Yes it’s heavy metal, but it’s also how long how long typical of how dull this lineup is, lacking the spark that made early Saxon so legendary.
Written by: Dangerzone
LABEL: UDR Records
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England
LINEUP: Biff Byford – vocals * Paul Quinn – guitar * Doug Scarrat – guitar * Nibbs Carter – bass * Nigel Glockler – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Procession * 02 Sacrifice * 03 Made In Belfast * 04 Warriors Of The Road * 05 Guardians Of The Tomb * 06 Stand Up And Fight * 07 Walking The Steel * 08 Night Of The Wolf * 09 Wheels Of Terror * 10 Standing In A Queue
WEBLINKS: Official Site
If there’s one thing Saxon can be praised for it’s the consistency of their album releases, a guaranteed two years apart on cue religiously. Unfortunately that consistency is also apparent in their slew of dire albums, dating back to 1997 and something I’ve written here with regularity every two years also.
This time around I had no idea however this album was even being recorded, let alone released. Upon doing some research old Biff was out there saying the same stale things about this being a return to the basics of early Saxon, something said of approximately the last eight Saxon albums, with none of it being true whatsoever in each instance.
Nevertheless I gave this a spin out of habit, having long ago given up hope of hearing anything as essential as ‘Wheels Of Steel’ or even ‘Rock The Nation’. Still there’s a community out there who constantly claim Saxon has never been better and are underrated. Don’t listen to those mugs. They’re living in denial.
Opening instrumental ‘Procession’ is easily skipped, some tribal beats leading into the title track, which sounds heavy on the surface, but the melody lines are fairly mundane and the guitar work sounds more like Uriah Heep than Saxon.
Yes it’s heavy metal, but it’s also typical of how dull this lineup is, lacking the spark that made early Saxon so legendary. ‘Made In Belfast’ is an attempt to prove the band still has working class blood in its veins, a tribute to Irish shipping yards, yet dour in execution with Biff singing far too low. Somehow I expected this to be about the warzones of Belfast in decades past.
As always there’s a token attempt to capture the spirit of 1980, this time ‘Warriors Of The Road’ a modern day ‘Motorcycle Man’, with the band playing at full speed with something akin to a classic boogie riff. Why don’t they do this more? The chorus falls a bit flat, with the verses providing rare excitement instead.
Some oriental keyboard effects open ‘Guardians Of The Tomb’, a slice of well worn mystical fare with Biff rambling about ancient warriors rising to fight once again. The riffs are effective on occasion, but the problem again is the chorus, which is simply forgettable.
‘Stand Up And Fight’ is a familiar sounding title for the band, as they try to evoke the imagery of the early 80’s with lyrics about living for rock and roll and standing your ground. It’s another uninspired track, just the band going through the motions. Just listen and you’ll understand from the first note.
The Led Zeppelin like stomp of ‘Walking The Steel’ moves far too slowly, but it’s still better than Iron Maiden simply because it’s only four minutes. Any longer and I’d be in a coma. In an attempt to conjure up recycled song titles ‘Night Of The Wolf’ is next, as if to say ‘we’re back!’ The truth is this is another mid-paced plodder, where in the days of yore it would have been almost thrash.
‘Wheels Of Terror’ is next, this one’s about tanks causing mayhem, set to yet another bloody slow pace. Having myself driven an M1/A1 Abrams tank and fired SABOT rounds at long distance to maximum effect, I wouldn’t mind destroying a crate of ‘Sacrifice’ CD’s on a gunnery range for target practice.
Biff then tries again to reinforce his working class ideals with the hard rock of ‘Standing In A Queue’, about some dude living on the precipice of society in the dole line. ‘Someone needs to get a grip, we need another plan, let’s raise our voices up and stick it to the man’ he sings. I’m right behind you Biff!
While this is better than 2011’s ‘Call To Arms’ by a mile, it isn’t any good by most logical standards itself. It’s just essentially the same Saxon album you’ve heard since ‘Unleash The Beast’ way back in 1997 and you can take it or leave it. It’s as simple as that.
Some people will no doubt gush over this as their best yet and more power to that particular lunatic element of the metal society. For me it’s already been vanquished to that same place where 2000 onwards Motorhead and Iron Maiden exist – the delete button.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)