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After "Fear Of The Dark" (1992) Bruce Dickinson left the band to pursuit his solo career. He was replaced by a guy called Blaze Bayley who had been earlier in a band called Wolfsbane. And Maiden came up with an album that is hated by many fans, but I like this albums. At least this is better than any other 90's Maiden album.
Music on "The X Factor" is a lot more darker than anything Maiden had done before or after. Which is in a way a good thing, because in my opinion Blaze Bayley's voice fits well into more darker music. Also music on this album is a lot more harder to approach than anything they have done before. As there is a lot less hooks and many of the songs are more progressive, good example would be the song "Sign of the Cross".
The main problem with "The X Factor" for me is that the songs are uneven in quality. There is some amazing songs and one ok song ("Lord of the Flies"), and rest of the songs are either mediocre or bad. Many people has a problem with Blaze Bayley's singing style as it is so much different from Bruce Dickinson's singing style. He's not really a bad singer, but it was a small shock when I first heard his voice as I was waiting that they would have gotten someone who's voice would have been similar to Bruce's voice. But after few listens I started to get used to he's voice.
Although "The X Factor" is far away from a perfect album I will still recommend this to most of the Iron Maiden fans, as this is still an solid album. Just don't wait that "The X Factor" would be another "Piece of Mind" or "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son".
Highlights: "Sign of the Cross", "Man on the Edge", "Fortunes of War", "Judgement Of Heaven", "Blood On The World's Hand" and "The Edge Of Darkness".