SAXON - LIONHEART - STEAMHAMMER
In December of 1981 Saxon toured with a band called Lionheart. In September of 2004 Saxon released an album called Lionheart. These facts are, by themselves, not significant given the denotations of the word 'Lionheart' in English history. Having said that, the new Saxon album has a couple of references in its song titles to other band's monickers. There is a track called Witchfinder General and another called English Man 'O' War. Quoting the lyrics will take this notion even further ("let the hammer fall..."), but you get the picture.
Lionheart is a true blue heavy metal album. This is a great CD from a band that has managed to stay true to the music of the gods without falling prey to monotony or yielding to the prevalent fads. The album begins with the aforementioned Witchfinder General and the first thing one notes is the lower register of singer Biff. By the next song, Man And Machine, the frontman is back to his usual self though and that song, Lionheart, Justice and To Live By The Sword fly the flag of metal with vigour. To Live By The Sword is balls to the walls heavy and even the otherwise lackluster drumming comes alive here. Flying On The Edge is another cool tune proclaiming the band's allegiance to metal. That is why a trip to Canada by the English veterans seems more appealing now than ever before. So how about it? - Ali "The Metallian"
SAXON - DOGS OF WAR - SPV
This review is based on the re-release of Saxon’s 1995 album re-issued here with a cover bordered in black and two live bonus songs, namely The Great White Buffalo and Denim & Leather.
In new liner notes Saxon’s singer Biff notes that Dogs Of War was a heavier album than its immediate predecessors. Having said that, one must add, the album is neither heavy end-to-end nor is it very good. The album begins with the adequate title track and also features some fine singing and structure, but songs like Hold On, Don’t Worry or Big Twin Rolling are more reminiscent of Aerosmith and ZZ Top than heavy metal the NWOBHM way. Hard rock is cool, but this is not the promise of Biff or early Saxon. For an album with such an aggressive title, Dogs Of War suffers from a general malaise.
The exact reason for this re-release is not clear to this writer. Nevertheless, the mad soloing on the live rendition of Denim & Leather is well worth hearing. The fresh guitarist solos and shreds like there is no tomorrow. Anyone who has seen the film Rock Star knows which scene this brings to mind. - Ali “The Metallian”
SAXON - THE EAGLE HAS LANDED III - SPV
The aptly titled third live album by the British quintet features 32 songs over two CDs. This third edition is recorded over two years and features two drummers, Jörg Michael for the 2004 recordings and Nigel Glockler for the 2005 period. The first CD and the 15 songs it comprises are mostly older material including the likes of Backs To The Wall, Stand Up And Be Counted, Suzie Hold On and Stallions Of The Highway. The second CD consists almost exclusively of the band’s latest, Lionheart. All the songs with the exception of Witchfinder General and Justice are included from the aforementioned album only to be interrupted by Unleash The Beast, Court Of The Crimson King, Broken Heroes, Dragon’s Lair, Rock Is Our Life, Travellers In Time and Solid Ball Of Rock. Musically and qualitatively, this is a decent effort other than the occasions where Biff Byford seems to be showing his age courtesy of some shaky vocals. - Anna Tergel
SAXON - INNER SANCTUM - SPV
Inner Sanctum is the follow up to the surprisingly good Lionheart. State Of Grace starts things off and is on the low-key side similar to Searching For Atlantis on the aforementioned previous album. Need For Speed is a truly apt title; here we have a pure and fast paced heavy metal. Let Me Feel Your Power is also as powerful, fast, and heavy as its title suggests and with a bass sound a la Steve Harris. Red Star Falling is a six-minute song that starts slow, intermittently and slowly picks up some tempo in power ballad fashion.
I Have To Rock (To Stay Alive) is much more in the vein of '80s American hard rock with driving riffs and is perhaps too similar to Poison at times. If I Was You is also on the aforementioned hard rock side of things with a start a la The Cult with a heavy, guitar oriented structure that helps it stand out. Going Nowhere Fast starts off borrowing a riff from Accept before delving into more hard rock, this time in the vein of Cinderella and Great White. Ashes To Ashes is an anthemic song with a metal brotherhood themed chorus that goes “Ashes To Ashes Back To The Wall Brother To Brother Together We Fall...Ashes To Ashes Never Give In Brother To Brother United We Win.” Empire Rising is a 40-second instrumental that leads into the closer, Atila The Hun, itself an eight minute yet thoroughly enjoyable, modern and effective heavy metal song with a final riff that exemplifies the power of Saxon.
Inner Sanctum compares favourably to the outstanding Lionheart and as such is credit to the British veterans. - Anna Tergel
SAXON - TO HELL AND BACK AGAIN (2DVD) - SPV
The British veterans have released two excellent CDs in the past three years. This double DVD is mainly dedicated to the 2004 Lionheart album and almost exclusively comprises their adventures just prior to the 2007 Inner Sanctum release. The DVDs, especially the first, is a mish mash of everything Saxon. Studio reports, interviews, rehearsals, making ofs, concert footage are all thrown together and in a way that is not always easy to follow.
The said interviews are sometimes contradictory, again this is not easy to follow, but listening to the short interview clips there are different things said about the process of recording Lionheart for example. Nevertheless, there is plenty to see including the likes of a Hamburg album release party and footage from Wacken. The second DVD is better structured and includes a full concert in Switzerland’s Rocksound Festival 2006, a You’ve Got Another Thing Comin duet with Doro Pesch and five video clips in Beyond The Grave, Witchfinder General, If I Was You, Let Me Feel Your Power and I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive), the latter featuring Lemmy, Andy Deris and Angry Anderson sharing vocal and other duties. - Anna Tergel