Review | Saxon – Hell, Fire And Damnation
Silver Lining Music
This is studio-album number 24 for the mighty Saxon and as per tradition it is as solid as a rock. Last year the band was confronted with the departure of founding guitarist Paul ‘Blute’ Quinn. The first change in line-up for a long time. Paul was certainly not unhappy with the music but was no longer prepared to commit to the gruelling schedule the band had followed for decades. As a result, the band had to cancel a tour in South America and look for a replacement.
Quite out of the blue came the news a few months later that Diamond Head boss/founding member Brian Tatler joined the group. A surprise because Diamond Head recently delivered two excellent albums (‘The Coffin Train’ and a re-recorded version of ‘Lightning To The Nations’) and seemed to be going strong. The future of Diamond Head is as we speak up in the air I guess, although I have the feeling that Tatler most likely will combine playing in his own band as well as in Saxon. But playing in Saxon will be time consuming so we will see what will happen there. Also, because Diamond Head drummer Karl Wilcox has very recently joined the group Tank.
NO BIG CHANGES
Listening to the by singer Biff Byford and Judas Priest guitarist Andy Sneap produced album it is not so difficult to conclude that there are no big changes in the sound and style of Saxon. After the intro ,,The Prophecy’’ with spoken word by British veteran actor Brian Blessed (OBE) the title track of the album is being let loose and the familiar granite sound of Saxon is there for everyone to enjoy and recognise.
Drummer Nigel Glockler and bass player Tim ‘Nibbs’ Carter lay down their dynamic and iron cast foundation. The guitarists Tatler and Doug Scarratt battle it out with heavy riffs and (sometimes) break neck speed solos while Biff is just Biff. Time does not seem to have damaged his voice. He is still as strong and as powerful as he was in the early eighties. He deserves a lot of respect for the manner he has looked after himself. I mean, he is doing this for some five decades plus now and his enthusiasm, reach and appetite seems to be larger than ever.
For lyrical inspiration Biff must have looked in some history books as the topics are quite varied and certainly interesting. ,,Pirate Of The Airwaves’’ is about the DJ’s and radio stations that supported metal and rock when the NWOBHM started to rear its ugly (in this case beautiful) head. ,,Madame Guillotine’’ is about history as is ,,1066’’ (William the Conqueror invaded England defeating The Saxons and becoming King of England) while also ,,Witches Of Salem’’ and ,,Kublai Khan And The Merchant Of Venice’’ have historical backgrounds. No need to say that these songs have the appropriate musical metal jacket provided by Carter, Tatler, Scarratt and Glockler.
SAXON – HEAVY SHIT
‘Hell, Fire And Damnation’ is as a whole heavy shit indeed. The tempo of most of the tracks is relentless, fierce, and not to be mocked with. Speed is a big factor on this album and powered by the overwhelming production Saxon just does not seem to let up. This is a whirlwind of an album and a very strong statement that Saxon is ready for the future with this mighty asset in hand.
Release date: 19 January 2024
Saxon were the leaders of the new wave of British heavy metal [NWOBHM] and are successfully active for over four decades now.
Photocredit: Steph Byford
heavy metal, new wave of British heavy metal