Saxon – The Inner Sanctum (2007, SPV/Steamhammer)
- State Of Grace
- Need For Speed
- Let Me Feel Your Power
- Red Star Falling
- I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)
- If I Was You
- Going Nowhere Fast
- Ashes To Ashes
- Empire Rising
- Atila The Hun
Biff Byford – Vocals
Paul Quinn – Guitars
Doug Scarratt – Guitars
Nibbs Carter – Bass
Nigel Glockler – Drums, Keyboards
Total Time – 44:40
For the last decade, Saxon has been creating new albums that are a blend of their NWOBHM roots and Power Metal. The band has released five albums with this successful formula over the past decade and they haven’t sounded this good since the mid-80s. THE INNER SANCTUM proves that Saxon is at the top of their game and they can still write some great Heavy Metal songs.
‘State Of Grace’ starts off with a slow intro that builds into the drums, then guitar, and rockets off at a speed pace. Pounding double bass drums and machine gun riffs push up against a somewhat subdued Biff Byford vocal. It’s a fast song that showcases the band’s Power Metal side while retaining their NWOBHM trademark.
Want to go faster? ‘Need For Speed’ speaks for itself. A blistering opening riff kicks the song into high gear. Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt trading lick after lick. Nigel Glockler abuses his kit, pounding the skins like a man half his age. Biff starts to pick up the pace with his trademark wail and scream.
More speed? White hot heat must come from both guitarists fingers because the main riff and solo in ‘Let Me Feel Your Power’ is insane. Similar to ‘Need For Speed’ in that you get the axe acrobatics and Glockler’s frenzied attack. Let’s not forget Nibbs Carter, his fingers must hurt like hell after slapping those bass strings at such a rapid pace. This song could have easily fit on 1999’s METALHEAD, one of the faster Saxon efforts.
The band slows the proceedings down with ‘Red Star Falling’, a ballad that is straight from 1982, pure NWOBHM. There is some layered keyboard on the track but it is more of a slight enhancement. The guitars are right up front taking charge alongside Biff’s superb vocal. This is a new Saxon classic. More of the NWOBHM roots with ‘I’ve Got To Rock (To Stay Alive)’, this sounds like it came from WHEELS OF STEEL (1980) or STRONG ARM OF THE LAW (1981). Almost every album in the band’s extensive catalog has a song with “Rock” in the title. Biff and the boys stay with the program and bash us over the head with this one. The chorus is catchy, a very anthemic song.
‘If I Was You’ is a little faster due to the chugging main riff. It’s not as fast as ‘Let Me Feel Your Power’ but it does the trick. Very heavy sounding…..the guitars sound very thick and Nigel pounds his kit but keeps within the tempo of the song. “going Nowhere Fast’ is traditional NWOBHM Saxon. This is another track that could be found on any of the early ’80s Saxon albums. The main riff has that ’80s tone but it doesn’t make the song sound dated. Another very thick sounding track that has my favorite solo of the album.
A quick drum intro and some lush keys push into a meaty guitar to open ‘Ashes To Ashes’. This is another anthemic style song that retains that classic NWOBHM feel. I don’t like the layered chorus, I would rather Biff sing it with less backing vocals. The ‘Empire Rising’ instrumental sounds similar to the ‘Crusader Prelude’ (CRUSADER, 1984) until it flows into the guitar intro to ‘Atilla The Hun’. ‘Atilla’ is eight minutes chock full of speedy Power Metal mixed with a slowed down heaviness. This song clocks in at just over eight minutes so the album has it’s “epic”. ‘Atilla…’ is a great song, Judas Priest should take note because this is the type of song they should have made for the ANGEL OF RETRIBUTION (2005) instead of ‘Loch Ness’. Again, blistering riffs/solos and another drumming clinic, pure precision and power by Glockler.
If a CD with ten solid songs isn’t enough, the band tacks on a separate DVD with live performances from the last tour. Talk about value, this is what you do to win the fans over…..give them more bang for their buck. I haven’t had a chance to see the DVD yet because the CD has been playing non-stop.
Has Saxon made a bad album in the last decade? No…..and this album continues the successful run. Byford and company have found a comfortable mix of the band’s classic style blended with Euro Power Metal. What shines the most is the drumming of Nigel Glockler. No wonder the band wanted him to come back, the guy plays like he’s twenty years younger.
The band has made an album that stays traditional to their roots while progressing. Favorite songs: all. This is as solid as it gets, I can’t find one subpar song on the record. This is the best album of 2007 for me. Go out and get it!