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Saxon - 'Call To Arms' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/a1/ee/65/1439_saxoncalltoarms_1310589815.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 13, 2011    
 
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One of the metal highlights of 2011.

Saxon's rehabilitation as one of the premier true heavy metal bands was completed in 2010 when they headlined the annual Wacken open air festival in Germany, and a main stage appearance at Download in the U.K... After spending many years in the doldrums, particularly on their home turf in the UK, and the subsequent train wreck that was the Saxon /Harvey Goldsmith TV programme Get Your Act Together in 2007, it's hard to believe just a mere 3 years later Saxon were back at the top of their game once again, being openly adored by the metal masses. So what's changed? Nothing! Apart from the fact that Biff and his merry bunch of minstrels have never stopped believing that they always had 'it'. That indefinable quality that so many bands strive to attain but ultimately fail to achieve, unless you have survived the cut throat slash and burn of the music business for nigh on thirty years. Standing should to shoulder with Byford is long time cohort Paul Quinn, and almost equally long standing drummer Nigel Glockler, plus bassist Nibbs Carter and guitarist Doug Scarratt. Together they have delivered one of the metal highlights of 2011.

'Call To Arms' is exactly that. An album laden to the brim with traditional metal anthems, recorded to be played equally by a 14 year old kid finding his way in the world of music or the 50 odd year old accountant on his way to work in his car risking a brief devil horns flick. Both would give a vicious nod of the head to the opening salvo of 'Hammer or the Gods' - a marvellous testosterone pumping riff monster showcasing all that is good, and indeed all IS good with Saxon. 'Back in '79', complete with fans' gang vocals, truly shows that the band have never forgotten their humble beginnings and steadfast working class roots in northern England by inviting their fans into the studio to participate on the recording. Cut from the same cloth as 'Denim And Leather', the rousing chorus ignites on disc but will absolutely destroy in a live setting. If every band has a stellar moment in their musical career then 'Mists Of Avalon' is to Saxon what 'Stairway To Heaven' was to Zeppelin. Gloriously pompous in a metal sort of way, it is without doubt one of the band's finest moments ever committed to disc (or vinyl, depending on your age). For all that has besieged Saxon during a sometimes glorious but often average past, the resurgence experienced by the band over the past decade is down to in no small part to hard work, determination, belief, and the ability to still deliver clever social commentary for the blue collar worker that they can relate to, understand and take enormous heart from. That a rock band, despite the trappings of fame and success, can still take the time and remember what is was like for them in the days of nine to five, surely must resonate?

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Time marches on, and at times Biff's voice shows signs of strain and a grittier edge than on previous releases, but the one thing that Saxon have in spades is honesty. Honesty wrapped up in thunderous riffs, screaming guitars and extremely well crafted and delivered songs that propel 'Call To Arms' into the top three Saxon albums of all time. 'Call To Arms' is exactly that, traditional heavy metal at its absolute finest. As Biff might say, "show me your hands", and it's easy to imagine 70,000 pairs raised in unison at Download in celebration of a glorious English institution called Saxon. Answer the call....this album DEMANDS it.

Kieran Dargan

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