When I bought "The X factor", I did not know exactly the sort of music Iron Maiden had made in this new album and, above all, I dread listening the voice of Blaze Bayley who was an unknow singer for me. I did not buy any Wolfsbane's album.
When I heard the first song, "Sign of the cross", it was a revelation : I loved this song, it was one of the best Iron Maiden song, an epic and dark one. But, above all, the most amazing thing was Blaze's voice : a mixture of power, melody and blues. His voice gave a depth to the songs of the new album, it was dark and heavy ; his voice gave a touch of mystery to the songs which were as heavy as ever.
In my opinion, Blaze sings as well as Bruce, but his voice is quite different ; however in an album like "The X factor" Blaze is the right men in the right place : Bruce's voice cannot give the same effect and I think if Bruce was in Iron Maiden in 1995, "The X factor" would not exist.
"The X factor" is probably one of the most intellectual album of Iron Maiden. It can be consider as an introspection, a glimpse of the darkness within them and us. "The X factor" can be consider as a strange album because the dark lyrics and the loud rythmic are quite unusual for Maiden. In fact, this album is the refection of feeling from the band : it is a new challenge, with a new frontman...
When I bought this album, in 1995, I was in Preparatory Classes. The atmosphere of the class, the hard work, the stress, the hard challenge of the competitive examination... created a dark feeling inside of me : I have gloomy thoughts. Thus, the theme of "the X Factor" (the darkness within us, the doubt, the dark thoughts, the introspection...) was a reflection of my feelings and state of mind. This is a strong album, maybe the strongest album of Maiden since "Piece of Mind" or "Seventh Son of a Senventh Son".
In this text, I want to pay tribute to Blaze Bayley who is a great singer and a really cool guy. When we read an interview of Blaze (but this is the same thing for all of the members of Iron Maiden ;-), we can notice he is very intelligent and cool. Bruce was quite different : he was the king of the show ; he is a great frontman because he brings himself to the fore. Blaze sets back.
Moreover, he loves his job and wants to progess. He has a huge motivation and he wants to prove he did not steal his job. I think his voice is one of the most powerful among heavy metal singers and a very nice one. A lot of Maiden fans think is a poor guy who cannot replace Bruce.
In my opinion it is an error : Blaze does not want to replace Bruce ! He is the new singer, he has his voice, his personality... he is another man ! However, I think his biggest problem is on stage : he is not enough expressive, he does not make a spectacle of him as Bruce made when he was the frontman of Maiden. On videos, for example "The Angel and the Gambler", Blaze is excellent : his show on stage is very good (he is the king of air drummer ;-), and in the "cyberworld " he is quite funny :-) with is cowboy hat !
Bruce stayed in Maiden during more than twelve years, Blaze has been singing for Maiden since 1994 and only two albums : he can progress, he must progress ! We must accept some errors during this period of "transition".
Blaze Bayley is a very good singer. I think he is the best frontman for Iron Maiden. Thenceforth, I hope the new album will prove he is the best.
PS : I would like to meet Iron Maiden members because they are the best Heavy Metal band in the world ! If someone could help me... ;-)