Ranking SAXON: Worst to First, the Studio Albums

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10. Metalhead (1999)

Saxon ended the century with one of its finest records, Metalhead. The band’s 14th studio effort has a fantastic Egyptian flavor to it on the title cut as well as the songs “Are We Traveler’s in Time,” and “Prisoner.” The album is packed with one crushing track after another. “What Goes Around,” “Song of Evil,” and “All Guns Blazing” are riff-ready burners. While the songwriting is not as impactful overall as its predecessor Unleash the Beast, or those that followed it into the new millennium, Metalhead offers plenty of weighty riffs, and Byford remains a vocal warhorse.

9. Into the Labyrinth (2009)

After back to back albums of sonic brilliance with The Inner Sanctum and Lionheart, Saxon diversified on its 18th studio effort. Into the Labyrinth offers many cinematic moments. Opening tracks, “Battalions of Steel” and “Live to Rock” recall the band’s glory years of the 80s (with modern embellishments). Meanwhile “Demon Sweeney Todd” and “Valley of the Kings” add a grandiose and theatrical flair. Of all Saxon‘s albums released in the aughts, Into the Labyrinth is at once more diverse than the others while also a bit bipolar; yet both sides of its personality are exciting to behold. Some might argue the album is a touch too polished, but I believe it works in the context of this record.

8. Unleash the Beast (1997)

From ’97’s release of Unleash the Beast forward, Saxon had completely freed itself of the remnants of a stagnant and disjointed decade. The band’s sound began to diversify, adopting some elements of power metal. This is the studio debut for guitarist Doug Scarratt who replaced the departed Graham Oliver. This may explain the punch of energy and explosiveness evident from the opening title track, and displayed across tracks like “Terminal Velocity,” “Circle of Light,” and “Bloodletter.” Mid-tempo tracks like “Thin Red Line” and “The Preacher” give the album a nice balance. The album is neck and neck with Metalhead as the band’s best offering of the 90s.

7. Power & the Glory (1983)

With Power & the Glory, Saxon issues the last of what might be considered the band’s seminal NWOBHM albums. While not as impressive as the group’s triptych of Strong Arm of the Law, Denim and Leather, and Wheels of Steel, there is still plenty of meat on the bone. The title cut which opens the album is a classic anthem while the closer, “The Eagle Has Landed,” revels in the band’s bluesy roots (even if it does cop a bit from Judas Priest’s “Victim of Changes”). The album marks the debut for Nigel Glockler behind the drum kit, and his presence elevates the band’s sound.

6. The Inner Sanctum (2007)

The Inner Sanctum has a dark quality to it without treading to far from the band’s signature sound. Album opener, “State of Grace” offers some Gregorian chants and is a bit of an outlier in terms of style. The band kicks into overdrive on tracks like “Need for Speed” and “Let Me Feel your Power,” tossing down the gauntlet for newcomers and contemporaries alike. “Red Star Falling” and “Atila the Hun” showcase the band’s epic side, while “I’ve Got to Rock (to Stay Alive),” and “Going Nowhere Fast” celebrate the band’s knack for crafting fist-pumping anthems.

  1. Sebastian Norling Rauhala says

    The track on The Inner Sanctum is ”Red Star Falling”, not ”Red Star Rising”. More anti-communism than pro-communism as the typo suggest.

    1. Rustyn Rose says

      Ha! Thanks for the catch, brother!

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