Iron Maiden: The X Factor [1995]

Released 2 October 1995
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

The X Factor is the tenth studio album by British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, released on 2 October 1995 through EMI. 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 and the death of his father,[1] and the album cover, which depicts the band’s mascot, Eddie, being graphically mutilated throughsurgery.
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.”[3]

The X Factor’s cover art depicts Eddie undergoing another lobotomy and was created by Hugh Syme.[4] Due to the cover’s “lifelike” style,[2] the band were forced to release the album in a reversible sleeve,[5] including a less graphic alternative, showing Eddie from a distance.[6]

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.”[1] All three songs, “I Live My Way”, “Justice of The Peace” and “Judgement Day,” were released asB-sides, while the last two would also feature 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.

Track listing

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Sign of the Cross” Steve Harris 11:17
2. Lord of the Flies Janick Gers, Harris 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” Bayley, Gers, Harris 6:20
7. “Judgement of Heaven” Harris 5:12
8. “Blood on the World’s Hands” Harris 5:57
9. “The Edge of Darkness” Bayley, Gers, Harris 6:39
10. “2 a.m.” Bayley, Gers, Harris 5:37
11. “The Unbeliever” Gers, Harris 8:10
Total length:
71:01

Lyrics

1. Sign Of The Cross

[Steve Harris]

Eleven saintly shrouded men
Silhouettes stand against the sky
One in front with a cross held high
Come to wash my sins away

Standing alone in the wind and rain
Feeling the fear that is growing
Sensing the change in the tide again
Brought by the storm that is brewing
Feel the anxiety hold off the fear
Some of the doubts in the things you believe
Now that your faith will be put to the test
Nothing to do but await what is coming

Why then is god still protecting me
Even when I don’t deserve it
Thought I am blessed with an inner strength
Some they would call it a penance
Why am I meant to face this alone
Asking the question time and again
Praying to god won’t keep me alive
Inside my head feel the fear start to rise…

They’ll be saying their prayers when the moment comes
There’ll be penace to pay when it’s judgement day
And the guilty’ll bleed when that moment comes
They’ll be coming to claim, take your soul away

The sign of the cross
The name of the rose, a fire in the sky
The sign of the cross

They’ll be coming to bring the eternal flame
They’ll be bringing us all immortality
Holding communion so the world be blessed
My creator, my god’ll lay my soul to rest

The sign of the cross
The name of the rose, a fire in the sky
The sign of the cross

Lost the love of heaven above
Chose the lust of the earth below
Eleven saintly shrouded men
Came to wash my sins away

2. Lord Of The Flies

[Steve Harris and Janick Gers]

I don’t care for this world anymore
I just want to live my own fantasy
Faith has brought me to these shores
What was meant to be is now happening

I’ve found that I like this living in danger
Living on the edge it feels… it makes me feel as one
Who cares now what’s right or wrong it’s reality
Killing so we survive wherever we may roam
Wherever we may hide we’ve got to get away

I don’t want existence to end
We must prepare ourselves for the elements
I just want to feel like we’re strong
We don’t need a code of morality

I like all the mixed emotion and anger
It brings out the animal the power you can feel
And feeling so high on this much adrenalin
Excited but scary to believe what we’ve become

Saints and sinners
Something within us
We are lord of the flies

Saints and sinners
Something willing us
To be lord of the flies

3. Man On The Edge

[Blaze Bayley and Janick Gers]

The freeway is jammed and it’s backed up for miles
The car is an oven and baking is wild
Nothing is ever the way it should be
What we deserve we just don’t get you see

A briefcase, a lunch and a man on the edge
Each step gets closer to losing his head
Is someone in heaven are they looking down
‘Cause nothing is fair just you look around

Falling down

He’s sick of waiting of lying like this
There’s a hole in the sky for the angels to kiss
Branded a leper because you don’t fit
In the land of the free you just live by your wits

Once he built missiles a nation’s defence
Now he can’t even give birthday presents
Across the city he leaves in his wake
A glimpse of the future a cannibal state

