By Bob Nalbandian

Heavy Metal Thunder

Make note - this CD is NOT a greatest hits record featuring the original renditions, rather it features re-recorded versions of Saxon's most popular tracks from their hungry years (ie: up through the Crusader album). Being an avid Saxon fan since the release of Wheels Of Steel in 1980, I find this collection to be a fraudulent attempt by the label to capitalize on the young metal-buying crowd by misleading them to think this is a "true" collection of Saxon's greatest hits. Frankly, I've heard better tribute albums than this, and I consider this CD nothing more than a glorified tribute record. But what is more disappointing is the fact that this CD could have been much, much stronger. The idea is a grand one - many times I've dreamed of artists (particularly from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal era) to record new versions of old classics. Let's face it, technology has become much more advanced within the past 20 years and considering most the NWOBHM albums and singles released in the early 80's suffered severely from poor production (many were low-budget garage recordings), newly recorded renditions of these classic metal songs would be an awesome treat. And seeing that Saxon's last few studio albums (Killing Ground, Metal Head, Unleash The Beast) were brilliantly produced, I was expecting a monster of an album with Heavy Metal Thunder. Instead we get a CD of songs that sounds as if the band was rushed into the studio for the simple sake of producing a "cover" album. In fact, it sounds as if these songs were recorded live in the studio. The mix is horrible and Biff's vocals sound worn. Why record the tracks if they're not as good as the original, I ask! My reasoning is this...either their original label Carrere wouldn't give up the rights for the original masters, or it has to do with the ongoing feud between Saxon leader/vocalist Biff Byford and former original Saxon guitarist Graham Oliver. Who knows the real reason, all I know is that this CD is doesn't live up to par.

Nonetheless, there are some noteworthy renditions included in this package, particularly the title cut; "Heavy Metal Thunder," "And The Band's Played On," "Princess Of The Night," and "Strong Arm Of The Law." This package also comes with a second CD featuring five tracks recording live in San Antonio, TX in 2000 (as well as a bonus video track of "Killing Ground"). This CD isn't even worth mentioning, as the recording quality is bootleg at best. It sounds as if it was recorded directly off the soundboard without any mix (you can't here the audience at all) confirming my assumption that this package was thrown together for the sole purposes of making a buck. Don't get me wrong...the songs are classic, and any metal fan unfamiliar with classic-era Saxon will likely find this CD extraordinary. But for those of us who know better, this isn't classic era Saxon and we won't be fooled again. BN

Shockwaves CD REVIEWS ISSUE 8 Page 3