"Hell, Fire and Damnation" (Militia Guard Music; 2024)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Saxon has been around since 1975, and the only original members remaining are Biff Byford and Paul Quinn. There have been a myriad of players since then and that's okay with me as long as he band continues to put out good music. This release, "Hell, Fire And Damnation," is just such a continuation. I have been listening to this recording for two solid days and the more I listen to it, the more I really dig it. Not only does the band put out killer metal/rock music, they also put effort into both lyrics and production that is apparent, if you only put in the time to really listen closely.

Now, I am not going to give you a play-by-play of what this recording is all about and, frankly, I don’t think I could if I tried. All I can say is that this release kicked my ass. With each and every spin, I find something I did not hear the time before. The layers or nuances of this recording are varied and extremely deep and are well worth the effort of multiple listens from start to finish.

As much as I dislike listing tracks, sometimes I think it may be appropriate. In a way, this may be a history lesson of some kind; it may be in the minds of he musicians, actual history or some alternate history of their making. Anyway you look at it, this is one killer fucking recording.

The Prophecy"
Hell, Fire And Darnation"
Madame Guillotine"
Fire And Steel"
There’s Something In Roswell"
Kubla Khan and The Merchant of Venice"
Pirates Of The Airwaves"
Witches Of Salem"
Super Charger"

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"Carpe Diem" (Militia Guard Music; 2022)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Rough Edge Editor R. Scott Bolton was amazed that I was unfamiliar with Saxon (a band he likes a lot) so he asked me to review this latest release, "Carpe Diem."

I have heard of Saxon, of course. They've been around for decades. But I never got a chance to review them. So here goes:

One thing I admired right from the start is that the singer, Biff Byford, is older than I am. And he still sounds great. The music here is simple old school metal; no bullshit, no filler, just fucking kick-ass rock music, made the best way possible: LOUD! I may have said simple, but I in no way said not cool. Drums, bass, guitars (x2) and a singer are basically the only things you need to create great music and Saxon, to this day, is proof of that.

Ten songs and forty-four minutes of classic, kick ass rock'n'roll. Made me wish for more. Outstanding production value helps this recording along. A very well put-together, solid performance.

I have been reviewing music for a long time and my final evaluation about this band and this release is  ... holy fucking shit! Rock music played like it should be!

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"Inspirations" (Militia Guard Music; 2021)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

It seems odd that a band of Saxon's caliber would record a covers album dedicated to artists who inspired them. I mean, Saxon's been around since 1976. They're the ones who have been doing the influencing! Still, I get it. When the band started in 1976, someone had to influence them, you know, to become a band! So "Inspirations" is Saxon's tribute to those artists.

There are covers here of songs by the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Motorhead, Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, the Kinks and Toto (yes, Toto). With each track, Saxon makes the song their own, staying true to the original but giving the covers that Saxon heavy metal feel.

My favorite tracks here are "Bomber," (of course, as I'm a huge Motorhead fan) and "Hold the Line." While most of the tracks here are hard rock and heavy metal, Toto definitely is not and Saxon's heavier guitars give the song a new life. A Saxon life, if you will.

It's always fun to hear a band pay tribute to those who inspired them and "Inspirations" is no exception. It may not be as welcome as an album of all-new Saxon material, but it rocks anyway!

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"Battering Ram" (UDR; 2015)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Battering Ram" is Saxon 2015 and it's amazing and superbly satisfying that a band that's been around this long can still deliver an album this good.

"Battering Ram" is full of addictive riffs, blazing leads and rhythms that are pounding and driving. Every song here is powerful enough to knock down walls and lead vocalist Biff Byford has never sounded better. When the band does slow down just a little bit, on "Kingdom of the Cross," it's not your typical heavy metal ballad but instead a bold, poignant track with vulnerable vocals by Byford that remind me a little of Lemmy's on the classic Motorhead track, "1916."

If you think they don't do heavy metal like they used to, pick up "Battering Ram" today. This CD proves that the genre is still alive and well and that Saxon still have the chops to dole it out!

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"St. George's Day Sacrifice - Live in Manchester" (UDR; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

This live CD by Saxon isn't only my favorite live Saxon album ever, it's one of my favorite live albums in years.

I don't know if it's the lack of great NWOBHM out there at the moment, or my documented love of the double-live album, or the fact that Saxon just plain kicks serious rock'n'roll ass here but, whatever the case, "St. George's Day Sacrifice" is just over two hours of classic heavy metal that will have you reaching for the volume knob over and over, cranking it again and again to "MAX."

The band sounds great, delivering a thunderous performance, and the recording is crisp, clear and ... most importantly ... LOUD. Featured here are songs from 1979 - 2013 with the first disc containing mostly more recent tracks and the second disc heavier on the classics. Both discs are powerfully recorded and mixed with crystal stereo sound and a perfect balance of the music and the necessary crowd noise (what is a live album without the cheering masses?). The solos here nearly leap out of your sound system.

Of course, like all live albums, fans will argue amongst themselves about the song selections. No pleasing everybody there. Regardless, the songs that do appear on this CD are all good choices, and the fervor with which the band plays them is testament to that.

I can't imagine any Saxon fan not being blown away by "St. George's Day Sacrifice - Live in Manchester" and I can't imagine anybody new to the band not becoming a fan after hearing this terrific live CD.

