Iron Maiden – The X-Factor and A matter of life and death review

Music about War

This is about war themed songs, novels and movies. Its always been a bit of interest of mine. I had a random chat with someone at least a month or more ago, and working on this piece,  War, the lyrics from Maiden are much better than that, but it’s a piece, and when we talked about war and all, this person mentioned that people that come back from war don’t talk about it to anyone, not even to their close ones. That is really what inspired the first opening lines, and I’d always enjoy these albums from Iron Maiden, so thought it would be good to write short review about these albums and the piece just one that I’ve been working on. I would always hear things about Veterans, but having someone tell you it, means something. I know Queensryche did a first hand account of a veteran on their American Soldier album,
I haven’t had a chance to check it out fully yet.

All this got me thinking, I’ve listened to albums Iron Maiden’s The X Factor, war, loss themed, and A Matter of Life and Death, a lot and figured might as well do a little review on it.

You can find a lot more detailed look into their albums here, which is better than what I’ve provided my views provided in this post. I recommend listening to each track and think for yourself. I will get around to write more about Iron Maiden and other albums.


The X Factor – 1995


The X-Factor Orginal cover Source

This is a great album, with a change in singer, Blaze Bayley, his voice can go much lower, as someone I know said, Bruce can’t sound like that, and to me Blaze’s voice fits the dark mood of the album really well. During hard times, and even recently this is the go to album for lots of themes. Even the way the album is mixed is pretty dark, bass and drums a bit heavier than previous releases. You can really hear the guitars on one end and the bass on opposite spectrums.

I find the lyrics very interesting, and questioning about everything. They experimented a bit more with the song structures, slower intros, longer songs which sets the blueprint even for recent albums. As usual a few songs on previous albums show the progression then carries on even till the recent release on the Book of Souls.


Iron Maiden – The X-Factor alternate cover Source

Sign of the Cross

This is a great epic song, with the chant opening, intro and various tempos, drum fills, and sections, very melodic towards the end too. From beginning to end, lyrics, progressive bits. Its based on the book Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, I haven’t read but should.
The melodies are great, overall a great song which good transitions.

Lord of the Flies

Based on the book, great song, bass lines 3:43m

Man on the edge

Based off the movie Falling Down, another good track, I remember seeing the video on TV back in the 1990s. The first track we heard after Bruce left, so I’m sure it was a lot of pressure to do well.

Fortunes of War
“No pain anymore
When you laugh are you really crying”


Lyrics on this track is really good, the structure is a bit different, if you listen to it, then you’ll hear it. At ~4:38m mark, to me has Maiden’s unique sound, you have the guitars playing the melody, bass lines pumping and the drums going on. When you hear this is an example of what sets Maiden apart from the rest of the New Wave of British Metal bands, even though they all had some similar sounds at the start of the era. To Tame a Land, is an example of one off Piece of Mind, and obviously the first two albums by Maiden and the rest of their catalog. As I’ve read up online a while ago if I got it right, that Steve sets the treble higher on the bass amp/speaker, to cut through the noise of the guitars.  Rather than most music the bass is more in the background.
Theme of this song is great, dealing with the after effects of war. You never really knows what goes on in someone’s mind. The ending lines are great too.

Look for the Truth

Another great track, a bit slower lyrics are quite thoughtful, some great questions.

The Aftermath
“After the war
Left feeling no one has won
After the war
What does a soldier become”

Another great sound, great lyrics and build up, very fast guitar solo from Janick Gers. Good point, after the war what happens.

Judgment of Heaven

A slightly different start for a song, bass lines, a few words then and it’s a good one to listen too if ever you feel like calling it quits, almost like a motivational song, again question every aspect of your life, beliefs past, present too, and one day we do have to go, leave it up to the heavens and call it a day.

Blood on the World’s Hands

Starts off with a bass solo which is great, and lyrics are always very relevant, unfortunately these things still happen today and the lyrics ending on a kind of cliffhanger.


