• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024


ByTaylor T Carlson

Jan 26, 2024
HELL, FIRE AND DAMNATION is the 26th studio album from Saxon.

Saxon’s been doing their thing since the glory days of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Fronted by vocalist Biff Byford, the group has had many highs and lows. From their early raw years to an attempt to penetrate the American market in the 1980s, to returning to a harder and heavier sound, they’ve been everywhere and done everything. The group, once known as Son of a Bitch, has been active in some shape or form for nearly half a century.

Even in recent years, Saxon has still been active, recording albums and touring. This has included a pair of covers albums, and tour dates that saw guitarist Paul Quinn (the band’s remaining classic member other than Biff) retiring from touring and being replaced by Diamond Head’s Brian Tatler for live concerts. Not many bands from the NWOBHM are still active, let alone still touring and recording music. How many other bands from this legendary musical movement have put out 26 albums? For that matter, how many bands, period, have put out that many?

Ever since Saxon aborted plans to penetrate the American market and just focus on making their music their way (a smart move in the eyes of this headbanger), they’ve been consistent and musically reliable. They’re one of those groups like AC/DC; nothing that comes out is drastically different from what came before, but the group is persistent and still manages to give their legions of fans a quality package each time around. Too many groups out there are content to just make their livings as nostalgia acts, not putting out new material. Saxon deserves credit for sticking to their guns, giving us the old and the new alike on the live stage, and recording new records that, perhaps most importantly, are actually good.

I put on HELL, FIRE AND DAMNATION expecting another Saxon album that wouldn’t necessarily shock or surprise me, but would at the very lease, satiate my hunger for heavy metal. I’m happy to report that this album did that… and then some. In fact, this longtime fan believes that the latest effort from the aging British rockers may be their strongest studio effort since 1981’s seminal classic, DENIM AND LEATHER. And that’s no small feat.

Saxon is firing on all cylinders this time around. It’s easily the most powerful and inspired performance from the band in years, with catchy hooks, memorable songs, and powerful lyrics. Subject matter ranges from the Battle of Hastings to the Roswell UFO incident, showing just how widely inspired these guys are. Biff just turned 73, and it still has a more powerful voice than most rock and roll men half his age. And the group’s resident shredders are as reliable as ever, not to mention a powerhouse rhythm section with drummer Nigel Glockler behind the skins, as ferocious as ever. “Madam Guillotine,” with its infectious and memorable chorus, may even be my new favorite Saxon song. “1066” is no slouch either, telling an epic historical tale with unrivaled vigor and some of Mr. Byford’s best vocal work.

I expected another strong package from Saxon… but I wasn’t expecting to get their strongest studio effort since DENIM AND LEATHER! 2024 has barely begun, and Saxon has already served up a worthy contender for the year’s best heavy metal album. If you’re a fan of the group or even just metal in general, this is a must-hear release worthy of your time and then some.


By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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