Man, what to say about this excellent and kickass effort by SAXON? The band has been around a long time. Battering Ram (UDR Music, October 30) is their twenty-first album. They are dedicated professionals to their craft, there is no doubt about that. I have been a SAXON fan for almost as long as they have been around. If I do say so, this effort put together by Biff Byford (vocals), Paul Quinn (axe), Nigel Glockler (drums), Doug Scarratt (axe) and Nibbs Carter (bass), to me is probably the best of them all. The tracks are very well put together and some have very complex guitar parts, but not overdone. It is concise, metal artistry at its best.
The title track “Battering Ram” was released on video earlier this year. I know our own Maestro was totally impressed with this song. This opening number puts strong emphasis on the Quinn and Scarratt guitar work and is classic heavy metal. “The Devil’s Footprint” is based on a legend that people would find unexplained footprints in the snow at daylight when they awoke, not knowing what caused them…“It was the year of our Lord 1855, the snow lay thick, far and wide. Over rooftops, through the fields, did Satan leave his mark? Something evil passed thy way, twas a creature of the dark.” Great lyrics and pure artistry I love it. My personal favorite on the LP..
“Queen of Hearts” is slower paced and combines a checkerboard match tale based around the Lewis Carroll story of Alice in Wonderland. It is a slower effort with repetitive backing guitar, more than the others on the LP. Very unique. And what about “Destroyer”? If you think this is about kissing bunnies and picking flowers, think again. The first time I heard this song, I wanted to put my foot through the floor on the gas pedal, but couldn’t because I was in traffic, damn it….grr. Total kickassery.Meanwhile, “Hard and Fast” is not my favorite song on the LP, but not bad. Nice and clean solos for sure…typical Quinn and Starrett efforts.
“Eye of the Storm” starts with a good solo, but is not what I was expecting. I thought of fast paced guitars, but it was a bit subdued. Obviously about a hurricane, with some overdubbing of weather cast outtakes. Again, not my favorite, but a good effort. “Stand Your Ground” gets your foot tapping right away. An almost out-of-place use of synthesizer in one place, but I actually liked the inclusion myself, adds a bit of dimension. Glocker and Carter get good workouts on this one.
“Top of the World” is not all that memorable, and seems sort of average for the band. “To the End” slows things down just before you get that speeding ticket. The boys want you to know that they follow their hearts and wonder if folks will stand with them until the end…Short answer: Hell yeah! “Kingdom of the Crown” is a vocal ballad by Byford, backed by bass and drum (with an intermix of keyboard) about WWI. It seems to be an honouring of those who were in the Belgian battlefields, what the British called Flanders Fields. A very touching and classical message from the boys from the UK. Thanks men, for not forgetting. “Three Sheets to the Wind” is much more typical for SAXON. Byford really shines here. When you hear him, there is no doubt who it is.
The SAXON testosterone is alive and healthy. I think our UK brothers have a masterpiece that will be well-received. If you are a die-hard SAXON fan, you have probably pre-ordered it. If you are not all that familiar with them, check out the latest video on YouTube and you will get a good taste of what awaits you before you add this to your repertoire. Kudos to the gents from South Yorkshire!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Battering Ram”, “Devil’s Footprint”, “Destroyer”