Sunday, 31 August 2014

CD Review: Saxon, by Saxon (1979)

Saxon's self-titled debut effort helped usher in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, although as an album, it is more quietly competent than dazzling.

The band was still grappling with their talent and the metal movement that would emerge from the shadow of punk. Saxon had just changed their name from Son Of A Bitch and signed with the French label Carrere, and while the debut contains the germs of their future more successful sound, none of the tracks on Saxon emerge as stand-out achievements.

The boys from Barnsley do quickly get down to the business of demonstrating admirable dedication and solid blue collar credentials, revving simple rock'n'roll structures into more metallic and anthemic compositions. Driven by lead singer Biff Byford's distinctively high and sometimes theatrical pitch, Saxon is an honest effort that opens the door to better music. Stallions Of The Highway, a relatively underdeveloped and routine celebration of motorcycles, was the band's biggest success from the album and helped to propel the band to the forefront of the NWBHM movement.

The better material is sprinkled throughout. The opening duo of Rainbow Theme and Frozen Rainbow reveal confident songwriting willing to experiment with beefy structures and careful build-ups. Arriving halfway through the songlist, Judgement Day, at 5:30 in length, is the longest and likely best track on the album, elevated by a signature change at 3:15 that unleashes a marvellous two minute instrumental interlude that builds to a frenzy of sensational shredding by guitarists Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver. Album closer Militia Guard is a hair-in-the-wind drive on the open highway, unwittingly heralding a new era of metal, an era that Saxon helped to create with a modest debut and plenty of good intentions.


Pete "Biff" Byford - Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitars
Graham Oliver - Guitar
Steve Dawson - Bass
Pete Gill - Drums

Songlist (ratings out of 10):

1. Rainbow Theme - 8
2. Frozen Rainbow - 8
3. Big Teaser - 6
4. Judgement Day - 8
5. Stallions Of The Highway - 7
6. Backs To The Wall - 7
7. Still Fit To Boogie - 7
8. Militia Guard - 8

Average: 7.38

Produced and Engineered by John V.

All Ace Black Blog Heavy Metal CD Reviews are here.

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