fri 18/09/2020

CD: Saxon - Sacrifice | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Saxon - Sacrifice

CD: Saxon - Sacrifice

Loveable veteran Yorkshire rockers still mean every note

Saxon: wonderfully over-the-top

Back in the early Eighties, Saxon made the heavy metal equivalent of home-cooked roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Axe-grinding albums like Denim and Leather and a work-ethic straight from the Barnsley pits made Biff Byford and the lads a loveable bunch. Their meat-and-potatoes approach, however, meant they have always struggled to compete commercially with the likes of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. The band never seemed to care.

Back in the early Eighties, Saxon made the heavy metal equivalent of home-cooked roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Axe-grinding albums like Denim and Leather and a work-ethic straight from the Barnsley pits made Biff Byford and the lads a loveable bunch. Their meat-and-potatoes approach, however, meant they have always struggled to compete commercially with the likes of Iron Maiden and Def Leppard. The band never seemed to care. Sacrifice sees them complete their 20th album in 34 years. Just. In true Spinal Tap fashion it has arrived two weeks late due to “manufacturing problems”.

That’s not the only Tap-like element to the record. Its lyrical concerns include the Aztecs, the Terracotta Army and a humorous and quite literal account of waiting in line, called "Standing in a Queue". It’s all part of a joyous over-the-top ness that reminds you of what was so great about the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The LP kicks off with two minutes of tribal ambience, before launching into 40 minutes of high-octane headbanging that sounds like classic Iron Maiden on steroids. At 62, Byford’s air-raid siren vocals, remarkably, sound more vital than when he was in his thirties. The guitars too, have never been tighter. Nibbs Carter on bass and Doug Scarrett on six-string provide a rock-steady anchor to quick-fire riffing.

Students of the genre will know that this pair replaced Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson. They, in turn, would later attempt to trademark the name Saxon as their own before Biff reclaimed it in the courts. Such colourful and rich histories are part and parcel of the continued fascination with rock music from this era. But albums such as this are not just about nostalgia. The band mean every note. For the 2011 census Byford even campaigned to have heavy metal recognised as a religion. With Sacrifice he has taken his religious duties admirably seriously.

Watch a short documentary on the making of the video for "Sacrifice"

Byford even campaigned to have heavy metal recognised as a religion. With Sacrifice he has taken his religious duties admirably seriously

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters