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Saxon: Battering Ram

Battering Ram is studio album number 21 for UK metal stalwarts Saxon and it is to their great credit that it continues the band's blisteringly hot streak in some style. The turn of the millennium seemed to also turn over a new leaf in many people's eyes towards the band and put simply they haven't put a foot wrong since. That's a run of seven albums (in an era when much younger bands are often reticent to release new music) of top notch metal that has cemented the band's legendary status in mainland Europe and rebuilt the foundations and subsequently the critical and fan appeal in their UK homeland. What also hasn't hurt is the stability Saxon have enjoyed during this time, a couple of drummers coming and going before long-time sticksmith Nigel Glockler (who has recovered from his recent health scare to take his rightful place on this album) returned around a decade ago.

Battering Ram continues all of these positive aspects in glorious style, the confidence and experience this band have in abundance played out across an eclectic yet instantly recognisable set of songs. The opening title cut and, once a classy spoken word intro has been and gone, follow up "The Devil's Footprint" live up to the uncompromising album name. From there this band's often unheralded ability to mix it up ensures the attention never wanders. "Queen Of Hearts" and its unsettling start stop beginning sits in atmospheric middle ground, "To The End" adds a little Zeppelin (in an utterly Saxon style) swagger, before things ease off to a melodic sheen that wouldn't have been out of place on the criminally underrated Destiny album although with more balls. However the real ace up this album's sleeve is "Kingdom Of The Cross", a mournful synth led rumble which oozes melancholy and sorrow. Singer Biff Byford speaks over the top, a poem he wrote about the loss and harrowing aftermath of the first World War perfectly pitched, as is the respectfully sung chorus, where a proud but controlled guitar adds to the scene already set. This is one of those songs which really hits its mark and deserves to be recognised as something truly special in both intention and end result. Personally I'd have liked this captivating track to close the album, but the more traditional riff and rock of bounds cut "Three Sheets To The Wind" takes that honour. It's a stark altering in style and yet there's no denying that it's prime Saxon, in just the same way that there's no denying "Stand Your Ground" is set to become a fan favourite chant along, or that "Hard And Fast" allows guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt, alongside bassist Nibs Carter to lay down a slab of riffage the band is famous the world over for.

Saxon are undoubtedly a metal institution, yet their legacy becomes ever more impressive with each passing release. Battering Ram may be a blunt title, however the album itself is a far more rounded, memorable and impressive beast than its name may suggest. Although it can still pummel you into submission when the mood takes it.

See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!


Track Listing
1. Battering Ram
2. The Devil's Footprint
3. Queen Of Hearts
4. Destroyer
5. Hard And Fast
6. Eye Of The Storm
7. Stand Your Ground
8. Top Of The World
9. To The End
10. Kingdom Of The Cross
11. Three Sheets to the Wind (The Drinking Song) (Bonus Track)

Added: November 30th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Saxon online
Hits: 1307
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Saxon: Battering Ram
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-11-30 10:27:51
My Score:

The continued late career resurgence of Britain's Saxon continues with Battering Ram, their 21st (yes, you read that right!) studio album in a career filled with memorable, dare I say, legendary albums. With a blistering sound that puts many bands half their age to shame, Saxon have gotten heavier and more lethal as they've gotten older, and with stage ready heavy metal anthems like "Destroyer", "The Devil's Footprint", "Stand Your Ground", and the pummeling title track leading the charge, Battering Ram is instantly immediate and impactful. Paul Quinn & Doug Scarratt unleash a barrage of riffage and scorching leads throughout, taking "Hard and Fast", "Top of the World", "To the End", and "Eye of the Storm" well past the richter scale, but it's the atmospheric restraint of "Kingdom of the Cross" and "Queen of Hearts" which recalls their Crusader period that offers up some of the albums more varied moments. Whether belting out sizzling heavy metal mashers or the more emotional songs, Biff Byford sounds as strong as ever, as he continues to be one of the most consistent singers the genre has ever seen.

This is easily a contender for best pure metal album of 2015. Long live Saxon!



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