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On disc: Saxon



Metalhead - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Heavy Metal Thunder - Amir Djawadi - 4 stars
The Saxon Chronicles (DVD) - Amir Djawadi -  
Lionheart - Jörg Petersen - 9 stars
Lionheart - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Into The Labyrinth - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
Call To Arms - Mike Thompson - 9 stars


www.saxon747.com







Call To Arms

Call To Arms
(Militia Guard Music - 2011)


Saxon is one of the great steadfast heavy metal bands. Never bowing down to trends, always forging their own brand of pure heavy metal. From the glory days of the NWoBHM through the grunge boom and even the dark days of nu-metal Saxon has always remained true to the sound these guys pioneered back in the late seventies. Now in 2011 venerable frontman Biff Byford and his band of metal brothers are sounding the Call To Arms. Are you ready to don your denim and leather once again?

Hammer Of The Gods kicks off this album in phenomenal fashion - a balls-out rocker with a great sing-along chorus! This is followed up by the Denim & Leather styling of Back In '79, a song that will have audiences around the world raising their fists and screaming along!

In some ways Saxon's downfall has been the slower songs that, with a few notable exceptions, just didn't seem as well executed as the rockers, perhaps a little less polished. However, as Saxon has matured with age so has the band's ability to write excellent songs such as Mists Of Avalon, a slow to mid-paced epic in some ways reminiscent of the classic Crusader.

The title track is a true Saxon epic with a slow intro that builds to a belting mid-paced anthem that will get your blood pumping. A song that utterly encapsulates the title and everything that makes Saxon great.

When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory) has a main riff highly reminiscent of the classic Led Zeppelin song Kashmir which gives it a real seventies feel. Its a great epic track that stands out from the other songs on the album. At the end of the song a brief keyboard solo courtesy of Don Airey (Deep Purple and Rainbow) adds an even more nostalgic feel to the song. The subsequent No Rest For The Wicked is the heaviest song on the album and shows what I feel is a more modern edge to Saxon, in some ways reminiscent of Blaze Bayley's solo albums. Both of these songs will appear in the British sci-fi movie Hybrid Theory. A better reason that most to watch a British film I guess!

The final track on the album is an orchestral version of Call To Arms which is perhaps even better than the regular version! This is a song that just demands the extra epic layers that an orchestra can give and it works to perfection.

Saxon have managed to put together an absolute stormer here. Any fans of Saxon or heavy metal in general need this album. This is a veteran band doing what they do and showing all the young pretenders that there is still a lot of life in the old guard yet.


9 stars

Mike Thompson
 

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Into The Labyrinth

Into The Labyrinth
(Steamhammer - 2009)


Veteran rockers Saxon are back with another album, this time it's called Into The Labyrinth! If they drag us into a labyrinth? No, but they surprise with a few new sound elements. Symphonically the Brits lead you into Battalions Of Steel, a symphonic up-tempo tune with sharp riffs and a choir in the background. Majestically Biff Byford's voice on top of the symphonic rocker. The song is also the longest track on the new album and to choose this one as an opener shows that Saxon aren't looking for a safe haven! They are still experimenting and in this case they succeed. It's not the typical Saxon tune, but a strong, catchy opener! A quite typical Saxon tune is the stomping rocker Live To Rock with its crunchy riffs and 80's refrain. Perhaps not a very unique one, but something diehard fans will appreciate. Slowly and with a dark sound they start into Demon Sweeny Todd, but then they explode and storm off. The song is no longer carrying the dark vibe, but a good dash of aggression! With acoustic guitar and vocals they kick off The Letter, a balladesque intro which leads into Valley Of The Kings where fast, sharp riffs take over. The song is a metal anthem with a symphonic touch, cool guitar solo and a catchy refrain. Slow Lane Blues is a rocker with a bluesy touch and another more traditional Saxon tune. A guitar intermezzo is Premonition In D Minor. Protect Yourself is a guitar-driven rocker with heavy riffs and a bit dragging. A fast, aggressive one is Hellcat! A good one to bang your head and to sing along live. After Come Rock Of Ages you get a country-tinged tune called Coming Home (Bottleneck Version) which is a lot of fun!
Somehow the guys managed to record an album with traditional tracks and also get a bit experimental with sounds you usually not find at a Saxon album. A walk on the razor's edge - but they manage extremely well. You never have the feeling that it's forced and even with the different sounds the album sounds homogenous. Well done!


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

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Lionheart

Lionheart
(Steamhammer - 2004)


When you put the new Saxon in your player, you first hear Witchfinder General which is a quite fast track. It's obvious that there is someone new behind the drums... Well-known Jrg Michael is the newest Saxon member. The opening track is more modern, but still sounds like Saxon. Heavy guitar riffing and double-bass drum start the wild ride. Lionheart is continuing the way mainman Biff Byford and his mates chose with Killing Ground and Metalhead, but with an 80's flair. The Return is a short instrumental intro for the title track Lionheart. No surprise that lyrically the song deals with English King Richard I called Lionheart who got captured on his way back from a crusade and so they chose a more epic sound for the mid-tempo rocker. This one will be another highlight in their live set. Interesting is the following track Beyond The Grave with the change between slow atmospheric parts and heavy riffing. Probably the song where it's most obvious that singer Biff changed his style... A bit. Here they sound very modern and the typical Saxon trademarks are less. With Justice they deliver a Saxon-like one, but actually not one of the best tracks on this album... But more then decent. Real heavy guitar riffing in contrast to the melodic vocal line. An short acoustic piece is Jack Tars - a kind of bridge to the up-tempo riff monster English Man'o'War. A classic Saxonian track. The last 2 tracks are good, but not as powerful and energetic as the others.... So, I would suggest to listen to the title track Lionheart, Beyond The Grave and English Man'o'War.
After many years the band decided to record in the U.K. again - and with producer Charlie Bauerfeind. In just 2 months they recorded one of the most powerful albums in their history.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 






