Written by Alex Stojanovic
The Secret Of Flight
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
They Played Rock & Roll
Sons Of Odin
A Wizard's Tale
Release Date: February 2, 2018
Label: Silver Lining Music
Biff Byford - Vocals Paul Quinn - Guitars Doug Scarratt - Guitars Nibbs Carter - Bass Nigel Glockler - Drums
"Olympus Rising" sets the table with eerie chords and choir chants before blasting into the driving riffs of the title track. Biff Byford's unmistakable vocals are still in great form after all these years. He could sing just about anything. Even if he was singing "Row Row Row Your Boat", he would still have your attention. The melodic guitar intro, military march drumming and a soaring choir chant sets up "The Secret Of Flight", which then leads into a catchy riff and captivating harmonized vocals in the verse. On each album, Saxon never forget to include a couple of slow and epic stompers, perfect for festival settings. On here, we get "Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)" and "Sons Of Odin". You can always count on Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt to deliver quality riffs and solos that are able to stick with you for long periods of time.
As a band that has toured with Motorhead on several occasions, Saxon have composed what I feel is the perfect tribute to Lemmy Kilmister and Motorhead with "They Played Rock & Roll" with the lyrics casting back to the Bomber tour, which was the first time the two bands toured together. With a huge Motorhead vibe to it with the speed and the punk-style riffing, I could totally hear Lemmy singing this song. I should also say that the title is very fitting for a Motorhead tribute. The track also contains an audio recording of Lemmy's famous line: "We are Motorhead, and we play rock 'n roll!"
Saxon have always been about melodic vocals, but on this record, they decided to add some aggressive vocals, so they brought in Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth to guest on the track "Predator". Johan's signature growl, combined with Biff's melodic vocal makes for a serious vocal combination. We then arrive at some more heavy and up-tempo numbers like "Sniper" and "Speed Merchants", a couple of my favourite tracks dominated by crushing riffs and killer grooves. The record ends on a catchy note with "Roadie's Song". This is where the straightforward rock 'n roll vibe comes in to say a quick hello before the door closes on the album. The song's title is self-explanatory, as are several of the other titles on the record.
There are certain bands out there that I listen to that have followed the same formula for many years, but the latest releases from some of those bands have not lived up to the majesty of some of their other releases from the past decade or their classic records. Saxon seem to have it down to a science when it comes to creating new material because even though the formula is the same one they've been following for the past four decades, they always manage to make their music sound fresh and exciting. It doesn't sound dated, which is the best part about it. After 22 albums and 40 years of blessing the world with potent British metal, Saxon still have plenty of fuel left in the tank. Age has certainly not caught up with Saxon and it looks like there's still more music to come from the British metal legends! Keep the faith!
Highs: The energy on Thunderbolt wouldn't make you think that Biff and co. are in their 50s and 60s.
Lows: Nothing new or experimental to be found.
Final Rating: 9/10