Iron Maiden was one of the very first bands I can say I was a fan of with the very first cassette tape purchase of my own being Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind. By 1995 I had become very familiar with all of Iron Maiden’s albums up until that point and had grown very accustomed to Bruce Dickinson as the lead singer. The news of his departure from the band in 1993 was of course a bit shocking and disappointing. Naturally I, along with Iron Maiden fans the world over, were very curious as to whether or not Iron Maiden would continue with a new singer and if so, what would he possibly sound like? I probably ran to Nobody Beats the Wiz to pick up Iron Maiden’s latest album The X Factor when it came out on October 2nd, 1995!
(Iron Maiden - The X-Factor - image courtesy of Wikipedia)
I got home from the store on a dreary day in early October, joyfully and expectantly tearing off the plastic shrink wrap of the CD jewel case. I popped the CD into my tall early 90’s stereo system and sat down to have a listen as I perused the album insert admiring the different, more modern, approach to their mascot Eddie while reading along with the lyrics. The opening track “The Sign of the Cross” seemed to start off with an appropriate Iron Maiden-esque mood replete with a very long intro section. When the vocals came in, there was nothing shocking about it (being neither great nor poor). It still very much sounded like Maiden albeit slightly different in a way that was hard to describe. As the song built in intensity and the new vocalist Blayze Bailey began to belt out the notes “The Sign of the Cross!” I was fairly satisfied. As I continued to listen, I would come to feel that this was a good album and did listen to it quite a bit. Something inside of me however felt that it did not have the potential to become one of my favorites and that even if the new singer was qualified and a good fit, I really enjoyed the sound and vibe of Bruce Dickinson’s voice and was missing it. My interest in Iron Maiden began to fade for quite some time though not because I wanted it to.
 It wasn’t until many years later as an adult that I truly realized how much of a Bruce Dickinson fan I am as a creative force unto himself. This includes his work with Iron Maiden, solo work as well as his writing and personality.