Saxon album "Thunderbolt" Reviewed By Matt James From Blacktop Mojo
Written by: Matt James from Blacktop Mojo. You can hear my interview with Matt on Revelator #188
Founding members of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Saxon, have returned once again with their 22nd (no you did not read that wrong) studio album, Thunderbolt. While I have never delved into much of their back catalog, if you follow hard rock or metal at all you’ve probably heard of Saxon at some point. The longevity and influence of this band is incredible, and Thunderbolt absolutely continues the legacy of this great band.
The overture, “Olympus Rising” opens up the record with the atmospheric sound of warlike drums, edgy guitars, and ominous chanting that set the stage for the album’s title track, “Thunderbolt” where we are introduced to the seemingly ageless soaring vocals of Biff Byford. One of my favorites, lyrically, on the record, “Thunderbolt”, breaks out some Greek mythology and talks about the epic battle between the gods and the Titans. The war is brought to life by impeccable dueling guitar work by Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt and thunderous fills by Nigel Glockler.
The next standout on this album is, “They Played Rock and Roll”, an impressive tribute to the band’s fallen brothers in Motörhead. If I weren’t staring at Saxon’s name on the album cover, I’d have thought I was listening to The Loudest Band on Earth before Byford’s vocal kicks in. This song perfectly encapsulates the sound of the band’s 1979/1980 tour mates and also gives a touching tip of the cap to the Godfather of heavy music with the addition of a clip of Lemmy saying the famous phrase, “We are Motörhead, and we play rock and roll.”
Other highpoints on Thunderbolt include “Predator” and “Sons of Odin”. “Predator”, by far the heaviest song on the album, features a unique duel vocal by Biff Byford and Amon Amarth’s Johan Hegg. The contrast between a classic metal power vocal and a death metal growl was something I haven’t ever heard. Especially not one on top of the other, but it was definitely a welcome mix. “Sons of Odin” is a high powered roaring tune about Vikings doing what Vikings do: take over sh*t. This song will make anyone want to burst through a cinder block wall and charge straight into battle.
All in all Saxon continues its resounding legacy with yet another great metal album. As an inexperienced listener in the NWOBHM genre, I would unquestionably recommend this album as a good jumping off point.
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