Splice Magazine

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Saxon – Thunderbolt – Album Review

Saxon – Thunderbolt

Track Listing
Olympus Rising
The Secret of Flight
Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
They Played Rock and Roll
Sons of Odin
A Wizard’s Tale
Speed Merchants
Roadies’ Song
Nosferatu” (Raw Version)

The heavy metal band Saxon has been around for so long they seem to get overlooked as an active player. It might be the fact that they hail from England, and are not as readily accessible to fans in the United States. Even during the eighties, Saxon was not on regular video music rotation, when many bands broke out to superstardom. Saxon achieved their highest Billboard ranking at 133 in 1985, while they were releasing album-after-album which were charting very highly on the UK charts.

It does not come as a surprise they are often listed as a major influence for bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and Anthrax. Saxon, while not considered a thrash band, have a heaviness in their riffs and an overall sound that cements them as a huge player in heavy metal, and their 40-year career is a testament to that.

On album number 22, Saxon absolutely crushes the competition and outdoes those who they have influenced; showing this is not about the past, but rather the future. They pound through every track, creating an opus of instant, modern classics. The album is thematically diverse with most of the songs focusing on fantasy, folklore, and mythology. Detailed lyrics and great stories paint vibrant pictures as the album moves from theme-to-theme.

With the opening instrumental “Olympus Rising” setting up what is to come, the album features hammering anthems such as “Thunderbolt”, “Predator”, “Sniper”, “Speed Merchants”, and “A Wizard’s Tale”. Two melodic, but still plenty heavy tracks include “The Secret of Flight” and “Sons of Odin”. The ominous “Nosferatu” is included as two versions, Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz) and Nosferatu” (Raw Version), with the latter stripping out some of the choir and adding extra instrumentation.

A stand out track on the album is “They Played Rock and Roll”. This song is a tribute to their longtime tour partners and friends, Motorhead. It is a fitting homage and is done in the style of Lemmy and Company. You even hear a beckoning excerpt of Lemmy stating “And We Play Rock and Roll” (They Played Rock and Roll), prior to the guitar solo.

These monsters of heavy metal are keeping the classic metal sound alive and well. Saxon is sounding better than ever, and with an album this well- written and performed, have just released the best album of their career. It sounds like a blast from the past, and that is a great thing!

While most multi-decade bands might keep relying on songs of the past, Saxon is still writing their story. Stay tuned for the 23rd chapter…

 Journalist: Allen Heimberger



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