5. Sacrifice (2013)
Despite some low moments for Saxon throughout their lofty career, over the last two decades, the NWOBHM heroes have been one of the most consistent bands in metal. Sacrifice, the group’s 20th studio effort is a dynamic display of the band’s sonic prowess. From tight and relevant songwriting to Byford’s stentorian vocal attack, to the insanely endless onslaught of memorable riffs and catchy melodies, to the bruising and clockwork rhythms of Carter and Glockler, Sacrifice is Saxon at its vintage yet modern best. The title track is a beast, and “Made in Belfast” is among the band’s best works, while “Warriors of the Road” is Motorhead-tinged ripper.
4. Lionheart (2004)
Lionheart could subjectively be considered Saxon‘s greatest sonic achievement at its point of release and conception. I could, with no qualm, slide this record into the first place slot on this list.The band’s 16th studio effort found a grand blend between its bluesy working man ethos, and a modern progressive, power metal direction they began flirting with on 97’s Unleash the Beast. With Lionheart, Saxon managed to bridge old and new into something inspired and exciting. It marks a new level of excellence in their career that they continue to maintain to this day. The amount of memorable riffs delivered by Quinn and Scarratt is astounding.
3. Strong Arm of the Law (1980)
Saxon‘s second studio album, and the second of their albums released the same year, Strong Arm of the Law picked up where Wheels of Steel left off. The album offered an arsenal of instant metal anthems that are as headbanging and timeless including; “Dallas 1 P.M.,” “Heavy Metal Thunder,” “20,000 Feet,” and the title cut. Of the band’s big three releases, this album is probably the least powerful of the bunch, yet it still packs a might wallop. Technically it may not be better than some of the albums already covered, but because of its place in the history of Saxon and metal history, it can go no lower.
2. Wheels of Steel (1980)
This is the first of Saxon‘s triptych of seminal albums, and a key building block in the foundation of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Arguably this album could just as easily be in first place on this list, as each of the top 3 ere essential to the Saxon story and the history of heavy metal. Wheels of Steel is the band’s second album, but the first to identify a signature sound that has remained a hallmark for the band over 40 years. The title track, “Motorcycle Man,” and “747 (Strangers in the Night)” remain concert staples to this day. Technically it may not be better than some of the albums already covered, but because of its place in the history of Saxon and metal history, it can go no lower.
1. Denim and Leather (1981)
Whether Denim and Leather is in fact Saxon‘s greatest album of all time is certainly worthy of debate. However, you would be hard pressed to argue that it is not the band’s most notable work of NWOBHM history. The title track alone is an anthem for the ages, and songs like “Princess of the Night,” along with “And the Bands Played On,” are metal masterpieces that remain timeless. This record is the one that put Saxon on the metal map along side Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. While the band never attained the same commercial success, one cannot discount this album’s influential status alongside the likes of British Steel and Killers.