Although it breaks no new ground and basically sees Saxon tread the same formula they have championed since the rise of the NWOBHM movement some some 25 years ago, The Inner Sanctum is still a fine album from these metal veterans. Overall this is pretty slick yet heavy stuff, with the guitars of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt shreddin' like mad and the ageless pipes of Biff Byford still flying high. Showing that Unleash the Beast and Lionheart were no flukes, The Inner Sanctum is perhaps Saxon's most complete and solid album from start to finish in quite some time.
When you have killer songs like "State of Grace", "Need For Speed", "Let Me Feel Your Power", and the mind blowing, melodic crusher "Red Star Falling" kicking off your album, you know you are in good shape from that point on. While the band falls into a little bit of the tired and cliched trappings that many of the NWOBHM bands are known for ("I've Got to Rock (To Stay Alive)" and "Ashes to Ashes"), it really doesn't take away from the fact that the majority of this album contains plenty of powerful anthems, majestic epics, and hook laden stompers. Images of early 80's Saxon as well as Judas Priest abound on "Atila the Hun" and "Red Star Falling", and the duel lead guitar team of Quinn & Scarratt show that they can play with the best of them on "Going Nowhere Fast" and the memorable barn burner "If I Was You". Kudos also needs to go out to drummer Nigel Glockler and bassist Nibbs Carter, who really are locked in throughout this whole rockin' set.
Ultimately though it's the perpetually strong vocals of Byford who continues to amaze year in and year out. Biff sounds just as strong as he did back in 1984, with his mixture of husky mid-range and high pitched wailings, he's the epitome of a classic metal singer. The Inner Sanctum is a rock solid release from Saxon, and sure to show the young metal upstarts a thing or two about a thing or two.
1. State Of Grace
2. Need For Speed
3. Let Me Feel Your Power
4. Red Star Falling
5. I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
6. If I Was You (album version)
7. Going Nowhere Fast
8. Ashes To Ashes
9. Empire Rising
10. Atila The Hun