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As we all painstakingly wait for the global pandemic to subside, what are bands to do with their time if they can’t tour to support a recently recorded album?  Well, legendary British heavy metal band Saxon decided to have some fun and make a kick-ass cover album!  Still going strong for over 40 years, Saxon is set to deliver Inspirations, an 11-track album of classic rock covers that influenced the band.  Set for release March 19th, Inspirations is an interesting collection of timeless rock covers done the Saxon way – revved up with ballsy distortion, turbo-charged with thunderous drums, and sealed with the iconic powerful vocals of band leader Biff Byford.  “We wanted to do an album based on our influences, the songs and bands that inspired us to write what we did and still do,” explains Byford, “and it was also interesting to see what my voice could do as I haven’t sung many of these songs before.” 

By recording live in a large UK mansion and avoiding overdubs in post-production, Inspirations provides an authentic no-frills live feel.  The album’s first song has Saxon taking on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”.  The sitar is tossed out the window for this version, replaced with roaring metal guitars and ground-shaking drums.  Byford’s voice as strong as ever and stylistically sings true to the original with droning monotone verse contrasted with outbursts on the chorus and outro.  The pseudo-psychedelic subtleties of the original version were replaced with Saxon’s sheer power – it really works if you’re a metal fan!  The band released a video for “Paint It Black” in December 2020 that includes behind-the-scenes footage taken during the recording session – so check that out.

Most song choices fit right into Saxon’s blues metal wheelhouse.  Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”, Thin Lizzy’s “The Rocker”, Motorhead’s “Bomber” and AC/DC’s “Problem Child” all converted seamlessly to Saxon’s modern metal renditions. On Deep Purple’s “Speed King”, guitarists Paul Quinn (co-founder) and Doug Scarratt tastefully skip the light jazzy section in the original, play the iconic organ parts with crunchy guitars instead, and deliver a monstrous high-powered jam. 

With a willingness to also venture beyond their comfort zone, Saxon tackles Toto’s “Hold the Line” and might be their best effort on the entire album!  Instead of the keyboards starting the intro, listeners are greeted with an electric guitar hammering out the familiar pop rock hit’s opening hook.  Loyal to the original beat of Toto’s late drumming legend Jeff Porcaro, Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler joins the intro groove and, once the second guitar’s beefy power chords kick in, you know this track is going to be solid. 

Forced to deal with the circumstances of a global pandemic in the twilight years of their career, the mighty Saxon still continue to be creative and deliver quality material.  Byford sums it up, “It’s very important to have and share with the fans some fun in these dark times."  Saxon’s upcoming cover album Inspirations succeeds as a fun heavy “metalized” collection of classic rock songs that all hard rock and metal fans will find very interesting and enjoy cranking-up loud!


Be well and keep rocking!   Hunnypot Approved!     Overall Rating:  9.3 out of 10

Artist:  Saxon    AlbumInspirations  Release Date: March 19th, 2021,   Label:  Silver Lining Music / Militia Guard

Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

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