Sunday, January 25, 2009

Iron Maiden: The X Factor

This is the first album by Iron Maiden without Bruce Dickinson on vocals. The job instead went to Blaze Bayley. This album also featured a significantly different structural departure from previous albums. All that being said, this album is about as average as it can get.

There is absolutely nothing spectacular about this addition to the Iron Maiden catalog, however it is not horrible. The riffs are generally well constructed and the songwriting is still competent. The only real issue is the fact that this was, as stated earlier, a significant departure from the great Iron Maiden. Obviously the vocals are different. Bayley does not have the soaring opera-trained vocal style that Bruce Dickinson has, but he is still a very good singer. I just do not think that he fits in with the well-renowned style of Iron Maiden. The other difference was in the structure of the songs themselves. Iron Maiden has frequently written some longer songs on their albums, but on this album all but one song clock in over five minutes, and that one exception is still more than four minutes long. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it makes the album a little tedious at times. This is not an album that can be listened to over and over again. Unfortunately Iron Maiden would continue along with this for their next several albums even after the triumphant return of Bruce Dickinson.

The best thing about this album, as usual for Maiden, is the bass lines. Steve Harris is one of the greatest bass players in heavy metal and the fact that he can frequently be heard playing rhythms against the riffs of the guitars means that he can actually be heard well enough to be enjoyed. Harris is also one of the better songwriters in metal which has lead to Maiden's hallowed place in the genre.

All in all, this is an okay album, but I honestly think I would have enjoyed it more if it had not been released under the Iron Maiden name. It's just too difficult to accept the band without Bruce Dickinson after all these years. Thankfully the band only released one more full length with Bayley before Dickinson returned.

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