Saxon is a band that has refused to die, continuing to put out music of varied quality since NWOBHM was an acronym for everything metal coming out of England.
Slowly setting the scene with intro track ‘Olympus Rising’ feels lazy when the title track comes through so powerfully. This is very standard Saxon fare, pumped-up battle ready lyrics and that now traditional guitar tone galloping along to get hearts pumping, held together by vocalist Biff Byford’s ageless sounding vocals. This leads straight into ‘The Secret of Flight’ a song that is everything fans enjoy and expect from the band with a fantastical re-telling of the story of Icarus. The band also re-imagine the tale of Nosferatu with a song that plods darkly along.
‘They Played Rock N Roll’ is the best ode to Motorhead and its departed members, played at a pace Lemmy would be proud of and holding the punk vibe that the band was always capable of. The Lemmy soundbite in the middle is a great addition.
If you know Saxon at all, then really you know what you are in for with this, their 22nd album. But the band do still hold some surprises in store, proving that although they never reached the lofty heights of some of their contemporaries, they are never short of musical ideas either. Most surprisingly the death metal vocals courtesy of Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg on ‘Predator’ that are underneath Biff’s vocals for the most part but culminate in a vocal trade off that needs to be heard. Not the sort of thing I would ever expect to hear on an album by this band.
As always the lyrical story telling takes centre stage, but the music itself never wanes either. Perhaps producer Andy Sneap helps the band stay focused on what they are so good at without taking it too far in any direction, or getting stale. The fun closer ‘Roadies’ Song’ shows this best with its very classic guitar opening and brilliant lyrics.
If you have never been a fan of Saxon then this album will convince you of nothing. If on the other hand you are a fan of traditional metal this will be right up your street and hold your dark little heart until the next big release by Judas Priest.
- Olympus Rising
- The Secret of Flight
- Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)
- They Played Rock and Roll
- Sons of Odin
- A Wizard’s Tale
- Speed Merchants
- Roadies’ Song
- Nosferatu (Raw Version)