Thursday 8 February 2018

Album Review: SAXON - Thunderbolt

Saxon - Thunderbolt

01. Olympus Rising
02. Thunderbolt
03. The Secret of Flight
04. Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz)
05. They Played Rock and Roll
06. Predator
07. Sons of Odin
08. Sniper
09. A Wizard's Tale
10. Speed Merchants
11. Roadies' Song
12. Nosferatu (Raw Version)

Thunderbolt is Saxon's 22nd studio album. Wow! I've been following them since I was a teenager, have most of their studio albums, and have seen them play live many times. Whilst their albums are all fairly consistent, some have been better than others, and I'm pleased to say that Thunderbolt is a really good one.

After the intro Olympus Rising, opener Thunderbolt is a strong metal song and easily identifiable as Saxon. My only issue was that it sounds a little 'by numbers'. I wouldn't expect Saxon to deviate from their classic, traditional Heavy Metal sound, but I was hoping that the first single would be something really killer, as opposed to being just another really good Saxon song. Fortunately, I was worrying about nothing, as the next track The Secret of Flight is a magnificent slice of Heavy Metal, and got me genuinely excited about hearing the rest of the album.

This jump upwards in song writing quality is matched again by the mid-paced, operatic, epic Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz), and is then matched by the uptempo rocker, a nice tribute to Motorhead, They Played Rock and Roll.

Predator is a dark grooving beast, where Biff Byford's regular vocal style is complimented by some Extreme Metal growls. It's not what I'd have expected to hear on a Saxon record but works really well, and these subtle changes in style keep the album sounding fresh and interesting.

Thunderbolt is packed with great songs. Other highlights include the fast-paced Sniper and the fun Hard Rocker Roadie's Song.

After all these years, Saxon are still one of the best Heavy Metal bands in the world, and Thunderbolt is one of their strongest albums in years. I'd go as far as to say that it's their best since their 1997 masterpiece Unleash The Beast.

Producer Andy Sneap is key to that amazing 'classic yet contemporary' sound that makes Saxon still sound so relevant and vital. Biff Byford's voice is in great shape, and he sounds re-vitalised on this album. In fact, the whole band have brought their A-game, and have released something way beyond my expectations.


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