Released: 2002, Steamhammer/SPV
Saxon are one of the best bands from the 80’s NWOBHM movement who in the past number of years have really regained their place in many a metal fan’s heart. Not many bands come close to the magic encapsulated by classic heavy metal like Saxon. Saxon deserves as much respect as has been given to their peers like Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Judas Priest. In some circles they do get that respect, but in some, people seem to overlook them. Saxon has stayed true to their roots and has not followed any trend, instead continuing to play the music that they (and their fans) love - HEAVY METAL! There might have been a few downsides throughout their long career, but with any band who has been around as long as Saxon, there are bound to be some moments that are not as memorable. I can’t stress how much respect I have for this band and for what they have done and what they still continue to do for classic heavy metal!! Anyway, onto this album – HEAVY METAL THUNDER.
This is a 2 CD set, or one CD with a bonus CD – depending on how you look at it I guess. The first CD contains 13 re-recorded classic songs. I know some die-hards will complain that you shouldn’t mess with the past. The thing is though; they didn’t “mess” with anything here. The songs are not re-written or played that differently. What we have are 13 songs that sound VERY crisp and clear unlike SOME of the original recordings. Musically, you can’t make songs like “Princess of the Night”, “Crusader”, “Power and the Glory”, or Denim & Leather” better than they already are – just better sounding. Biff’s vocals sound excellent; his voice hasn’t changed that much since the 80’s. He can still sing circles around many about ½ his age. All hail Biff!!! Many Saxon fans will no doubt grab a copy of this as soon as they can, but this CD also serves another purpose. Some younger metal fans might want an overview of Saxon’s material rather than buying one album. This album is a great starting point. If you love power metal, then like Rainbow, Saxon is one of the bands that helped set the pathway to what we call power metal today. The booklet for the CD is decent; too bad they didn’t print the lyrics or add liner notes from the band on why they picked these songs. The history section is a bit short and some sections show that it was written a bit too early for this release (i.e. it’s mentioned that they should have “Biff’s Budgie” restored for Wacken 2001!!). I would have preferred something longer (even a longer CD would have been nice haha).
The second “bonus” CD for HEAVY METAL THUNDER contains 5 songs from a live bootleg from San Antonio, TX, USA from 2002. The sound quality here is not the best. It’s far from shit, but it could have been better. CD 2 is made special by the video for “Killing Ground” filmed at Wacken in 2001. The sound and picture of this looks fantastic. I would of preferred it if CD 2 was 6 video files, but I can’t complain too much. This whets the appetite for the forthcoming Saxon DVD set for release sometime in March 2003.
If you’re like me and love classic heavy metal, then Saxon is a band that should be close to the top of your list. If not, at least buy this CD and give them a chance, it’s about time considering Saxon have been on the scene since 1979!