In 1995, New Wave of British Heavy Metal titans Iron Maiden released the marginalized album The X Factor, which, for most fans, has stood as a stain on the band’s catalog. This was a new Iron Maiden in appearance, style and presentation. Gone was the iconic, operatic and athletic frontman Bruce Dickinson and in was Wolfsbane's Blaze Bayley, baritone and all. The sound, at its whole, was unlike anything Maiden had previously authored and they had even made poor Eddie a helpless medical test subject on the cover.

Desperately in search of a direction that would stick without compromising their ideals, Maiden were stuck in an era where they were unconvincingly trying to reclaim previous successes, returning to their roots (see No Prayer for the Dying and Fear of the Dark). Their inherent need to evolve and stake out new territory defiantly contrasted those efforts and the results come off as confused, cheap and underwhelming… or do they?

Well, yes, quite a bit, as we’re not going to drop banners from the ceiling proclaiming The X Factor as a bonafide Maiden classic worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as the sterling seven album run of the ‘80s, but there's still a lot to love here. The ill-will garnered by the album at the time of its release was warranted (key word: was), but that was when Maiden fans and their beloved heavy metal were both in a time of turmoil.

1995 was ugly for the old school and the future was looking bleaker, so it’s understandable to posit that Bruce and to another extent, Adrian Smith, could have helped keep this ship from running aground (though thankfully they never encroached the shore).

But it’s not 1995 anymore. Bruce and Adrian are back and Maiden are doing just fine, touring the world in custom-outfitted jumbo jets piloted by their own damn singer. Arguably, Iron Maiden are at the peak of their career nearly 40 years after releasing their debut. So why hasn’t the hostility towards The X Factor died down? We can help you get over it with 10 Reasons Why Iron Maiden’s The X Factor Is Better Than You Remember.

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