Saxon were formed in 1977 under the name Son of a Bitch, which the band wisely decided to change within the next year. They released the debut self-titled album in 1979 and became on of the earliest bands to spearhead the NWOBHM movement. By their second release "Wheels of Steel" Saxon were hugely popular in Europe, staying on the UK charts for well over six months and reaching the Top 5 charts. Saxon have been around in many incarnations since then. In the mid-80's, in an attempt to break into American mainstream, like Def Leppard had done, Saxon went for a more melodic, almost pop metal appoach, but have since returned to their heavy metal roots. Currently there are two bands touring under this name. Biff Byford retains the name Saxon and continues to tour and put out new music into the new millenium. However, ex-guitarist Graham Oliver and bassist Steve Dawson were also touring under the name Saxon until lawsuits forced them to change the name to Oliver/Dawson Saxon.

Saxon Saxon - Saxon (EMI) 1979

1."Rainbow Theme" [ instrumental] (1:00)
2."Frozen Rainbow" (4:37)
3."Big Teaser" (3:55)
4."Judgement Day" (5:30)
5."Stallions of the Highway" (2:52)
6."Backs to the Wall" (3:09)
7."Still Fit to Boogie" (2:53)
8."Militia Guard" (4:52)

Saxon are an English heavy metal band, formed in 1977 in Barnsley, Yorkshire. They were one of the hopefuls of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. With their self-titled debt the band hadn't yet found their sound and were still echoing their 1970's influences. Still, there are some good songs included here and some glimpses into the band's future, such as "Frozen Rainbow" and "Stallions of the Highway". However, this album would soon be overshadowed by the phenomenal:

Saxon-Wheels of Steel/Strong Arm of the Law Saxon - Wheels of Steel/Strong Arm of the Law (EMI) 1980/1980

Wheels of Steel Strong Arn of the Law
DISC ONE "Wheels of Steel"
1. "Motorcycle Man" (4:00)
2. "Stand Up and Be Counted" (3:09)
3. "747 (Strangers in the Night)" (4:57)
4. "Wheels of Steel" (5:57)
5. "Freeway Mad" (2:40)
6. "See the Light Shining" (4:53)
7. "Street Fighting Gang" (3:10)
8. "Suzie Hold On" (4:32)
9. "Machine Gun" (5:21)
10. "Judgement Day" [live] (5:36)
11. "Wheels Of Steel" [7" version] (4:25)
12. "See The Light Shining" [live] (5:30)
13. "Wheels Of Steel" [live] (9:26)
14. "747 (Strangers In The Night)" [live] (4:56)
15. "Stallions Of The Highway" [live](3:16)
DISC TWO "Strong Atm of the Law"
1. "Heavy Metal Thunder" (4:21)
2. "To Hell and Back Again" (4:48)
3. "Strong Arm of the Law" (4:43)
4. "Taking Your Chances" (4:21)
5. "20,000 Feet" (3:25)
6. "Hungry Years" (5:08)
7. "Sixth Form Girls" (4:19)
8. "Dallas 1 PM" (6:27)
9. "20,000 Feet" [live] (3:28)
10. "Dallas 1 PM" [live] (6:18)
11. "Hungry Years" [live] (5:56)
12. "Strong Arm of the Law" [live] (4:30)
13. "Heavy Metal Thunder" [live] (4:00)

By the late 1970's heavy metal was considered a relic by the mainstream, especially in Europe. Punk was the new aggressive sound, soon to be replace by new wave in the 80's. Disco was the rage in the U.S. However, as the 1970's were ending a whole new crop of bands were rising from all around the world. England seemed to be the epicenter for this new metal movement with many new heavy metal bands garining momentum. Saxon were one of those bands. Their 1979 eponymous was a bit underwhelming but with their next two releases "Wheels of Steel" and "Strong Arm of the Law" the band had not only found their sound, but they helped define the new wave of heavy metal. Both albums are straight-forward, head-banging, heavy metal classics. Anthems such as "Motorcycle Man," "747 "Strangers in the Night)", "Wheels of Steel", "20,000 Feet" and "Dallas 1PM" became signature songs for the band being played in concert for decades to come. "Heavy Metal Thunder" was more than just an anthem, it was a speed metal statement about the second wave of heavy metal. To this young American metalhead, discovering these albums in the early 80's was like finding gold. I wore the grooves off the expensive import vinyls.

"Wheels of Steel" was released in 1980 and saw the band's popularity sky-rocket. Because of this the equally strong, "Strong Arm of the Law" was released only a few short months after "Wheels of Steel". The album entered the UK charts at #11, though didn't even register a blip in the U.S. However, Saxon's obsession with America was apparent on these two records with songs like "Dallas 1 PM," a song about the assassination of John F.Kennedy. "747 (Strangers in the Night)" is about a power outage that forced planes in New York to remain in the sky in 1965 with the power outage provoking a Scandinavian flight to detour and land at Kennedy Airport in the dark.

The double disc collection pictured above was released in 1997 on EMI. It was not released in the U.S., so was only available to those of us stateside as an expensive import. The collection also adds a ton of fantastic live footage. Having owned these songs on a crappy bootleg tape back in the 80's, it's nice to finally have these classic performance officially released. The crowds for these shows were mammoth and really brought an energy. I actually like these live performances better than the official live album "The Eagle Has Landed" that was released in 1982.

Paragon do a smokin' version of "To Hell & Back Again." Helstar recorded a cover of "Heavy Metal Thunder".

Wheels of Steel Saxon - Denim and Leather (Disky) 1981

1. "Princess of the Night" (4:00)
2. "Never Surrender" (3:13)
3. "Out of Control" (4:04)
4. "Rough and Ready" (4:49)
5. "Play it Loud" (4:09)
6. "And the Bands Played On" (2:47)
7. "Midnight Rider" (5:41)
8. "Fire in the Sky" (3:35)
9. "Denim and Leather" (5:24)

The "classic" Saxon line-up. Biff looking a bit like Jim Dandy in this photo.

If ever there was a song and an album the exemplified the New Wave of Heavy Metal music that was exploding out of Europe in the 1980's it would be Saxon's "Denim & Leather". For those who are just the right age, the song was a call to arms; a battle cry for all those who donned their patch clad denim vests and leather biker jackets and hung out in the record stores looking for more heavy metal to rip holes in their speakers. Cheesy? Hell yeah! But we wouldn't have it any different. It was about having a good time and there was a unity among the fans. It was all about fists in the air and head banging, sweaty rivet heads crammed into a small hall watching their favorite band tear up the stage. Saxon were one the genres finest. "Denim & Leather" is chock full of Saxon classics; "Play It Loud", "And the Bands Played On", and "Fire in the Sky"...all classics! The chugging "Princess of the Night" is one of Saxon's best songs ever. It was also one of their most successful singles as well.

This was the last album with the classic Saxon line-up of Saxon, as drummer Pete Gill would leave the band due to an injury, though he would later resurface for a short time with  Motörhead. "Denim & Leather" along with "Wheels of Steel" and "Strong Arm of the Law" is considered the band's classic trilogy of albums. These three albums were hugely influential to heavy metal band's across the globe with bands like Metallica and Mötley Crue singing their praises. As with their previous two releases, "Denim & Leather" was a huge hit in Europe staying on the charts for several months.

