SAXON - Thunderbolt
February 24, 2018, 6 months ago
For the last decade, this venerable UK institution has delivered a new album, without fail. While it's technically been a little longer, since Battering Ram, they've been touring more than ever. No small feat for a band of this vintage, with Biff Byford (67) Paul Quinn (66) and Nigel Glockler (a 65 year old drummer, who had brain surgery since the last recording!) Truth be told, lately each studio album has added one or two songs (at most) to the setlist (and strictly for that tour), so it's doubtful any of Thunderbolt will survive into the next decade. The lone exception would be the ode to Biff's old running kinship with Lemmy, poignantly entitled “They Played Rock And Roll”, which not only sounds like a Motorhead outtake, but features Lem reciting the line which opened their live show. Sadly, most of Saxon's urgency, this time around, is restricted to this burner and one other.
Although there are a dozen tracks included, “Olympus Rising” is a short intro to the lively, Greek mythology based, title track and the last one is an alternate/reworked (rawer) version of “Nosferatu” that appears elsewhere in the running order. Sticking with the Ancient Greek motif, “The Secret Of Flight” references Icarus, Byford's voice soaring, in its own right. The orchestrated “Nosferatu” is the grandest composition, with lots of elements they won't be able to reproduce onstage, without samples/backing tapes. Tend to enjoy my Saxon songs a little more street credible. Amon Amarth vocalist Johan Hegg bellows alongside Byford on the pounding “Predator”. Can see this being reprised at a festival (both bands play), somewhere in Europe, this summer. More myths, although this round, it's the Norse (maybe Hegg's collaboration had more of an influence than planned). On the mid-tempo “Sons Of Odin”. Although the rhythm feels more like Judas Priest, “Sniper” offers some tasty lead work from Quinn. British storytelling, i.e. Merlin and Arthurian legend, forms the backbone of “A Wizard's Tale”, while Formula One sound effects greet the, ahem, racing “Speed Merchants”. Always best at real life material, the concluding “Roadie's Song” is standard Saxon.