Saxon

The Inner Sanctum

Written by: MY on 18/03/2007 01:29:16

"Where were yooouuu in '79 when the dam began to burst?" sung Peter 'Biff' Byford on the 1981 classic "Denim And Leather". For readers who may not be in the know, this band were incredibly important at one time. Just ask your Dad. Who knew that Metallica's second gig was supporting Saxon at the Whiskey in L.A in '82? Or parts of "This Is Spinal Tap" was based on this band (It is widely claimed Derek Smalls was based on original bassist Steve Dawson)?

Or even that I once made a pilgrimage to what I had been informed was Dawsons apartment in Doncaster, UK, only to find that he had moved out 25 years ago and that the current inhabitant was some frumpy old troll covered in chip-fat stains? (Steve who?' (slam!)) Probably not one of my more inspired drunken ideas.

Anyway, lets fast forward to this 31st glorious year of Saxonage and see what Biff and his compatriots are offering up for us today. No DJ's or backwards Baseball hats here, sir! Just the purest in old-skool metal served by masters of their craft. Biff still leads the band, the only other 'classic' members are guitarist Paul Quinn and recently returned drummer Nigel Glocker. Good enough for me, but is it good enough for the band's career in 2007?

Well, obviously it's unlikely to appeal to the Fall Out Boy listenership, but I can't imagine Biff & Co. making many apologies for this. This is Saxon doing what Saxon do best, good old fashioned Heavy Metal - as British as Fish N' Chips and naughty Seaside postcards. It starts out in a bizarre fashion: Opener "State Of Grace" begins with the chanting of Benedictine Monks and revolves around an oppressive crunch, but track two, "Need For Speed", should have been the opener. This and "Let me Feel Your Power" are pacier, more familiar Saxon, and the single "If I Was You" could have been lifted off of any of the classic back catalogue. The two epic offerings, "Red Star Falling" and "Attila The Hun", could probably have been edited down a little, still have some bang worthy moments though. In fact, none of this record is bad. Biff sounds on fine form here, and I actually prefer his voice today than on many of the oldies. He seems to have gained more energy as he has got older. Must have discovered the elixir of youth in his morning cup of Yorkshire Tea.

I guess my only minor gripe about the record is the fact that the production, albeit sonically very strong, sounds a hair restrained musically. Maybe a tad too glossy. What many faithful followers of this band always loved about them is they once sounded as rough n' ready as the Northern English towns they hail from. Despite this, I feel this album will definitely satisfy the converted, and hopefully attract more fans of the Classic and Power Metal Genres.

Oh, and I hear it just went Top 40 in Sweden! Great to see the last Bastions of TRUE Metal getting the recognition they have always rightfully deserved.

8

Download: Need For Speed, If I Was You
For the fans of: Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Diamond Head
Listen: Saxon@MySpace

Release Date 05.03.2007
SPV Records
Provided by Target ApS

(Written by Dan Turner)

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