Ultimatum recorded a cover of the classic title track on their "Lex Metalis" CD.

The Eagle Has Landed Saxon - The Eagle Has Landed (EMI) 1982

1. "Motorcycle Man" (4:21)
2. "747 (Strangers in the Night)" (4:37)
3. "Princess of the Night" (4:22)
4. "Strong Arm of the Law" (4:38)
5. "Heavy Metal Thunder" (4:19)
6. "20,000 Ft." (3:18)
7. "Wheels of Steel" (8:51)
8. "Never Surrender" (3:56)
9. "Fire in the Sky" (2:39)
10. "Machine Gun" (3:48)

Saxon live isn't much different than Saxon studio, save for the crowd interaction on "Wheels of Steel." That is probably why this album failed to break Saxon into the US market like they were hoping it would. Well, I am of the opinion that this is a classic, although not to the same level as say Judas Priest's "Unleased in the East" or Thin Lizzy's "Live & Dangerous." My copy is a German import version.

Power & the Glory Saxon - Power & the Glory (EMI) 1983

1. "Power and the Glory" (5:56)
2. "Redline" (3:38)
3. "Warrior" (3:47)
4. "Nightmare" (4:23)
5. "This Town Rocks" (3:58)
6. "Watching the Sky" (3:42)
7. "Midas Touch" (4:12)
8. "The Eagle Has Landed" (6:57)

"Power & the Glory" 12" vinyl picture disc.

One powerful and melodic NWOBHM disc that is just as strong today as it was in the early 80's. Saxon outdid themselves on this disc. Why they never became as big as they deserved to be is beyond me. Not a bad song on this disc, which is unusual for a Saxon disc as most do have at least on stinker. "This Town Rocks" pushing the bounds of Spinal Tap silliness, but still manages to fit in overall. Others like "Redline" and the title track more than make up for it however. Another German import version.

I own the vinyl picture disc pictured above, as well as the black vinyl version with the alternate track listing that includes the song "Suzi Hold On" instead of "Midas Touch".

October 31 do a furious cover of "Power and the Glory".

Crusader Saxon - Crusader (EMI) 1984

1. "The Crusader Prelude" (1:05)
2. "Crusader" (6:33)
3. "A Little Bit of What You Fancy" (3:50)
4. "Sailing to America" (5:03)
5. "Set Me Free" (3:13)
6. "Just Let Me Rock" (4:11)
7. "Bad Boys (Like to Rock 'N' Roll)" (3:24)
8. "Do it All for You" (4:42)
9. "Rock City" (3:16)
10. "Run for Your Lives" (3:53)

By the time "Crusader" was released in 1984 heavy metal had once again become extremely popular around the world. Saxon were one of those bands like Iron Maiden and Def Leppard that many thought would become international superstars. They had the catchy songs and the big record label. However, for whatever reason, many fans at the time of it's release considered "Crusader" to be a disappointment, some calling it a sell-out. Granted it is less aggressive and more melodic than past albums, but it still sounds like prime Saxon. I never could understand the hatred for "Crusader". I liked it when it was a new release and still enjoy it today. OK, there are a few Spinal Tap silly clunkers like "Bad Boys (Like to Rock 'N' Roll)" and "Rock City," but songs like "Crusader", "Sailing to America" and a smokin' rendition of Sweet's "Set Me Free" are all prime examples of Saxon's brand of straight-forward heavy metal!

Strong Arm Metal Saxon - Strong Arm Metal (Carrere) 1984 

1.    Strong Arm of the Law   (4:36)
2.    Wheels of Steel   (5:57)
3.    Never Surrender   (3:13)
4.    747 (Strangers in the Night)  (4:57)
5.    Frozen Rainbow  (2:26)
6.    Motorcycle Man  (3:55)
7.    Stallions of the Highway  (2:49)
8.    And the Bands Played On  (2:47)
9.    Dallas 1PM  (6:27)
10.  Denim and Leather (5:23)

Vinyl compilation of Saxon's early years. Most of these songs are considered classics by most fans, with the possible exception of "Frozen Rainbow". However, even that song fits well on this compilation. A good collection and a nice collector's vinyl.

I use to have this vinyl autographed by the band when I met them back in 1988 at the House of Guitars in Rochester, NY. Unfortunately it was "lost" during my over-zealous religious daze. I was able to replace the vinyl fairly cheap at a local record show.

Innocence is No Excuse Saxon - Innocence Is No Excuse (Axe Killer) 1985

1. "Rockin' Again" (5:11)
2. "Call of the Wild" (4:03)
3. "Back on the Streets" (4:00)
4. "Devil Rides Out" (4:25)
5. "Rock 'N' Roll Gypsy" (4:14)
6. "Broken Heroes" (5:25)
7. "Gonna Shout" (3:59)
8. "Everybody Up" (3:30)
9. "Raise Some Hell" (3:40)
10."Give It Everything You've Got" (3:27)
11. "Just Let Me Rock" (4:11)
12. "Do it All for You" (4:42)

I remember when this came out everyone thought this album was another big disappointment. I liked it as it's heavy, melodic and hook laden. Once again, some of the lyrics and song titles border Spinal Tap silliness, but the music is full of emotion. "Back on the Streets", "Devil Rides Out", "Rock 'N' Roll Gypsy" and "Broken Heroes" are all superior Saxon songs, in my opinion. This French version came in a nice slip case, with a 16-page full color booklet and contains two extra tracks. There are a bunch of cool live pics on the inside with Biff & Co. looking very dapper in their glammy outfits. The bonus tracks are both from "Crusader."

This album was stinking HARD TO FIND! Up until 1999, I couldn't even seem to special order a copy. Luckily a French company (Axe Killer) reissued it. Includes a generous booklet and cardboard slipcase.

Rock the Nations Saxon - Rock the Nations (Griffin) 1986

1.  Rock the Nations (4:41)
2.  Battle Cry (5:26)
3.  Waiting for the Night (4:52)
4.  We Came Here to Rock (4:19)
5.  You Ain't No Angel (5:29)
6.  Running Hot (3:36)
7.  Party Til You Puke (3:26)
8.  Empty Promises (4:11)
9.  Northern Lady (4:43)

By 1986, Saxon were still hell-bent on a hit record in the United States. "Crusader" was a brilliant heavy metal record and, while more melodic, "Innocence Is No Excuse" was a solid Saxon platter as well. "Rock the Nations", on the other hand, is weak in comparison. First of all the production isn't up to par. Heavy metal doesn't have to have perfect production. Sometimes a raw production only adds to the charm of an album. That is not the case here at all. Producer Gary Lyons (Foreigner, UFO) gives the band a very lopsided mix with the drums and vocals out front, nearly inaudible bass guitars and a weak, paper-thin guitar sound. This weak production is aided by some very weak songs.

