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Metal - Released September 7, 2018 | Militia Guard Music

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Metal - Released February 2, 2018 | Militia Guard Music

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Metal - Released August 2, 2019 | Militia Guard Music

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Rock - Released January 12, 2009 | Union Square

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Rock - Released February 10, 1997 | Union Square

A double-disc set containing the two finest albums by this eminent New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released April 16, 2012 | Union Square

This four-disc collection from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends rounds up Saxon's first seven studio albums for the French Carrere label. The box includes Saxon (1979), Wheels of Steel (1980), Strong Arm of the Law (1980), Denim & Leather (1981), The Eagle Has Landed (1982), Power & The Glory (1983), and Crusader (1984). ~ James Christopher Monger
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Rock - Released February 1, 2010 | Union Square

After fulfilling their contractual obligations to French independent label Carrere, Saxon signed to mighty EMI, praying for a major-label overhaul with which to reignite its ailing career. The resulting album -- 1985's Innocence Is No Excuse -- is one of their most controversial: it's viewed by some fans and critics as another misfire, while others consider it the last gasp of these once seemingly unbeatable New Wave of British Heavy Metal champions. Realizing that their future was at stake, vocalist Biff Byford and bassist Steve Dawson (and, to a lesser degree, guitarists Paul Quinn and Graham Oliver, plus drummer Nigel Glockler) hunkered down to the business of composing what was certainly their strongest collective set of songs since 1981's Denim and Leather. But the final layer of commercial sheen (clearly aimed at finally cracking the American market) applied to heavy metal warhorses like "Call of the Wild," "Devil Rides Out," "Everybody Up," and others rubbed many fans the wrong way. Likewise, these were also divided over the merits of strong singles like "Back on the Streets," "Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy," and the excellent ballad "Broken Heroes," which charted respectably and even earned some much needed MTV rotation for their videos, but at what price to the band's street-level credibility? The answer will never be agreed upon, but as subsequent fiascos soon proved, there was no doubt that Saxon's internal chemistry was significantly unbalanced by the subsequent departure of key songwriter Dawson -- a loss from which they would take years to fully recover. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released November 27, 2006 | Union Square

A mere six months after releasing their stunning sophomore album, Wheels of Steel, Saxon almost managed to top themselves with the equally timeless Strong Arm of the Law, forever after dividing their fan base over which of the two delivered the ultimate Saxon long-playing experience. This time, instead of motorcycle engines revving, it's thunder and lightning launching the album in truly bombastic fashion via the embryonic thrashing of "Heavy Metal Thunder." And then it soon becomes apparent that Saxon had learned a little something from their then-recent tour of England with Motörhead, because break-neck anthems like "To Hell and Back Again," "Taking Your Chances," the very naughty "Sixth Form Girls," and the high-flying "20,000 Ft" just keep on coming at the listener, full speed ahead. A few more deliberate offerings are wisely sprinkled in to allow for some breathing room, and include the album's ever-popular title track (based on the band's true-life experience of being pulled over by highway police during their first American tour), the uniquely unimpressive "Hungry Years," and the unusually political "Dallas 1 PM," which details the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. In sum, as had been the case with Wheels of Steel, all the right ingredients pretty much fell into place for Saxon on this amazing record, and though it lacked as many clear-cut hits as its predecessor (namely "Motorcycle Man," "747," and "Wheels of Steel"), Strong Arm of the Law‘s unmatched consistency from start to finish makes it the definitive Saxon album in the eyes of many fans and critics. Suffice to say that you'd be hard pressed to find any New Wave of British Heavy Metal Top Ten list that doesn't include both of these efforts, and we'll leave it at that. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released August 7, 2006 | Union Square

