After 40 years, Saxon is still going strong, releasing their 22nd album, Thunderbolt. Battering Ram in 2015 was their latest release, and although there have of course been a few line-up changes throughout the years, Biff and the boys don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon as they embark on leg one of their European tour at the end of February, supported by Diamond Head and Rock Goddess.
Thunderbolt starts off with an instrumental intro, Olympus Rising before charging into the title track, where listeners will notice immediately that Biff Buford’s voice is still as strong as ever, as he calls out to “Unleash the gods of war!” This track will most definitely be a crowd-pleaser in a live setting. Jumping to the mythological and literary themes, The Secret of Flight references the story of Icarus, where the dual guitar combination of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarlett take center stage. The album takes a moodier, darker turn with Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz).
They Played Rock and Roll is a tribute to the band Motorhead, who Saxon toured with in 1979-1980. The lyric video for this song plays like a scrapbook of memories from that period, complete with a clip of Lemmy Kilmister announcing, “We are Motorhead, and we play rock and roll.” This tune is a fitting musical tribute to their long-time friends. This tune is followed by Predator, which includes some guttural death metal growls which seem a little out of character for Saxon, but fit the heaviness of the track.
Viking-themed Sons of Odin is next, followed by Sniper and then A Wizard’s Tale. Then Speed Merchants brings back the heavy-hitting riffs and guitar harmonies before the album ends with another tribute, this time to those working behind the scenes, Roadie’s Song.
Despite the fact that the Saxon fellows are getting up there in age, the fact that they are still rocking just as hard 40 years later attests to the timelessness of the metal. More legs of the tour will be announced soon.