The X Factor (album)

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The X Factor
Studio album by Iron Maiden
Released 2 October 1995 (1995-10-02)
Recorded 1994 – August 1995 at Barnyard Studios in Essex, England
Genre Heavy metal
Length 71:01
Language English
Label EMI
Producer Steve Harris, Nigel Green
Iron Maiden chronology
Fear of the Dark
(1992)
The X Factor
(1995)
Virtual XI
(1998)
Alternative cover
Reverse side of the cover, which was deemed "less graphic" for retailers
Singles from The X Factor
  1. "Man on the Edge"
    Released: 25 September 1995
  2. "Lord of the Flies"
    Released: April 1996

The X Factor is the tenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October 1995 through EMI.[1] It is the band's first album to include Blaze Bayley, formerly of Wolfsbane, as vocalist, replacing Bruce Dickinson who left the band following their previous tour to pursue a solo career. It is considered Iron Maiden's darkest album due to the lyrics being based on personal issues surrounding Steve Harris at the time, who was in the midst of a divorce,[2] and the album cover, which depicts the band's mascot, Eddie, being graphically mutilated through surgery.[3]

Background[edit]

This was the band's first album with vocalist Blaze Bayley.

The release's title came about at the start of the album's recording. According to producer Nigel Green:

"We all felt that the way things were progressing – the songs, Blaze's new involvement, the sound, the commitment – the new album really would have that extra quality, that bit of magic, that 'X Factor'. This became the working title for the album and we liked it, so we kept it. It is also very apt as this is our tenth studio album and "X" can bring up many images."[4]

The X Factor's cover art depicts Eddie undergoing another lobotomy and was created by Hugh Syme.[5] Due to the cover's "lifelike" style,[3] the band were forced to release the album in a reversible sleeve,[6] including a less graphic alternative, showing Eddie from a distance.[7]

This album is also unusual for the band in that it produced several band compositions that did not make it onto the album, with Steve Harris commenting, "We actually ended up doing 14 songs and we used eleven, which is very unusual for us."[2] All three songs, "I Live My Way", "Justice of The Peace" and "Judgement Day," were released as B-sides, the last two of which would also be featured on the Best of the 'B' Sides collection.

Supporting the album was the X Factour tour. Much like the tour for their following album, Virtual XI, several dates in the United States were cancelled as Bayley suffered from occasional vocal issues from the band's heavy concert schedule.[8][9]

Song details[edit]

"Sign of the Cross", the album's opening song, which was based on the novel, The Name of the Rose.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Man on the Edge" and "Lord of the Flies" were released as singles. Both of these songs, and "Sign of the Cross," remained in Iron Maiden set lists following Bruce Dickinson's return. Live versions of these songs with Dickinson on vocals can be found on the single for "The Wicker Man" and the live albums Death on the Road and Rock in Rio respectively, while the same live takes of "Man on the Edge" and "Sign of the Cross" were later re-released on Iron Maiden's 2011 compilation album From Fear to Eternity.

"The Edge of Darkness" is based on the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, adapted from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness,[10] "Man on the Edge" is based on the 1993 movie, Falling Down,[11] and "Lord of the Flies" is based on the William Golding novel of the same name.[3] "Sign of the Cross" is based on the Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose[3] and is Iron Maiden's second longest song at more than 11 minutes long, the longest being "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" at 13 minutes (from 1984's Powerslave). Live versions of "Blood on the World's Hands" and "The Aftermath" can be found in Best of the 'B' Sides compilation album.

Blaze Bayley recorded a re-arranged version of "Sign of the Cross" on the live album As Live as It Gets.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 2/5 stars[12]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5[13]

Initially, The X Factor was met with lukewarm responses from critics. AllMusic rated the album two stars out of five, stating that "suffering from a lack of powerful riffs and tightly written songs, The X Factor is a lackluster latter-day album from Iron Maiden. Although the band doesn't sound particularly bad on the record, they don't sound inspired and there's a noticeable lack of energy to the performances which makes the lack of imagination all the more apparent."[12]

Sputnikmusic were somewhat more positive about the release, deeming the album "a change for Iron Maiden, and a very important one at that" as it "paved the way for future albums of similar length."[13] They also praised the "often criticized" Blaze Bayley, whose voice they claimed "was perfect for the new release."[13]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Sign of the Cross"   Steve Harris 11:17
2. "Lord of the Flies"   Harris, Janick Gers 5:03
3. "Man on the Edge"   Blaze Bayley, Gers 4:13
4. "Fortunes of War"   Harris 7:23
5. "Look for the Truth"   Bayley, Gers, Harris 5:10
6. "The Aftermath"   Harris, Bayley, Gers 6:20
7. "Judgement of Heaven"   Harris 5:12
8. "Blood on the World's Hands"   Harris 5:57
9. "The Edge of Darkness"   Harris, Bayley, Gers 6:39
10. "2 A.M."   Bayley, Gers, Harris 5:37
11. "The Unbeliever"   Harris, Gers 8:10
Total length:
71:01

Personnel[edit]

Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes.[14]

Iron Maiden
Additional musicians
  • Michael Kenney – keyboards
  • The Xpression Choir – Gregorian chants on "Sign of the Cross"
Production

Chart performance[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Saulnier, Jason (30 April 2010). "Blaze Bayley Interview: Iron Maiden Singer talks Wolfsbane". Music Legends. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 311. ISBN 1-86074-542-3. 
  3. ^ a b c d Popoff, Martin (2005). "The X Offender". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 63. 
  4. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. pp. 41–42. 
  5. ^ "The X Factor". Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  6. ^ James, Darren (2005). "Art of Darkness". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 59. 
  7. ^ "The Art of Iron Maiden - The X Factor (1995)". Planet Rock. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2014. 
  8. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 322. ISBN 1-86074-542-3. 
  9. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. p. 55. 
  10. ^ Popoff, Martin (2005). "Maiden at the Movies". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 104–105. 
  11. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. p. 44. 
  12. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen. Iron Maiden – The X Factor at AllMusic. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  13. ^ a b c Stagno, Mike (2 August 2006). "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 26 June 2011. 
  14. ^ The X Factor (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 2 October 1995. 
  15. ^ "Discographie Iron Maiden". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). austriancharts.at. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor – Charts Vlaanderen'" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  17. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor – Charts Wallonie" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  18. ^ a b "Iron Maiden Discography". The Official Finnish Charts. Finnishcharts.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Media Control Charts (in German). charts.de. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  20. ^ "Iron Maiden discography" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  21. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (album)". MegaCharts (in Dutch). Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 1 April 2013. 
  22. ^ a b "Iron Maiden discography". VG-lista. norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  23. ^ a b "Iron Maiden discography". Sverigetopplistan. swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  24. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Iron Maiden UK Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 November 2012. 
  26. ^ "Iron Maiden Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  27. ^ "Discographie Iron Maiden". SNEP (in French). Lescharts.com. Retrieved 17 October 2011. 
  28. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 7 October 1995". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 October 2011.