The X-Factor

Iron Maiden is my favorite band. If that wasn’t evident by the album-by-album review I did last year, then this article might convince you. I reviewed The X-Factor as apart of that series. If you need a refresher, the link is below. That album, is one that’s maligned among the Iron Maiden community. Here’s a quick recap.

Iron Maiden was in shambles after Bruce Dickinson left the band in 1994. Their most famous lead singer left due to creative differences. The rest of the band had to go on though. They undertook one of the largest audition processes for any band. Steve Harris eventually chose Blaze Bayley of Wolfsbane. The band began writing and recording in 1994 and it stretched into 1995. The final result was The X-Factor. One of my favorite Iron Maiden albums that I gave a 9/10 in my review. That recording process was strange for Iron Maiden for myriad reasons. One was obvious, they had a new lead singer and writing partner. The other was that they recorded more material than needed for the album. Normally Iron Maiden gets their tracks ready and doesn’t record too much after.

There are some exceptions to this rule, like Somewhere In Time or Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, but most of the time, they have the songs for the album, and that’s it. For The X-Factor they recorded 14 songs for the album, and only 11 of them made the final cut. This article is about those extra three songs and how they could have made the difference on an already great album.

The X-Factor‘s Secret Songs

I’ll start off, finding these songs, like finding The X-Factor and Virtual XI was like goddamn Christmas for me. New Iron Maiden that I haven’t heard? Hell yeah, sign my ass up. So we’ll start with the songs, there’s no real order to them.

Justice Of The Peace

The different editions that this song has been on is pretty numerous for a B-side. It was originally on the single CD for “Man On The Edge” and also on the Japanese Special Edition of The X-Factor. The song starts off fast and heavy, something that The X-Factor could have used. The song sounds similarly structured to “Judgement Of Heaven” on the album. It’s a quick song in the vein of “Flash of the Blade” or “Futureal”. Starting the album with “Sign of the Cross” was a stroke of genius in my opinion, but this could have been an album opener.

Lyrically it tells a similar story to the rest of the album. It condemns the lifestyle that society and people have of not wanting to protect those who are vulnerable. We don’t know who the good guys or the bad guys are nowadays. People used to be kinder and nicer to one another. So now we’re just waiting for the justice that brings us back to those days. Heavy stuff from Iron Maiden. It’s a great song that makes little sense why it wouldn’t make it on the final album.

Judgement Day

Another quick rocker for the bonus tracks. “Judgement Day” starts off fast and doesn’t ever quit. It reminds me of a Wolfsbane track more than Iron Maiden. That fits into this era of Maiden though, it’s heavy and chunky, and tells a dark story. It was originally included on the first single for “Man on the Edge” and the Japanese Special Edition of The X-Factor. Like the previous song, this very easily could have opened the album. I have no clue why this one couldn’t make it on the album. It astounds me to this day. I love this track. It’s 90’s era Maiden at it’s best.

Lyrically speaking, it’s similar to the last song. It tells about how we don’t know who is a saint and who is a sinner. The only time we’ll ever be able to truly tell is when judgement day arrives. The truth about all of our actions will come out for all to see, then, and only then.

I Live My Way

This is the one that sounds the most like a song that would fit perfectly on the album. So it’s another mystery why this one didn’t make it. It’s not like these are clearly rejected demos of songs. These are fully recorded, mixed, and ready to fucking rock, songs. “I Live My Way” starts off slow with a similar guitar riff to “Afraid To Shoot Strangers” or another song off Fear of the Dark. It was written by Bayley, Steve Harris, and Janick Gers, so don’t get any ideas that this was some reject off that album.

“I Live My Way” is about changing your lifestyle. If you have a bad life or one that you don’t want, you have the power to change it. You’re not stuck in whatever life you want to live, change your life everyday even if it’s small changes for the better. It’s a stark clash to the rest of the album and the dark, somber tones that The X-Factor brings.

Re-Do on The X-Factor‘s Tracklist

I’m going to do the unenviable choice of re-doing The X-Factor‘s tracklist. So we’ll start from the top and go down.

  1. Man On the Edge
  2. Judgement Day
  3. Fortunes of War
  4. The Unbeliever
  5. Lord of the Flies
  6. The Aftermath
  7. Justice of the Peace
  8. Blood On the World’s Hands
  9. Look For the Truth
  10. The Edge of Darkness
  11. Judgement of Heaven
  12. 2AM
  13. I Live My Way
  14. Sign of the Cross

This becomes the longest Iron Maiden album in tracklisting, but I don’t care. All three of these songs belong on this album in some way. This new version of the album answers legitimate critiques of the album. It’s no longer just a huge depressing, dark beast. It has spots of hope, of energy. Especially after the darker songs on the album. I like closing with “Sign of the Cross” as it continues the Maiden tradition of closing with your longer more progressive sounding song. The ending of that song is also poignant with the way it starts and ends with the same chanting that brought it in. On the actual album, it works as an introduction to this new era of Maiden. On my fictional tracklist, “Man On the Edge” similarly introduces you to this new era.

Like I said in my review, The X-Factor is a fantastic album by Iron Maiden. It tells dark, depressing, bleak stories mixed with hard, blasting high-energy tracks. These three bonus tracks would have only made that album better, so it’s a wonder why Iron Maiden chose not to include them on the final release. We’ll never know why, but thanks to the internet and Japanese Special Editions, we have that option to hear them.

That’s all for today, this was a special inclusion on the Music Rec series. If you want to see yesterday’s recommendation, click below. For more on Iron Maiden, heavy metal, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.