"We Can Here to Rock" is yet an attempt at a rock 'n' roll anthem, but isn't on par with similarly titled songs like "Just Let Me Rock" from "Crusader" and "Rockin' Again" from  "Innocence Is No Excuse". The song just sounds tired and weak in comparison. There are two attempts at sappy Def Leppard-like radio ballads; "Waiting for the Night" and "Northern Lady." Rock and roll legend Elton John, who was recording the tracks for his album "Leather Jackets" in the same studio as Saxon, is featured playing piano on "Northern Lady". Despite being a ballad this is probably one of the better songs on the album. John also guests on "Party 'til You Puke", a boogie-woogie anthem that attempts to appeal to your average Joe-blockhead. While the song has some fun novelty value, it's just not a great Saxon song. It probably would have better served as a b-side track.

On the positive side, the title track, "Running Hot", "Empty Promises" and the double bass driven "Battle Cry" are good songs that will likely sound far better in a live setting than they do here in this studio recording. It's unfortunate that these songs are rendered weak by the poor recording and mix. I've read that the vinyl version of "Rock the Nations" actually sounds better than the CD version and has a warmer sound with more bottom end. It is not surprising that Saxon rarely, if ever, revisits these songs in a live setting.

Saxon - Destiny (Axe Killer) 1988

1. "Ride Like the Wind" (4:29)
2. "Where the Lightning Strikes" (4:18)
3. "I Can't Wait Anymore" (4:24)
4. "Calm Before the Storm" (3:47)
5. "S.O.S." (6:03)
6. "Song for Emma" (4:46)
7. "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (3:54)
8. "We Are Strong" (3:57)
9. "Jericho Siren" (3:37)
10. "Red Alert" (4:34)
11. "Live Fast Die Young" (3:47)
12. "Rock The Nations" [live] (4:39)
13. "Back On The Streets" [live] (4:01)

"Destiny" is very different album than one would expect from Saxon. It is most certainly an attempt at the glossy, melodic/commercial hard sound that was popular by the mid-80's. Def Leppard had a lot of success in 1987 with a smiliar sound. I really don't understand "Destiny" didn't go over better as it really is quality music, especially "Red Alert" and the Christopher Cross song. Yes, opening cut "Ride Like the Wind" is the Christopher Cross cover, and a quality cover at that. Perhaps if the band would have written a sappy radio single like "Pour Some Sugar on Me" it would have gone over better. As it stands, "Destiny" is an oddity in the Saxon catalog and thankfully a sound they left behind in future releases.

This disc was out of print for years and was selling in the $30-$50 range on eBay. As usual, however, patience pays off and the disc was re-released by French company Axe Killer. Includes some cool bonus tracks and excellent packaging as well. As with their "Innocence is No Excuse" reissue, the disc comes wrapped in a slipcase. The bonus tracks are all B-sides from various 12" singles that were previously unavailable on CD.

Solid Ball of Rock Saxon - Solid Ball of Rock (Virgin) 1991

1.   Solid Ball of Rock (4:35)
2.   Altar of the Gods"(3:30)
3.   Requiem (We Will Remember) (5:16)
4.   Lights in the Sky (4:03)
5.   I Just Can't Get Enough (4:34)
6.   Baptism of Fire (3:08)
7.   Ain't Gonna Take It (4:47)
8.   I'm on Fire (4:24)
9.   Overture in B-Minor/Refugee (5:42)
10. Bavarian Beaver [instrumental] (1:15)
11. Crash Dive" (4:21)

I honestly think that Saxon were suffering from an identity crisis during this point in their existence. I can't quite put my finger on it, but many seem to blame it on their drive to get that hit record in the U.S.. Perhaps. In any case, albums like "Rock the Nations" and "Destiny", while having their redeemable qualities are no where near the spirited and charismatic heavy metal of Saxon's past.

"Solid Ball of Rock" is an attempt to return to their roots while still maintaining some of their more commercial appeal. Certainly this album is far better than anything on "Rock the Nations." The opening track, "Solid Ball of Rock" is perhaps one of the best songs on the album. This Accept-like metal anthem has a very catchy riff and an equally catchy chorus. Likewise, "Altar of the Gods" manages to capture the classic Saxon NWOBHM sound. "Baptism of Fire" is a heady speed metal offering and one of my favorite song on the album.. For whatever reason, when "Solid Ball of Rock" was first released, I didn't immediately pick up on this song. It wasn't until a few years later that I heard the song on "Alter of Eagles" (1998) and realized how good it is. "Requiem" is a catchy, melodic anthem that is "dedicated to no one person. It is a celebration of the music they left behind." "I'm on Fire" and "I Just Can't Get Enough" teeter on the edge of pop metal. "Bavarian Beaver" is an oddly titled instrumental bass solo that acts as an into into "Crash Drive", a prime Saxon heavy metal romp.

I do confess that I didn't care for "Solid Ball of Rock" on it's initial release. I can't exactly explain my initial reaction to it. Perhaps it was just a reaction to some of the more recent, more commercial albums Saxon had recorded. Either that or maybe it's just grown on me over the years. Either way "Solid Ball of Rock" actually is a solid album, as the title so cleverly alludes to.

Forever Free German Forever Free UK Saxon - Forever Free (Virgin) 1993

1.   Forever Free (4:57)
2.   Hole in the Sky (4:42)
3.   Just Wanna Make Love To You (3:54)
4.   Get Down & Dirty (5:05)
5.   Iron Wheels (4:12)
6.   One Step Away (4:57)
7.   Can't Stop Rockin' (4:03)
8.   Nighthunter (3:22)
9.   Grind (4:23)
10. Cloud Nine (4:36)

After returning to their more metallic roots with "Solid Ball of Rock", Saxon continues in a similar mode with "Forever Free". Overall, the album has a melodic feel, not unlike "Power & the Glory" and "Crusader", but there is still that traditional heavy metal vibe to the whole thing.

I've often heard Saxon described as 'biker metal'. That description seems to be very fitting for this collection of songs. The album opens with an up-beat number that is most likely an ode to bikers. Follow-up song "Hole In the Sky" takes up the tempo and intensity even more and is one of those few songs that falls close to speed metal. "I Just Wanna Make Love to You" is a Willie Dixon cover, and a song that was made popular by Foghat in the 70's. Saxon adds their own flare to the song. "Get Down and Dirty" is definitely a song that pulls from Saxon's NWOBHM roots. This song could easily have fit onto "Denim and Leather" or "Strong Arm of the Law". It's a forgotten gem in the Saxon catalog. "Iron Wheels" is an ode to the working man and is melodic number with a melancholy vibe. Biff's gives a fantastic vocal performance on this song. "One Step Away" is an up-tempo, ferocious heavy metal romp! "Can't Stop Rockin'" continues Saxon's trend for fun and cheesy rock and roll anthems. It's probably not as memorable as similar anthems from the past, but it does stand as a declaration of a band that has been churning out their own brand of rock and roll for decades. "Nighthunter" is a double-bass driven speed metal number. "Grind" is more of a melodic, slick pop metal number that would have fit on Def Leppard's "Pyromania. The song declares, "don't let the bastards grind you down". Indeed! Perhaps this song was one of the band's last attempts at commercial success. "Forever Free" is closed out by "Cloud Nine", a number with a bit of a groove and once again is more reminiscent of Saxon's glorious NWOBHM past.

"Forever Free" is a forgotten gem in the Saxon catalog, along with "Solid Ball of Rock" and "Dogs of War". These three albums seem to be lost between the band's beloved early classic NWOBHM catalog and their later, heavier releases like "Unleash the Beast", "Metalhead" and "Killing Ground". Either way, it's a worthwhile release from Saxon.