After finding themselves a qualified heavy metal producer in Pete Hinton, the members of Saxon recovered from their disappointing debut in fine form with 1980's career-defining Wheels of Steel. As well as effectively setting the template for the band's most successful efforts, the album's songs positively gleamed with a bright, metallic sheen similar to that exhibited by the chrome eagle hoisting a motorcycle wheel on its iconic cover. Wasting no time with niceties, Wheels of Steel kicked straight into fifth gear with one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's signature anthems, "Motorcycle Man." A proto-speed metal classic, the song also reintroduced the oft-recurring biker themes that would rear up again on the even more frenzied "Freeway Mad" and the album's epic title track (as well as on many future tracks). Another song joining "Wheels of Steel" in Saxon's career roll of honor was the dramatic, lyrically unique "747 (Strangers in the Night)" (which described an airplane's emergency landing), but a slew of additional standouts like "Street Fighting Gang," "See the Light Shining," the furious "Machine Gun," and the contrastingly romantic "Suzie Hold On" (perhaps the band's finest early ballad) rounded out the album in style. Really, only "Stand Up and Be Counted" hasn't aged all that impressively, but it alone can't hold back Wheels of Steel from topping the heap of essential Saxon albums, pretty much hand in hand with its immediate successors, Strong Arm of the Law and Denim and Leather. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

Rock - Released March 4, 2013 | Parlophone UK

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For years, metal revivalists have been working day and night to try replicating just what it is that makes classic metal so special, toiling to create a kind of metal pastiche that pays homage to the heavy-hitters of the past, but without really coming close. Fortunately, once in a while one of those sleeping giants of heavy metal's past stirs to deliver upon the world a reminder of what things were like when the gods of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal strode the earth, the most recent addition to that pantheon being Saxon's 20th album, Sacrifice. The album finds Saxon returning to do what they do best, rocking hard with ten tracks of straight-ahead, no-frills, old-school metal. While there are plenty of bands out there trying to capture this kind of sound, they often fall into the trap of overdoing it, turning their albums into hyper-excessive parodies, but for practiced hands like Saxon who know well enough to let the volume do the talking, this isn't a problem. Much like Overkill have been doing with albums like Ironbound and The Electric Age, this album feels more like a reestablishment than a reinvention, with Saxon showing that while they might not have any new tricks up their sleeves after over 40 years of rocking, the trick they do have is a pretty impressive one, making Sacrifice an album that will not only satisfy longtime metal fans, but might draw younger listeners away from the revivers and back to the survivors. ~ Gregory Heaney
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Rock - Released April 27, 2009 | Union Square

After enjoying their first brief hiatus from the endless tour/record/tour/record grind, the members of Saxon -- including then-new drummer Nigel Glockler -- reconvened in late 1982 to begin working on their fifth studio album, Power & the Glory. Notably, the bums from Barnsley were give the luxury of recording in America this time by their French indie label, Carrere, but all they got out of Atlanta, Georgia's Axis Sound Studio and first-time producer Jeff Glixman was an album that sounds as though it was recorded in a tin can, albeit a very, very large tin can. Whereas the group's signature earlier albums, Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law, and Denim and Leather, had all sounded big, in-your-face, and gritty, Power & the Glory was awash with reverb that vanished into the ether just as soon as the cacophonous echoing subsided. The material itself was also at fault, however, and despite a few sparks generated by "Redline," "Warrior," and the proto-thrashing "This Town Rocks," only the anthemic title track ultimately showed enough staying power (and, errr, glory) to earn a frequent slot in Saxon's live repertoire. Beyond that, fans were given a couple of fillers ("Watching the Sky," "Midas Touch"), a merely decent quasi-ballad in "Nightmare," and a synth-enhanced prog-style epic named "The Eagle Has Landed" (named after their then-recent live album), which was, well, interesting. Finally, Power & the Glory's lyrics also marked a slight shift toward "dungeons and dragons" themes (in emulation of the then-recently U.S.-breaking Iron Maiden, perhaps?) that would continue into Saxon's next uneven opus, Crusader, to the ambivalence of their fans. But, this being heavy metal, lyrics are rarely deemed as important as the music, and it was in this regard that Power & the Glory essentially falls short of expectations. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released February 28, 2003 | Union Square

