Released: 2007, Steamhammer/SPV
One of the legends of heavy metal, the steadfast Saxon, returns with THE INNER SANCTUM. More so than on the band's past couple of releases, the mix of classic heavy metal is combined with the quasi power metal of recent albums. Of course the album's sound is brilliant with mastermind Charlie Bauerfeind producing. One production note to make is that you can really hear the bass guitar on this album, something you usually don't notice on many metal albums...and Nibbs sounds fkn great! Fans of older Saxon material will be pleased with some of the more rocking songs while fans of the speedy power metal overtones found on recent albums will not be let down.
THE INNER SANCTUM opens with the song “State of Grace”. After a short intro the guitar part that cuts in has a unique chording sound that is not commonly employed by the band. When the drum rolls of returned skinsman Nigel Glockler comes in you will be impressed. He hasn't lost a thing, and if anything, he's better now that you probably remember. The song “State of Grace” is a great opener and is one of the heavier songs. It's followed by the one-two knock out punches “Need For Speed”and “Let Me Feel Your Power”. Don't be surprised if you find the speedometer creeping up in your car if you're cranking “Need For Speed”. Nigel's double kicking drives both tracks along making them some of the better songs of the album. By the fourth song in you'll need a breather, and it's provided with one of the band's best-penned ballads “Red Star Falling”. Biff sounds absolutely amazing on this one (and throughout the album!). Like fine wine, his pipes impress more with age as does the delivery, timing, and melodies of the lyrics. After this ballad, we get a flash back to the (solid ball of ) hard rocking 80's with the song “I've Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)”. Depending on what you are into, you'll either love or be bored by the ground being re-tread on here. If it's not totally your cup of tea, remember, who better than Saxon to include a song like this on their album – they were there, they helped forge the sound so having it on here is OK in my books. One other nod to the style is paid with the track “Goin' Nowhere Fast”. The next big standout comes after the short intro of “Empire Rising”, with the albums last song “Atila The Hun”. This begins with a very cool riff that stands out on the album due to its heaviness and slight discordant phrasing. The song is perhaps the best on the CD and offers a killer album closer.
While Saxon might not offer a lot of new sounding material, would you really want them too? The fact that they are still here, still very much relevant, and kicking the ass of most metal bands half their age is a testament to the fact that they are doing something right. Thank the gods that Saxon are not content to be a nostalgia act but are putting out such high quality true heavy metal in 2007! Here's to many more years and albums!!