Saxon, Inspirations (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Iconic British heavy metal band Saxon releases a collection of cover songs from the musicians who have inspired them over the years.

One of the first bands you think of when somebody utters the phrase New Wave of British Heavy Metal is surely Saxon. Their first album (self-titled) came out in 1979 and they have powered forward ever since. It is astonishing. Having release more than twenty-four long-players now, plus many live sets, compilations, etc., the history of this band would require a book-length telling.

The album includes eleven tracks: “Paint It Black,” The Rolling Stones; “Paperback Writer,” The Beatles; “Stone Free,” Jimi Hendrix; “Bomber,” Motörhead; “Problem Child,” AC/DC; “Evil Woman,” Crow (covered by Black Sabbath); “Speed King,” Deep Purple; “The Rocker,” Thin Lizzy; “Immigrant Song,” Led Zeppelin; “See My Friends,” The Kinks; and “Hold The Line,” Toto.

That is quite a list, and there is at least one of those on there that looks like it might not belong. But they all do. Many of these songs, being classics, have been covered before by other bands and even still these new versions are most welcome additions to the history of those tunes. I especially like the ones that haven’t seen the re-recording much, or at all, for the novelty and also for the respect Saxon is paying those works.

Thin Lizzy is one of my all-time favorite bands, and hearing the pumped up version of “The Rocker” brought a smile. A cover of a cover is an oddity, but this new version of “Evil Woman” is a stone cold killer. That meandering bass line is amazing. I could do this for every song because there is something special about them all, but I’ll spare you that indulgence. But still, what about that Toto song? “Hold The Line” was a solid radio standard back in the day and it rocks as hard as it can here. The closer is the tune from the Kinks, and it is the closest thing to a ballad on the album. It is melancholy and mellow; a good song for last call.

Inspirations is a great walk down memory lane. The songs are well chosen and the new versions are full of vigor and renewed energy. Available now from Silver Lining Music, this is an album every metal fan needs to hear. Highly recommended.

Links.

Website, https://www.saxon747.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/SaxonOfficial/

Saxon, Inspirations (Silver Lining Music 2021)

Black Soul Horde, Land of Demise (2020)

Heavy riffs are pulsing from the Greek Islands as Black Soul Horde release their second album.

It has been a while since we heard new music from Athens heavy metal band Black Soul Horde. Their first album, Tales Of The Ancient Ones, came out in 2013. There have been a lot of twists and turns since then, but, whatever road had to be traveled, the journey was a success because the new album is a showcase of old school metal. The primary driving force in the band is John Tsiakopoulos (guitars and bass), who also did all the producing and technical studio work. John is joined on Land of Demise by Jim Kotsis (vocals) and Costas Papaspyrou (guitar solos), with session drumming by Vasilis Nanos.

The musical style is a classic brand of heavy metal with clear New Wave Of British Heavy Metal roots. You can hear this in the vocals particularly but also in the rhythm and riffs. The percussion is more on the contemporary metal side and this overall combination seasons the songs for a crossover palate.

“Stone Giants” gets things started with a confident thumping tick and growing feedback consolidating into a theatrical opening (ala Vivian Campbell on Holy Diver, say). You start to get a sense of the scale of the musical composition as early as the second song “Into The Badlands,” where elements of epic metal show through, the drums really start roar, and a generous lead break makes its appearance.

Fantasy strands are persistent in the narrative themes and they shape the overall feel of the album. The songs are held in the four minute range, making them confrontable. The final songs are every bit as strong as the ones in the middle and the beginning. Indeed, the lead work winds up to new levels near the end in “Lord Of All Darkness” and, the closer, “Iron Will,” is a raging torrent with sinister outro. This album is definitely throwing up sparks. Recommended.

Land Of Demise had been delayed for a little while because of the pandemic. The digital is out now, with a CD release slated for December 14th, followed by the vinyl early in February.

Links.

Bandcamp, http://blacksoulhorde.bandcamp.com

Facebook, http://facebook.com/blacksoulhorde

Black Soul Horde, Land of Demise (2020)

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)

For the 40th anniversary of the seminal album Lightning To The Nations, Diamond Head has re-recorded it in its entirety.

It is hard to overstate the impact of Diamond Head on heavy music. The album in question came out in 1980 on the vanguard of the New Wave OF British Heavy Metal, inspiring many bands, including, famously, Metallica. They released three full length albums in the 1980s, had a short resurrection in the 1990s, and since 2005 have been producing new music regularly, including last year’s The Coffin Train. Founding member Brian Tatler (guitar) is joined by Rasmus Bom Andersen (vocals), Karl Wilcox (drums), Andrew “Abbz” Abberley (guitar), and Dean Ashton (bass, organ) for the new recording.

Lightning To The Nations 2020 sounds amazing, and comparing it to the original is challenging unless you grabbed and held onto one of those early LPs. There was a remastered version of this album released in 2011 and it is on Spotify, so you can track-by-track those two, if you like. There are noticeable differences, but all my money is on this year’s release as it is crisp and deep, and it is the newest incarnation of the music presented the way Brian Tatler wants it to be. The two songs that get most of the attention are “Am I Evil” and “It’s Electric” – deservedly so because they are outstanding. Still, there are big riffs and fantastic lead work throughout the entirety of the recording, so don’t skip the others.

Besides revitalizing the seven original songs, there are also four covers: “No Remorse” (Metallica), “Immigrant Song” (Led Zepplin), “Sinner” (Judas Priest), and “Rat Bat Blue” (Deep Purple). My favorite is the Deep Purple cover. If I had been asked which Deep Purple song Diamond Head would cover having such a rich catalog to choose from, “Rat Bat Blue” would not have been very high on my list, but it is absolutely fantastic. Guitars stand in for the crazy keyboards of the original, and this new one cracks.

Additional info and links below. If you are a fan of this classic music, it is time to start debating which version you like best. If you are hearing it all for the first time, just sit back and enjoy. Recommended.

Band photo by Nic Gaunt.

Links.

Wesbite, http://www.diamondheadofficial.com

Band Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/DiamondHeadOfficial/

Silver Lining Music, http://sl-music.net

SLM Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/Silver.Lining.Music.Ltd

Diamond Head, Lightning To The Nations 2020 review (Silver Lining Music 2020)