The X Factor (album)

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The X Factor
Iron Maiden - The X Factor.jpg
Studio album by
Released2 October 1995 (1995-10-02)
Recorded1994 – August 1995
StudioBarnyard Studios, Essex, England
GenreHeavy metal
CMC (North America)
ProducerSteve Harris, Nigel Green
Iron Maiden studio albums chronology
Fear of the Dark
The X Factor
Virtual XI
Alternative cover
Reverse side of the cover, which was deemed "less graphic" for retailers
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 English heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October 1995 through EMI.[2] It is the first of two albums by the band 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. The album takes a darker tone than the band's first nine releases, due to the lyrics being based on personal issues surrounding Steve Harris at the time, who was in the midst of a divorce.[3] This is reflected in the cover artwork, which graphically depicts the band's mascot, Eddie, being vivisected by machine.[4]


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

The album title came about at the start of the 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."[5]

The cover art, depicting Eddie undergoing another lobotomy, was created by Hugh Syme.[6] Due to the cover's "lifelike" style,[4] the band were forced to release the album in a reversible sleeve,[7] with a less graphic view of Eddie from a distance.[8]

The album was the last until 2015's The Book of Souls to use the classic variant of the band's logo: every studio release from Virtual XI to The Final Frontier used an alternate that removed the extended ends of the "R", "M", and both "N's".

The X Factor is also unusual in that it yielded several band compositions that did not make it onto the album. "We actually ended up doing 14 songs and we used eleven," said Steve Harris, "which is very unusual for us."[3] All three songs, "I Live My Way", "Justice of The Peace" and "Judgement Day," were released as B-sides. The last two would also be featured on the Best of the 'B' Sides collection.

The X Factor was Maiden's tenth consecutive UK top ten album, but spent only four weeks on the chart – making it their shortest-staying studio album.[9]

The X Factour tour supported the album. Much like the tour for the following Virtual XI, several dates in the United States were cancelled as Bayley suffered from occasional vocal issues from the band's heavy concert schedule.[10][11]

Song details[edit]

"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,[12] "Man on the Edge" is based on the 1993 movie, Falling Down,[13] and "Lord of the Flies" is based on the William Golding novel of the same name.[4] "Sign of the Cross" is based on the Umberto Eco's novel The Name of the Rose[4] and is Iron Maiden's sixth longest song at more than 11 minutes in length. 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
AllMusic2/5 stars[14]
Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal2/10[15]

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."[14]

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".[16] They also praised the "often criticized" Blaze Bayley, whose voice they claimed "was perfect for the new release."[16]

Track listing[edit]

1."Sign of the Cross"Steve Harris11:18
2."Lord of the Flies"Harris, Janick Gers5:04
3."Man on the Edge"Blaze Bayley, Gers4:13
4."Fortunes at War"Harris7:24
5."Look for the Truth"Bayley, Gers, Harris5:10
6."The Aftermath"Harris, Bayley, Gers6:21
7."Judgement of Heaven"Harris5:12
8."Blood on the World's Hands"Harris5:58
9."The Edge of Darkness"Harris, Bayley, Gers6:39
10."2 A.M."Bayley, Gers, Harris5:38
11."The Unbeliever"Harris, Gers8:10


Production and performance credits are adapted from the album liner notes.[1]

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

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[32] Silver 60,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ a b The X Factor (Media notes). Iron Maiden. EMI. 2 October 1995.CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Saulnier, Jason (30 April 2010). "Blaze Bayley Interview: Iron Maiden Singer talks Wolfsbane". Music Legends. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b c d Popoff, Martin (2005). "The X Offender". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 63.
  5. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. pp. 41–42.
  6. ^ "The X Factor". Discogs. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  7. ^ James, Darren (2005). "Art of Darkness". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 59.
  8. ^ "The Art of Iron Maiden - The X Factor (1995)". Planet Rock. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  9. ^ The Guinness Book of British Hit Albums, 1996 edition
  10. ^ Wall, Mick (2004). Iron Maiden: Run to the Hills, the Authorised Biography (3rd ed.). Sanctuary Publishing. p. 322. ISBN 1-86074-542-3.
  11. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. p. 55.
  12. ^ Popoff, Martin (2005). "Maiden at the Movies". Metal Hammer presents: Iron Maiden 30 Years of Metal Mayhem: 104–105.
  13. ^ Paterson, Lawrence (2009). Blaze Bayley: At the End of the Day. Blaze Bayley Recordings Ltd. p. 44.
  14. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen. Iron Maiden – The X Factor at AllMusic. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  15. ^ Popoff, Martin (1 August 2007). The Collector's Guide to Heavy Metal: Volume 3: The Nineties. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Collector's Guide Publishing. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-1-894959-62-9.
  16. ^ a b c Stagno, Mike (2 August 2006). "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
  17. ^ "Discographie Iron Maiden". Ö3 Austria Top 40 (in German). Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  18. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor – Charts Vlaanderen'" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor – Charts Wallonie" (in French). Ultratop. Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  20. ^ a b "Iron Maiden Discography". The Official Finnish Charts. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  21. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Media Control Charts (in German). Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  22. ^ "Iron Maiden discography" (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  23. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X-Factor (album)". MegaCharts (in Dutch). Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  24. ^ a b "Iron Maiden discography". VG-lista. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  25. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959-2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
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  27. ^ "Iron Maiden – The X Factor". Swiss Hitparade. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  28. ^ "Iron Maiden UK Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  29. ^ "Iron Maiden Chart History". Billboard. Nielsen Company. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  30. ^ "Discographie Iron Maiden". SNEP (in French). Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  31. ^ "Top 40 Official Singles Chart UK Archive 7 October 1995". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 October 2011.
  32. ^ "British album certifications – Iron Maiden – The X Factor". British Phonographic Industry. 11 September 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015. Select albums in the Format field. Select Silver in the Certification field. Type The X Factor in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.