Saxon - Into The Labyrinth

Produced by Biff Byford & Charlie Bauerfeind

Both of Saxon's previous studio efforts, Lionheart and The Inner Sanctum, proved popular for different reasons. Lionheart for it's metal sensibilities, The Inner Sanctum for it's straight-ahead rock approach. Here they seem to be trying to strike a middle ground.

Battalions of Steel, the namesake for the coming tour, is a ready-made new concert opener, starting with a symphonic intro before taking on the anthemic nature of Lionheart's title track. In contrast, but also on the anthemic side of things, Live To Rock, in the same way as I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive) from The Inner Sanctum or Rock Is Our Life from Killing Ground, treads the throw-away rock anthem path, as Saxon have done so many times in the past. One of the reasons albums like Metalhead and Lionheart are so popular with certain groups of fans is their lack of those kinds of songs. Their place in the Saxon catalogue is part of what makes Saxon Saxon, but they already have enough of those songs, so this ones does feel rather unnecessary.

Similarly later on Crime of Passion, Demon Sweeney Todd and Protect Yourself could all fit on Lionheart or Metalhead, while Slow Lane Blues, Valley of The Kings and Voice borrow from The Inner Sanctum. But it's where they try something different from both of those that Into The Labyrinth raises it's game. Voice is the first time they do this, keeping the pace slow, adding extra emotion to the song in a similar way to The Great White Buffalo or Requiem (We Will Remember). And again later, although not a new track, with a slide blues version of Coming Home, from Killing Ground.

Into The Labyrinth is twice the album The Inner Sanctum was. Over the course of Unleash The Beast, Metalhead, Killing Ground and Lionheart Saxon had evolved into a razor sharp metal band without losing the rock 'n' roll tendencies that had been with them from the beginning. That metal side to their modern sound has proven to be their best asset, and with more songs in that vein here than the more disposable rock vein they've given themselves another batch of crowd-pleasers for their seemingly endless touring.

“ the anthemic side of things ”

Tracklist: Battalions of Steel / Live To Rock / Demon Sweeney Todd / The Letter / Valley of The Kings / Slow Lane Blues / Crime of Passion / Premonition In D Minor / Voice / Protect Yourselves / Hellcat / Come Rock of Ages (The Circle Is Complete) / Coming Home (Bottleneck Version)

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2009, Albums, Heavy Metal,

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