Saxon - Call To Arms review
|Album:||Call To Arms|
|Release date:||June 2011|
01. Hammer Of The Gods
02. Back In 79
03. Surviving Against The Odds
04. Mists Of Avalon
05. Call To Arms
06. Chasing The Bullet
08. When Doomsday Comes [Hybrid Theory Soundtrack]
09. No Rest For The Wicked
10. Ballad Of The Working Man
11. Call To Arms [orchestral version]
"Back In 79", eh? So this is another album by a washed up, has-been bunch of hacks trying to recapture their glory days, right? Wrong. Almost laughably so, in fact. Messrs. Byford et al are certainly looking lined these days, but to dismiss them as sounding their age would be foolish. Sure, the modern day version of Saxon continue to tread in their own well worn footsteps with Call To Arms, but that in no way diminishes the quality of music on show here.
Persisting with the slightly heavier style they've been pursuing for the last decade or so, but utilizing the bluesy elements of their earlier work, the songs on Call To Arms are a good mix of straight-up rockers, ballads and epic-tinged classic metal. Various songs contain clear nods to the past - "Back In 79" (obviously, stupid!) for example - with "When Doomsday Comes" containing a large slice of Deep Purple pie in its Perfect Strangers-esque main riff and organ solo. Saxon are also capable of keeping up with the times, however, banging out some solid, chunky riffs with a healthy dose of catchiness and melody (see: "Ballad Of The Working Man").
And so we come to where Call To Arms comes up a little short of "classic" status. There's no particular highlight here that really screams out to be returned to again and again; no one song that has me sprinting down to the recruitment office to lie about my age, sign up for 4 years service in a mud-filled trench and die listening to it. This isn't even really a criticism. Call To Arms is actually a more consistent listen than Into The Labyrinth, but nothing has quite the impact of "Battalions Of Steel" on my ears.
The performance and production are also both of a high standard - particularly on the "orchestral" version of the title track; only the band themselves will know why they cut the superb string accompaniment on the standard version - with Biff's vocals and the lead work worth singling out for praise. In essence, Saxon have maintained the quality of their recent output with this effort. It almost goes without saying (though something tells me I'm going to say it anyway…) that this won't be entered in the avant-garde or experimental categories in 2011, but it is a good listen. Only question is, will you answer the Call To Arms?
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