Saxon, ‘Battering Ram’ – Album Review
The legendary British band Saxon have been around for nearly 40 years. They were one of the bands at the forefront of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and fans may not remember just how popular they were in that era.
For example, Saxon, Iron Maiden and Judas Priest all released albums in 1980. Maiden's self-titled debut and Priest's British Steel peaked at No. 4 on the British album chart, but Saxon's Wheels Of Steel was right there with them, making it to No. 5.
The band had several other albums that reached the upper part of the British album charts in the '80s, and some that cracked the U.S. chart as well. However, they fell on hard times in the '90s with a string of overlooked albums and a legal battle over the band name. But Saxon eventually bounced back, beginning with 2007's strong The Inner Sanctum album and they continue to release well-received albums to this day.
Their latest effort Battering Ram is another one that Saxon fans will enjoy. The band's lineup has been stable for a while now and the chemistry is evident. Frontman Biff Byford has an instantly recognizable voice, and at 64-years-old he hasn't lost a step. The album kicks off with the title track, one of the record's strongest efforts. It has catchy hooks and great twin guitar work from Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrett.
Saxon aren't bringing anything dramatically new to the table, but don't really need to as the style they have developed and perfected over the past four decades has served them pretty well. However, they mix things up and keep it fresh by adding some progressive flair to "Hard and Fast."
The spoken word intro to "The Devil's Footprint" may be a bit excessive, the band find their footing once the music kicks in. The most unique song on the album is the World War I inspired "Kingdom of the Cross," a subdued song that finds Byford speaking more than singing.
There are a variety of lyrical topics covered on the album. From the AC/DC-esque party anthem "Three Sheets to the Wind" to the Alice In Wonderland themed "Queen Of Hearts," Byford tackles a wide variety of subject matter.
Twenty-one albums into their career, Saxon show no signs of slowing down. While not every song is a classic, Battering Ram has plenty of memorable tracks and headbangable moments.