Album Reviews

Saxon – The Inner Sanctum

(SPV) UK release date: 5 March 2007

Never mind the difficult second album – what aboutthe impossible eighteenth?!

Of course it helps when your band’s been rockingfor the best part of thirty years, but it’s time forthe old chestnut to be trotted out when singer Bill Byford declares this to be “the most powerful album we’ve ever recorded!”

That’s not to dismiss Byford as an old chestnut,mind… nor to dispute his point, for this is a recordthat doesn’t exactly dress itself in comfy slippersand put its feet up in front of the fire. But TheInner Sanctum, aside from its superbly pompous rocktitle, explores the sort of sound Saxon fans will beoh so familiar with – and, of course, love.

Chief culprit is the frankly laughable I’ve Got ToRock (To Stay Alive), where Byford finds himselfadopting a husky Bryan Adams tone in the song’sbridge passage, before hauling himself from thewreckage with a full-throated bellow. It’s too late bythen though.

Red Star Falling, meanwhile, is the power ballad ofthe record, flirting with fantasy in its subjectmatter, the obsession with the line ‘the beast isslain’ wearing a little thin. And if it wasn’t slainby the song, it was certainly beyond recovery by theend of Doug Scarratt‘s mighty guitar solo!

No-one could possibly accuse them in lacking energythough, from the moment Nigel Glockler‘s drumsgallop in to the semi-mysterious male chorus thatbegins State Of Grace, or the impressive outburst offolksy riffing that kicks off Need For Speed.

And throughout, the band give it their all, meaningthat while rock clich�s abound, they do so in a morepassionate way than you might expect. Lyricallythere’s not much to be said though, and Going NowhereFast sums it up as Byford sings “I look to the left ofme, I look to the right, there’s nothing here aroundme, no exit in sight”.

You’ll have gathered from this that there’s nothingnew to report from planet Saxon. But then if you�re afan, you’d have the right to enquire why there shouldbe. Their established fan base have followed theirband right from the beginning, when they rode in onthe crest of the ‘new wave’ of British heavy metal, sothey don’t need to take too much of a risk these days.And with the potential of a post-Darknessfallout still a possibility, there remains the chancethat a few stray souls may be captured.

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