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Saxon 'Hell, Fire And Damnation' Album Review- 8.8/10- The Metal Voice

Updated: Dec 27, 2023



Saxon's  24th studio album ' Hell, Fire And Damnation ' will be released January 19th 2024 via Silver Lining Music. 


Album review by Jimmy Kay


Saxon once again have proven they are a force to be reckoned with, with yet another consistent high quality release. Perhaps a notch above their last two releases.


So let's get into it.


The album begins with yes, you got it, an intro. B.T.W.  the first time Saxon used an intro was on the Crusader album in 1984. Then later on in the 90's and onward, they have managed to make the intro a sort of Saxon album staple but I digress.


Track one, the Prophecy (intro) we get the legendary voice actor of Brian Blessed (look him up) for a Flash Gordon-ish type narration. The spoken word does a great job in teeing things up seamlessly into the title track.


Track two, the title track, 'Hell, Fire And Damnation' starts with a Diamond Head-ish riff and drum vibe  (a la infusion of new guitarist Brian Tatler ) which then turns into a traditional Saxon upbeat opener going full throttle. Similar in vein to their past title track openers, like 'Battering Ram', 'Sacrifice', 'Thunderbolt', 'Carpe Diem' and so on.  Where 'Hell, fire' differs is the tasty back and forth soloing and licks mid way through the song.


Track three  'Madame Guillotine', is where things get really retro as Saxon returns to their Golden groove riff era with a feel of 'Denim and Leather' and 'Wheels of Steel' sound.  This song is infectious, toe tapping and catchy. The song's lyrical theme is based on the merciless guillotine of the 1700's, nicknamed after Marie Antoinette the former Queen of France.


Track four, 'Fire and Steel' brings us into Speed metal territory, similar to past Saxon songs like, 'Need for Speed' ( Inner Sanctum), and Heavy Metal Thunder (Strong arm of the law). Bombastic is the word I like to use for this tune.


Track five, 'There's Something in Roswell', Saxon now heads off into a mid paced U.F.O. conspiracy theory world and Biff is preaching, 'There is something here at Rosewell, we don't believe the lies' and Biff is convincing, another well executed slab of metal.


Track six and Track seven, 'Kubla Khan and 'the Merchant of Venice and 'Pirates of the airwaves', it's Biff Byford storytelling time, telling us about Marco Polo and his journeys into Asia, then Pirate radio and how it changed the musical Rock and roll landscape in the 1960's in the UK. Both tracks are deep Saxon cuts, the first borderlines Scorpions 'blackout riffage speed metal the second mid paced with a groove once again.


Track eight is another highlight as we get into the numbers game, it's not 747, it's not 20,000 feet, it's '1066' the battle of Hastings. This is where machine gun riffs give the listeners a charging battlefield vibe. After a few listens to this track the battle cry of, in 10-66, in 10-66, in 10-66 leaves an imprint in your brain so hard to get rid that you can lie in bed at night singing to yourself 'In 10-66"


Track nine, 'Witches of Salem'  the engine room takes over and it's boiling. This is where drummer Nigel Glockler really shines. Glockler is an excellent drummer who understands when it's time to get technical and when it's time to keep a steady beat. He perfectly executes the double bass pattern in the right place and right time of the song (the bridge), along with his clever tempo changes that lifts the energy and paranoia of this hunt down the witches song.


The Album ends with another high velocity speed metal track 'Super Charger, similar to pedal to the metal 'Living to the limit' on their last album 'Carpe Diem'.


So did former guitarist Paul Quinn and replacement guitarist Brain Tatler perform and write on the album? According to Biff Byford on the latest interview by The Metal Voice, yes. Biff said Paul Quinn, Brian Tatler and Doug Scarratt all contributed.


As for the vocals , they are always top notch. Biff's voice has aged very well and he is still in the zone. As for the bottom end, the bass and drumming are always spectacular throughout. 


On the production side I'm not the biggest Andy Sneap fan but Sneap has done an excellent job. He captures the performances, the right mix and brings out an overall bright sound.


In conclusion, this album's songs seem a lot more organic, (especially the guitar work) and more complex musically than their last two efforts' Carpe Deim' (which I love) and Thunderbolt.


My favorite tracks, 'Madame Guillotine', 'There's Something in Roswell', '1066' and 'Witches of Salem'.

 

This album is a grower, so give it a few listens before judging it as I found I have liked it more with repeated listens.


For now 8.8 /10


Track list

   The Prophecy 1:24

   Hell, Fire And Damnation 5:33

   Madame Guillotine 5:25

   Fire and Steel 3:37

   There's Something in Roswell 4:10

   Kubla Khan and the Merchant of Venice 4:16

   Pirates of the Airwaves 3:57

   1066 4:04

   Witches of Salem 5:11

   Super Charger 4:48



Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon recently interviewed Saxon singer Biff Byford. Byford talked about the bands up and coming album "Hell, Fire And Damnation" as well as the bands touring plans.


The two metal guys also give their take and review of the album


Hell, Fire And Damnation will be released on January 19, 2024 via Silver Lining Music


All Photos by Ned Wakeman


Watch here

When asked to give a headline summarizing the new upcoming albums

"This album is a monster ! "


When asked to describe the musical direction of the new album 'Hell, Fire And Damnation'

"We just wanted to write the perfect rock song that's the goal you know to write the perfect metal song and the perfect album. So that's always our goal. So we're always trying to write better songs and get better sounds. I think this album's probably the best sounding Saxon album ever high-fi wise. We're just getting closer to perfection every album."


