Two years on from Sacrifice – and less than a year on from the serious illness that could have derailed the career of drummer Nigel Glockler – Saxon unleash their 21st studio album upon the world with the aptly titled Battering Ram. Much like Motörhead, Saxon have been on a rich run of form over the past ten years and the good news is that with this album their great form continues!
There’s an undeniable comfort in knowing what you’re going to get with a new Saxon album and that’s top class, honest, no frills (but plenty of thrills), melodic heavy metal. The album starts in bullish form with the explosive title track, an ode to the headbanging hordes that fill concert halls around the world and it’s safe to say that there is never a dip in quality amongst the 9 steel-shaking songs that follow. You could safely pick any track at random, be it the hammer horror-esque “The Devils Footprint“, the Deep Purple on steroids of “Destroyer” or the chest-beating machismo of “Top Of The World” and intense metal pleasure is 100% guaranteed. However, special mention must go to “Kingdom Of The Cross”, which -in typical Saxon fashion – takes the side of the everyday working man, and in this case, those who died in their thousands on the killing grounds of Flanders. The song is part poem, part ballad and a poignant, beautiful tribute to those that died during the Great War and a track to rival the glories of “Broken Heroes” from the underrated Innocence Is No Excuse.
Battering Ram sees each member of the band in the form of their lives with Nigel Glockler acting as the glue that holds it all together. With an unfussy style which suits Saxon perfectly he can still be a percussive demon when needs be. Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrett are a guitar duo that never get enough credit and they riff and solo like absolute lunatics from beginning to end – just check out “Hard And Fast” where they trade one blistering solo for another -while Biff Byford remains a metal talisman, his commanding presence steering Saxon into ever heavier waters with a voice that appears ageless.
After 39 years, Saxon still have a ferocious hunger and passion for their craft that puts most bands to shame and they remain proud standard bearers for the music we love. Unlike Iron Maiden, Saxon have not disappeared up their own collective arse but have released another modern day classic and not a tedious snooze fest like Book Of Souls. Battering Ram simply reaffirms Saxon’s position as the best British heavy metal band in operation.
Long live metal, long live Saxon. 9/10