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Rock - Released April 20, 2009 | Union Square

Rock - Released June 3, 2011 | Parlophone UK

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For much of the 2000s, a revitalized Saxon catered to accepting European power metal audiences with a traditionally rooted but thoroughly modern-sounding heavy metal production; but there's something different about the veteran band's first effort of the 2010s and 19th studio album overall, 2011's Call to Arms. Simply put, it appears that the members of Saxon have intentionally revised their recent recording habits and largely stripped down their sound; perhaps doing without an extra guitar track or four which would have beefed up the mix, and scaling down the remaining instrumentation accordingly, including Biff Byford's surprisingly in-your-face vocals. As a result, the songs (with an exception or two) hark to the band's seminal New Wave of British Heavy Metal years: they are refreshingly raw and direct ("Surviving Against the Odds," "Chasing the Bullet," "Ballad of the Working Man"), recklessly urgent in a proto- but not post-thrash kind of way ("Hammer of the Gods," "Afterburner"), and, yes, even a little corny at times ("Back in ‘79"), but all of it qualifies as compelling vintage nostalgia, nonetheless. Even the more sophisticated exceptions hinted at earlier, such as the synth-laden title track (Rainbow and Deep Purple legend Don Airey guests) and dramatic mid-paced offerings like "Mists of Avalon" and the "Kashmir"-quoting "When Doomsday Comes" stubbornly retain their ‘80s hallmarks, feel, and spirit, never advancing beyond 1985's divisive Innocence Is No Excuse album in Saxon's evolutionary arc. To be clear, though, overall, the album's closest aesthetic cousin would have to be 1981's Denim & Leather. And perhaps it's in a bid to drive this point home that deluxe editions of Call to Arms feature a bonus disc containing the band's 1980 performance at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival, which leaves little doubt of Saxon's deliberate back-to-basics strategy on this release (see also the distressed cover art for evidence). As such, it's a strategy that the band's longest-serving faithful will likely embrace, though perhaps not their new millennium converts, but you can't ever please everyone now, can you? ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released August 2, 1999 | Union Square

After recording four fine studio albums in three years, Saxon had catapulted to the top of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal heap alongside Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, neither of which had released their American breakthroughs yet (The Number of the Beast and Pyromania), putting all three bands on pretty much even footing. Certainly, the release of Saxon's first live album -- named The Eagle Has Landed after the gigantic eagle-shaped lighting truss that illuminated the band on-stage -- should have been a crowning achievement for the hard-working quintet from Barnsley. Instead, it signaled the end of their golden era, opening the door for lukewarm reviews from the jaded British rock press, always eager to tear down what they'd only recently built up. Their knives immediately came out when faced with The Eagle Has Landed‘s merely serviceable greatest-hits set, marred by a few iffy performances ("Heavy Metal Thunder" distinctly lacked the, err, "thunder" of its studio version) and several ill-chosen selections from Saxon's then-recent Denim and Leather album ("Never Surrender," "Fire in the Sky," but no sign of the anthemic title track?). Saxon's signature first hit, "Stallions of the Highway," was also conspicuously absent, leaving even die-hard fans a little miffed, although these no doubt found solace in positively crackling performances of other all-time classics like "Motorcycle Man," "747 (Strangers in the Night)," "Princess of the Night," and the epic "Wheels of Steel," captured here in arguably its definitive, audience-participating version. All things considered, though, The Eagle Has Landed definitely fell well short of perhaps unfairly lofty expectations, and was simply not the caliber of live album which children of the '70s had grown accustomed to receiving. [EMI's 2006 expanded reissue of The Eagle Has Landed retains the original album's mixed qualities but adds a generous six tracks (and thus gets an additional half a star to this review) that were supposedly culled from the same 1981-1982 time frame but don't necessarily address the missing essentials listed above. Still, aging Saxon fans will likely all agree that the hour's grown late for quibbling over such details, and will gladly embrace heartwarmingly resurrected nuggets like "And the Bands Played On," "Frozen Rainbow," "Midnight Rider," and "Dallas 1PM," none of which were mixed to match the original program precisely, but perhaps wisely so. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released February 1, 2010 | Union Square

