Album Review: SAXON – Call To Arms

Saxon – Call To Arms

Label: UDR Music/EMI

Release date: September 27, 2011

Thirty-five years after vocalist Biff Byford and guitarist Paul Quinn helped found the metal juggernaut that is Saxon, the band returns with its 19th studio album, Call To Arms.

The leaders of the late 70s, early 80s New Wave of British Heavy Metal remain true to their original vision and sound with this record. Byford ‘s denim and leather voice, one of metal’s more signature throats, is as soaring and edgy as it’s ever been. This keeps the feel of Call To Arms rooted in the band’s iconic past, while Saxon continues to forge the future.

As the song “Surviving Against The Odds” intones, while many bands from Saxon‘s era have attempted to adapt to the ever changing musical muse of trend metal,  Biff and Co. have stayed the course with their own brand of blue-collar heavy metal full of pumping fists, power metal howls and anthemic riffing.

You can take the boys out of the arena but you can’t take the arena out of the boys. Most every song on Call To Arms is built for big stages. From the opener “Hammer of the Gods” to “Afterburner” to “Chasing The Bullet”, track by track this record bulges with huge riffs, rumbling bass and thundering drum work.

“Back In ’79” recalls the band’s classic anthem “Denim and Leather”, while the title track is an epic piece, full of churning power and sonic import.

“Mists Of Avalon” features a very atmospheric vibe due in part to the keyboard work of the legendary Don Airey (Rainbow, Ozzy Osbourne, Judas Priest, Deep Purple).

Airey returns on “When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory)”, which along with “No Rest For The Wicked”, both of which have a more modern metal feel to them. The pair will appear on the soundtrack for the film “Hybrid Theory”.

The guys even throw a nod to Thin Lizzy with “Ballad Of The Working Man”.

For U.S. fans who have had to wait these extra summer months for this record, the band has created a deluxe digital package which includes a seven-track live recording of Saxon‘s Donington 1980 performance.

Call To Arms finds Saxon as commanding and compelling as ever. The wheels of steel are still rolling, and its a sound to behold.

Call To Arms track listing:

1. Hammer Of The Gods
2. Back In ’79
3. Surviving Against The Odds
4. Mists Of Avalon
5. Call To Arms
6. Chasing The Bullet
7. Afterburner
8. When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory)
9. No Rest For The Wicked
10. Ballad Of The Working Man
11. Call To Arms – Orchestral Version

Live At Donington 1980 (remixed and remastered from original multitrack tape)

1. Motorcycle Man
2. Still Fit To Boogie
3. Freeway Mad
4. Backs To The Wall
5. Wheels Of Steel
6. Bap Shu Ap
7. 747 (Strangers In The Night)

Call to ArmsSaxon
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