Graham Clark, Music Features Writer

Albums: Saxon Hell, Fire And Damnation

Saxon - Hell, Fire And Damnation

The Prophecy; Hell, Fire and Damnation; Madame Guillotine; Fire And Steel; There’s Something In Roswell; Kubla Khan And The Merchant Of Venice; Pirates Of The Airwaves; 1066; Witches Of Salem; Super Charger.

Silver Lining Music: 5054197707087

When internationally renowned actor Brian Blessed OBE delivers a proclamation for the opening track, The Prophecy, expectations are automatically high for Saxon’s latest album.

Hell, Fire, and Damnation is an album that sees Saxon investigate all areas of history and mystery amidst ten of their most confident and thunderously powerful songs yet. Singer Biff Byford delivers his richest vocals in years; Nigel Glockler and Nibbs Carter on drums and bass, respectively, lay down the rhythmic law with bombastic power; and the guitars of Doug Scarratt and new guitarist Brian Tatler (Diamond Head) are fresh and fiery, a perfect complement to each other, carrying an overall energy and fury.

Overall, the new album sounds heavier and harder yet still melodic, which is demonstrated to perfection on the album title track. Saxon fans know what to expect from the band; none will be disappointed with any of the tracks on the album.

Madame Guillotine takes the pace down, and Byford advises the listener not to “lose their head." The track continues in the Saxon tradition of the dual guitars, with a soulful vocal from Byford set against a great rock track.

There's a furious tribute to actual heavy metal in the denim and leather-coated super-sprint Fire and Steel, a wonderful nod to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's birth in the electric mid-pace Pirates of the Airwaves, but maybe the true treasure amidst the jewels is There's Something in Roswell, with the sort of expansive groove and embrace that deserves to be played in arenas—venues the band will be playing on the March tour. The song details the alleged 1947 crash of a UFO in New Mexico.

The historical theme continues in 1066 and Witches of Salem, which highlights Byford’s interest in the subject.

Even though this is their twenty-fourth studio album, Saxon still sounds hungry, fresh, energetic, and relevant, unlike some of their peers who have been confined to history.