There's just a feeling of anticipation for the majestic when you hear that a new Saxon release is forthcoming. You know each and every time that these English rockers are going to deliver something that just sounds big, triumphant and awesome. Sure, they have had their albums that weren't that good. But overall, they are one of those bands who's disappointing albums are not so bad that you would ever write them off completely.
With SACRIFICE, I've had many of my harder core Saxon fan friends say it's the best album since Graham Oliver and Steve Dawson exited the band years ago. I definitely don't agree with that assessment, although there's no denying that SACRIFICE is a fine album from these Brits. If anything, SACRIFICE is one of the faster albums of the band's most recent career. Having been personally let down by their last album CALL TO ARMS, it's good to see Biff Byford and company rebound with such a strong effort this time around. From the moment the title track kicks the album open, it's clear that you are in for an old fashioned hard rock hellride that is exactly what old school metallers are looking for. Throughout SACRIFICE, it's the fat guitar tones that drive each and every song. While there's nothing amazing or flashy here, guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarlett more than adequately drive songs like "Made In Belfast". As for the previously mentioned Byford, he's not quite the vocalist he used to be, but that's not saying that he's bad at all. On songs like "Guardians Of The Tomb", you can hear a touch of raggedness in his vocals, and yet the structure of the song is such that it works to his favor. The same can be said on "Warriors Of The Road". I know it's probably subtle, but there's been a bit of decline in Byford's vocal presence over the last few releases. That said though, when Byford is bad, he still good. It definitely works here. As always, the bottom end of each and every song is rock solid as well. Drummer Nigel Glockler and bassist Nibbs Carter create a galloping foundation on most of the tracks here. Songs like "Night Of The Wolf" have your head banging as a result of the thunderous underbelly of the song created by Glockler and Carter.
PITRIFF RATING - 80/100 - SACRIFICE is a solid effort from Saxon. It's certainly not the best album they've ever done, and it really doesn't have that "Dallas 1 PM" or "Denim And Leather" moment on it, it's still a rock solid effort that will do nothing to dissuade fans of the band from digging it. I'm a Saxon fan, and I'm happy to have this new infusion of metal into my ears.