Having failed to conquer America yet again while splitting fan opinions via 1985's Innocence Is No Excuse -- their strongest and most accessible album in years -- Saxon obviously decided to appeal to Average Metal Joe's rank, stone-deaf stupidity with the following year's Rock the Nations. Though graced with a somewhat rougher sound more in line with the band's New Wave of British Heavy Metal early years, Rock the Nations was arguably less heavy than its predecessor, and easily ranks with Saxon's most unimaginative efforts, pitting cliché-ridden anthems like "We Came Here to Rock," "Running Hot," and the title track against unconvincingly sappy ballads like "Waiting for the Night" and "Northern Lady." Perhaps the only moment of interest on this dismal album is a guest piano performance by Elton John (who was allegedly recording next door) on the aptly titled "Party 'til You Puke," hardly a show of intellectual prowess, but good for a laugh, nonetheless. In every other respect, however, Rock the Nations is an album that the Saxon faithful would likely rather forget. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

Metal - Released October 7, 2016 | UDR

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Metal - Released November 22, 2017 | Union Square

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Rock - Released August 2, 1999 | Union Square

Saxon's humble debut album was the quiet before the storm: a dress rehearsal, if you will, for the unqualified triumphs that lay just over the horizon for both the band and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal in general. Saxon were simultaneously inexperienced (when it came to the recording studio) and long in the tooth (older than most NWOBHM peers, they'd been performing in clubs for nearly a decade), and here they came to grips, not only with their material, but also with the fact that their independent record company, Carrere, didn't really know how to capture a heavy metal sound on tape. As a result, this eponymous LP only hints at Saxon's true personality, power, and songwriting potential, with early live favorites like "Judgement Day," "Militia Guard," and "Stallions of the Highway" (the first of many biker anthems) subdued by a punchless production. Other tracks suggested some lingering doubts as to musical direction, either on the band's or producers' part, because the opening "Rainbow Theme"/"Frozen Rainbow" tandem showed distinctive progressive rock traits, while "Big Teaser" and "Still Fit to Boogie" appeared to owe their lighter glam rock nuances to T. Rex. Nevertheless, the LP helped to put Saxon on the map, and their workaholic ways would quickly pay big dividends, once they learned to harness their powerful on-stage sound during their next visit to the studio while recording 1980's seminal sophomore album, Wheels of Steel. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia
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Rock - Released February 1, 2010 | Union Square

Saxon fans thought their heroes had reached rock bottom with 1986's Rock the Nations, but the group's next studio album, Destiny, sadly proved them frighteningly wrong. Having bored everyone to tears with the former LP's well-intentioned but uninspired back-to-basics approach, Saxon decided to go for broke in their quest to make it in America by delivering a shamefully sleek, shallow, and formulaic late-'80s pop-metal album. The choice to kick off proceedings with a surprisingly sedate cover of Christopher Cross' "Ride Like the Wind" was surprising at best, and then following it with the album's best number, "Where the Lightning Strikes," was tantamount to torture, given the largely unsalvageable dross that followed. Indeed, brave were the souls (utterly doomed, but brave) who navigated the murky waters of the atrocious, Titanic-inspired "S.O.S." -- only to endure desperate ballads ("I Can't Wait Anymore," "Song for Emma") and sugar-coated headbangers (think post-1987 Whitesnake ripoffs) like "Jericho Siren" and "Calm Before the Storm." The latter wastes a touching dedication from singer Biff Byford to his recently deceased father, and even he seemed to realize it later, since the same lyrics were used again for a much better song called "Iron Wheels" in 1992. Any such chance at career redemption was entirely out of the question upon Destiny's release, however, and Saxon and their fans were arguably never more at odds. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia