Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Legendary heavy metal rockers Saxon return with "Call To Arms". Why isn't Saxon a household name? How is this enigmatic band formed in 1976 and part of the new wave of British heavy metal as big as some of its hard rocking peers? It's difficult to put your finger on it. Sure they had record label issues and money issues but at the end of the day they had the most important ingredients, talent and a number of terrific albums with some great songs. Even with classic metal tracks like "Power And The Glory", "Heavy Metal Thunder", "Princess Of The Night" and the unforgettable anthem "Denim And Leather" Saxon never could get over the hump to being a mainstream success. It's too bad because most, there are one or two forgettable releases, of their albums are great listens and there are a lot of metal heads out there missing out. Hopefully this new release will get enough attention to turn everyone on to Saxon's classics filled back catalog. Saxon's current lineup is Biff Byford who has been the vocalist since their 1976 inception as well as fellow original member Paul Quinn on guitar. They are joined by Doug Scarratt also on guitar, Nigel Glockler on drums and bassist Nibbs Carter.

Saxon treats us to new material with the release of "Call To Arms". First the bad news. There seems to be way too much production help on Biff's vocals. We don't know if he was having voice issues at the time of recording but this is not pure Biff and there are eighteen previous studio albums to verify that. It is clearly Biff and it is hard to describe but it's like he's singing into something. Granted the man is sixty years old now and probably can't wail or hit high notes like he used to but whatever they tried to do to spruce up his vocals are noticeable and if they are noticeable it's not a good job.

Now for the good. This is a straight up heavy metal album. No flirtations with pop music here. Exactly what you would expect from this veteran outfit. As with their past Saxon offers up a great mix of hard rock and metal sounds throughout this album. Foot thumping tracks like "Hammer of The Gods" to more nostalgic Saxon style tracks like "Back In '79" to the very New Wave Of British Heavy Metal sounding "Ballad Of The Working Man". Saxon takes you on a musical journey that although is new material could pass as a soundtrack of their long rich head banging history.

Keyboardist Don Airey makes a guest appearance on this release and one of the tracks he is featured on is "When Doomsday Comes". With Don currently being in Deep Purple it is not a surprise that this track will have you thinking it's very much DP influenced. Let's not forget the tandem guitar attack of Quinn and Scarratt. The riffs are plentiful and the solos are solid and will satisfy you guitar nuts out there. Glockler and Carter also offer up a solid rhythm section keeping all the tracks together.

This will never be mistaken for one of Saxon's greatest albums. Only because they have such an extensive history of great music. "Call To Arms" still stands up as a quality release. Do yourself a favor if you haven't already and expose yourself to this legendary band. You will not be disappointed.


01. Hammer Of The Gods
02. Back In ‘79
03. Surviving Against The Odds
04. Mists Of Avalon
05. Call To Arms
06. Chasing The Bullet
07. Afterburning
08. When Doomsday Comes
09. No Rest For The Wicked
10. Ballad Of The Working Man
11. Call To Arms (orchestral version)

Released June 14, 2011 on EMI Import

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