Saxon - Sacrifice

UDR Music
Produced by Andy Sneap & Biff Byford

There are very few bands who have been around as long as Saxon and have kept up the frequency of new releases they have managed. Maybe only Motörhead can compare in terms of both prolific output and longevity.

While this has meant that some of the albums have been somewhat by the numbers, Sacrifice is something of a revitalisation for the English veterans. In a similar was to Lionheart in 2004, which was the culmination of the steps forward they made with Metalhead and Killing Ground, this follows the gradual increase in quality across The Inner Sanctum and Call To Arms, but eclipses both of them.

Promised to be their heaviest for a while by the band, following the slightly over-long intro Procession the title track immediately proves that claim to be true. It's fast and aggressive, vocalist Biff Byford sounds pumped, and wailing solos in the second leave no room for doubt that they've gone for the purest metal they can here.

Tracks like Night of The Wolf, Guardians of The Tomb and the ominous Wheels of Terror continue that theme with non-stop muscular riffing and solos under vocals from Byford which hark back to the Unleash The Beast album. Tracks like the slower, slightly more contemplative Walking The Steel are no less heavy, but do serve to break up the unrelenting pace. Also fortunately this time there's no by-the-numbers song about rock (hopefully the band are already content with I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive), Live To Rock, Rock Is Our Life and Just Let Me Rock in their repertoire).

Sacrifice is not without its weak points though. Made In Belfast, despite its immense riffs, is repetitive and gets old quite quickly, Warriors of The Road, about motor racing, does little more than rhyme buzz words from the sport without much cohesion, and main album closer Standing In A Queue is just silly. But these are spread out among the good songs, so their impact is diluted somewhat.

And while it's ridiculous that the digital version of the album gets the exclusive bonus track (Luck of The Draw), the physical version gets a bonus disc of five re-recorded old songs. Just Let Me Rock and Forever Free are straight re-recordings, while Frozen Rainbow and Requiem (We Will Remember) get acoustic versions, and Crusader gets a string section.

Sacrifice is unquestionably Saxon's best album since Lionheart, and the songs will sound devastating in the live arena, where the band are known to give airing to several new songs when touring each new album. With the bonus disc this is an undoubted treat for fans.

“ fast and aggressive ”

Tracklist: Procession / Sacrifice / Made In Belfast / Warriors of The Road / Guardians of The Tomb / Stand Up And Fight / Walking The Steel / Night of The Wolf / Wheels of Terror / Standing In A Queue
Bonus Disc: Crusader (Orchestrated Version) / Just Let Me Rock (Re-Recorded Version) / Requiem (We Will Remember) (Acoustic Version) / Frozen Rainbow (Acoustic Version) / Forever Free (Re-Recorded Version)

Written by Andy Lye
More: 2013, Albums, Heavy Metal,

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