Lionheart

Lionheart
(Steamhammer - 2004)


25 years and still not tired of metal! With Lionheart the Saxonians delivered another high class album, another classic! In comparison with Killing Ground this is more metal. Biff Byford and his pals open up the album with Witchfinder General, a track about the witch-hunt in the dark age. A fast track with heavy guitar riffing and great lead guitar parts. The tall charismatic singer sounds a little different this time. In a way typical Saxon and at the same time different.... More modern... The drum sound changed, got harder - new drummer Jörg Michael has a different style which fits to this track extremely good. With Beyond The Grave they recorded another straight forward song which is for the band a kind of continuing of 747 (Strangers In The Night). The title track Lionheart is perhaps one of the most epic songs of the British. It's amazing how much power this band still has. The fast tracks are not as catchy, but they have a lot of power - real neckbreakers. Therefore Searching For Atlantis has great hooks. Great!
I can't wait to see them on tour! This album is a real Saxon classic! Buy it!!!!


9 stars

Jörg Petersen
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)
 






The Saxon Chronicles (DVD)

The Saxon Chronicles (DVD)
(Steamhammer - 2003)


28 years of rock and still alive and kicking! Respect! The British band of band leader Biff Byford is still around and not tired of recording new albums and going on tour. They still make the metal fans happy.
A band like Saxon can't turn a blind eye about the technical development. They said good-bye to the vinyl and welcomed the new medium CD years ago. Now they are one of the first bands who try to establish themselves in the DVD sector. And so the five-piece from Britain offer a lot.
This double DVD will make the fans hearts beat faster. On the first DVD are an almost 100 min. long live set which was recorded during the legendary Wacken appearance in 2001 and is complete with an interview with singer Biff Byford.
On DVD #2 you can find another concert, this time recorded at 1995's Esbjerg festival. Beside that there is a lot home video footage of the band and 8 video clips from different eras. A photo gallery and some footage from TV appearances is completing the collection.
A multi-medial full service for metal fans which should be in every collection and a must-buy for Saxon fans.


Amir Djawadi(Translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)
 






Heavy Metal Thunder

Heavy Metal Thunder
(Steamhammer - 2002)


This is a highlight! It's unbelievable, the British metal legend Saxon is existing for 30 years and so it was time to say thank you. So, they release this double CD. On disk one are 13 tracks - a collection of songs from their history - all re-recorded and overdone. The songs are taken from Power & The Glory and Heavy Metal Thunder and there are tracks like 747 - Strangers In The Night up to Wheels Of Steel which made it on this disk. The second disk is the real bonus, coz the package is sold for the prize of a single CD; a real thank you to the fans. On disk no. 2 are five live tracks which were recorded during the Killing Ground tour in 2002. The songs were recorded in San Antonio, USA and includes songs like Broken, 20,000ft up to Crusader. The disk is called Official Bootleg which explains the raw sound. Another bonus is the live video Killing Ground which was done at the legendary Wacken open-air in 2001.
The double CD which is sold for a more then decent prize is a possibility for old and new fans of the British to complete their collections and to get classical tracks in a new sound. Plus the live bonus songs on disk no. 2!


4 stars

Amir Djawadi
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)
 






Metalhead

Metalhead
(Steamhammer - 1999)


They are one of the founding members of the NWoBHM and they are still alive and kicking. After an intro the Saxonians kick off with the title track with a big bang! Hammering drums, bass beats and razor-sharp guitar riffs are crowned by the voice of the one and only Biff Byford!
The more solemn mid-tempo track Traveller In Time has features a exceptional guitar solo. But there are also typical Saxon tunes like Son Of Evil which is really heavy while Conquistador or All Guns Blazing are up-tempo tracks. A song which has a more modern touch is Watching You, but the slower, epic parts they kind presents the new and the old. At least they present a slow, heavy track which is called Sea Of Life and which is a more than 8 min. long opus. Breaks and acoustical parts make this track interesting from the start to end. An unusual one for the NWoBHM heroes, but a great one!
The British recorded the album in the German Karo Studio. Produced by long time friend Rainer Hänsel and mixed by famous producer Charlie Bauerfeind (e.g. Angra, Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray). And this dynamic duo gave the British quintet a fresh and powerful sound. The Saxonians have a rougher sound, not the polished sound they had year ago...
The band of Biff Byford released quit a few classic albums in the 80's and even in the 90's they were successful, but this is one of their best albums of this decade!
Btw, the artwork is done by Paul Raymond Gregory which did several cover artworks for Saxon in the past and also the cover for Freedom Call's debut album.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

           ©2008-2015 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail: contact@ice-vajal.com


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