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Call To Arms
Released: 2011, Soulfood Records
Reviewer: Robert Williams
Longstanding NWOBHM legends Saxon have returned with their 19th full length studio album CALL TO ARMS a record that dishes out equal amounts of hard rock and traditional heavy metal anthems like only the seasoned war dogs from Saxon can deliver.
CALL TO ARMS opens with the upbeat melodic riffage of "Hammer Of The Gods" a tune that has a definite eighties hard rockin' heavy metal feel to it. The tandem of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt really shine as guitarists right out of the gate. The thumping bass drum driven stomp of "Back In 79" is next recalling "The Eagle Has Landed" with it's slow, heavy and anthemic delivery, precisely the kind of track that should go over great at summertime open air metal festivals. "Mists of Avalon" has some really catchy riffery and further showcases that frontman Biff Byford is still in excellent shape as a vocalist, delivering every verse and chorus with the same power and charisma as thirty years ago. If anything, he may have only gotten better over the years.
The title track on CALL TO ARMS at a lyrical standpoint is centered around a soldier departing off to war and thus descending into the hell on earth that is the frontlines. The verse section features a haunting and dreary clean guitar that plays on dynamics come chorus time with some crunching power chord distortion. Let's talk about the total asskicker of a tune otherwise known as "Afterburner" This is mean, in your face, classic Saxon and worth the price of admission all by itself! It's kind of strange that the first really fast track on CALL TO ARMS is seven tracks into the disc, it really sounds like it would make the perfect album opener. "When Doomsday Comes" is a heavy fisted mid tempo track that builds before letting loose and features some far out organ noodling (or maybe it's mellotron I'm hearing?) similar to "Rising" era Rainbow during the latter half of the track.
"Ballad of the Working Man" kicks off with melodic twin lead guitars against a boogie wooie shuffle courtesy of rhythm section Nibbs Carter on bass and Nigel Glockler on the drum throne. This is yet another fine example of classic Saxon awesomeness. Closing off CALL TO ARMS is an orchestral version of the album's title track.
All in all, I appreciate this record for what it is... another solid record by one of heavy metal's true greats. On my first listen, I was anxious to hear faster tunes in the vein of "Street Fighting Gang" or "Machine Gun" like they would bust out back in the early days of the band or even "Witchfinder General" or "Let Me Feel Your Power" more recently. Once I moved past that and focused on the powerful mid tempo metal on tap on CALL TO ARMS I realized that this is still a pretty bitchin' album! Great production, excellent performances, and a good batch of songs. I would recommend to all fans of the band.
1. Hammer of the Gods
2. Back in '79
3. Surviving Against the Odds
4. Mists of Avalon
5. Call to Arms
6. Chasing the Bullet
8. When Doomsday Comes (Hybrid Theory)
9. No Rest for the Wicked
10. Ballad of the Working Man
11. Call to Arms (orchestral version)
Biff Byford - Vocals
Paul Quinn - Guitar
Doug Scarratt - Guitar
Nibbs Carter - Bass
Nigel Glockler - Drums
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