Saxon
Wheels of Steel


4.0
excellent

Review

by Matthijs van der Lee USER (219 Reviews)
January 8th, 2010 | 42 replies | 9,980 views


Release Date: 1980 | Tracklist

Review Summary: She's got WHEEEELS, WHEEEEEEELS OF STEEL!

2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Sadly forgotten in the ocean of heavy metal that came with and after them, Saxon were one of the forerunners of the famous British New Wave of Heavy Metal. A few years before now world-famous acts like Iron Maiden were around releasing their material, the band was already quite active. They hit their peak quite early, after which their popularity steadily shrunk. In the early 80’s, they released their consecutive releases Wheels of Steel and Strong Arm of the Law, both of which are perfect indications of their early sound. Of these two, Wheels of Steel is the better, and has remained Saxon’s best record, despite only being their second. It cemented their position into 80’s metal immediately, and any fan of the period dare not go without it.

Saxon’s approach has always been simple. Not bothering with being technical or pretentious, the Yorkshire quintet had always wisely chosen appeal over anything else. That they helped shape the foundations of the NWOBHM is not difficult to hear: harmonized twin lead guitar, dominant melodic riffs and vocals, all the necessary features are there. Saxon’s strength, especially in their early period, relies on both their simplistic approach and lead section. While the rhythm section fails to stand out in any kind of way, the appeal of Oliver’s and Quinn’s lead guitar and Byford’s vocals is gigantic. Churning out one catchy riff and remarkable solo (which are the only moments when the guitarists show that they are definitely skilled) after another, the guitar assault is never a disappointment. The vocals, however, are what took Saxon to a higher level. Byford’s charismatic voice can surpass most metal vocalists from the movement, if not period. The remarkable fact about his performance is that while he sings in a relatively restrained manner, the power his voice emits his amazing, especially on prime cuts such as Strangers in the Night or the title track.

Speaking of which, those two tracks are also the guitarists’ best moments. Strangers in the Night is a more melodic highlight, showcasing some insanely catchy high-pitched riffs, but the title track is even better. While its main riff is basically repeated throughout the whole song with the exception of a solo, it is so huge it doesn’t matter. The song could very well be where Saxon best showed full realization of their approach.

But that is not it for highlights. From the pounding opener Motorcycle Man to the ballad Suzie Hold On, every song has its own charm, despite the approach being generally the same. Simply enough, Wheels of Steel is an essential get for any 80’s metal fan. Sadly enough, the name Saxon has since long sunk into oblivion, causing this wonderful work to be too overlooked. Do not let that deter you, for it is essential in the fine world of heavy metal.



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user ratings (151)
Chart.
4.1
excellent
other reviews of this album
Mike Stagno EMERITUS (3.5)
...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Nagrarok
January 8th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Did this sort of randomly, probably not my best work, but Saxon needs some more love, especially this album.

EVedder27
January 8th 2010



6088 Comments


Good work. Any new discog ideas?

Nagrarok
January 8th 2010



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, yes. Black Sabbath is coming up, but I'm taking my time with that one. Want to be satisfied with the entire set before I start posting. The first 8, that is. I'll see where I go from there, but I aim to do all since the band is pretty popular and many of their albums have no or average reviews. In the meantime I don't plan to do much reviewing.

METALLEDDIE91
January 8th 2010



3 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fantasic review man! ;).... and what a corker this album is! 4/5 also.

LepreCon
January 9th 2010



3591 Comments


Good review, Saxon definitely need more love on this site

BigHans
January 20th 2010



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great job on an under-rated band. The riff on the title track is absolutely fucking MONSTROUS, yet simple. Great album.

Nagrarok
June 8th 2011



8169 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

These guys should be supporting Maiden, too bad.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
June 8th 2011



19973 Comments


Such an awesome album.

BigHans
June 22nd 2011



26455 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

rules hard, jammed this last night

TheNotrap
August 21st 2011



7981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Wheels of Steel is definitely one of the most classic NWOBHM records. Motorcycle Man, Stand Up and Be Counted, 747 (Strangers in the Night), Wheels of Steel or Suzie Hold On are great songs.

13themount
November 27th 2011



173 Comments


I like this more than I did back in the day. I like Saxon more now than Iron Maiden; they seemed to have stayed true, while IM have become tiresome. Saxon are much underated.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
November 28th 2011



19973 Comments


Saxon rule hard. Not quite as hard as Maiden though.

TheNotrap
November 28th 2011



7981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Agreed.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
November 28th 2011



19973 Comments


m/

fulgrim
January 12th 2012



1542 Comments


m/

fulgrim
January 12th 2012



1542 Comments


Maiden > Priest > Saxon

All rule though.

TheNotrap
January 12th 2012



7981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

NWOBHM ftw
m/

METALFACE666
May 5th 2012



172 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

rules

Inveigh
June 29th 2012



24793 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Maiden > Priest > Saxon


don't forget Diamond Head and Angel Witch

Titan
September 27th 2012



4799 Comments


at least this and strong arm should have had more exposure........great band



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