Ah, the mighty Saxon is back again with another shot of British Heavy Metal.
Carpe Diem is Saxon’s 23rd studio album, and is set to be released on February 4th, 2022, through Silver Lining Music. Produced by Andy Sneap (some of you might know him as Judas Priest’s newest live guitarist), Saxon have seized the day and released an album that, according to their press release, “strikes the ear as one of the most essential British metal statements of the last few years…an album which will ignite the joy in stalwart supporters and attract a whole new legion to the Saxon fold.”
Before we start the First Reaction, let’s sit and marvel at the beast that is SAXON. 23 studio albums since 1979. That’s a shit ton of albums. The band hasn’t gone more than three years without a new studio release. To make that even more impressive, lead singer Biff Byford suffered a heart attack in 2019, and still released a new album in 2022. They have influenced countless bands, including Motley Crue, Metallica, Dream Theater and Pantera.
If you’re new to Let’s Rock, welcome! I’m glad you are here. Our reviews are a little different than on other sites. It’s a First Reaction review, meaning I just chill out with Geddy The Rock Dog, turn the album up loud and write shit down as I listen to it for the first time.
Here we go!!
Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
Eerie keyboards to start things off. Good lord. This kicks in hard. How old is Biff? 70? He sounds incredible. The first thing that I notice is the production…The drums sounds massive. The guitars are….ooh cool riff to start the solo. This is shreddin’. Tasty ending to the solo. That, right there, is exactly what I think of when I think of a Saxon guitar solo. Great sound on the guitars. I have a feeling this album is gonna plow. Sweet tune.
Age of Steam
Killer riff. The drums…This is heavy. I’m gonna have to relisten to old Saxon albums. I remember them being heavy, but not this heavy. ‘Here comes the revolution, here comes the age of steam”. More of a laid back solo. Very bluesy/metal. I wish I knew which guitar player was doing each solo. These guys, Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt, are killer players. I know Quinn has been there from the beginning and Scarratt since 1997’s Unleash The Beast, but I don’t know their styles well enough to know who is rippin’ out each solo. Regardless, they’re good. Yep, that’s a heavy metal song…and a damn good one.
Eerie keys again. I have a feeling this song might be about some kind of a journey. Clean guitar to open it up. Beautiful sound. That voice. Does Biff get enough credit as one of the great metal singers? He has to be right up there. Yep, he mentions a journey…”The journey has begun, we’re marching on and on.”Bassist Nibbs with the breakdown. Very cool transition. Super mellow, into a sexy little solo. I like that the solos are not all just shredding, super fast, face melters. They have a serious feel and emotion to them, Love it.
Just by the title, I’m guessing this is a barn-burner. Yep. Wow. Nigel is a beast on the drums. It’s nothing too showy, but definitely solid and in your face. Wah Wah solo. I LOVE HARMONY GUITAR LEADS. Now this solo is a face melter. There is so much lead guitar on this album. Great solos and little lead riffs all over the place. Very cool ending. Saxon fans are gonna love this shit. And if you aren’t a Saxon fan, what the hell?
Remember the Fallen
Ah, I’ve heard this one before. It was released as a single. It’s apparently about people who have died from Covid. “When this war is done, we’ll never be the same.” This is straight-forward Saxon metal. It’s exactly what you expect from a Saxon tune. “Is it never-ending, will we ever be free?’ I wonder the same thing. It’s a solid song, but not my favourite so far. I think the previous had a little more creativity and power. Oooh, Biff sounds good at the end. Nice outro solo. It’s good, just not as powerful as the others.
I can’t get over the production and mixing. Everything sounds great on Carpe Diem. Super Nova is fast. This brings me back to the Judas Priest Firepower tour in Ottawa. Saxon opened the show and tore the roof off the place. Aggressive, powerful band live and on this album, that aggressiveness shines through. Great riffs in this song. Why is this band not as big as some of the other New Wave Of British Heavy Metal bands?
Lady In Gray
A ghost song. “She’s supernatural, my lady in Gray.” The voice really stands out on this song. How does Biff do it? This is the first time I’ve noticed, but the guitar sounds really remind me of Priest’s Firepower. Similar sound. I’m not saying the riffs are the same, just the sound. I am a big fan of the Firepower album, and especially Richie Faulkner’s guitar sound. This song was just OK for me. I love the singing and it had a great guitar solo, but it was a little repetitive for my liking.
All for One
Lots of guitar solos in this one, and that makes me happy. A short and sweet, power-chord induced rocker, this one is. The chorus might be a little cliche, (all for one, one for all) but the overall song gets your blood flowing. This one will be fun live. Have I mentioned that I like guitar solos. Also, as a novice drummer, who is just learning how to more than simply boom cha boom boom cha, it’s really fun to study Nigel’s drumming on this album. He’s in a pocket throughout this album and I’m thoroughly enjoying his playing. Again, nothing overly flashy, just solid rock drumming.
Black is the Night
Great opening riff. Again, straight ahead rock. Nice breakdown into the solo. Saxon does this well. Tasty solo, I’m totally expecting it to pick up pace and start ripping. Nope, back into the opening riff. That’s a good one. Lots of chugging on Black Is The Night. Oh, it’s over. I wasn’t expecting that.
Living On the Limit
Wow, this is very 80s sounding. DRUMS DRUMS DRUMS!!! I can definitely hear how Metallica were influenced by Saxon. Or did Metallica influence this song? Another harmony lead. They do this well. Very Thin Lizzy/Judas Priest-ish. This tune is short. Under three minutes, but it plows.
Carpe Diem, simply put, rocks. Saxon has continued their legacy as one of the hardest-working, most consistent metal bands of all time. The riffs on Carpe Diem are huge, the drums and bass are locked in and Biff is…well…Biff. All the tracks on this album will be a joy to listen to live. Even Geddy The Rock Dog stuck around for the whole album.
Hopefully, this pandemic will end soon and we can get these guys to Canada for a cross country tour.
BIFF BYFORD – Vocals
PAUL QUINN – Guitar
NIGEL GLOCKLER – Drums
DOUG SCARRATT – Guitar
NIBBS CARTER – Bass