SAXON now comes to pound your faces with their newest release Thunderbolt (February 2, Militia Guard). These guys never let up. I thought he previous record Battering Ram was one of their very best. You will find, they have NOT lost their edge; in fact, the blade is sharper and more creative than ever. For over 40 years (yes forty) the five headed English Hydra known as SAXON are Biff Byford (vocal), Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt (axes), Nibbs Carter (bass) and legendary drummer Nigel Glockler, arise from the black \m/etal pit and bite your head off at the neck.
“Olympus Rising” ascends from the depths and breaks the ice with a medieval chant march, setting the stage for the roaring title song “Thunderbolt”. In my humble opinion, not as good as the title track from the previous album but electric, nonetheless. “The Secret of Flight”, from the very second it begins, has fantastic in sync guitars. My head was bobbing and foot tapping almost uncontrollably within seconds. It’s one of those tunes that just make one want to put the pedal to the floor. Good pounding rhythm and clean solos.
“Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” is likely based on the 1922 silent film titled “Nosferatu” the horror film that closely followed the book by Bram Stoker, “Dracula”. The story line relives scenes from the movie with a ghostly \m/etal soundtrack. “They Played Rock And Roll” ignites the nitro and blasts your ass down the quarter mile in familiar MOTÖRHEAD fashion, and is a tribute to the early Bomber tour with SAXON. Strap in as this one is gonna kick your butt. The boys put this tribute together in honor of Lemmy, but now that most of MOTÖRHEAD are playing in that big gig in the sky, and with the recent passing of Fast Eddie Clarke, it seems it could be a tribute to the entire band. Rock in Peace Lemmy and the MOTÖRHEAD gang. THE best song on the album; an 11 out of 10.
Biff and his demonic “Predator” personality split the vocals on the track. Such a well done and unique effort, perhaps illustrating both sides of Byford screaming his distinctly \m/etal vocals in tandem with his dark Archfiend personality. Standing in the queue next is a tribute song to slain soldiers or “Sons of Odin” who spend eternity in the mythical hall of Valhalla. The beat slows to a deliberate pace marching home this Nordic, mythical tail. Stealthily sneaking up on and surprising you with this bullet to your brain, is “Sniper”, a fast-paced adventure into the deliberate moment in time of a cold and disciplined killer.
“A Wizard’s Tale”, has some nice guitar work, but lyric wise, I’d say sort of average. After leaving you in a more mellow frame of mind, “Speed Merchants” explodes and screams you around the track with some heavy, driving guitar and stomping drums. One of those tunes you would red line when shifting gears. I LOVED this song. Ending the album is “Roadie’s Song” a tribute to those behind the scenes who make it all happen.
I really enjoyed this new release. SAXON is one of the most successful and consistent heavy \m/etal bands from the NWOBHM era, 40 years on. Although they have made changes over the years, they have stayed true to their passion and as a fan for practically that entire time, I can honestly say I think they remain exceptional and unwavering. They are one of my favorites live on stage. A portion of their upcoming European tour will feature resurrected ROCK GODDESS and infamous DIAMOND HEAD. When they get to the USA they will open for JUDAS PRIEST and I’ll be there. Cheers mates. Salude’
STANDOUT TRACKS: “The Secret of Flight”, “They Played Rock and Roll”, “Sniper”, “Speed Merchants”
-MARK“\M/ETAL \M/ESSIAH” EHRLICH