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Saxon: Sacrifice

There's a myth that's been retold over the years regarding the UK veterans of NWOBHM Saxon. That myth being that they went through fallow years when their music and fortunes were decidedly below par. Put simply it isn't true. Yes, the band have suffered from some line-up shenanigans and released some albums that are better than others and therefore some that are worse. It is true also that they retreated to Europe to maintain their success when the UK press decided all older metal bands weren't cool, man. However putting the controversial stab at melodic rock from 1988 (yes, really 25 years ago...) Destiny (I love it by the way) aside, Saxon have never released a stinker and even after lengthy scrutiny, haven't released an album that's fallen below excellent for the best part of two decades.

So does 2013 find the "Barnsley Big Teaser" with more of worth to say? You bet your bottom dollar it does, with Sacrifice continuing the stunning run of form this band have created for themselves. Concise - 10 tracks at around the forty minute mark - hard hitting and unbelievably focussed, this latest studio offering from Biff Byford, Paul Quinn, Doug Scarratt, Nibs Carter and Nigel Glockler is so consistently impressive, that if Saxon were some young new-things-on-the-block, they'd be hailed as the next big thing. Calling it NWOBHM does it a disservice, as in any other name these days what Saxon produce is high end power metal with more character and class than their young competitors and more fire and vitality than their peers. Yes, I'm a fan of the band and always have been, but if this album had arrived in my CD player with no history, name or clue as to who it was, I'd still be hailing it as a triumph. Scarratt and Quinn make a mighty partnership, ripping out muscle rippling riffs, firing out catchy motifs that have you hooked from the off, while Carter and Glockler really have the bass and drums locked into place with an assured and deserved confidence. However unlike most of the vocalists of his vintage, Biff really is still this band's strongest asset, with his instantly likeable bellow still possessing an unrivalled story telling ability, while having lost none of its power, range or warmth.

Doing away with the need for ballads, or showing their more vulnerable side, Sacrifice finds Saxon hammering out a rush of guitars perfectly illustrated by the album's title track, where a gang-shouted chorus backs up a darting riff, while crashing cymbals and clattering drums punctuate the vocals. This is how albums are meant to begin, but then the full-pelt rampage of "Warriors Of The Road", where the sound of Formula1 engines reminds of the band's "Motorcycle Man" classic and voice samples from F1 great James Hunt adds atmosphere, or the gut busting burst of "Stand Up And Fight", could easily have introduced this album in the same inimitable style. Traditional Irish instruments add a different twist to the catchy as hell "Made In Belfast", while "Guardians Of The Tomb" adds a slightly more melodic edge to the maelstrom. In truth though, for the full ten songs on show here, Saxon never put a foot wrong. Although a further special mention also needs to go to the spiralling riff of "Night Of The Wolf" and strutting, preening "Standing In A Queue", the latter of which closes this album in fine, fine style.

A 2CD version also comes with five bonus cuts featuring re-workings of tracks from the Saxon catalogue, including a classy orchestrated version of "Crusader" which works superbly. While the Crusader album is also revisited for a spruced up take of "Just Let Me Rock". An acoustic version of debut album stand-out "Frozen Rainbow" thrives in a stripped down environment, but thankfully some newer material also gets a bit more attention with Solid Ball Of Rock number "Requiem" also working well acoustically, while the title track from Forever Free sounds brand and spanking in its newly re-recorded format.

It is amazing to think that with their twentieth studio album and in their thirty seventh year, Saxon continue to release some of the best metal you could hope to hear. Sacrifice really is that good and should be recognised as such.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Procession
2. Sacrifice
3. Made In Belfast
4. Warriors Of The Road
5. Guardians Of The Tomb
6. Stand Up And Fight
7. Waking The Steel
8. Night Of The Wolf
9. Wheels Of Terror
10. Standing In A Queue

Disc 2
1. Crusader (Orchestrated Version)
2. Just Let Me Rock (Re-Recorded Version)
3. Requiem (Acoustic Version)
4. Frozen Rainbow (Acoustic Version)
5. Forever Free (Re-Recorded Version)

Added: October 13th 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Saxon Online
Hits: 4257
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Saxon: Sacrifice
Posted by ian on 2013-02-12 11:36:57
My Score:

A fantastic review, and i cant wait to get my copy of saxons sacrifice album, I think ive read 8 reviews on this album so far and all have been very posotive with no scores lower then 8/10.

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