UDR/EMI 2CD [Release date 04.03.13 ]
NWOBHM Legends Saxon have been on a bit of roll with recent albums and tours getting much acclaim. And this new album sees no let up at all. This album is to the last few albums what Dogs Of War did all those years ago – a real metal monster and it’s fantastic from the outset. I spoke to singer Biff Byford briefly last night and he is justifiably proud of this.
The opener Procession builds well before the title track comes in screaming, 4 minutes of aural assault. Made In Belfast sees Nibbs Carter’s bass lead the way in a darker moody way. It’s a tad more gothic and melodic than the title track but between the drums and bass it has thunderous feel. The hint of background keyboards works well too.
Warriors Of The Road is the one to watch out for – truly as blistering as you’ll ever hear Saxon. They go uptempo the same way Cozy Powell did on The Rattler / Formula One. A change of pace mid song and the guitars are still roaring. The whole band work well here, well, they do throughout the album. Guardians Of The Tomb is solid and nods back to the last album or two, with some pounding drums and a decent melody, some smooth guitar work.
Saxon have hit the nail on the head with Stand Up And Fight, a near perfect blend of heavy metal thunder, rock’n’roll and melodic rock, and has both guitar harmonies and a decent solo. Walking The Steel has a solid chunky feel, and Night Of The Wolf another blistering headbanger with melodic moments, guitar harmonies and a brief acoustic break. A lovely feel.
Wheels Of Terror has a JP circa Nostradamus feel, a heavy as fook and chunky number and the guitars pick up the pace mid song, with drums and bass to match. Album closer Standing In A Queue another memorable song.
Now those of you who are on the ball will know that Saxon were planning an orchestral album, well these tracks seem to be coming out piecemeal, and the disc 2 kicks off with an orchestral version of the classic Crusader, which works really really well.
Then there’s a new rerecorded version of Just Let Me Rock (also from the Crusader album), it’s heavier here. Two acoustic tracks follow, Frozen Rainbow and Requiem, and a new rerecorded version of Forever Free closes the package.
I can honestly say I loved both discs beginning to end. The band sound good and crystal clear, still writing and performing decent songs. The production is heavy and solid too.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my first CD review of 2013 and I can honestly say we have an album of the year contender already. *****
Review by Joe Geesin
Interview with Biff Byford (February 2013)
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