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SAXON – Sacrifice

| 6 March 2013 | Reply

Label: UDR
Released: Fenruary 2013
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Saxon Sacrifice CD

Metal stalwarts and co-inventors of the NWOBHM sound, Barnsley’s finest SAXON are back with a ferocious slice of heavy metal on Sacrifice, their 20th studio album.

After the intro atmospherics of Procession, the title track fairly leaps out of the speakers and throttles the listener – this is metal as vibrant as anything a bunch of twenty year olds could manage, and leader Biff Byford is 62, for goodness sake!  His voice is still instantly recognisable as well, and sounds fantastic throughout this excellent addition to Saxon’s discography.

Byford has written songs in the past about train spotting, a pastime of his, and on Made In Belfast he celebrates the Belfast ship building industry:  not exactly the ‘party all night’ or ‘worship the devil’ fare of many of his heavy metal and rock contempories!

“Less tricks, more power!” Byford apparently told his band.  “[I told them] not to be afraid, to be raw, be real and not be afraid to look back at the old classic material for inspiration.”

It’s worked – the lifeblood of Saxon classic albums such as Denim and Leather, Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law pulses through Sacrifice, but there is always one eye on the horizon:  Byford knows he needs to keep the sound contemporary if he’s to appeal to the next generation and the one after that, a mission he succeeds in completely on this record.

There is, to again quote Byford, “fresh drive, purpose and perspective” and you can hear it throughout the album.

Warriors Of The Road takes the best bits of their mid Nineties albums and updates it with a less lumpen production and a good solid kicking out of the jams.  It’s old school metal with a nod of the head to early thrash and it sounds fantastic!

In Stand Up And Fight they have crafted an inspirational arena sized anthem of the sort that they, Ronnie James Dio and their ilk used to do – it’s monstrous and emminantly chantable from the sweaty pit.

The riff to Wheels Of Terror is like the mad thrash-chug soundtrack to some kind of steamtrain to the boneyard.  The word ‘mighty’ doesn’t do the song justice as it drives relentlessly forward, crushing all in its path.

Album proper closer Standing In A Queue is about exactly that:  proof perhaps that if train spotting and dockyards can spawn songs, then so can even more mundane subjects, or perhaps it’s just Biff having a bit of a joke with us.  The proof is in the song though – it’s catchy and heavy, and although not the best on the album, it’s not out of place at all.

There’s a bonus disc on some versions of the album which features some older songs revamped and rebooted.  First up is an orchestrated rework of Crusader, from the 1984 album of the same name, and this version is enough to get us wondering if an orchestral album or concert that trawls through Saxon’s entire back catalogue would be possible, because it sounds – literally – epic.

A re-recorded version of Just Let Me Rock from the same album and Forever Free (originally from the 1992 album of the same name) both rock hard and the updated production serves them both well.

Acoustic takes on Requim (from 1991’s Solid Ball Of Rock) and Frozen Rainbow (which dates back to the band’s eponymous debut release of 1979) also bring those tracks up to date and sounding great.

Category: CD Reviews

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