This disc was released with two different covers. I have the cover with the red logo.

Dogs of War Saxon - Dogs of War (Virgin) 1995

1. "Dogs of War" (4:36)
2. "Burning Wheels" (4:10)
3. "Don't Worry" (5:17)
4. "Big Twin Rollin (Coming Home)" (5:23)
5. "Hold On" (4:31)
6. "The Great White Buffalo" (5:52)
7. "Demolition Alley" (6:09)
8. "Walking Through Tokyo" (5:50)
9. "Give It All Away" (4:03)
10. "Yesterday's Gone" (3:43)

After screwing around for several albums trying to "make it" in the American market, this classic NWOBHM band finally realizes that they need to be who they are and stop pretending. Legendary bands that try to change to appease a trend are a sad lot. Fortunately Saxon figured that out and put out these two high charged heavy metal discs. Yes, Saxon is BACK! These are their strongest discs in years! Songs like the title cut, "Forever Free," "Burning Wheel," and "The Great White Buffalo" are great biker songs that fit well with the classics from "Wheels of Steel" and "Denim and Leather." One thing though, I wonder just how many songs Saxon have with the words "rock, rocks, & rockin'" in the title?

Unfortunately "Dogs of War" and "Forever Free" are only available as an expensive imports. Lucky for me I have friends in high places that save me from paying $30 for these discs. My dear friend Olaf in Germany GAVE me these two. You rule Olaf!

The Eagle Has Landed Part 2 Saxon - The Eagle Has Landed Part 2 (CMC International) 1996

1.   "Intro/Warlord" (2:19)
2.   "Dogs of War" (4:52)
3.   "Forever Free" (4:48)
4.   "Requiem" (5:54)
5.   "Crusader" (5:57)
6.   "Light in the Sky" (4:29)
7.   "Iron Wheels" (4:17)
8.   "Ain't Gonna Take It" (4:44)
9.   "Crash Dive" (4:21)
10. "Refugee" (6:01)

11.   "Solid Ball of Rock" (5:03)
12.   "Great White Buffalo" (6:31)
13.   "Eagle Has Landed" (7:37)
14.   "Princess of the Night" (5:15)
15.   "Can't Stop Rockin'" (4:39)
16.   "Denim & Leather" (6:18)
17.   "Wheels of Steel/Demolition Alley" (12:52)

Another excellent live disc from Biff and Co. I love Saxon live! Can't get enough of it. Biff's voice sounding slightly worn here and there on this disc, but otherwise a solid offering with a good mix of songs from Saxon's whole catalog.

Live at Donnington Saxon - Live at Donnington (CAS) 1997

1. "Motorcycle Man" (4:08)
2. "Still Fit to Boogie" (2:48)
3. "Freeway Mad" (3:07)
4. "Backs to the Wall" (4:02)
5. "Wheels of Steel" (5:33)
6. "Bap Shoo Ap" (6:49)
7. "747 (Strangers in the Night)" (4:59)
8. "Stallions of the Highway" (4:46)
9. "Machine Gun" (6:11)

Thought I had better pick this one up before it disappears. At the time I listed this, it was readily available on CDNow for about $10. Being that it is on such an obscure label, I had a feeling this disc would disappear as fast as it surfaced. Anyhow, this short disc was recorded at Castle Donnington in August of 1980 at the very beginning of Saxon's career. Cool to hear some of those early rockers like "Still Fit to Boogie" and "Stallions of the Highway" that have never made it to any official live Saxon disc. "Bap Shoo Ap" is a silly sing along song where Biff attempts to get the audience to sing along. It works better with "Wheels of Steel" but at this point they had not started doing that yet. Also of note, this was the very first Monsters of Rock festival and if Biff is correct, there were 60,000 people in attendance rocking to the likes of Saxon, Judas Priest, Riot and the Scorpions. The NWOBHM is born!

Saxon - Unleash the Beast (CMC International) 1997

1.    Gothic Dreams [instrumental] (1:33)
2.    Unleash the Beast (5:16)
3.    Terminal Velocity (4:43)
4.    Circle of Light (5:26)
5.    The Thin Red Line (6:20)
6.    Ministry of Fools (4:29)
7.    The Preacher (4:55)
8.    Bloodletter (5:31)
9.    Cut Out the Disease (5:23)
10. Absent Friends (Song for J.J.) (4:54)
11. All Hell Breaking Loose (4:31)

"Unleash the Beast" is Saxon's thirteenth studio album and the first album without original guitarist Graham Oliver. He was replaced by guitarist Doug Scarratt. Scaratt becomes an important member of Saxon as the band moves forward and brings a new, freshness to this album. "Unleash the Beast" is  a transition album, heading into heavier, darker heavy metal than the band's more recent attempts at commercial acceptance. Songs like "Circle of Light" and "Unleash the Beast" are some of the heaviest material that Saxon has recorded since the early 80's. "The Thin Red Line", "Ministry of Fools" and "Cut Out The Disease" exposes a darker side of the band, a trait that would carry on to future Saxon releases and seems to replace some of the corniness presented on past releases. Perhaps the cut that standouts the most is "Terminal Velocity". This song is a mega-catchy anthem that recalls the glory days of Saxon in the early 80's. This is exactly the type of fist-pumping heavy metal that Saxon is known for. There are some lighter, more radio friendly moments as well. "Absent Friends" is an acoustic ballad, but is far from being a corny, sappy song. Rather this song seems to bleed heartfelt emotion. Throughout Biff's voice sounds stronger than ever. "Unleash the Beast" is a solid, traditional heavy metal album from Saxon.

This line-up of Saxon recorded a song for the Judas Priest tribute around this time.

Altar of Eagles Saxon - Altar of the Eagles (Virgin) 1998

1. "Hole in the Sky" (4:44)
2. "Oveture in B-Minor/Refugee" (5:37)
3. "Altar of the Gods" (3:40)
4. "One Step Away" (4:59)
5. "Baptism of Fire" (3:09)

"Altar of the Eagles" is a obscure Greek EP that I honestly have never seen before it arrived in my mailbox as a gift from a fellow Saxon fan. The songs featured on it are all released on other Saxon discs, but whoever put this EP together sure did choose some obscure favorites to release. Unlike most compilations of the band, there is nothing included from the band's more popular 80's releases. Most of the tracks featured are from "Solid Ball of Rock" with "Hole in the Sky" and "One Step Away" being taken from "Forever Free."

BBC Sessions Saxon - BBC Sessions/Live at Reading Festival '86 (BBC Music) 1998

Friday Rock Show 2/15/80
1. "Backs To The Wall" (3:18)
2. "Stallions Of The Highway" (2:47)
3. "Motorcycle Man" (3:47)
4. "Still Fit To Boogie" (2:45)
5. "747 (Strangers In The Night) (5:01)

Studio B15 Live 5/25/82
6. "20,000 FT" (3:18)
7. "Dallas 1PM" (6:00)
8. "The Eagle Has Landed" (7:24)

Reading Festival/Friday Rock Show 6/26/86
9. "Power And The Glory" (7:06)
10. "Never Surrender" (4:01)
11. "Rock The Nations" (5:10)
12. "Wheels Of Steel" (6:07)
13. "Waiting For The Night" (4:39)
14. "Strong Arm Of The Law" (6:25)

Any of the BBC discs are worth acquiring. The sound quality is usually excellent, as is this one. Saxon's "BBC Sessions" is a nice set of live and live in the studio Saxon tunes. Tons of classics here, but there are also some more obscure tracks for the Saxon purists. Of particular note is that at the end of "Strong Arm" there is a short medley of Black Sabbath tunes. Not sure if this disc is available in the US or not. I've not seen it.

