1. Olympus Rising
3. The Secret of Flight
4. Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz)
5. They Played Rock and Roll
7. Sons of Odin
9. A Wizard’s Tale
10. Speed Merchants
11. Roadies’ Song
12. Nosferatu (Raw Version)
Reviewed by Casper of Rohan
The global force of ones misunderstood, prepare to rejoice. Hair, clothes, perhaps denim vests patched with images of Eddie or a screaming metal eagle or metal adornments prompt parents to direct their children to the sidewalk opposite, lest our evil infect offspring. Through misunderstanding, their ears heard only choirs of satanic worship, hell bent to the demise of common values. But as fine leaders of the new wave of British heavy metal prepare to release Thunderbolt, professionals in practice, front line of service and bank clerks the world over, can rip off the shirt and tie to reveal the heavy metal t-shirt beneath and stand proud, united again within the ranks of heavy metal family the world over. This album will throw you straight back to the fury and the thunder of The Judgement Day when Stallions Of The Highway stand with Backs To The Wall as metal Militia Guard and find themselves Still Fit To Boogie.
Who could possibly have known that the self-titled album of 1979 would herald an undeniable and mighty plethora of metal magnificence in no less than twenty two studio albums. The latest of which manifesting before us in 2018, a mere matter of months since the last offering of Battering Ram in 2015, reminds the folks of modern day that Saxon are by no means hanging the helm or stowing the battle axe, and hereby rally the forces yet again to celebrate metal might.
Andy Sneap has again been set the task of production, as with the two collections previous, but this album has reawakened a distinct ferocity that has been less at the fore for the two prior. Always there but not quite as prominent. Perhaps the calm before the storm of old school metal, demonstrative of why the band are still playing, touring, and certainly furiously pounding at the red-hot furnace of metal production.
Thunderbolt brings welcome relief that Biff Byford is unfaltering in his distinctive and powerful delivery, but as The Secret of Flight launches the band collectively into the realms of metal dominance as dueling guitars, pounding percussion, rhythmic majesty and vocal finesse bring back to the fore, why Saxon have been a sensational metal staple for so long. Tracks like Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz) in all its low slung malevolent lurch remind me of how very astonishing and special it is that we can still enjoy bands of this vintage with music that remains equally as exciting as that of decades past. Yes, decades.
They Played Rock And Roll is delivered in the signature style and timing of Motorhead as a tribute to the late Ian Fraser Kilmister and, ultimately Motorhead past members one and all. The voice of Lemmy is beautifully nestled into the track as a reminder that the sounds of Motorhead and all the members, and most of all Lemmy himself, will echo into forever.
Predator is most aptly named indeed with stalking guitar tracks intent on our demise, most appropriate lyrical content with the distinctive demonic growl of Johan Hegg lending a few moments away from Amon Amarth in accompaniment, and the drums hastening heartbeat as the creature attacks. Superb.
Sons Of Odin, Sniper and A Wizards Tale are beautifully sequenced as a reminder of Saxons ability to celebrate their 70’s beginnings and exert their lasting dominance as a capable and contemporary force in heavy metal.
I really don’t know if Biff and the boys spend much time at full throttle around the Isle Of Man but Speed Merchants sure is evidence enough as to why Saxon have spent so much time at Donnington with pedal to the metal.
Roadies Song requires no explanation, but perhaps provides a welcome reminder to fans of the toil endured by the bands faithful crew, keeping the show on the road and the band bringing the glory of the show.
This album is a shining and shimmering celebration of heavy metal in the distinctive style of Saxon soaring high and mighty. An album bearing the fitting and tremendous artwork of Paul Raymond Gregory. And album that sees original members Biff Byford and Paul Quinn along with long serving Doug Scarratt, Nibbs Carter and Nigel Glockler performing many times stronger and more magnificently than we can possibly, or rightfully expect. This album was before release, and remains to this day, a tremendous and most welcome collection providing reason enough for Biff and the boys to rightfully kick down the newcomers with a defiant ‘fuck off’…. Saxon is far from finished with fans of metal. Just sensational. Now wonder Saxon are still cited as inspiration for so many.
You can pre-order Thunderbolt on itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/thunderbolt/1315674177