I am a diehard Iron Maiden fan, and I was devastated by Bruce Dickinson leaving the band and being gone so long. I originally bought this album (The X Factor) and didn't realize till I started listening to it that it wasn't Bruce!! I immediately put it aside for a long time before reading a review here on Amazon.com about it and finally decided to give it another try with an open mind.
I was still disappointed and it was probably because I kept expecting it to sound like Bruce on vocals. Finally, after what seems like an eternity has passed, I can appreciate this one for what it was/is: The band wanted to make an album, Blaze Bayley was available, so they did it. It's a good album, but it's at the bottom of my Iron Maiden list. It's worth listening to if you're an Iron Maiden fan, or maybe even if you're not (maybe you won't have any personal biases for rejecting it like I did).
The songs are decent, with a few memorable ones, but Blaze's style in many places seems like he's halting or waiting for the music to catch up to him and the band is waiting for him to catch up to them. It makes for some really strange pauses in the music/vocals as if their timing is off a little. (If I can find specific examples I might add them later.) The music is actually really good and sounds like Iron Maiden should, but Blaze brings them down in a few places and it's not what I would consider a "great addition" to the Iron Maiden legacy. And a two and a half minute lead-in of chanting, sound effects, and slow single guitar notes makes for a boring entrance to the album.
So, even though Blaze is a blemish on this Iron Maiden offering, it's still worth 4 stars.