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Saxon - Sacrifice Review

About.com Rating 2.5 Star Rating

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Saxon - Sacrifice

Saxon - Sacrifice

UDR Records
Formed in 1976, English heavy metal icons Saxon were one of the frontrunners and defining bands of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. They have been cited as an influence on bands like Megadeth and Metallica. While their most intensely active period, and where most of their chart-topping singles were released, took place from 1980 to 1987, but shifting trends and that passage of time have never stopped them from regularly touring and releasing new albums (including battles over the rights to the band name between current founding members Biff Byford and Paul Quinn, and former members Steve Dawson and Graham Oliver). As they edge towards their thirtieth year as a band, Saxon release their twentieth studio album, Sacrifice.

I desperately wanted Sacrifice to be better than it is. It has qualities that have the potential to make it an exciting release for Saxon, who have opted to hone their sound to perfection over the years rather than shake things up or innovate. The album is heavier than anything they have released in recent years, with throaty, growling guitar tones and a deep, full rhythm section.

“Made In Belfast” is an excellent example of this weightier fare, and Byford's vocals are powerful and muscular enough to suit the material. Saxon have also opted for slicker, more modern production values on this record, which makes the sound sleek and slick, and really brings out the finer dynamic qualities of the drumming. The songwriting is tight, all elements fitting together seamlessly, with nothing awkward or out of place. On paper, is it a fine offering.

What Sacrifice lacks is any sense of danger, a vital energy to infuse the record and make is something special. There is no doubt that it is a well-crafted, finely wrought piece of classic heavy metal, but there is not enough heart, not raw fire behind it. It's executed well, but without a sense of urgency, and little real emotion leaving the experience ringing hollow in the listener's ears. “Walking The Steel” and Night of the Wolf” are perfect examples of tracks that should send a surge of energy through the listener, but somehow wind up being only blandly enjoyable.

Other tracks do manage to capture the fire, like “Guardians of the Tomb,” which is full of great vocal hooks, big meaty riffs and a captivating energy. “Stand Up And Fight” has that fist-pumping energy that defines a good metal anthem, and could easily have come from almost any of their other albums. Taken as a whole, however, Sacrifice ends up being a good, but ultimately disappointing listening experience.

(released March 26, 2013 on UDR Records)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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