Saxon - Thunderbolt

Saxon - Thunderbolt

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(CD/LP, Silver Lining Music, 2018)

There are a lot of things to mention to back up the claim that SAXON is an extremely consistent band as far as the album-releasing, the touring and, most importantly, the music making go. It is borderline shocking to check the band’s back-catalogue and realize that a new album is released in almost every two years, with lots of touring in between. Again, the saying ‘the more the merrier’ does not apply in music, but in the case of these fine Brits, this is exactly the case. I may not remember how many times I have seen SAXON live but I do remember that each and every time was absolutely awesome. In fact, the weak performances are the supporting ones but only because there is not enough time to fit all the songs you’d like to hear. With all this in mind, “Thunderbolt” is the title of SAXON’s album number #23 and in case you are looking signs of wear or tear, you’ll be disappointed...

However, if you are looking for the guitar-driven NWOBHM SAXON have been delivering all these years, then with “Thunderbolt” you're in the right place. Passing by the “Olympus Rising” intro (I am sure this will be the opening tune before hitting the stage), comes the album’s title track, kicking the door down with what sounds like old-school SAXON. I mean, the energy coming from the guitars with the “Princess Of The Night” vibe on the rhythm section will check all the boxes on the quality control sheet for British-born and raised Heavy Metal. Biff sings like a teenager (check his high-pitched scream before the solo) with a solid voice that seems oblivious of the years that have past. Yeah, this is ‘SAXON 101’ with an absolutely killer twist being the double guitar harmonies near the end. Aside from the straightforward Heavy Metal, SAXON are also known for putting together story-telling and epic tunes, and in this case “The Secret Of Flight” and “Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)” do this trick. The former has an amazing chorus with killer riff that pair with Biff’s catchy and melodic vocal lines. The latter has a more dramatic tone painted by the nice keyboard melodies that remain in the background supporting the theatrical atmosphere, while prepping the way for Biff lower-register story-telling singing. The first surprise of the album comes after the in-your-face Rock ‘n’ Roller “They Played Rock And Roll” which should become obvious to what band is dedicated to; if you don’t recognize the voice just before the solo, then your Metal education is non-existent... So, the surprise comes during the first seconds into “Predator”; there are deep growls here and I am sure you understand that they don’t belong to Biff’s throat. Yeah, for this one SAXON teamed up with AMON AMARTH’s Johan Hegg and created this ultra-heavy headbanger with some serious double-bass drum action. The guitar solo and the riffs that follow are amazing and lead to a deep Viking growl by the bearded singer - just awesome! It is rare to see bands with such an established sound like SAXON trying new things that actually work.

Listening to “Thunderbolt”, my mind ventured over albums like “Solid Ball Of Rock” or even “Crusader” in the way it is structured around the straightforward guitars and the catchy vocal melodies. Sure, this is SAXON’s MO but songs like the epic “Sons Of Odin”, the in-your-face “Sniper” or the fast-paced “Speed Merchants” that although has a modern finishing touch, the racing car theme made me think of “Wheels Of Steel”, complete the connection with the older albums. Even the rather simple “Roadies’ Song” has a “And The Bands Played On” feel that I cannot get out of my mind.

Once again, SAXON managed to meet the high expectations they have set for themselves decades ago. “Thunderbolt” has all the elements that made this band a household name in Metal, but also has some fresh ideas which are bright signs that SAXON will try new stuff and will make it work, no matter what. Now, off to catch the Brits on the road!





01. Olympus Rising
02. Thunderbolt
03. The Secret Of Flight
04. Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)
05. They Played Rock And Roll
06. Predator
07. Sons Of Odin
08. Sniper
09. A Wizard’s Tale
10. Speed Merchants
11. Roadies’ Song
12. Nosferatu (raw version)


Paul Quinn - Guitars
Biff Byford - Vocals, Lyrics
Nigel Glockler - Drums
Nibbs Carter - Bass
Doug Scarratt - Guitar