When asked about the lyrical inspirations on the new album

"Just thinking of stories that are interesting really that pop into my crazy head. Just things that interest me and obviously interest millions of other people as well. History is interesting and it's forever and it's forever renewing itself."


When asked about one of the tracks THERE'S SOMETHING IN ROSWELL and if he enjoys a good conspiracy theory

"I like a good conspiracy theory, they're great because it gets you thinking and uh you look at all the facts and uh should to make up your own mind.

I'd like to think that there was something in Roswell, I'm more of a believer than a disbeliever but I'm not totally sold on it. In America they interviewed a lot of people on this and they did a survey and I think 95% of people thought there was something in Roswell, so that's where the song comes from. I mean Roswell's Ground Zero isn't it for UFO's, it um all sort of started in Roswell."


When asked if guitarist Paul Quinn participated on the new album

"Paul plays a couple of songs on the album and play solos on a few songs. We were making the album so fast and so inspired by making the album. We did it on the road in Europe on our Festival tour and Paul (Quinn) wasn't with us because he stopped touring. So Brian (Tatler) stood up in his place and uh you know he supplied a couple of great Rifts actually, so we're very lucky."


When asked about Paul Quinn's Health status

"Paul's health is it okay, he got a bit of rheumatism in his fingers when he plays a lot and he wanted to rest. I think he wanted a quiet life. Bein in a touring Rock Band is not really a quiet life."


When asked about if Saxon uses live tricks when performing

When we play live we don't use click tracks or anything. Everything you get is live. We might have a few noises on Nibb's (Carter) base pedals you know like sirens and Jet plans and things but just little effects but most what you get and what you hear is live."


Buy album here



Hell, Fire And Damnation is an album which sees Saxon investigate all areas of history and mystery amidst ten of their most confident and thunderously powerful songs yet. Biff 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 Brian Tatler are fresh and fiery, a perfect complement to each other, carrying an overall energy and fury which will have fans salivating. Musically, Saxon bring it all to the table. There's a furious tribute to actual heavy metal in the denim & leather coated super-sprint “Fire And Steel”, a wonderful nod to the NWOBHM'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 which deserves arenas.


Produced by Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Exodus, Accept and Priest guitarist) and Biff Byford, with Sneap mixing and mastering, Hell, Fire And Damnation strides the perfect line between confident, current power, and gloriously irreverent flexing of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal muscle which Saxon co-created.


“I think this album’s one of the best he’s done sound-wise, and he’s done a lot of albums” Biff declares. “It has a really raw, vibrant sound...if you compress the total time making this album, it was four weeks tops…you can hear everything brilliantly, nothing’s overcomplicated, nothing’s over compressed. The guitar sounds are fucking immense, they’re just great, raw guitar sounds. And we haven’t done a lot of overdubbing on there, it’s just playing. I really, really like it.”


2024 promises to be a great year for Saxon, with the European tour alongside Judas Priest and Uriah Heep kicking-off in the UK in March, plus the arrival of the heavy metal masterpiece Hell, Fire And Damnation.


“Getting these shows in March 2024 with Judas Priest and Uriah Heep meant it made sense to push and get the album made faster,” says Biff, “so, we got on with it in haste and pulled it out of the bag. It was tricky, but I think it’s safe to say we managed it well.”


Oh, it’s safe to say alright!


HELL, FIRE AND DAMNATIONWORLD TOUR (Part 1)

11 March – OVO Hydro, Glasgow (UK)

13 March – First Direct Arena, Leeds (UK)

15 March – 3Arena, Dublin (IE)

17 March – BIC, Bournemouth (UK)

19 March – Resorts World Arena, Birmingham (UK)

21 March – OVO Arena Wembley, London (UK)

24 March – Festhalle, Frankfurt (DE)

25 March – Olympiahalle, München (DE)

26 March – Volksbank Messe, Balingen (DE)

27 March – Westfalenhalle, Dortmund (DE)

29 March – O2 Arena, Prague (CZ)

30 March – Tauron Arena, Kraków (PL)

1 April – Wiener Stadhalle, Vienna (AT)

2 April – Roxy, Ulm (DE)

3 April – St. Jakobshalle, Basel (CH)

5 April – Halle Tony Garnier, Lyon (FR)

6 April – Mediolanum Forum, Milan (IT)

8 April – Zénith, Paris (FR)

13 June – Sant Jordi Club, Barcelona (ES)

15 June – Navarra Arena, Pamplona (ES)

17 June – Palacio Vistalegre, Madrid (ES)

1 July – Barclays Arena, Hamburg (DE)

2 July – Max-Schmeling-Halle, Berlin (DE)

4 July – Arena Nürnberger, Nürnberg (DE)

8 July – Sap Arena, Mannheim (DE)

10 July – Messehalle, Dresden (DE)

More dates to be announced

For tickets and more information visit: www.saxon747.com


Hell, Fire And Damnation will be available in a variety of formats


SAXON

BIFF BYFORD – Vocals

NIGEL GLOCKLER – Drums

DOUG SCARRATT – Guitar

BRIAN TATLER – Guitar

NIBBS CARTER – Bass


Produced by Andy Sneap and Biff Byford

Album mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap


Vocals recorded by Seb Byford at Big Silver Barn, York (UK); Drums recorded by Jacky Lehmann at Lampes Posthotel Old Cinema Restaurant Der Krug (Germany); Guitars recorded at Big Silver Barn, York (UK).

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