Saxon released its latest album this week in the form of Carpe Diem. The album, released Friday through Silver Linings Music, came more than three years after the release of Saxon’s then latest album, Battering Ram (2018). The band’s 23rd album (yes, 23rd), it is another offering that the metal masses will appreciate just as much as the band’s established audiences. That is proven through its musical and lyrical content alike. The singles the album has already produced do well to make that clear, and they are just some of the songs that prove that statement. ‘Living on the Limit,’ which closes out the album, also shows how the album’s overall content makes the record engaging and entertaining. It will be discussed shortly. ‘Dambusters,’ which comes early in the album’s 46-minute run, is another example of what makes the record successful. It will be discussed a little later. ‘All For One,’ a late entry to the record, is yet another example of how the album’s content makes it enjoyable. It will also be discussed later. Each song noted is important in its own way to the whole of this album. All things considered, they make the album in whole, one of the best of the year’s new hard rock and metal albums so far.
Carpe Diem, the 23rd album from Saxon, is another impressive offering from the veteran hard rock band. That is proven through its overall content, as its current singles have already shown. They are just some of the content that shows the album’s strength. ‘Living on the Limit,’ the record’s finale, does its own share to show how much the album has to offer. The song’s high-energy musical arrangement blends the band’s familiar power metal leanings with a more modern hard rock influence for a hybrid sound and approach that lends itself just as much to the likes of Judas Priest and Motorhead as to so many current bands who have used them and Saxon as influence for their own music. From the song’s beginning to its end its solid time keeping, its equally rich bass line, vocals, and sharp guitar riffs make the composition a strong finish for the album and an equally clear example of the role that the album’s musical arrangements have on the record’s overall presentation. The energy in the song’s arrangement pairs well with the seeming message in the song’s lyrical theme, making for even more engagement and entertainment.
The seeming lyrical theme featured in ‘Living on the Limit’ is that of making the most of life, even despite everything happening. That is just this critic’s interpretation and should not be taken as the only interpretation. The inference comes as Byford sings in the song’s lead verse, “We want a slice of everything/To see the world we’re living in/Take a chance and take a leap/What we sow is what we reap/Don’t be afraid to ride the storms/Just take the bull by the horns/Living on the limit.” That brief statement speaks volumes. It comes across as encouraging listeners to take that chance in life, to go out and do more, to take risks and live life. From there Byford continues delivering the seeming message as he sings, “All the world is like a stage/Just read the lines and turn the page/We wanna feel adrenaline/Just wanna live and take it in.” This verse presents what seems like a contradictory statement to help deliver the inferred message. That note of just reading the lines and turning the page seems like a metaphorical way to talk about how we all just go through the motions every day even though, as he states further, “We wanna feel adrenaline/Just wanna live and take it in.” This is more of a declarative statement about how we as people want to just live life, not just go through the motions. It pairs so well with that seeming encouragement in the song’s lead verse about taking that chance and doing more in life. The song’s third and final verse continues in similar fashion, furthering the seeming message even more. When it is considered along with the content in the song’s first two verses, the seeming message becomes even more the likely case. To that end, the song’s seeming lyrical theme is proof enough of how this song helps make Carpe Diem a strong album. The positive energy in the song’s musical arrangement pairs with the seeming positive message in the song’s lyrical content to make that even clearer. Keeping all of this in mind, ‘Living on the Limit’ proves to be just one of the songs that shows what makes Carpe Diem successful. ‘Dambusters’ is another notable addition to the album.
‘Dambusters’ stands out in part due to its musical arrangement. The song’s arrangement is a full on Motorhead-esque composition. From the rapid fire guitars and drums to Byford’s very vocal delivery, the whole is a direct leaning toward the aforementioned band. That should come as no surprise as the band has taken on works from Motorhead in the past. The song clocks in at just under three-and-a-half minutes, but in that time, the manner in which the song was composed and performed will leave listeners completely fulfilled, feeling like it is longer in the best way possible. The energy in the performance works well with its lyrical content, which seemingly makes reference to the Royal Air Force’s famed World War II bombing run known as Operation Chastise.
Operation Chastise was conducted in the overnight hours of May 16/17, 1943. The 617 Bomber Command, known as the Dam Busters, destroyed two hydroelectric power stations and breached two dams – the Mohne and Edersee dams – along the Ruhr and Eder vallies. The resulting damage set Germans’ military operations in the area back by months. It also changed the course of bombing raids used by Allied forces in the process.
The seeming story of the well-known bombing operation comes throughout the song, including right from the song’s lead verse in which Byford sings, “Long before the twilight/The planes are standing by/Ground crew gather in the dusk/Low voices asking why/No one knows the target/The mission has begun/Flying into history/To drop the bouncing bomb.” The bombs that were used in Operation Chastise were dubbed “bouncing bombs” because they bounced across water to their targets. They bounced in order to avoid possible interception by torpedo nets and ensure the highest possible velocity when they hit their targets. The bombs were developed by British engineer Barnes Wallis. So again, here is even more proof of the story that the band is telling here. From there, Byford sings about the planes taking off and making their way to their targets and dropping their bombs. He further pays homage to those who returned from the mission and those who did not. Approximately 53 aircrews were lost in the mission and three airmen were captured. This story will appeal to any military history buff and to any casual fan of history. When its appeal pairs with that of the song’s musical arrangement, the whole makes the song even more proof of what makes Carpe Diem another successful offering from Saxon. ‘All For One’ is one more notable addition to the record.
‘All For One’ presents a musical arrangement that is pure vintage power metal. The comparisons here are once again so similar to that of Judas Priest, but also have just as much modern rock influence. The result is yet another composition that while familiar, also boasts its own identity separate from that of the album’s other entries. Keeping that in mind, the arrangement alone offers its own share of appeal. The lyrical content that accompanies the song adds even more to the song’s engagement and entertainment.
The lyrical content featured in ‘All For One’ is notable because of its originality. In the case of this song, the song apparently tells the story of the Three Musketeers. Few if any other acts out there can say they have taken on the classic literary story in song form. The very mention of “You stand by your comrades to the end/Steadfast belief/Your will will never bend” alongside the mentions of flashing steel and musket flashes, protecting the king, and Grenadiers further illustrates that story. Given, Saxon is hardly the first band to take on a literary work. Symphony X, for example, has taken on the story of The Odyssey. Mastodon has taken on the classic tale of Moby Dick in its song, ‘Iron Tusk.’ Heck, even Machine Head has taken on a literary classic in ‘A Farewell to Arms,’ which lifts from author Ernest Hemingway’s timeless novel by the same name. Plenty of other bands’ works could be listed here. The point of this is that even though Saxon’s take on author Alexandre Dumas’ equally timeless story is so enjoyable, and maybe even a way to get people who otherwise might not have read the novel to give it a chance. The band is to be applauded for that and for its own unique originality here. Taking into account the fact that the band has taken on a literary classic and coupling that with the song’s fully engaging and entertaining musical arrangement, the whole makes the song overall yet another of example of what makes the overall album enjoyable. When the song is considered along with the other works examined here and with the rest of the album’s works, the whole makes the overall album another fully successful offering from Saxon.
Saxon’s latest album, Carpe Diem, is another engaging and entertaining offering from the band. Its success comes through its musical and lyrical content alike. The songs examined here make that clear. When they are considered along with the album’s singles and with the rest of the album’s works, the collective makes the overall album one of the year’s best new hard rock and metal albums so far this year.
Carpe Diem is available now through Silver Linings Music. More information on Carpe Diem is available online now along with all of the band’s latest news and more at:
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