1. State Of Grace 2. Need For Speed 3. Let Me Feel Your Power 4. Red Star Falling 5. I've Got To Rock 6. If I Was You 7. Going Nowhere Fast 8. Ashes To Ashes 9. Empire Rising 10. Atile The Hun
Many of you know that I hold Saxon's last album, "Lionheart", in high esteem and consider it the band's proverbial comeback record. With the combined help of Charlie Bauerfeind as producer and the presence of drummer Jorg Michael (Rage, Grave Digger, Running Wild) this NWOBHM legendary act managed to create a traditional metal landscape while still sounding up-to-the-minute in terms of our ever changing modern ideology. Now the band hits the studio for the follow-up, another Bauerfeind production job on new release "The Inner Sanctum". Biff says this is simply classic Saxon combing elements of "Metalhead", "Lionheart", and "Solid Ball Of Rock". Would I agree? Yes indeed, Biff may be older than Moses but he knows his band's legacy. He smashed the nail on the head.
What really can be said about a Saxon release at this point in their long and successful career? The group continue to pound away, pushing the heavy load through the years and pouring what I consider a good portion of heavy metal's original building foundation. Here the band finds themselves with a replacement for the talented journeyman Jorg Michael, an essential ingredient in the band's focus last time around. Returning to the fold is long time Saxon skinsman Nigel Glockler, who played the part dating back to Saxon's legendary live record "The Eagle Has Landed" in 1982. Glockler, a talented drummer in his own right, performed with the band on eight studio records and a handful of live recordings as well. Interesting though that Glockler contributed on the group's premier effort, "Power & The Glory", but then stayed around through Saxon's worst period, with commercial flops like "Innocence Is No Excuse" and "Rock The Nations". I think his role with this new record really combines the commercial elements of the group with the focused energy and heaviness of "Killing Ground" and "Lionheart".
Biff and guitarists Scarratt and Quinn explode out of the gate with the power metal paced "State Of Grace", a cut that builds to intensity with an atmospheric intro. This sets the pace for the first part of the record, with high speed assaults like "Need For Speed" (typical Saxon) and "Let Me Feel Your Power" which shows Biff hitting those high notes that he used effectively on "Lionheart". The production is simply killer, allowing plenty of down-tuned heaviness to rise into razor sharp riffs. Carter's bass is a thunder charge, the perfect companion piece to Glockler's hard hitting. Favorite cut from the first half is "Red Star Falling", a slow tempo song that builds into a speedy number complete with an addictive twin guitar melody. The second half of the record is highlighted by the "Metalhead" sounding "If I Was You", a bombastic tune with a really commercial chorus, suitable for radio play if the band could escape with no publicity photos. Favorites for me are the two "Lionheart" type songs "Ashes To Ashes" and "Going Nowhere Fast", complete with Biff's clean delivery and again those addictive hooks. The album ends with epic closer "Atila The Hun".
The Bottom Line - Anyone into Saxon's last record will really enjoy this. I find it a bit weaker in the songwriting but definitely one of the better musical outings for the band in the last ten years. Somehow Saxon has found the fountain of youth.
About this Writer: Eric Compton // Eric Compton lives in the most haunted city in the world, St. Augustine, Florida with his family and two yorkies. He has served as senior editor for MaximumMetal.com for nearly 10 years and is the author of the heavy metal book series--Denim & Letters. His reviews, interviews and social commentary has been featured on websites like Brave Words, Blabbermouth, Metal Temple, Metal Rules, Ultimate Metal, Metal Maniacs and Wikipedia.
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