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"Into the Labyrinth" (SPV; 2009)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

Veritable NWOBHM Metal veterans Saxon continue to slug it out in the metal scene with their latest release "Into the Labyrinth."

This 13-track disc is carried by bombast and bravado with Biff Byford guiding through both familiar and treacherous waters with a slew of convincing lead singer clichés at hand. Even though controversial career decisions this squad chose through the years put them in precarious positions both musically and with the audience, songs like "Live to Rock" and "Hellcat" exude the come-uppance spirit of their early years and show that there's still some gas left in the tank.

Striking a balance between their biker rock days and a slick metallic gloss aimed for a mass appeal, the latest Saxon disc does an adequate job of highlighting many different sides of a group still fighting for respect after all these years.

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"The Inner Sanctum" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2007)

Reviewed by Mike SOS

The British veteran metal act Saxon returns with their 18th album, the 10-track offering entitled "The Inner Sanctum." 

Armed with both hard hitting hard rock a la AC/DC ("I've Got to Rock") and adventurous epics ("Atila the Hun"), this disc encapsulates the band's stalwart career while adding a few footnotes, as this quintet's age doesn't get in the way of producing powder keg metal anthems like "Let Me Feel Your Power."

Walking the line between melodic power metal and hook-laden hard rock, Saxon's latest release displays a band unafraid to go tooth and nail to the grindstone of metal, using their classic metal experience to churn out fist pumping anthems like "Ashes to Ashes."

It may be a bit on the old school scale for some, but for those that remember the glory days, Saxon still sounds pertinent.

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"Lionheart" (SPV / Steamhammer; 2004)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Saxon return with another solid album full of trudging heavy metal tunes that are as hearty and as meaty as the turkey legs in the armored glove of your favorite knight. While it may not be surprising that a band as popular as Saxon has done it yet once again, it is amazing that they have maintained a consistency throughout the years that keeps delivering what their fans want to hear: pure, unadulterated, heavy metal.

"Lionheart" starts off strongly with the wicked "Witchfinder General" (which doesn't "trudge" at all and actually races along nicely) and then muscles through ten additional tracks, only rarely slowing down below their mid-tempo standard and even more rarely pulling out the acoustic instruments. 

There are plenty of battle songs here: "Lionheart," "To Live by the Sword," "English Man'O'War," and so on, but they don't make up the entire disc, which makes for a welcome change of pace. 

"Lionheart" may not be Saxon's best album but it's a very good one and, at this point in the game, you can't help but admire a band whose music isn't morphing or deteriorating with the sands of time.

Saxon: Biff Byford - vocals; Paul Quinn - guitars; Doug Scarratt - guitars; Nibbs Carter - bass; Jorg Michael - drums.

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"Heavy Metal Thunder" (Steamhammer; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Saxon is about as pure metal as one can get. Heavy, chord-laden rhythm, blistering leads, soaring vocals and a breakneck pace throughout.

What makes "Heavy Metal Thunder" different from other Saxon releases, however, is that this CD is a collection of 13 classic songs from the veteran band's long history, re-recorded with advanced technology and now-seasoned bandmembers. And we're talking classic here. "Heavy Metal Thunder" contains such explosive rockers as the title track, "And the Bands Played On," "Crusader," "Wheels of Steel," "Motorcycle Man," "Never Surrender," "Denim & Leather," "747 (Strangers in the Night)" and more. 

If you've got a good mixer on your CD player or stereo, then you have no excuse not to run out and buy "Heavy Metal Thunder" right now. It's a great collection from a great band. However, even with all the advanced technology now at the band's fingertips, sometimes "Heavy Metal Thunder" isn't as crystal clear as it should be. Too often, the vocals are buried in the mix and the guitars are so loud they're almost dry. A little twisting of the knobs on your stereo, however, should clear this problem up with relative ease and some songs aren't as bad as others.

"Heavy Metal Thunder" also includes a bonus disc containing five songs recorded live in Texas in 2002 and a video track, "Killing Ground," live at Wacken in 2001. 

All in all, "Heavy Metal Thunder" is a CD that Saxon fans will want immediately and any fan of heavy metal should have in their collection somewhere.

Saxon: Biff Byford - vocals; Doug Scarrett - lead guitar; Paul Quinn - lead guitar; Nibbs Carter - bass; Fritz Randow - drums.

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"Dogs of War" (SPV / Steamhammer; 1995)

Reviewed by Snidermann

So Rough Edge Editor R. Scott Bolton tells me that Saxon is a very good rock'n'roll band and he gives me a copy of Saxon's "Dogs of War" to review. Now, Saxon is one of those bands that I had heard about, of course, but never really got the chance to experience ... until now. 

"Dogs of War" is not at all what I expected. Actually, I don't really know what I expected, but this CD was a pleasant surprise. The music is tight and concise and it had my head banging throughout. As I listened, I tried to pinpoint a great song to play on Rough Edge Radio, but the good songs kept coming so fast it was impossible to pick just one! 

I must have spun this CD three or four times in a row and I never got tired of it. In fact, I am still listening to it right now and I must say again: Saxon rocks! 

Saxon's "Dogs of War" is going into my A list rotation. I guess R. Scott was right again!

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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