New Music Review: SAXON “Battering Ram”

REVIEW – I have to start this one off by saying that albums like this are why I passionately like doing what I do.  Who would have thought 35 years ago when the then fresh-faced NWOBHM leaders emerged from South Yorkshire to ride a wave of popularity and respect, that they would, not only still be doing it, but put out arguably their heaviest album to date.  Very akin to the then-newly found heaviness of fellow British metal gods Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” album, Saxon is smacking us upside the head with the amazingly heavy “Battering Ram” on October 30, 2015.

Saxon’s 21st album in their illustrious career shows exactly why they are every bit as relevant as many of the newer bands.  Vocalist Biff Byford sounds as good as he’s ever sounded. In spots, Biff has the intensity and growl of Paul Di’anno during the Killers days. On-again, off-again drummer Nigel Glockler, currently most definitely on-again, rebounding from an ailment last year, and showing that a little brain aneurysm isn’t going to slow him down. Long-time bassist Nibbs Carter provides a complementary rhythm section counterpart. Dual guitar assault by original member Paul Quinn, and Doug Scarratt remind us what having two guitars is all about; and that’s working together to create a harmonious sound, not see who can out-do the other one.  They have held this lineup together since 2005.  Amazing.

Producer extraordinaire, Andy Sneap (Megadeth, Accept, Testament) gives Saxon a razor-sharp and modern sound, while keeping things familiar.  There’s no mistaking that this is Saxon. From what I’ve read, it’s likely that Biff and company will work with Sneap again.  There are riffs o’ plenty on this record, and I can say record, as it will also be released on 180 gram vinyl.  Sweet. I love it when I’m pleasantly surprised by a new album. Let’s be honest, it’s a Saxon record, I sort of knew what to expect, and I was sort of right, but in an age when albums don’t have the same impact that they used to, when I do hear a really great one, and it’s one for the books, I cherish it, I savor it, I smile when I hear it.

SAXON “Battering Ram”

1. Battering Ram 4:56
2. The Devil’s Footprint 4:08
3. Queen of Hearts 5:08
4. Destroyer 3:21
5. Hard and Fast 4:45
6. Eye of the Storm 3:54
7. Stand Your Ground 4:15
8. Top of the World 4:00
9. To the End 5:50
10. Kingdom of the Cross 6:08
11. Three Sheets to the Wind (The Drinking Song) 3:53

Total length: 50:24

• Biff Byford – lead vocals
• Paul Quinn – guitar
• Doug Scarratt – guitar
• Nibbs Carter – bass
• Nigel Glockler – drums

Additional musicians

• David Bower – vocals
• Andy Sneap – Production