SAXON – Carpe Diem (2022) HQ

SAXON - Carpe Diem (2022) full

Iconic British classic metal legends SAXON are about to release their 23rd studio album ”Carpe Diem”. After put out a cool cover album with ‘Inspiration’ in 2021, “Carpe Diem” is again full of powerful Saxon sound, confirming they still are – and always was – one of the ‘true classic metal’ acts keeping the flame alive.
This should be among their most consistent album in the last 25 years, and pack everything you want in a traditional, old-school metal LP. One of the U.K.’s longest active crew of headbangers proving themselves to be as vital now as they were over four decades ago.

On “Carpe Diem”, the same vintage NWoBHM goods Saxon has churned out like clockwork for 40-plus years. It’s anthemic ’80s metal with one foot in the past and the other in the grave (yours not theirs).
However, there must have been something unusual going on at Saxon head quarters when they crafted this album. It’s one of the heaviest, most consistently ass-kicking efforts the band’s managed in many years and the material sounds full of piss, apple cider vinegar, and brimstone (and cloves).

Song after song showcases the band’s ability to forge classic metal tuneage sure to trigger waves of nostalgia in anyone old as dirt like Finely Aged Steel. Though I’ve enjoyed the past few releases, I’m surprised and impressed by the improvement these proper geezers have managed here.
The opening title track is classic Saxon but with extra punchy riffs and a more urgent feel. Eternal frontman Biff Byford is in fine form considering he had a heart attack not long ago, and when he sings the key line, “They came, they saw, they conquered” it feels like the early days of the NWoBHM all over again.

“Age of Steam” borrows the heft of Primal Fear for a kind of call back to “Princess of the Night” and it’s one of the most spry, in-your-face tunes Saxon has birthed. “The Pilgrimage” is the kind of epic metal anthem old heads like me live for, recalling the grandeur of their all-time hit “Crusader.” There’s more than a little Iron Maiden percolating in the guitar work – in fact, real NWoBHM riffs – and this one stuck in your ears and brain all day.

Song after song hits and metal pleasure center with unrelenting forward momentum and crackling energy. “Dambusters” could have appeared on the recent Blaze Bayley opus, “Remember the Fallen” joins the pantheon of songs Saxon should play live every time, and “All For One” knowingly winks at the main riff and structure of “Power and the Glory.”
Even the measured bombast of power ballad “Lady in Gray” works because the tempos are kept lively and the riffs crunchy.

At a trim 45 minutes, there’s no fat to excise nor filler to drop. The album flies by with every song offering hooks and headbanging goodness. Add a stout production job by Andy Sneap with an emphasis on the heavy guitars, and you have an album that sounds like the product of a much younger band.
It’s the amped-up guitar work by Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt that drives Carpe Diem like a crazed cattle rancher. Biff sounds like Biff and sometimes a younger version of Biff, crooning and warbling over the riffs and adding tons of seasoned stage personality to the compositions. He’s never mentioned in the conversation with the likes of Dickinson and Halford, but he’s been at this for 44 years and has one of the most distinctive voices in metal.

Strong performances aside, the writing here is vastly improved from their last albums and every song has strong hooks and replay value. Maybe it’s unfair, but when I compare this to the latest Maiden album, the side-by-side is not flattering for the Kings of NWoBHM. They could certainly learn a few things from Saxon about editing and self-restraint.
“Carpe Diem” serves as a testament that SAXON still has plenty of bullets left in their guns and showcases a band entering their fifth decade of existence with fire still burning.
Highly Recommended


01 – Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)
02 – Age of Steam
03 – The Pilgrimage
04 – Dambusters
05 – Remember the Fallen
06 – Super Nova
07 – Lady in Gray
08 – All for One
09 – Black Is the Night
10 – Living on the Limit

Biff Byford – vocals
Paul Quinn, Doug Scarratt – guitars
Nibbs Carter – bass
Nigel Glockler – drums


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