Saxon – Concert and Album Reviews
It’s no surprise Saxon was chosen to be direct support on the current Judas Priest world tour, Firepower 2018. Together they have two of the best current metal albums out there, making this tour one for the ages!
Detroit, Michigan (March 31, 2018) – Saturday night the Detroit Masonic Temple, in Detroit, MI was the latest tour stop for Saxon’s Thunderbolt World Tour. Metalheads of all ages were on hand to take in the heavy guitar licks and hear a few tracks off one of the best metal albums of the year, the recently released Thunderbolt.
Fans didn’t have to wait long once the lights dimmed, as “Thunderbolt” was the opening thrash. What was readily apparent in Saxon’s new music is how the guitar licks seem to be more powerful and brutal than earlier releases in their career. This harder version, along with the powerful vocals of frontman, Biff Byford (vocals), with the help of Paul Quinn (guitars), Nibbs Carter (bass), Doug Scarratt (guitars), and Nigel Glockler (drums) continues to keep Saxon relevant during these times of commercialized-sounding metal.
The twelve-song, 45-minute set that covered classic cuts from Saxon’s 41-year music catalog got the crowd up and moving in typical metal fashion. Signature classics such as “Dallas 1 PM”, “Princess of the Night”, “Denim and Leather”, “They Played Rock and Roll” and “Wheels of Steel” got the fans throwing devils horns. “The Secret of Flight”, “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)” and “Thunderbolt” off the current release, Thunderbolt, had their heads moving to the rhythm of the thundering guitars. A classic Saxon performance was verified by the loud approval from the crowd. Saxon sounded better today than any time in their recent past.
Make no mistake, Saxon has enormous energy on stage and deliver a performance that would put most of today’s metal bands to shame. Even though they are working on their fourth decade as a band, Saxon continues to evolve and recreate themselves. Is it because of the lineup changes and a remixing of their sound that keeps them relevant or is it something else? If their latest release, Thunderbolt, holds any cadence in the future of Saxon, metal-heads can rest assured that the future of classic metal is in good hands.
Senior Photojournalist: John Swider
Be sure to check out the Black Star Riders and Judas Priest coverage from tonight!
Saxon – Thunderbolt
Here’s what we thought of Thunderbolt here at Splice:
“The Secret of Flight”
“Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)”
“They Played Rock and Roll”
“Sons of Odin”
“A Wizard’s Tale”
“Nosferatu” (Raw Version)
The heavy metal band Saxon has been around for so long they seem to get overlooked as an active player. It might be the fact that they hail from England, and are not as readily accessible to fans in the United States. Even during the eighties, Saxon was not on regular video music rotation, when many bands broke out to superstardom. Saxon achieved their highest Billboard ranking at 133 in 1985, while they were releasing album-after-album which were charting very highly on the UK charts.
It does not come as a surprise they are often listed as a major influence for bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. Saxon, while not considered a thrash band, have a heaviness in their riffs and an overall sound that cements them as a huge player in heavy metal, and their 40-year career is a testament to that.
On album number 22, Saxon absolutely crushes the competition and outdoes those who they have influenced; showing this is not about the past, but rather the future. They pound through every track, creating an opus of instant, modern classics. The album is thematically diverse with most of the songs focusing on fantasy, folklore, and mythology. Detailed lyrics and great stories paint vibrant pictures as the album moves from theme-to-theme.
With the opening instrumental “Olympus Rising” setting up what is to come, the album features hammering anthems such as “Thunderbolt”, “Predator”, “Sniper”, “Speed Merchants”, and “A Wizard’s Tale”. Two melodic, but still plenty heavy tracks include “The Secret of Flight” and “Sons of Odin”. The ominous “Nosferatu” is included as two versions, Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz) and Nosferatu” (Raw Version), with the latter stripping out some of the choir and adding extra instrumentation.
A stand out track on the album is “They Played Rock and Roll”. This song is a tribute to their longtime tour partners and friends, Motorhead. It is a fitting homage and is done in the style of Lemmy and Company. You even hear a beckoning excerpt of Lemmy stating “And We Play Rock and Roll” (They Played Rock and Roll), prior to the guitar solo.
These monsters of heavy metal are keeping the classic metal sound alive and well. Saxon is sounding better than ever, and with an album this well- written and performed, have just released the best album of their career. It sounds like a blast from the past, and that is a great thing!
While most multi-decade bands might keep relying on songs of the past, Saxon is still writing their story. Stay tuned for the 23rd chapter…
Journalist: Allen Heimberger
The Detroit Masonic Temple:
Somewhere around South Yorkshire, UK there was a band that started life as SOB during 1976 with founder members Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson. This band joined forces with another local band, Coast, featuring Biff Byford on vocals and Paul Quinn on guitar. The two bands then finalized with a line-up comprising of the then 226-year-old Graham ‘Oly’ Oliver, Steve ‘Dobby’ Dawson (27), Paul ‘Blute’ Quinn (26), Pete ‘Frank’ Gill (27) and Peter ‘Biff’ Byford (27). The name of the band was Son Of A Bitch. That name was dropped a few years later and the band re-christened themselves, Saxon. They were at this time playing the usual rock clubs and concert gigs supporting The Ian Gillan Band and Heavy Metal Kids, amongst others, playing all their own material. Demo tapes were recorded at Tapestry Studios, with producer John Verity (Ex. Argent singer/guitarist). They hawked these round the usual record companies only to be ignored as the New-wave was at its height at this time. After a few months, the band finally gained a favorable reaction from EMI man Peter Hinton. He had come up to Barnsley to see the band play at the town’s Civic Hall. He was very impressed and recommended SAXON to Claude Carrere as candidates for his new label on the British scene, Carrere Records. Claude decided to offer them a contract, after hearing the band’s demo tapes. – Saxon