Falling down

The freeway is jammed and it’s backed up for miles
The car is an oven and baking is wild
Nothing is ever the way it should be
What we deserve we just don’t get you see

A briefcase, a lunch and a man on the edge
Each step gets closer to losing his head
Is someone in heaven are they looking down
‘Cause nothing is fair just you look around

Falling down

4. Fortunes Of War

[Harris]

After the war and now that they’ve sent us homeward
I can’t help but feel that I’m on my own
No one can see just what this conflict has done to
The minds of the man who are on their way home

I’m scared for life but it’s not my flesh that’s wounded
So how can I face the torment alone
The vivid scenes and all the recurring nightmares
I lay there and sweat until it gets light…

People say “Don’t worry”
Say that time’s a perfect healer
That the nightmares they will come to pass
Can’t hear what they’re saying
I am living in my own world
And I’m feeling trance like all the time

I hear voices in my head
Could I really be going crazy
In the night the visions seem so real
Do you care if you live or die
When you laugh are you really crying
You’re not sure what’s real anymore

Fortunes of war
Fortunes of war no pain anymore

Sometimes I wake
I feel that my spirit’s broken
I wonder if I’ve the strenght… to carry on.

5. Look For The Truth

[Blaze Bayley, Janick Gers and Steve Harris]

All my dark dreams drift like smoke in the breeze
The fear grips me as I fall towards my sleep
Here comes the nightmare that never ends
Here is the dream that makes monsters of men

In the house of my soul
In rooms of ugliness and cold
Memories locked away
All the doubts and fears I never faced

Now they come again
I am falling down to meet with them
Fears within us all
Mine awake and they stand up tall

Look for the truth
Deepest cut of all from you
Knife of the truth
Blade of hatred slicing through

I pray my sleep will break
Maybe this time I won’t wake
Weakness I hide so well
This dagger in my mind will tell

It’s my final stand
I make a fist out of each hand
To shadows of the past
Take a breath and I scream attack

Look for the truth
Deepest cut of all from you
Knife of the truth
Blade of hatred slicing through

Here is the truth
Deepest cut of all from you
Knife of the truth
Blade of hatred slicing through

6. The Aftermath

[Steve Harris, Blaze Bayley and Janick Gers]

Silently to silence fall
In the fields of futile war
Toys of death are spitting lead
Where boys that were our soldiers bled
War horse and war machine

Curse the name of liberty
Marching on as if they should
Mix in the dirt our brothers’ blood

In the mud and rain
What are we fighting for
Is it worth the pain
Is it worth dying for
Who will take the blame
Why did they make a war
Questions that come again
Should we be fighting at all

Once a ploughman hitches his team
Here he sowed ? his little dream
Now bodies arms and legs are strewn
Where mustard gas and barbwire bloom
Each moment’s like a year
I’ve nothing left inside for tears
Comrades dead or dying lie
I’m left alone asking why

In the mud and rain
What are we fighting for
Is it worth the pain
Is it worth dying for
Who will take the blame
Why did they make a war
Questions that come again
Should we be fighting at all

After the war
Left feeling no one has won
After the war
What does a soldier become

War is over and battles are gone
After the war no one has won
I’m just a soldier

7. Judgement Of Heaven

[Steve Harris]

A lonely cry for help preaching out for help to anyone
A silent prayer to god to help you on your way
I’ve been depressed so long
It’s hard to remember when I was happy
I’ve felt like suicide a dozen times or more
But that’s the easy way, that’s the selfish way
The hardest part is to get on with your life

You’re searching in the dark clutching at straws to find a way
You take the tarot cards and throw them to the wind
You ? question your beliefs your inner thoughts,
Your whole existence
And if there is a good then answer if you will
And tell me of my fate, tell me of my place
Tell me if I’ll ever rest in peace

If you could live your life again
Would you change a thing or leave it all the same
If you had the chance again
Would you change the thing at all
When you look back at your past
Can you say that you are proud of what you’ve done
Are there times when you believe
That the right you thought was wrong

All of my life I have believed
Judgement of heaven is waiting for me

All of my life now I have believed
Judgement of heaven awaits for me…

8. Blood On The World’s Hands

[Harris]

