Saxon
Thunderbolt


3.0
good

Review

by Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (263 Reviews)
February 22nd, 2018 | 33 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: (old) New Wave of British Heavy Metal…

Forty years from now, what do you think you’ll be doing" What kind of person will you be" Will you still even exist" We can only imagine as to the where, what, when and how but when it comes down to the finer detail we simply will not know. Personally, I’d like to think that Saxon got asked these very questions almost four decades ago and answered simply: “we’ll be Saxon”.

It’s a reward unto itself just how the longevity of Saxon remains to this day, especially considering that Thunderbolt is this British band’s twenty-second studio record. Since the 70’s this metal workhorse has been churning out banging tracks, never straying far from their formulaic song-writing structure endearing fans with Saxon’s version of a head-banging good time with all the typical lyrical cheese that came with it. While bands within the same description of “new wave” easily outweighed Saxon on the popularity scale (the main culprits being Iron Maiden and Def Leppard), this little Barnsley act remained, consistently releasing album after album. Sure, the usual issues of a band with such a career span surfaced from time to time and a revolving door of members followed suit, changing the band’s signature sound to something more mainstream and then again their original heaviness – for better and worse. Good ol’ Biff Byford and guitarist Paul Quinn stayed steady to Saxon’s course and while the guys are enjoying their sixties, Thunderbolt is as electrifying as you’d expect from a seasoned band doing the rounds on their twenty-second release even as the guys’ hair whitens and their leather jackets fade.

Thunderbolt is a no frills, staple display of what “new wave of British heavy metal” has to offer. The only issue is that “new” is no longer new at all, relying on what made Saxon such a premier act ‘back in the day’. For years the formula has been the same; punching riffs, simple four beat timings and solid musicianship. For the die-hard fans it’s the album you would expect… and not much else.

For what it’s worth Thunderbolt makes the most of a shorter run time, keeping things simple and honest. A short introductory piece leads into a typical Saxon riff-fest full of some of the most practiced and tight sounding string work to hit the shelves so early in 2018. At times the lead works found in the album’s title track are gorgeous ear-melters, if only marred by Byford’s typical evenly cheesed vocal passages. It can’t be helped when lyrically Byford ties himself to the likes of Olympus, warring gods and Merlin/King Arthur sagas – but that’s not exactly news to the Saxon fans. Pleasantly is the featured effort of Amon Amarth front-man Johan Hegg who growls his melodies over Byford’s “Predator”. It’s clearly not the perfect harmony match but the gravel behind the typical unchanging vocal style of Biff adds to the track, diversifying the album. Weirdly enough the album’s true highlight comes in “They Played Rock and Roll”; a sung, high octane tribute to Saxon’s long-time touring partners and brothers Motorhead. Byford takes the obvious lyrical direction in telling a tale of how Lemmy and co. spent their lives on the road (“falling asleep with the sun”). A quick sample of a live Motorhead show helps bring the nostalgia of Lemmy’s signature sung growl back for the fans and in parts Byford even manages to emulate the vocal timing of his fallen (musical) brother, allowing this nostalgia to bend on the listeners’ imagination and in turn hear the mighty Motorhead again.

Overall credit needs to be given where and when it’s due. Saxon may be one of metal’s most long-standing acts and Thunderbolt stands as a testament to the band’s legacy. Twenty-two albums in Saxon have stayed the course and while their new album may be old news, the band’s simplistic approach to music just doesn’t have the same listening power it did thirty years ago. Take Thunderbolt as you will, because Saxon don’t seem to be finished with music just yet.



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user ratings (40)
Chart.
3.6
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Weirded out that this didn't already have a review. Also kids, if you want to put off arthritis etc, pick up a guitar and play it for the rest of your life.



Now if you don't mind I've got some black metal to listen to.



edit: that question mark glitch is killing me : [

neekafat
February 22nd 2018


13324 Comments


Great review, saw these guys open for Priest a few years back, looked like they were having a great time up there and it does me heart good to know they're still out there making music

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks, I’m finding this to be a pretty great warm up album to Judas Priest when it drops next month

rockandmetaljunkie
February 22nd 2018


7594 Comments


Respect. Regardless of the genre you listen to, they're one of the truest and most honest band out there.

Fuck the posers

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well these guys earned their respect long ago.

MarsKid
February 22nd 2018


7680 Comments


Wish that dumb question mark bug was fixed.

Digging: Noise Trail Immersion - Symbology of Shelter

Atari
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2018


23927 Comments


could have sworn manosg already reviewed this

nice job old-timer - favorite Saxon album?

Sabrutin
February 22nd 2018


5833 Comments


Heard once, it was solid. Nosferatu is cool

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2018


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Was too busy jamming the 3-hour rock opera by Therion sufficiently in order to review it lol. Robert did a great job even though there's not much one can write for a new Saxon album.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Copy and paste from the other 21 albums right?



Thanks guys. Yeah 3 hour albums take that little extra time to wrap your head around. Would’ve loved to read your thoughts Mansong.

Dewinged
February 23rd 2018


12991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

40 years, 22 albums, holy shit man. Legend status to say the least.

Digging: Kaelan Mikla - Not Eftir Not

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Absolutely.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

So are you going to ‘view this Manosg?

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Nah, you've done an excellent job here and I've already reviewed Strong Arm of the Law so I don't have much more to say about these guys. Maybe someday I will review one of their '90s stuff.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Maybe someday I will review one of their '90s stuff.





If you want some help I'm up for a collaborative summary on their catalog. Forty years worth of text should keep us busy enough right

?



Anyways, thanks for the words. C/C is always welcome

manosg
Staff Reviewer
February 23rd 2018


11339 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Oh man that would take serious commitment and perseverance, which Saxon deserves, but not sure I can do that haha. But it would be awesome to see albums like Unleash the Beast and The Eagle Has Landed reviewed.

TheNotrap
February 24th 2018


9418 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

MAN HAS ALWAYS LOOKED TOWARDS THE SKYYYYYYY

Digging: Obliteration - Cenotaph Obscure

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 25th 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good ol' Saxon

Nagrarok
February 28th 2018


8588 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Saw them live yesterday; they played a little too much off this for my liking but Biff is the man.

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 28th 2018


9123 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

As with any band with new material I guess, gotta sell the goods. But yeah as long as they kept the fan faves



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