Metalhead Saxon - Metalhead (SPV) 1999

1. "Metalhead" (4:52)
2. "Are We Travellers In Time" (5:17)
3. "Conquistador" (4:42)
4. "What Goes Around" (4:24)
5. "Song Of Evil" (4:12)
6. "All Guns Blazing" (3:53)
7. "Prisoner" (4:12)
8. "Piss Off" (4:04)
9. "Watching You" (5:18)
10. "Sea Of Life" (8:11)

Wow! This is REAL METAL! I was immediately impressed with "Metalhead" as it sounds like classic Saxon yet somehow manages to not sound dated. There are lots of cool songs on this one, my favorite being the title track, a song supposedly about aliens. On the surface it just sounds like a supercharged metal anthem. "Are We Travellers" is also about aliens. Some of my other favorites are "Conquistador" and "Song of Evil." Metalhead is definitely a stronger album than "Unleash the Beast" and dare I say one of their bet ever.

After a few months of owning this disc and living with it, I must say I still like it as much as I did when I first bought it. Had the chance to see Saxon on this tour with U.D.O.opening in Santa Fe, NM. It was a fantastic show with Saxon playing for well over two hours. They performed four songs off the new album, the four that I picked as favorites a few months earlier when the above blurb was written. I also have to say that despite the rumors of Biff Byford being "anti-social," he is actually very cool. I had the pleasure of talking with Biff for a few minutes after the show when he came out to greet some of the fans who were still hanging around. He was very cordial, signing autographs and just enjoying the fan's attention. My disc is signed by Biff. (see photo above)

Diamonds & Nuggets Saxon - Diamonds & Nuggets (Angel Air) 2000

1. "Stallions Of Highway" [live] (3:20)
2. "Midnight Rider" [live] (5:21)
3. "Frozen Rainbow" [live] (6:00)
4. "Turn Out The Lights" (4:05)
5. "Coming To The Rescue" (3:38)
6. "See The Light Shining" (4:54)
7. "Stand Up And Be Counted" (5:33)
8. "Freeway Mad (Part 2)" (1:53)
9. "Ann Marie" (5:39)
10. "Lift Up Your Eyes" (1:48)
11. "Street Fighting Man" (3:25)
12. "Still Fit To Rock n Roll" (3:06)
13. "Big Teaser" [Original] (3:35)
14. "Frozen Rainbow" (7:07)
15. "Walking" (4:43)
16. "Make 'Em Rock" (3:18)
17. "Stone Room Jam" [instrumental] (5:27)
18. "Ain't You Glad To Be Alive" (2:51)
19. "Freeway Mad (Part 1)" (2:09)

Another Saxon odds and sods compilation, although apparently this one was officially licensed from original guitarist Graham Oliver. All tracks here were formerly unreleased or at least, unreleased in this format. The booklet is very nice, containing lots of photos of Saxon in their early years and also includes a track by track commentary by Oliver. A few tracks are pre-Saxon, dating all the way back to the early 70's. There are also several outtakes from the "Power and the Glory" studio sessions.

Best of Rock Saxon - Beast of Rock (CAS Records) 2001

1. "Turn Out The Lights" (4:05)
2. "Coming To The Rescue" (3:38)
3. "See The Light Shining" (4:54)
4. "Stand Up And Be Counted" (5:33)
5. "Freeway Mad" (2:07)
6. "Ann Marie" (5:39)
7. "Lift Up Your Eyes" (1:48)
9. "Still Fit To Rock n Roll" (3:06)
10. "Big Teaser" (Original) (3:35)
11. "Frozen Rainbow" (7:07)
12. "Walking" (4:43)
13. "Make 'Em Rock" (3:18)
14. "Stone Room Jam" [instrumental] (5:27)
15. "Ain't You Glad To Be Alive" (2:51)

Not sure if this is a bootleg or an official release, but 'Beast of Rock' features some of the earliest of Saxon studio demo material. It's a pretty sweet collection with surprisingly decent sound quality. The material is all unreleased in these forms, as far as I know. A very similar collection to the officially licensed 'Diamonds And Nuggets'. "Stone Room Jam" is an early instrumental demo version of what became "The Eagle Has Landed." "Still Fit To Rock n Roll" became "Still Fit to Boogie". Several other songs on this disc were re-recorded for other Saxon releases.

Killing Ground Saxon - Killing Ground (SPV) 2001

1. "Intro" (1:36)
2. "Killing Ground" (5:44)
3. "Court of the Crimson King" (6:00)
4. "Coming Home" (3:38)
5. "Hell Freezes Over" (4:42)
6. "Dragon's Lair" (3:38)
7. "You Don't Know What You've Got" (5:00)
8. "Deeds of Glory" (4:34)
9. "Running for the Border" (4:24)
10. "Shadows on the Wall" (6:15)
11. "Rock is Our Life" (3:55)

1. "Princess of the Night" (4:10)
2. "Crusader" (6:38)
3. "Wheels of Steel" (5:52)
4. "Motorcycle Man" (3:45)
5. "Strong Arm of the Law" (4:24)
6. "Denim & Leather" (5:19)
7. "Dallas 1 PM" (6:15)
8. "And the Bands Played On" (2:52)
Saxon 2002

Very cool digi pack collector's edition of the new Saxon disc. The disc comes wrapped in a deluxe digi-pack that folds out several times and includes the full booklet from the single disc version as well as a plethora of pics of the band. The bonus disc contains new studio recordings of old Saxon classics. The production on these bonus tracks are, of course, superior to the originals but overall the songs don't change that much. The one exception is that some of the guitar solos have been re-written and are a bit more flashy. Biff's voice sounds as strong as ever on these, as well as the new tracks. As for the new material, well, this disc continues where 'Metalhead' left off. "Killing Ground" is as good, or better than that disc, and certainly blows "Unleash the Beast" out of the water. Their cover of King Crimson's "In the Court of the Crimson King" is superb and may be one of my favorites off this disc. The title track rocks supreme, putting Saxon into realms of heaviness of Accept or Judas Priest.

Saxon - Heavy Metal Thunder (Steamhammer/SPV) 2002

1. "Heavy Metal Thunder" (4:13)
2. "Strong Arm of the Law" (4:24)
3. "Power & The Glory" (5:57)
4. "And the Bands Played On" (2:52)
5. "Crusader" (6:38)
6. "Dallas 1PM" (6:16)
7. "Princess of the Night" (4:10)
8. "Wheels of Steel" (5:53)
9. "747 (Strangers in the Night)" (5:01)
10. "Motorcycle Man" (3:46)
11. "Never Surrender" (3:35)
12. "Denim & Leather" (5:19)
13. "Backs to the Wall" (3:07)

1. "Broken Heroes" [live] (6:52)
2. "Dragon's Lair" [live] (3:38)
3. "The Eagle Has Landed" [live] (8:07)
4. "20,000 Ft." [live] (3:32)
5. "Crusader" [live] (6:13)
6. "Killing Ground" [live video] (4:31)

Heavy Metal Thunder picture disc LP.


