Review Summary: They came, they saw, they conquered.
Over the last few years, it has become painfully obvious that the changing of the guards in metal is in full motion. Those who laid the foundations are either retiring or enjoying mead and boar meat - or in Lemmy's case, Jack and Coke - in Valhalla. This is why every new release from one of the most respected metal bands that have walked the face of the earth is always big news, as it emphasizes one of the most important traits: perseverance. Of course, Saxon's messages may resonate more to people of a certain age who can relate with the concept of time (or aging) and its effects, however, Carpe Diem
has a lot to teach to younger audiences with its intensity and relentlessness.
From the very start, the title track works perfectly as a convincing mission statement; it's heavy, intense, and screams "Never Surrender". In fact, Saxon's 23rd release is arguably their most inspired since Unleash the Beast
. The basis for every song is the mighty riff, the songwriting is solid, and Biff's unique voice still separates Saxon from an array of heavy metal acts, the same way it has been doing for the past 200 years. He even manages to breathe new life to songs with trite matters like "Remember the Fallen" and "All for One", which deal with COVID and The Three Musketeers, respectively. In fact, I can't say if his 2019 heart attack played any role, but this is the heaviest and most pissed-off Saxon has sounded lately; just listen to "Dambusters". In addition, on Carpe Diem
you can feel that there has been a conscious effort to write music similar to the band's golden era, but with a modern touch courtesy of Andy Sneap's production. Take, for example, the epic mid-tempo "The Pilgrimage"; one of the highlights on here, it brings to mind Crusader
. Even the word " pilgrimage" is so Saxon.
Of course, not everything revolves around the classic period of the band, with "Super Nova" and " Living On the Limit" reminding us that this is still a 2022 release, with whatever that means for a band that has been around for 45 years. Now, as solid as Carpe Diem
is, I can't see it being one of my first choices whenever I'm in a Saxon mood. Nonetheless, that doesn't mean that it is not a commendable effort, which is highly recommended to fans of Saxon.