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Forty-three years since their debut album, British heavy metal heavyweights Saxon continue to roar full steam ahead with creativity.  Last year while the world waited for the pandemic to subside, Saxon released Inspirations, a collection of kick-ass classic rock covers revved up the Saxon way.  Now the legendary leaders of the 1980’s New Wave of British Heavy Metal are primed to release their 23rd studio album Carpe Diem on February 4th.

Co-founder and front man Biff Byford co-produced the record with accomplished metal producer Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Accept, Testament, Megadeth). Sneap also mixed and mastered the album, which successfully captures the essence and spirit of Saxon while adding a crisp contemporary production touch resulting in Saxon sounding as bold, genuine and heavy as ever.  “We don’t sound like an old band on records”, says Byford, “because we’re not sitting back on our past success, we’re always trying to make a great album.”

For accomplished bands with a strong legacy of success, releasing new material inevitably means being scrutinized with high expectations against a deep catalog of classic hits.  The song that best stands up to these high expectations is the album’s first tune, the title track, "Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)".  Released November 2, 2021 (including a video), this track has everything Saxon fans will love; a mysterious keys/war drums prologue pulling listeners back to ancient Roman Britannia and Hadrian’s wall, a monster drum fill intro by Nigel Glockler, a fast and nasty dual-guitar riff, superb vocal performance by Byford and a melodic gritty chorus shouting “Carpe Diem, Seize the Day”!  

"It all starts with the riff,” says Byford, "if the riff speaks to me, then we’re on our way. It’s a very intense album, and that’s all down to the fact that the essence of a great metal song is the riff that starts it, and this album has loads of them."

The second single released January 11th, “Remember the Fallen”, is a memorable anthem addressing the current pandemic.  “I wanted to write a song about Covid, about the people that have died, and give my perception of how it seemed to happen” offers Byford. “Certain aspects of it all are quite mysterious, and of course, it hasn’t finished yet, has it?  We should all remember those who have died as a group of people not really knowing why they died, because the information wasn’t there.” 

Another interesting element to this album, and “Remember the Fallen” specifically, is the backing vocal dynamics contributed by Byford’s son Seb Byford.  Instead of simply layering different Biff Byford vocals tracks for a standard harmonizing effect (which can sound too mechanical) it was refreshing to hear a different voice providing the harmonies – a nice element I enjoyed with this album.  Biff (on bass and vocals) and Seb (on guitar and vocals) released an album last year under the name Heavy Water, but it’s cool Seb finally collaborated with dad on a Saxon album.

“Carpe Diem” is Latin for “seize the day” and Saxon continues to seize every possible moment by continuing to produce great classic metal albums we can all appreciate.  How many great bands from the 80’s are as active and productive as Saxon in 2022?  Not many!  Enjoying the same steady lineup for over 25 years, the band is a well-oiled pure metal machine showing no signs of slowing down.  Their latest effort truly distills the frustrations and angst of the last few years (band member health scares and Covid) into an intense collection of 10 riff heavy, fiercely aggressive, melodic tracks that will certainly please classic metal fans. Seize the day and get this album!

Be well and always keep rockin’!


Greg Vitalich

Photojournalist - San Diego

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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