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CRUSADERS: British metal legends Saxon never matched the American success of peers like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, but the band is undoubtedly every bit as important. Just ask Metallica and Megadeth. From left, Saxon is Nibbs Carter, Nigel Glockler, Biff Byford, Doug Scarratt and Paul Quinn. (photo by Kai Swillus)

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NEVER SURRENDER: Now pushing four decades of heavy metal thunder, Saxon continues releasing quality albums. ‘Sacrifice’ is a strong case in point.

By Metal Dave

Refusing to follow their British metal peers down the path of “creative” bloat, Saxon returns lean and fierce on upcoming album, “Sacrifice.”

A jolting thrill ride of anthemic thrash and crunching, mid-tempo swagger, “Sacrifice” continues Saxon’s celebrated themes of rocking hard, riding free, working-class pride and warrior souls. Even better, it’s all sung-and-done in a vigorously efficient 10-song fashion that takes deadly aim at boredom (actually, it’s only nine songs, if you subtract the instrumental intro of “Procession”).

The highlights are everywhere, but fully explode on the title track’s Slayer-esque guitar riff or the hard-driving rev of “Warriors of the Road” (the Grand Prix answer to Iron Maiden’s “Aces High”). There’s also the double-kick pummel of “Guardians of the Tomb” and hints of early Anthrax on the magnificently defiant, sing-along thrash of “Stand Up and Fight.”

Longtime fans will hear echoes of Saxon’s 1983 track “Nightmare” in “Night of the Wolves;” and in keeping with a tradition of nods to American history (see “Dallas 1 PM” and “The Eagle Has Landed”), “Walking the Steel” delivers a unique lyrical storyline on what otherwise could have been an overdone, rise-from-the-ashes 9/11-tribute. Not here.

Led as always by vocally resilient 62-year-old singer Biff Byford, Saxon’s seasoned lineup continues with guitarist Paul Quinn (along with Byford, an original member), guitarist Doug Scarratt, bassist Nibbs Carter (a terror on stage) and drummer Nigel Glockler, who – as always – is a bewildering pleasure as his thundering feet and flailing fills threaten to steal the show.

Rather than overstuffing a proper release with daze-inducing filler, “Sacrifice” includes a second bonus disc featuring five reworked versions of previous Saxon songs “Crusader,” (orchestrated), “Just Let Me Rock” (re-recorded), “Requiem” (acoustic), “Frozen Rainbow” (acoustic) and “Forever Free” (re-recorded). At a time when the more-is-more approach can often lull listeners to sleep, the take-it-or-leave-it, bonus disc-with-a-twist serves as a noteworthy counterpunch.

Now 34 years and 20 albums deep into heavy metal’s history, Saxon proves with “Sacrifice” to be wholly capable troopers who can still deliver the goods.

* Overall Grade: A+
* Produced by: Biff Byford with Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Accept, Kreator, Opeth and Testament, among others)
* North American release date: March 26, 2013
* Favorite Tracks: “Stand Up and Fight,” “Guardians of the Tomb,” “Standing in a Queue”
* For Fans of: NWOBHM; Flying V guitars; denim and leather
* For more Saxon info, go here

  1. Gina G. Glockler says:

    Nigel is on the road at the moment, but I ready him your review and he says Many Thanks for the kind words.

    He also says good ear on picking up the “Nightmare” influences on “Night of the Wolf”…he says to let you know he did that on purpose 🙂

    • admin says:

      Gina, thank you so much for the reply and the feedback. Thanks especially for sharing with Nigel. He’s been one of my favorite drummers since the moment I first heard “Power & the Glory.” Was thrilled when he returned to the band. Met him briefly backstage in San Antonio a few years ago and he was nice as could be. Hope to see him in action again soon here in Texas. New album is fantastic!! I appreciate your note. Best to you and Nigel, “metal dave”

  2. Samuel Hubbard says:

    Personally, i think this Saxon CD is the worst they have ever released, i have been following Saxon since they played Barnsley Town Hall late 1978, the proper Saxon to me is Byford, Gill, Dobson, Quinn and Oliver, and they released 3 fantastic LP’s, SAXON, WHEELS OF STEEL and Strong Arm of the Law, anything after those are just commercial rubbish, i was brought a ticket for Christmas 2 years ago and went to see them in Leeds, and i actually walked out, embarrassed, this is not Saxon, sorry if i offend people, but i am allowed an opinion.

    • admin says:

      Samuel, you are indeed entitled to your opinion and I thank you for reading, but I have to disagree. Yes, the original lineup and first 3 albums are awesome, but I will stand behind many of the albums that came after. I’m not crazy about all of them, but I am impressed with many and especially the last 2 records at this late stage in the band’s career. Good stuff (in my opinion)

  3. Steven Blackmore says:

    That’s killer getting that feedback Dave! So far only heard the title track, i will be getting hold of this CD. They hit Manchester on April 23rd along with The Quireboys!