Veteran hard rock band Saxon is one of the most accomplished and respected acts in the rock community. For nearly four decades, the British hard rock band has been making music and entertaining audiences the world over. And if the band’s latest full-length studio recording is any indication Saxon has no plans of stopping anytime soon. The album, Battering Ram, is an aptly titled offering. That is because for the most part the eleven-song set comes across with the power of a battering ram. Even in its softer moments, such as the album’s penultimate composition ‘Kingdom of the Cross’ it offers a certain sort of punch (albeit an emotional punch). It is just one example of what makes this latest offering–the band’s twenty-first–such a strong offering, and one that is one of this year’s best new hard rock and metal albums. It will be discussed later. ‘Stand Your Ground’ is one of the album’s up-tempo examples of why it is such a fittingly titled album. Its lyrical content doesn’t hurt it by any means either. And then there is of course the album’s opener/title track. It launches audiences head first into the record with full precision. It is a tribute to the band’s fans around the world. So what better way to re-introduce the band to fans and to introduce new fans to its sound for the first time? All three songs noted here are in their own way clear examples of what makes Battering Ram another solid recording from Saxon. Those songs set against the album’s eight other songs make a whole that is as powerful as a battering ram and because of this is one of the best of this year’s crop of hard rock and metal albums.
Saxon is one of the hardest working bands in the rock community today. From its 1979 self-titled debut, the band has churned out a total of twenty-one albums counting its latest release, Battering Ram. Between said record and the band’s debut, the band has released one new album every one to three years all while making its way around the world to support each album at the same time. A lesser band would have already called it a career years ago. But Saxon isn’t a lesser band as it shows in its new album. That is obvious throughout the course of this record, beginning with the album’s opener and title track. This full-throttle rocker is a tribute to the band’s legions of fans around the world. The band’s members noted this in interviews conducted upon the song’s recent debut. As front man Biff Byford sings in the song’s opening verse, “Come worship at the metal church/Let your voices rise as one/Stand before the barricades/Prepare yourself for what’s to come/These walls will resonate tonight/To the sound of screaming hordes.” He goes on to sing, “Decibels will rise above/To fill this concert hall/Are you ready to begin/Then let the hammer fall/Like a battering ram.” From here, Byro goes on to sing of what fans feel and the overwhelming excitement of a live Saxon show. That excitement is thanks not just to Byro’s own powerhouse vocal delivery. The dual guitar attack of Paul Quinn and Doug Scaratt makes the song all the more powerful with their melody and countermelody. And Nigel Glockler’s time keeping is solid from start to finish. At the same time, Glockler displays so much creativity behind the kit. Nibbs Carter’s bass line rounds out the punch of the song’s musical content. The harmonies generated through Carter’s bass work perfectly compliment Quinn and Scaratt’s own guitar lines. What’s more the low-end generated via Carter’s bass work strengthens the song’s foundation even more. All five musicians’ work together with the song’s lyrical content makes ‘Battering Ram’ a clear example of Saxon’s continued drive and talent in its new record. It is just one example of that drive and talent, too. Stand your ground is another clear example of that talent and drive.
‘Battering Ram’ is in its own right a clear and solid example of just how much the members of Saxon still have in the tank even after nearly four decades making music. That is fully evident in the song’s musical content. The equally clear statement to fans of the band’s in the song’s lyrical content make it an even clearer statement from the band. It is just one way in which the band shows its continued talent and drive in its new album. ‘Stand Your Ground’ which comes just after the album’s midpoint, is another example of that drive and talent. In regards to its musical content, it is yet another adrenaline-fueled rocker that will have listeners on their feet their horns in the air. Its lyrical content is just as important to its whole as its musical content. The message sent in the song’s lyrical content is one of self determination and confidence. This is made clear as Byro sings, “If they try to put you down/Don’t let them turn you ’round/Remember what is right/And don’t give up the fight/Stand your ground.” If that isn’t proof enough of the song’s much-needed and welcome positive message, then the verse that follows will most certainly prove it as Byro sings, “If you’ve had enough and life is tough/And they don’t seem to hear what you say/Make a stand/Play your hand/Sometimes there’s no other way/If you’re giving in/And you can’t win/And there’s only one card you can play/You can fight against the odds/Stop praying to the gods/When you’re up against the wall/And you’re waiting for the fall/Stand your ground.” He is saying to the band’s fans, no matter what, don’t give up. If things get tough in life, don’t give up. Stand your ground against whatever odds may come one’s way. It is a message that will ring true for listeners of all ages and of any nationality. Considering this, the combination of this message and the song’s driving musical content make ‘Stand Your Ground’ another solid addition to Battering Ram and even more proof of the band’s continued drive and talent. And even alongside the album’s title track the two songs are not the only examples of what makes this record so impressive. The band’s military tribute in ‘Kingdom of the Cross’ is just as solid of an example of that continued talent and drive.
‘Battering Ram’ and ‘Stand Your Ground’ are both key examples of how much Saxon still has in its tank after nearly four decades of making music and entertaining audiences around the world. While both songs are key moments from the band’s new album, they are not the album’s only key moments. The military tribute in ‘Kingdom of the Cross’ is just as much of a key moment to the album as the previously noted songs. Unlike those songs, this one is far more reserved in regards to its musical content. However that more reserved approach is a perfect fit with the song’s equally somber lyrical content in which the band pays tribute to those that have paid the ultimate price for the freedom of thousands around the world. More specifically it comes across as paying tribute to those that served and died in World War I. That can be argued as Byro sings, “What is this place across the fields/Where poppies stretch and sway/In Flanders days of war are gone/But memories will remain/Comrades of their different coats/Came to fight and die/From all sides they stood and fought/And fell beneath the sky.” He goes on from here to sing about the fathers and sons who went off to fight and who never came home despite reports of their impending return from both papers and politicians. It is a powerful message that listeners will move listeners of any age. That emotionally moving message is strengthened even more thanks to the song’s somber musical content. The combination of both elements here makes this song one of the most important moments. Together with the likes of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and the album’s title track/opener, all three songs show clearly and collectively just how much Saxon still has in its tank even after nearly forty years. Of course that is not to ignore any of the other eight songs not noted here. Whether for those songs, for the ones directly noted, or all eleven tracks, it can be said that Battering Ram shows Saxon to be a band with plenty left for its fans and for itself. They show the band’s new album to be one more of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums.
Saxon’s latest full length album Battering Ram is the band’s twenty-first full-length studio recording. Considering that this album comes only two years after the release of Sacrifice, and that frequency at which the band has released each of its previous albums, the power behind this album both in regards to its musical and lyrical content is quite the telling statement. It is a statement of the band’s continued talent and drive even after so many years making music and entertaining audiences. This is evident not just in the songs noted here but in each of the album’s eleven offerings. All things considered, it can be said of Battering Ram that its eleven-song, fifty-minute run time makes it one of the best of this year’s new hard rock and metal albums. Battering Ram is available now in stores and online. Saxon is currently touring in support of its new album. It is scheduled to be in Paris, France tomorrow, November 15th. More information on Battering Ram is available online now along with all of the band’s latest tour dates and news at:
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