One of the stalwart acts of the NWOBHM scene and now approaching their fifth decade, SAXON aren’t showing any signs of complacency or of slowing down as they prepare to unleash their 23rd album upon the world which covers not only modern-day affairs but historical accolades too.
Carpe Diem (Seize The Day) most certainly lives up to its name. Seizing your attention from the offset. A grandiose introduction that pierces the veil of time, conjuring imagery of Roman legions across Hadrian’s Wall before the percussive assault begins alongside a war cry from Centurion Biff Byford. The riffs instantly grip you that amalgamates wonderfully with the lyrics here “Carpe Diem. They came they saw, they conquered!” An instant classic, this song will be loved by long time fans and new recruits alike.
Age Of Steam shoots through history to the Industrial Revolution through a highly mechanised and progressive riff and theme throughout. This piece flows like that of a moving train getting faster and faster. Seeing as I come from a town that was heavily impacted by the Industrial Revolution, it is good to see that SAXON also embracing their hometowns industrial heritage too in this song. “Every new invention changed the world. Railways came on iron tracks, crossed the world no turning back.”
The Pilgrimage is much slower paced compared to the previous tracks but nowhere near detracts from its might. From its Gregorian choral intro to a gradual build-up of guitars and drums it does feel like you are joining the pilgrims on their journey and features some wonderful guitar prowess from Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt respectively.
Dambusters is an outright banger of a track, detailing the story of the Lancaster bomber raids over the Ruhr Valley in WW2. “Flying into history, they dropped the bouncing bomb.” This will have you banging your head throughout.
Remember The Fallen is retrospective of our current times and is a tribute to all of those we have lost during the horrendous pandemic that has impacted us across the globe “So many died before their time, to put their lives upon the line”
Super Nova is an all-out melodic power metal attack and has an incredibly catchy chorus that one can imagine fans singing along in a live setting “Supernova, hotter than the sun. Supernova, destruction has begun, Supernova, lighting up the sky, Supernova, the planets turn to die!”
Lady In Grey is an eldritch track straight from British folklore that incorporates symphonic elements and has an eerie presence throughout. Detailing our fascination of the supernatural realm “you catch a glimpse of something, moving in the corner of your eyes” It’s a different direction from the group but it’s very much embraced.
All For One details the escapades of the legendary Three Musketeers and their bond of brotherhood. “Flashing steel, musket flash, blade of honour, powder cask” This track certainly ticks all the boxes!
Living On The Limit the penultimate track shows no sign of the album slowing down in pace whatsoever. If you can imagine that Lemmy wrote a track for SAXON, this would be it. Its no nonsense assault gives you everything and more all within its short run time!
Black Is The Night Is either resplendent of the long winter nights we are currently experiencing, how we have all had to isolate recently, or a foreseen portent of doom from us damaging our planet. It features a sombre and melancholic break partway through which allows you to reflect upon the lyrics “A fight for survival, only the strong will remain, shelter for warmth until the sunrise will come back again” This swansong shifts back into full gear before coming to a triumphant conclusion.
The Barnsley Battalion have undoubtedly created a masterpiece and laid down the gauntlet for this year’s releases. The age of SAXON is still very much present.
Words: Martin White
Carpe Diem will be released 4th February 2022 via Silver Lining Music.
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