.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2012
whenever someone asks me "what is your favorite maiden album"? i say the x factor, i say that without hesitation. the fact that most maiden diehards consider brucie dickinsons work to be maidens best, is frankly stupid and insulting to the (albiet0 short but important contributions from iron maidens most hated singer. during the late 80's, and early 90's maiden were sounding weary, brucie (who used to sing like a poor mans rob halford), was now singing like he had a sore throat, changes were needed. along came blaze bayley, in my opinion, his different vocal style was a breath of fresh air. his first album with the band was (obviously) the x factor, this album is alot different that maidens previous records, its much darker and almost foreboding. to those who are reading this, let me make a point: i dont hate maiden, nor do i hate brucie dickinson but both are extremely overrated.(bruce dickinson returned a few years later and has been sounding worse than ever) but my problem with this band is that, they are one of those bands that make an album, put 4 or 5 maybe 6 good songs on and fill the rest of the album with anything. the best songs on this album are: 'sign of the cross', 'falling down', 'lord of the flies' 'blood on the worlds hands' 'fortunes of war'. thats enough for a good maiden album.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 July 2004
ALthough overall I prefer bruce as maidens vocalist, his departure was a positive for iron maiden. Maiden were declining and going stale as is clear with the turgid no prayer and the half decent fear of the dark.
Enter blaze- BLaze bayley joined and for the first time since 7th son, maiden were being creative and writing good songs again! Blazes voice fits the tone of this dark album so well, and the whole album is so deep, so dark, so convincing, so amazing, maiden were back on form!
I love all of the tracks apart from the very last one -the unbeliever, yet this is a truly awesome maiden album, worthy to be compared to the likes of Piece of mind, and Brave new world.
Give blaze a chance, listen with an open mind and see just how GREAT this album, the x factor, really is
:)
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