In the archives of Heavy Metal’s history, there is simply no denying the importance of Saxon. An English band which formed back in 1975, Saxon are one of the pioneering forces behind the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) that really put the genre on the international map. First releasing their self-titled debut in 1979, follow up albums such as ‘80s Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law, followed by ‘81’s Denim and Leather arguably set the tone for Heavy Metal in the 1980s.
Points in the story of Heavy Metal music which should be etched in stone for eternity, Saxon are also quite passionately intrigued by the subject of history themselves… and it shows with their forthcoming album Hell, Fire And Damnation. The band’s latest studio album of new material set for release on January 19, 2024 through Silver Lining Music; it continues the string of prolific creativity Saxon has been on since the start of the 2020s. In short, they put out a really cool covers album entitled Inspirations in 2021, the acclaimed original album Carpe Diem in 2022, before the follow up covers album More Inspirations in 2023.
Now, some may say – that is a lot of content to attack the senses in a short period of time. While true, Saxon is approaching their 50th anniversary soon… so the timing of putting out music for marketing purposes is rather irrelevant at this stage. Besides, if you are a fan, wouldn’t you want as much new material from the band as possible? Well, that is up for debate for some, because what really determines the want is the quality. So, how does Hell, Fire And Damnation stand up to Saxon’s more modern and older classic material?
The answers are in the thick of it all; because this new album sounds as inspired as ever. Ten songs in total, you are immediately taken back by Biff Byford voice which sounds invigorated, powerful, and very upfront. Joining him, the lineup of Drummer Nigel Glockler, Bassist Nibbs Carter, along Guitarists Doug Scarratt and Brian Tatler melt together like a sheet of armor over a knight ready for battle. The riffs are sharp, the energy is high, and the song concepts are stimulating.
As mentioned, it all is heavily inspired by historical events of our past. With this, you go from biblical ideas, as heard on the title-track, to the revolutionary movement of France in the 1700s with “Madame Guillotine,” to a look back at the year Edward ‘the Confessor’ (England’s longest serving King) died in “1066,” to the hysteria of Salem with “Witches of Salem,” but also a look into the hidden truths behind Area 51 within “There’s Something in Roswell.” Something that will pique the interest of history buffs, the execution of each song is what draws your attention in; because it is consistently lively. Really offering no time to be taken in by the dread of boredom, Saxon is in your face and demands you listen.
Really impressive to hear them rocking this hard and heavy, there is honestly no downtime, and perhaps the most electrifying engulfment into Heavy Metal glory is the speedy “Fire and Steel.” Overall, Saxon are proving that they are not only pioneers in the world of Metal, but they are poised to challenge as kings. In fact, they are not only doing so with new studio recordings, but also on live stages as they prepare for a killer co-headlining North American tour this coming spring with Uriah Heep. Something not to be missed, neither is Hell, Fire And Damnation, because it is right up there with some of Saxon’s best. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.