Well if you're going to release a 'best of' disc, this is the way to do it. The current members of Saxon go into the studio after years of touring and playing these songs live and re-record them with a killer, modern studio sheen. The band picked the crowd favorites and re-recorded them with a bit more aggression than even the original studio versions had. Of course some of the guitar solos are a little different, and the tempos may have changed here and there, but overall they didn't go to far from the original versions. This would be a great introduction to the band for someone unfamiliar with these classics and is certainly a blast through the past for long time fans like myself. Disc two of the limited edition release contains live tracks recorded in San Antonio, TX, USA in 2002. The liner notes detail these tracks as "official bootlegs." Isn't that an oxymoron? If it's official, it's not a bootleg. In anycase the reason for the label is to justify the sub-par sound quality. This particular disc will probably only appeal to die-hard fans like myself. The disc also contains a bonus video that can be played on a computer featuring live footage from Germany's Wacken Festival 2001.

Lionheart Saxon - Lionheart (Steamhammer/SPV) 2004

1. "Witchfinder General" (4:49)
2. "Man And Machine" (3:28)
3. "The Return" (1:18)
4. "Lionheart" (6:05)
5. "Beyond The Grave" (4:55)
6. "Justice" (4:27)
7. "To Live By The Sword" (4:11)
8. "Jack Tars" (:57)
9. "English Man 'O War" (4:08)
10. "Searching For Atlantis" (5:54)
11. "Flying On The Edge" (4:55)

If anyone had any doubt that Saxon doesn't RULE, one spin of the full-throttle opening track should change their mind. As with the band's last few outputs, this CD is excellent, pure, hard rockin', heavy metal. While I love the band's early anthems and still hold them in high esteem, their newer, heavier sound that began with "Unleash The Beast" and were perfected with "Metalhead" and "Killing Ground" are very enjoyable. "Lionheart" continues in pretty much the same mode as these three albums. From the excellent opening track "Witchfinder General", to the slightly more predictable "Man and Machine," to the mellower moments like "Beyond the Grave" and "Searcing for Atlantis", Saxon has succeeded in putting out yet another molten metal monster. Perhaps my favorite track, aside from the "Witchfinder General" is "Jack Tars" and "English Man 'o' War." "Jack Tars" is a short acoustic song that acts and an intro to "English Man 'O War," For some reason this song just stood out as a signature song for the band, even though I think the entire CD is strong. As would be expected on a Saxon CD, the guitars are biting and Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrat give us some tasty guitar leads. Also, Biff Byford still delivers a powerful punch after all these years. Together Saxon have succeeded in creating yet another fine heavy metal opus. No fan of classic heavy metal should pass on this CD.

Eagle Has Landed Saxon - The Eagle Has Landed Pt. III (Steamhammer/SPV) 2006

1. "This Town Rocks" (Stockholm 2005) (04:53)
2. "Backs To The Wall" (Nuremberg 2005) (3:28)
3. "Redline" (Hamburg 2005) (4:01)
4. "Stand Up And Be Counted" (Berlin 2005 (3:26)
5. "Never Surrender" (Berlin 2005) (3:33)
6. "Frozen Rainbow" (Fulda 2005) (6:49)
7. "Suzie Hold On" (Nuremberg 2005) (4:51)
8. "Play It Loud" (Nuremberg 2005) (4:27)
9. "Warrior" (Nuremberg 2005) (3:55)
10. "See The Lights Shining" (Hamburg 2005) (6:45)
11. "To Hell And Back Again" (Hamburg 2005) (3:20)
12. "Stallions Of The Highway" (Fulda 2005) (3:06)
13. "Wheels Of Steel" (Nuremberg 2005) (8:51)
14. "And The Bands Played On" (Wacken 2004) (3:51)
15. "Crusader" (Wacken 2004) (7:04)

1. "The Return" (Paris 2004) (1:41)
2. "Lionheart" (Paris 2004) (6:04)
3. "Man & Machine" (London 2004) (3:30)
4. "Beyond The Grave" (London 2004) (4:55)
5. "Searching For Atlantis" (London 2004) (5:40)
6. "To Live By The Sword Pt. I" (London 2004) (2:04)
7. "Unleash The Beast" (London 2004) 03:00)
8. "To Live By The Sword Pt. II "(London 2004) (1:31)
9. "Flying On The Edge" (Paris 2004) (4:34)
10. "Jack Tars" (Kiel 2004) (:54)
11. "English Man 'O' War" (Kiel 2004) (4:19)
12. "Court Of The Crimson King" (Kiel 2004) (5:20)
13. "Broken Heroes" (Kiel 2004) (6:46)
14. "Dragon's Lair" (Kiel 2004) 03:32)
15. "Rock Is Our Live" (Wacken 2004) (5:11)
16. "Travellers Time" (Wacken 2004) (4:43)
17. "Solid Ball Of Rock" (Wacken 2004) (5:55)

The third installment in the "Eagle Has Landed" live albums from Saxon. This two CD release is a compilation of live tracks from several tours and shows from 2004 - 2005. The collection offers songs from throughout the band's large catalog of material, including some rarely heard numbers. While there are obviously some variables in recording from show to show, the overall CD flows like one concert and actually sounds good from song to song. As with any second or third live album in a band's career, follow-up albums will never top the original. Nostalgia plays a huge factor in this for most fans. However, "The Eagle Has Landed Pt. III" is still a great testament to one of the best and longest running metal bands in history.

It's also interesting to not that this album features three different drummers, Nigel Glockler - Drums (Night Out With the Boys tour tracks), Jörg Michael - Drums (Lionheart tour tracks) and Fritz Randow - Drums (Wacken Open Air tracks).

Inner Sanctum Saxon - The Inner Sanctum (SPV/Steamhammer) 2007

1. "State Of Grace" (5:37)
2. "Need For Speed" (3:08)
3. "Let Me Feel Your Power (3:29)
4. "Red Star Falling" (6:16)
5. "I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)" (4:40)
6. "If I Was You" (Album Version) (3:27)
7. "Going Nowhere Fast" (4:15)
8. "Ashes To Ashes" (4:52)
9. "Empire Rising" (:41)
10. "Atila The Hun" (8:09)

1. "To Hell And Black Again"
2. "A Night Out With The Boys - The Idea"
3. "A Night Out With The Boys - Not Really"
4. "See The Light Shining"
5. "A Night Out The Boys - Now It Started"
6. "Redline"
7. "Suzie Hold On"
8. "Stand Up And Be Counted"
9. "Frozen Rainbow"
10. "Never Surrender"

