The X Factor is the tenth studio album by Iron Maiden, released in 1995. 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 and the band, mainly Dickinson's departure, at the time and the album cover, which depicts the band's mascot, Eddie the Head, being graphically mutilated through surgery.
The album title came about in the early part 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."
Supporting the album was the X Factour tour. Much like the tour for their following album, Virtual XI, it was cut short after Blaze suffered a violent allergic reaction to certain elements used on the stages where the band performed.
The X-Factor's cover art depicts the operation which left Eddie's head broken (first seen on the Piece of Mind album cover) and was created by[Hugh Syme. In some releases, the cover was replaced with a less graphic alternative, showing Eddie from a distance, with the original artwork on the back of the booklet. The idea to bring Iron Maiden's longtime mascot Eddie into 'real form' came from band guitarist Dave Murray, up to that point having always been an animated caricature.
This is the second album (Piece of Mind being the first) that did not have a title track on it, as well as the first album to not feature the album title in any of the song lyrics. It is the first album since Powerslave to feature no songwriting from Dave Murray.
This album is also unusual for the band in that it produced several band compositions that did not make it onto the album. "Justice of The Peace" and "Judgement Day" would turn up on the Best of the 'B' Sides collection and the Eddie's Archive box set, but "I Live My Way" would not. All three were released at the time of the album as B-sides.
- "Sign of the Cross" - 11:17
- "Lord of the Flies" - 5:03
- "Man on the Edge" - 4:13
- "Fortunes of War" - 7:23
- "Look for the Truth" - 5:10
- "The Aftermath" - 6:20
- "Judgement of Heaven" - 5:12
- "Blood on the World's Hands" - 5:57
- "The Edge of Darkness" - 6:39
- "2 A.M." - 5:37
- "The Unbeliever" - 8:10
- Blaze Bayley - vocals
- Dave Murray – guitar
- Janick Gers – guitar
- Steve Harris – bass guitar
- Nicko McBrain – drums