SAXON - Biff! Bang! Pow!
by Martin Popoff
If Maiden have become a near classic rock institution the world over, Saxon are doing much the same in the tighter confines of Europe, regularly recording and touring, with only, really, North America yet to (re)conquer. I mean, things were pretty good for the band in America in the mid'80s, with Denim And Leather, Power And The Glory and Crusader marking the pinnacle of packages like the one I got to experience - Maiden/Saxon/Fastway., Biff in white, hair flyin'... power and glory indeed.
And like Motorhead - a band from the same well, but with a whole different career dynamic again - Saxon are making their best music right now, not that anyone's going to believe it. The Inner Sanctum is the latest rock-solid record, offering up booming productions of rootsy rooted classic metal with, not so much modern characteristics, but modern competitive fire.
"I think production-wise, it's pretty following on, improving all the time," ponders head Saxon wagoneer Biff Byford, asked to define a few contours on the new platter. "I think it's a good mixture of the Saxon styles, sort of half heavy metal, half rock 'n' roll, and that's really where we are, you know what I mean? We started off as a mixture of the two, and we more or less have moved back to that lately. But I think the album gives a good facet of all sides of Saxon, the different influences in the band. I just think it's quite entertaining. I mean, a lot of people really dig it, because it's not just one song all the way through. They all have different values. For instance, a lot of younger fans are getting into the band by buying the old catalog, so they're into the rock 'n' roll element as well. So we're in a bit of a win/win situation at the moment. And everything is working in Europe right now for us, and hopefully that will move across the Atlantic."
"I think there are some quite unique things," adds Biff, delving into a bit of the record's detail. "For example the first track, 'State Of Grace'. I'm dealing with some difficult subjects there to deal with in the heavy metal genre, cathedrals and things. I like approaching quite odd stories. And we've gotten a little bit more prog rocky on this. That one has quite a few prog rock elements in the middle, and 'Atila The Hun' is quite a long progressive song. So we are dealing with more of our musical side, and I think that comes more from me and Paul, because we were into prog rock when we were young. So some of the songs are meant to be more musical, and less about catchy melodies."
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