Saxon Call To Arms

Having formed way back in 1976 in Barnsley, heavy metal band Saxon has had a long and successful career. With 8 top forty and 4 top 10 UK albums in the 1980s, the band has had success in Europe, Japan and USA, selling over 13 million albums worldwide.

The current lineup remarkably includes 4 of the original band members from 1976; Biff Byford (vocals), Paul Quinn (guitar), Nibbs Carter (bass) and Dough Scarratt (guitar). They are joined by Nigel Glockler on drums who began his third and current spell with the band in 2005 having been part of the setup in 19811987 and 19881999. The guest appearance of keyboard player Don Airey Rainbow and Deep Purple) adds a deeper dimension to the sound.

As expected, the album is pure, unadulterated power and energy. From the off with 'Hammer Of The Gods', the clean chord structures, unmistakable strains of Biff Byfords voice and the tight arrangement are there in all their glory. The frenzied guitar break compliments the song perfectly. This opening track sets up the album perfectly. This pattern of sheer power and energy follows on many tracks including the hard, driving 'Surviving Against The Odds', 'Mists Of Avalon' with its quieter, layered intro, the heavy guitar laden 'Chasing The Bullet', the furious 'Afterburner' and the pounding 'No Rest For The Wicked'. All of these relay the classic, hard hitting sound that is expected of the band; the sound fuller with the addition of Airey's keyboards.

Saxon isn't a one dimensional outfit. They can produce some complex moments as well. 'Back In '79' has a slower tempo and heavy, chunky chords to compliment the bluesy feeling, almost anthemic chorus; the song that is just made to play as an encore. This 'anthemic' phrasing and arrangement is best experienced with the album title track 'Call To Arms' (and of course the orchestral version of the same song). The quieter intro and softer vocals eventually relent to the heavy, pounding chorus in an epic crescendo of sound.

There's one little gem hidden amongst all this; 'Ballad Of The Working Man' has a more lucid guitar sound an the rockier, slightly less heavy chords are a nice diversion from the power surrounding it.

You know what you're going to get with Saxon and, again, they haven't disappointed. This is a modern take on some classic styles, done in a way that only Saxon can do it; an album for all metal heads.