Saxon, the English NWOBHM veterans have been a solid ball of heavy meal since 1997's "Unleash the Beast". Since abandoning their pursuit of being another Def Leppard pop rock sensation and conquering the America charts, Saxon have created some of their finest albums to date. "The Inner Sanctum" is no exception. Not only have they been releasing solid studio albums, they have also manged to stay vital in an ever changing heavy music scene. On their 1997 release, the powerful guitar interplay between Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrat are as good as it has ever been. Longtime drummer Nigel Glockler returns and gives one of his best studio performances yet. As well, Biff sound no worse off for his age either. "The Inner Sanctum" starts off with the excellent "State of Grace", a song that has the melodic feel of some of the material on "Crusader" or "Innocence is No Excuse". "Need For Speed" then picks things up with a blending of that classic heavy metal sound and modern power metal. This song and the follow up "Let Me Feel Your Power" are some of the heaviest songs Saxon has written. "Red Star Falling" is a powerful, melodic track with an chorus that has an immediate hook. This song reminds me of tracks like "Strong Arm of the Law" or "Dallas 1PM" in that it successful tells a story, in this case a story of the fall of communism. What Saxon album would be complete without at least on song title containing the work "rock". "I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)" has an AC/DC swagger that should please any traditional heavy metal fan. Overall, "The Inner Sanctum" is yet another solid, heavy metal platter. They have done a successful job in blending their classic NWOBHM beginnings, with atmospheric epics and a more modern European power metal sound. Also included is a bonus DVD that contains seven live songs from their recent "A Night Out With the Boys" small clubs tour, as well as three tracks of interviews with the band.

Into the Labyrinth Saxon - Into the Labyrinth (SPV/Steamhammer) 2009

1.    Battalions of Steel (6:35)
2.    Live to Rock (5:30)
3.    Demon Sweeney Todd (3:54)
4.    The Letter (:43)
5.    Valley of the Kings (5:05)
6.    Slow Lane Blues (4:09)
7.    Crime of Passion (4:05)
8.    Premonition in D Minor (:41)
9.    Voice (4:36)
10.  Protect Yourselves (3:57)
11.  Hellcat (3:56)
12.  Come Rock of Ages (The Circle Is Complete) (3:55)
13.  Coming Home (Bottleneck Version)(3:12)

And the heavy metal machine keeps rolling forth, getting bigger and stronger as it pushes forward. You’d think after 30+ years that Biff and his band of metalheads would start running out of ideas. Indeed that has not happened. Instead, Saxon has released yet another solid platter of hot, molten heavy metal. Frankly I think that Saxon are vastly underrated. While other bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have released some complete stinkers as of late, Saxon have released a string of great albums since 1997’s “Unleash the Beast”. Some might even say since 1991’s “Solid Ball of Rock”.

The album opens with a rumbling, upbeat number titled “Battalions of Steel”. With this song I felt as though I could be listening to Saxon circa 1984. The song is a majestic, guitar fueled number that brought me back to the glory days of “Crusader” or “Rockin’ Again”, only with a beefier production. What Saxon album would be complete without at least one ode to rock? In this case we have the anthemic “Live to Rock”, sure to be one of those concert crowd pleasers. Yes, sometimes Saxon ride those clichés to the point of overkill, but it’s rock and roll, it’s not rocket science. Saxon obviously remember the days when rock and roll and heavy metal was about having fun and enjoying life, rather than hiding in dark corners and cutting one’s self in loathing self pity. Other noteworthy songs are the majestic “Valley of the Kings” and heavy metal, speedster “Demon Sweeny Todd.” “The Letter” is a short, acoustic song that acts as an introduction to “Valley of the Kings”. “Slow Lane Blues” and “Come Rock of Ages” brings Saxon back to their classic, hard-rock roots. I don’t remember Saxon recording material like this since the 80’s. Saxon main men, Biff Byford and Paul Quinn have lost nothing with age. Biff sings as good as he ever has. Together with longtime guitarist Doug Scarratt , bassis Nibbs Carter and drummer Nigel Glockler, Saxon have created yet another excellent slab of thundering heavy metal.

Saxon - Call to Arms (UDR) 2011

1.   Hammer of the Gods (4:21)
2.   Back in 79 (3:28)
3.   Surviving Against the Odds (3:02)
4.   Mists of Avalon (5:02)
5.   Call To Arms       (4:29)
6.   Chasing the Bullet (4:14)
7.  Afterburner (3:06)
8.   When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory) (4:29)
9.   No Rest for the Wicked (3:09)
10. Ballad of the Working Man   (3:48)
11. Call To Arms (Orchestral Version) (4:28)

Saxon are heavy metal warriors! They have been through hell and back and are still rocking into their fourth decade as a band. "Call to Arms" is the band's nineteenth studio album, not including numerous live albums, EP, and compilations. With "Call to Arms" Saxon have released an album that absolutely recalls the greatness of "Strong Arm of the Law" and "Denim & Leather". Fans of those classic, anthemic albums should absolutely love the first three tracks; "Hammer Of The Gods", "Back In 79" and "Surviving Against The Odds". This is the sort of meat and potatoes heavy metal that allowed Saxon to quickly become one of the stars of the NWOBHM scene in the early 80's. As a matter of fact, "Back in '79" is a autobiographical song that recalls those glory days and becomes an ode to the movement.

"Chasing the Bullet" was surprising. The song is a AC/DC meets Krokus style rocker complete with Angus/Malcom-style guitar riffs and Biff sounding a bit like Marc Storace of Krokus. This song is followed up by a high speed rocker titled "Afterburner". This song recalls classic Saxon songs like "Machine Gun" and "Motorcycle Man". "When Doomsday Comes" steps outside the box a little with the introduction of keyboards into the album. The song is a progressive, highly melodic and memorable number. "No Rest for the Wicked" has a slightly darker, heavier vibe, not unlike some of the more recent Saxon releases.

The production seems to be more stripped down as well, sounding more 'classic' and less 'modern', yet not bad by any stretch.  The rhythm section of bassist Nibbs Carter and drummer Nigel Glocker really holds things together and becomes the heavy, bottom end of the recording, while the twin guitarists of Doug Scarrett and Paul Quinn are left to give the songs their crunch.

"Call to Arms" is a fantastic album and really recalls the glory of Saxon's past. Indeed, "Call to Arms" is Saxon doing what Saxon do best; fists-in-the-air, head-banging, heavy metal. The band has crafted a fine set of headbangers with an instant familiarity, making the album feel like an old friend from very first play.

