Saxon band photo

SAXON – Sacrifice

Saxon - SacrificeSaxon needs no introduction, if you’re into metal and hard rock you know who they are. The band has been playing for over 30 years now with a bunch of member changes and both ups and downs career wise. In recent years, Biff and his boys has been going from strength to strength with each album and with their three or four latest releases, old fans have been going bananas over the fact that Saxon has been going back more and more to their (metal) roots. Some people have even started to talk about the band’s new-found quality is as strong as in their glory days of the eighties. That is a large exaggeration, but sure, compared to the Saxon of the mid eighties – early nineties, they are now miles and miles better. Their last album Call To Arms (2011) was an album that had many a Saxon fan screaming of joy as it was an album full of retro sounding songs and in some tunes you could hear that they had been looking back at albums like Wheels Of Steel and Denim And Leather. To copy yourself can be a dangerous thing, but Saxon did it with finesse and besides, they never copied any songs, just the sound.

All that made for some high expectations and hopes for a similar thing when they now, only two years later, follow up that album with a new one. Me, I hoped for a regression even further and I know I’m not alone on that, but that didn’t really happen. On one hand, it’s really cool that the band keeps looking forward, but on the other, for me who grew up on the band, I want that early sound. So I guess I’m a little disappointed that they didn’t take the Call To Arms path a bit further. That said, this is not a bad album by any means. The opening title track is a heavy number but very much Saxon-like, “Made In Belfast” is also a heavy one, but here they have permitted a little pop melody to find its way into the song and also with some Irish undertones here and there – brilliant, “Warrior Of The Road” is classic Saxon-metal, “Stand Up And Fight” is melodic metal that Saxon manages so well and “Walking The Steel” is probably the best track off this album. How I love it when Saxon brings out their 70’s influences into their heavy metal. More of this, please! “Night Of The Wolf” is heavy, melodic and catchy – very good and “Wheels Of Terror” is great – a really heavy piece that sounds more like Accept than Saxon. The album closes with “Standing In A Queue”. That song is ridiculous! Why on earth would anybody want to hear a song about somebody who is standing in a queue? If it’s meant as a joke, well it’s not funny – just bad.

This is a pretty good album, but there are some fillers too many and some of the good songs aren’t good enough. Unfortunately, this album is a step back quality wise from their last two albums and I firmly believe that going all in on the metal sound isn’t the way they should go. Sure, they are a heavy metal act, but Saxon was never scared of showing off their seventies roots and let that influence their music, I think that’s what made them sound so special in the beginning. When they do that, they’re still great, but they’re too metal too often these days. Ease up, lads and remember what kind of music that rocked your world in the first place. There are some songs on each of their newer albums that shows that Saxon has the potential of making a killer album once more.

Jon Wilmenius (6/10)

Tracklist:

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

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