After a rather unnecessary intro called “Procession,” Sacrifice starts off with a bang ala the title song. It’s Saxon‘s version of power metal, old school thrash at times, with vocalist Biff Byford holding the reins tight. Brilliant stuff. This is, really, the sound that made metal an appealing force to begin with — and, quite frankly why I got into the genre in the first place.

Throughout Sacrifice, the guitars crunch and chug, all songs worthy of hours of listening pleasure (thanks once again, Andy Sneap, for great production), making Saxon seem like they are getting stronger with age. No one can deny the complete denim and leather joy of Saxon’s first five albums (yes, I include 1983’s Power & the Glory here) but Biff’s Saxon still wave the flag proudly. They were one of the splendid innovators of everything heavy, and they continue to uphold their place among the best.

Byford’s voice is now a little more rugged, but this works with the heaviness of every song on Sacrifice. The voice is then ruthlessly effective in “Wheels of Terror” — a first-person narrative of a twentieth-century, warrior/madman that is a fantastic metal composition. It reminds me of something Judas Priest would write nowadays, with the same kind of eerie feel of the classic “The Ripper.” “Wheels of Terror” will go down in Saxon’s catalog as their best of the late years.

There is also a five-song bonus disc included with Sacrifice. A few of the songs — the orchestrated version of “Crusader” — are complete fodder and will only find interest among the really bored. However, the re-recorded versions “Just Let Me Rock” and “Forever Free” are nice extras to go along with the strength of the newest release.


Label: UDR/EMI. The CD format can be purchased here.