Hell, Fire and Damnation
Silver Lining Music
Pioneers and veterans; that's some mighty credentials right there, but SAXON are both. Since their first release in 1979 (Wheels Of Steel) right up until this release (due Jan '24). This will be their 24th studio album (I'm not including Live albums or compilation features). They are a prolific band releasing an album on average every couple of years. Are they still relevant, fresh and releasing good music; damn right they are. Hell, Fire and Damnation is an album filled with quality and performed by a band in their prime. The production (co-produced by Biff Byford and Andy Sneap) is superb, clear, tight and every instrument is perfectly captured. Filled with great riffs, song structures, melodies and a great vocal performance from Biff Byford this album showcases Heavy Metal at it's finest with songs destined to get those fists in the air and crowd singalongs aplenty in venues across the globe.
From the atmospheric intro "The Prophecy" with it's spoken intro by Brian Blessed to the razor sharp riffs of the title track (out now for everyone to hear) you know that this is going to be one hell of an album. The riffs are delivered by the guitar team of Doug Scarratt and Brian Tatler who undoubtedly may lay claim to being the finest guitar pairing in this genre of heavy metal; their playing throughout this album is superb. Next up is my personal favourite on this album "Madame Guillotine", with its bass intro leading into a great driving riff, simplistic but so damn head nodingly; Biff's vocal delivery is superb and the chorus is a singalong waiting to happen. As throughout this album Biff's lyrics are stories dealing with a range of stories and fables throughout history. With a guitar solo that really grabs you this song is sure to become a fan favourite of the future. "Fire and Steel" picks up the pace with some excellent drumming by veteran drummer Nigel Glockler driving along this song about heavy metal.
Conspiracy theories are dealt with in "There's something In Roswell" a mid tempo groove driven song which is going to be a live favourite for certain with it's chorus which grabs your ears and will bounce around inside your head long after you've listened to it. "Kubla Khan and the Merchant of Venice" is full of guitar ear worm riffs and melodies and a fantastic pair of lead guitar work. "Pirates of The Airwaves" is a nod to the days of pirate radio stations which were illegal but the place to hear the best up and coming bands; a sort of pre-Podcast era if that's the correct way of putting it. Driven along by a groove laden riff held together by the solid Bass playing of Gibbs Carter and some more infectious vocal lines by Mr. Byford. "1066" deals with the Norman invasion of England by William The Conqueror and is a mid paced rocker with it's lyrics telling the story of the invasion itself. "Witches Of Salem" deals with the witch hunts starting with some screams and then a great blues beat drives the song along superbly; with yet more superb lead playing in this song. "Super Charger" see's SAXON leaving the listener on a victorious high with it's catchy chorus and glorious riffs.
With a line up this good the future for SAXON is looking good, This album is a great Heavy Metal album from a long standing band prolific in song writing and still delivering the goods.
Check out our interview with the band here.
Meathook Mike, HMS