January 29, 2018 Saxon – Thunderbolt (Album Review)
Knighted in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, England’s Saxon are a Heavy Metal battalion who have rode a wave of well-deserved success in the genre ever since their inception back in the late 1970’s. Armed with a mammoth catalog of music, filled with an artillery of imperative cuts, Saxon have been at the forefront as one of the hardest working bands in Metal.
Sticking with a no frills, hard-edged feel, Saxon have set the standard for how true Metal should sound with ripping, acclaimed albums like 1980’s Strong Arm of the Law, 1984’s Crusader, and 2001’s Killing Ground to name a few. Followed by a legion of loyal fans, Saxon have reveled in the fortune of being a hot touring act all over the world by rocking stages from the Download Festival in England to the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany, and everywhere in between.
Roughly 40 years in the making, Saxon – Biff Byford (Vocals), Paul Quinn (Guitar), Doug Scarratt (Guitar), Nigel Glockler (Drums), and Nibbs Carter (Bass) – are so proud to announce the release of their unprecedented, twenty-second studio album, Thunderbolt, which is slated to arrive on Friday, February 2, 2018, thanks to Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music). The follow-up to 2015’s Battering Ram, Thunderbolt is a collection of eleven intense tracks, finding Saxon in the studio once again with veteran Producer Andy Sneap – Producer on Saxon’s 2013 album Sacrifice – and whose previous production credits include top Metal acts like Accept, Megadeth, and Arch Enemy. Even better, a staple of classic Metal albums, vivid original artwork is featured on Thunderbolt created by renowned Artist Paul Raymond Gregory, who is known for designing the artwork on more than a dozen of Saxon’s studio albums.
At first strike, the choir-like intro, “Olympus Rising,” opens the curtain before the rip-roaring and turbulent “Thunderbolt” sets the stage for bigger things to come. Taking off, “The Secret of Flight” divulges something greater among the skies with storied melodies and a simple will to fly. Then, the malignant spirit of “Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz) is a hellion of evil trapped inside Byford’s vocal delivery as he sings, “Nosferatu, Creature of the Night!” Here, Byford portrays the villain in stark candor amongst spine-tingling sounds.
A tribute, Saxon pays homage to their friends in Motorhead with “They Played Rock and Roll” – more than a story about Saxon’s 1979/1980 tour with the band – this track holds the vital spark of Lemmy Kilmister and company as Saxon plays the very riffs and melodies for which Motorhead was notorious. Right down to having a sound bite of Lemmy defiantly saying those famous words, “We are Motorhead and we play Rock and Roll,” this kick ass number honorably shows the spirit of one of Metal’s most beloved acts.
Top of the food chain, the ferocious “Predator” stalks upon their prey before the all powerful “Sons of Odin” bring supernatural idols to the universe. Deadly, we find “Sniper,” unseen and lurking in the shadows as this cut gets the job done without need for explanation, while “A Wizard’s Tale” is all about casting spells upon kings and queens.
Peddle to the Metal, “Speed Merchants” races out the listener’s speakers with the blunt force melodies for which Saxon is best known. Lastly, Thunderbolt comes to a close with “Roadie’s Song,” an ode to the hardworking roadies who make sure our favorite bands can put forth the best performance night in and night out.
Overall, the mighty Saxon have delivered yet again with Thunderbolt, a rapid fire collection of solid Heavy Metal bursting with staggering melodies thanks to the immense guitar work of Glockler and Scarratt. Never to be forgotten, the vocal capacities of Byford are God-like, sounding more cunning and powerful as ever after four decades behind the mic. That in mind, fans new and old will certainly be pleased with Saxon’s latest effort as Thunderbolt does not disappoint. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Thunderbolt 4 out of 5 Stars.
A huge year of touring ahead, Saxon will take Thunderbolt on the road, as the first leg of the 2018 Thunderbolt European Tour will rock through late February into early March,. Even bigger, Saxon will provide direct support to Judas Priest on the Firepower Tour beginning in mid-March into early May.