The Edge of Darkness

Quite a few different progressions to this song too, which is great. Based on the movie Apocalypse Now, which I saw and it’s a great movie, and also based on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. I really enjoyed that book, it’s a short, a bit challenging to read, I’m not an advanced reader, but the details in that book on how the Africans were described is horrifying, an fictional account of the effects of colonization from the first world. If ever you read it, the lines, “The Horror, the Horror” gave me chills.
Similar effect, when you hear the lines the “And now I understand why the genius must die”

This song is great, the buildup, the main riffs, drums, the aggressive bass lines.

2 A.M.

Another good song from me, a bit slower but questioning life, depression, whether to give up or carry on.

The Unbeliever

A song about faith, a slightly different start, different structure, and the basslines on 3:35m is great, like thunder. This one took longer to get into but ends up being a really good song.

This was a great album by them, great melodies, basslines, lyrics to analyze and gets you thinking,  and I find most of the times, searching to see what inspired the lyrics, be it a movie, book, or dreams etc…
That’s what I like about band like this, good music and lyrics that get you to think a bit.
and its standard with Maiden records.

Man on the Edge b sides:


Iron Maiden – Man on the edge cover Source

They made some pretty good B-Side songs that didn’t make the album, I really think these should have

Judgment Day

Great opening and lines like “There are no marks on a man to tell if he’s good or bad”

I live my way

Starts off very soft melodic, but then picks up, and some aggressive bass work too.

Justice of the peace

Reminiscent of how old times were better, more open and its pretty true.


A Matter of Life and Death – 2006


Iron Maiden – A matter of life and death Source

Another great album by them, listened to the album a lot back in the day from 2006-2010. Some would say it is a bit more upbeat than the X Factor, which is in some ways, the themes of war is revisited under a different light.


Different World


A straight ahead rocker, great harmony.

These Colours Don’t Run
“Paying for my freedom with your
Lonely unmarked graves”

That line always hits well, and overall great song, great lyrics really gives a view on leaving and in war, from being at home leaving to the end. A classic.

Brighter Than A Thousand Suns

Starts off slower, great basslines in this song too, 2:34m, bass does its own lines which is great. This to me is like when I read on Fender’s website long time ago for the Steve Harris signature bass, that Steve’s tone, way of playing is often imitated and never duplicated, I find this is an example of that. There are a lot more examples, if you want more fast tempo, I would suggest listening to the first two albums.
And the 4m the famous gallop march. About the creation of nuclear warheads and what they have done, playing God.

The Pilgrim

Great song, with some melodies slightly different at 1:26m

The Longest Day
‘Sliding we go, only fear on our side’

This is another great song, almost picture soldiers running on the battlefield. Especially ‘When the Sliding we go’ is sung and the song picks and builds up nicely.

Out Of The Shadows

A good straightforward easy listening song, more upbeat.

The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
‘Trying to reach heaven from hell’

Great song, I think similar to Pashchedale in some parts on the previous album, I think they used that song to springboard the themes on this album, another great song about war.
This song is good, a bit darker.

For The Greater Good Of God

‘And as their spirits seem to whistle on the wind
A shot is fired somewhere another war begins’

From the opening basslines, spoken bit, to the verses, choruses, and melodies right to the end is a great song. Overall this is a very strong song, and lyrics too, the usual questioning everything.

Lord Of Light

The last two songs took longer to get into, but the progressions, melodies, lyrics are very interesting. Lots of progressive elements in this song. One you get into it its great, I kind of think this established some of the structures for the Final Frontier.

The Legacy

Takes a bit longer to start this song, a bit orchestrated, 6:29m great guitar harmonies, lyrics, make some valid points, everything to end the album.

Both albums are great, the X-Factor was definitely a dark album, in terms of mix, lyrics, themes, but everything came together on that album, that their longtime producer retired before. So with having to get another vocalist, producer, and the other things was quite the challenge. Even with Bruce being gone, it was a very strong album despite all that.
A matter of life and death, is another war themed album with Bruce, but both albums have very strong bass lines, melodies, Steve playing something, and the guitarists doing something else, you’ll hear throughout the album. I have to say that the Final Frontier had several songs like that too, the book of souls a bit less.

Overall both albums are really great, war themed ones, so highly recommend to listen to if you’re into heavy rock, or metal. What I like about Maiden is that you get good lyrics, that probe into things, and gets you to question a bit too, different views, learn a bit, and add that with great music, it’s great to listen to.

©2016 Rajinder



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s