Heavy Metal Thunder Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken (EMI) 2012

BEST OF W:O:A 2004, 2007, 2009
1. Intro
2. Battalions Of Steel
3. Heavy Metal Thunder
4. Metalhead
5. Let Me Feel Your Power
6. To Hell And Back Again
7. If I Was You
8. Killing Ground
9. Unleash The Beast
10. Dogs Of War
11. Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy
12. Travelers In Time
13. The Eagle Has Landed
14. 747 (Strangers In The Night)
15. Dallas 1 P.M.
16. Witchfinder
17. Solid Ball Of Rock
18. 20,000 Feet
19. Red Star Falling
20. Rock The Nations
21. The Power And The Glory
22. Stallions Of The Highway
23. Live To Rock
24. And The Bands Played On
25. Princess Of The Night
26. I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
27. Attila The Hun
28. Denim And Leather
29. Ashes To Ashes
30. Crusader
31. Wheels Of Steel

Recorded On The Call To Arms World Tour, April 14th 2011
1. Hybrid (Intro) (3:22)
2. Hammer Of The Gods (4:40)
3. Heavy Metal Thunder (3:08)
4. Back In 79 (3:27)
5. Never Surrender (3:47)
6. I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive) (4:57)
7. Dallas 1 p.m. (6:22)
8. Call To Arms (4:27)
9. Solid Ball Of Rock (6:07)
10. Demon Sweeney Todd (4:29)
11. And The Bands Played On (3:26)
12. Man And Machine (3:40)
13. Play It Loud (3:27)
14. When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory) (4:27)
15. To Hell And Back Again (4:05)

1. Motorcycle Man (4:23)
2. Denim And Leather (5:21)
3. Princess Of The Night (6:31)
4. Crusader (5:43)
5. 747 (Strangers In The Night) (5:21)
6. The Eagle Has Landed (7:36)
7. 20,000 Feet (3:45)
8. Strong Arm Of The Law (5:47)
9. Wheels Of Steel (11:31)

"Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken " is a massive, three-disc live collection featuring a DVD compilation of the bands performances at infamous Wacken Festival in Germany the double CD "Glasgow Live" performance. There's really not a whole lot that needs to be said about this collection. The band are in top form. The video footage is excellent. The music is well-produced. It captures the energy of a live festival performance. It's heavy metal. It's Saxon! This is definitely a collection for the Saxon die-hard, as opposed to the casual fan.

There is also an even more massive and extensive limited edition box set version of "Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken" that contains four DVDs, two CDs, and several collector's inserts.

Sacrifice Saxon - Sacrifice (EMI) 2013

1. Procession (1:47)
2. Sacrifice (3:58
3. Made in Belfast (4:35
4. Warriors of the Road (3:32
5. Guardians of the Tomb (4:49
6. Stand Up and Fight (4:03
7. Walking the Steel (4:24
8. Night of the Wolf (4:20)
9. Wheels of Terror (4:22)
10. Standing in a Queue (3:38)

DISC TWO (Bonus Disc) 
1. Crusader [orchestrated version] (6:43)
2. Just Let Me Rock [re-recorded version] (3:41)
3. Requiem [orchestrated version] (3:33)
4. Frozen Rainbow [acoustic version] (4:04)
5. Forever Free [re-recorded version] (4:47)

Saxon are of the few bands waving the banner high for real heavy metal. Instead of jumping around from trend to trend, as many bands have done for decades, Saxon have opted to hone their sound to metallic perfection over the years. While they may have attempted lighter sounds in the late 80's and early 90's in an attempt to gain international stardom, since 1997's "Unleash the Beast", they’ve had a consistent run of stellar studio albums. "Sacrifice" is not exception. The album is chock full of meaty, riff-based, heavy metal tracks. The songs range from fast and furious to mid-paced and crushing. The title track and "Made in Belfast" are up-beat rockers in the tradition of "Machine Gun" and "Motorcycle Man". "Guardians of the Tomb" is built around a killer vocal hook and a big, meaty riff while "Stand Up and Fight" has that classic fist-pumping pulse that defines heavy metal. This is the type of track that made Saxon one of the greats of the NWOBHM movement of the early 80's.

Saxon deserve to be on that same pedestal as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. Nearly thirty years into their existence and they are still cranking out high quality heavy metal. That can't even be said of a band like Iron Maiden, who have in recent years gone the route of prog-rock. I once read that Saxon are to heavy metal what Exodus are to the Big Four of Thrash Metal. Though they are right their at the top of their game, and perhaps even better than some of the others, they are forever relegated to the outside gazing in. I concur! With Saxon there is no better example of meat and potatoes, blue-collar heavy metal. 

The special edition digi-book version of "Sacrifice" comes with a bonus disc of re-recorded and orchestrated classics, as well as an oversized, 24-page color booklet. 

Battering Ram Saxon - Battering Ram (UDR) 2015

1. Battering Ram (4:56)
2. The Devil's Footprint (4:10)
3. Queen of Hearts (5:08)
4. Destroyer (3:21)
5. Hard and Fast (4:46)
6. Eye of the Storm (3:55)
7. Stand Your Ground (4:16)
8. Top of the World (4:02)
9. To the End (5:51)
10. Kingdom of the Cross (6:08)
11. Three Sheets to the Wind (The Drinking Song) (3:54)

In 2015 there is a worldwide movement called the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal. Saxon have been churning out their own brand of heavy metal since the late 1970's and are still schooling these new bands on how to do it right. "Battering Ram" is the bands' 21st full-length studio album. Before actually listening to this record I was reading negative review on-line claiming the band "hasn't exactly been innovating their sound over the decades" or that this is "another unnecessary release from Saxon." I'm not sure what album these reviewers are listening to, or if they just aren't fans of real heavy metal to begin with. Perhaps I am just a Saxon diehard because this album, if I can be so crass, kicks major ass! This is exactly what I want to hear from Saxon.

Opener and title track “Battering Ram” sets the tone early, a ferocious, galloping anthem featuring a fist-pumping riff and energetic solo courtesy of axemen Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt. This song sounds exactly like what bands like Striker, Enforcer, White Wizzard, etc. have been trying to emulate over the last few years. However, Saxon have never been a band to stay with one tempo throughout a record. A song like "Queen of Hearts" is mid-paced and just as heavy. Likewise, "Eye of the Storm" is a mid-paced song with a piercing and driving riff. So the album definitely deviates from the pace of songs like "Battering Ram" and "Destroyer", but the overall vibe  the songwriting is solid throughout. Produced by veteran Andy Sneap (Kreator, Exodus, Nevermore, Testament, etc.), the album has a modern sound without being overly-produced and watered down. The guitars are biting and gritty, the drums pound-forth powerfully and Biff's charismatic howls are loud and clear.

OK, Saxon have also been a band who have embraced "cheese" and heavy clichés. One look at the front cover image should bring images of "This Is Spinal Tap". I'm fairly sure the horned skull was the same one used on stage by Tap. As well, the spoken-word intro to “The Devil’s Footprint” will have Spinal Tap fans asking, "Can I raise a practical question at this point? Are we gonna do "Stonehenge" tomorrow?" Haha! Seriously though, this intro really does remind me of Spinal Tap's Stonehenge. "I think the problem was that there was a Stonehenge monument on the stage that was in danger of being crushed by a dwarf." Ok, enough with the Spinal Tap references, but some of this album really did remind me of those references. However, most longtime metal fans have come to expect and even enjoy these clichés. Who doesn't enjoy a bit of cheesy fun once in a while. Not everything has to be serious.

"Battering Ram" is a solid album from Saxon and is another shining display of what true heavy metal is. There are not guys screaming at me, there are no breakdowns and the guitars are not tuned down so low to disguise crappy riffs. "Battering Ram" is a more than worthy addition to Saxon’s massive catalogue.

My copy of "Battering Ram" is the LP/CD box set which also came with a t-shirt and insert. The CD comes wrapped in a digi-book and includes the bonus novelty track "Three Sheets to the Wind". It is a very nice package for the Saxon die-hard.

A Metal Crusade
Saxon are also the subjects of a tribute CD called "A Metal Crusade Tribute to Saxon"

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