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SAXON Continue to Rock and Rumble With Thunderbolt

Thunder from the heavy metal heavens rains down on SAXON’s newest album

Photos by: Diane Woodcheke

A few years ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Bobby Blitz of Over Kill. When musing over the longevity of the band, Bobby responded that they have lasted so long because “we know who we are.” I would hazard a guess that Biff Byford and Paul Quinn of SAXON would agree. While SAXON’s sound has morphed over the years, they have remained true to their British heavy metal roots and continued to pump out hard rocking albums about historical and mythological figures, as well as contemporary heroes and villains. SAXON are more than just the soundtrack to your latest D&D campaign though. They are a highly influential band, even if the type of success experienced by their peers Iron Maiden and Judas Priest (in America at least) didn’t happen for SAXON. With the release of their 22nd album Thunderbolt, SAXON proves that there is still room in their long catalogue for some more great music.

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Going all the way back to 1979, Byford and Quinn, the only original members who have remained mainstays of the band, were coming up with compositions that were a little bit Zeppelin and a little bit Sabbath, but all metal and all SAXON. As the years progressed, standout tracks such as “Big Teaser,” “Wheels of Steel,” “747 (Strangers in The Night)”, “Denim and Leather,” and “Princess of The Night” catapulted them into the forefront of the new wave of British Heavy Metal. Fortune is a fickle fool though, and even though SAXON never reached the heights that Def Leppard, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden reached, they have outlasted them all in relevance (with the possible exception of Iron Maiden). Currently recognized as pioneers who have evolved with the times while not selling out their sound, and revitalizing themselves with new members over the years, Thunderbolt is a testament to SAXON’s continued relevance to heavy metal. Packed with ancient Greek mythological themes that sit neatly alongside songs about contemporary myth makers like US military snipers and race car drivers, SAXON mines the deep recesses of what comprises the mettle of these legends and make great heavy metal music about it.

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Myths are, at their heart, stories of enlightenment as well as caution. Lyrically Byford delivers these stories with heart and range that belies SAXON’s (and his own) time in the music making business. Instrumentally, SAXON continues to build upon a similar type of delivery that they have made their own since 2013’s Sacrifice. Thick slabs of meaty riffs expertly sliced up by sharp guitar lines are the recipe here, and it’s a deliciously timeless one. The riffs might be thick, but there’s no slow crawl through the sludge to be heard anywhere on Thunderbolt.

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In fact, tracks like “Sniper” thump along at a breakneck pace, conveying an almost speed metal energy and emotion. Album title track “Thunderbolt” similarly romps along swiftly, but hits much more heavily, reflecting the heavy happenings that often define the aforementioned mythological themes indulged in here. On “The Secret of Flight” SAXON incorporates choral voices and vocal overdubs that lend a symphonic element to the song, and in turn their repertoire. “Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)” does the same.

In a cross generational moment that serves as an example of the respect newer metal bands and their singers have for pioneers like SAXON, Amon Amarth singer Johan Hegg lends vocals to “Predator.” Viking vocal warriors aren’t the only guests, temporal or otherwise, to appear on the album though. “They Played Rock n Roll” conjures the spirit of the dearly departed Motorhead and pays tribute to Lemmy at the same time quite effectively, and affectionately.

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22 albums in and SAXON seem to have no self imposed retirement date in sight. Their longevity and dedication are inspiring. What’s even more wonderful is that the band that inspired Spinal Tap is right now inspiring the next Amon Amarth, as well as Def Leppard, somewhere in some kid’s bedroom, and they’re most likely not even aware that there even is a Spinal Tap or that SAXON had anything to do with it. That, my metalhead brothers, is pretty damn cool if you ask me, and is a much more fitting legacy for a band as legendary as SAXON.  

Upcoming shows:

APR18
APR20
Fri 8 PM PDT139 guests
Anaheim, CA
MAY3
Thu 7:30 PM UTC-03365 guests
São Paulo, SP, Brazil
AUG8
Aug 8 – Aug 126,944 guests
OCT18
Thu 7 PM UTC+01754 guests
Glasgow, United Kingdom
OCT19
Fri 7 PM UTC+01620 guests
London, United Kingdom
OCT20
Sat 7 PM UTC+0193 guests
Portsmouth, United Kingdom
OCT21
Sun 7 PM UTC+01159 guests
Manchester, United Kingdom

http://www.saxon747.com/

Carolina's based writer/journalist Andy Frisk love music, and writing, and when he gets to intermingle the two he feels most alive. Covering concerts and albums by both local and national acts, Andy strives to make the world a better place and prove Gen X really can still save the world.

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