Sometimes it makes me wonder
Sometimes it makes me question
Sometimes it makes me saddened
Always it makes me angry but…

When you can see it happening
The madness that’s all around you
Nobody seems to worry
The world seems so powerless to act…

It’s out of control
Blood on the world’s hands
Each day a new toll

Another assassination
The same day a new creation
But what are they coming into
Security of a world that brings…

One day another killing
Somewhere there’s someone straying
Another a savage raping
Meanwhile there’s someone laughing at us

It’s out of control
Blood on the world’s hands
Each day it goes on

Brutality and aggression
Tomorrow another lesson
Expecting another air raid
Praying for a geaserfire

They say things are getting better
No need to be complacent
There’s chaos across the border
And one day it could be happening to us

It’s out of control
Blood on the world’s hands
It’s our epitaph
It’s out of control
Someone should know
Blood on the world’s hands

9. The Edge Of Darkness

[Bayley, Gers, Harris]

I’ve looked into the heart of darkness
Where the blood-red journey ends
When you’ve faced the heart of darkness
Even your soul begins to bend

For a week I have been waiting
Still I am only in Saigon
The walls move in a little closer
I feel the jungle call me on

Every minute I get weaker
While in the jungle they grow strong
What I wanted was a mission
And for my sins they gave me one

They brought it up just like room service
‘Cause everyone gets what they want
And when that mission was all over
I’d never want another one

Oh!

I know, captain,
That you’ve done this work before
We’ve got a problem
You can help us all I’m sure
The colonel’s gone rogue
And his methods are unsound
You’ll take a PBR up river track him down

There’s a conflict in every human heart
And the temptation is to take it all to far
In this war things get so confused
But there are some things
Which cannot be excused

He’s acting like a God – an insane lunatic
Your mission – terminate with extreme prejudice
Your route is dangerous and your progress may be slow
Here is the file and it’s all you need to know

Oh! Oh!

Here I am the knife in my hand
And now I understand why the genius must die

Now I stand alone in the darkness
With his blood upon my hands
Where sat the warrior the poet
Now lie the fragments of a man

I’ve looked into the heart of darkness
Where the blood-red journey ends
When you’ve faced the heart of darkness
Even your soul begins to bend

10. 2 A.M.

[Blaze Bayley, Janick Gers and Steve Harris]

I get in from work at 2 a.m. and sit down with beer
Turn on late night TV and then wonder why I’m here
It’s meaningless and trivial and it washes over me
And once again I wonder is this all there is for me

Here I am again
Look at me again
Here I am Again
On my own
Trying hard to see
What there is for me
Here I am again
On my own

Life seems so pathetic I wish I could leave it all behind
This canvas chair, this bed, these walls that fall in on my mind
Hold on for something better
That just drags you through the dirt
Do you just let go or carry on and try to take the hurt

Here I am again
Look at me again
Here I am Again
On my own
Trying hard to see
What there is for me
Here I am again
On my own

11. The Unbeliever

[Steve Harris and Janick Gers]

When you start to take a look within
Do you feel at ease with what you see
Do you think you can have peace of mind
And have self-belief or be satisfied

Do you think you even like yourself
Or really think you could be someone else
Is there something that you’d rather be
Never thought you’d be had the chance to see

All my life I’ve run away
All my life I tried to hide away

Feel the paranoia creeping in
Like a cancer eating at the skin
Do you feel you’ve lost your self-esteem
And your self respect, what can you expect

All my life…I’ve run away
All my life I tried to hide away

All my life…I’ve run astray
Let my faith…slip away
All my life…I’ve run astray
Allowed my faith…to drift away

Are you scared to look inside your mind
Are you worried just at what you’ll find
Do you really want to face the truth
Does it matter now, what have you got to lose

Try to release the anger from within
Forgive yourself a few immortal sins
Do you really care what people think
Are you strong enough to release the guilt

All my life…I’ve run away
All my life I tried to hide away

All my life…I’ve run astray
Let my faith…slip away
All my life…I’ve run astray
Allowed my faith…to drift away

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