By Colonel Angus

Saxon is one of the bands that started the NWOBHM movement and since their inception, they have never stopped releasing new music or touring.  They have been a constant in an ever changing heavy metal scene.  "Thunderbolt" is their 22nd studio album and it is released during their “second” classic era.  What I mean by that is everyone can agree they had a classic era early on from 1980 to 1983 with 4 records that need to be included in any metal collection.  Starting with "Wheels of Steel" and finishing with "Power and the Glory", they created a blueprint for metal bands that followed.  While I am a fan of all their albums (yes, even "Destiny"), I have to admit that they are in the midst of a second classic period.  Since 1995’s "Dog of War", the band have released great album after great album and "Thunderbolt" continues the tradition.

The words “where do I start” keep popping into my head while I write this review.  I have only lived with "Thunderbolt" for a short time but I must have listened to it a few dozen times.  It is the product of a band that really is still viable and show no sign of slowing down.  Tracks like “Speed Merchant” and “They Played Rock and Roll” (the latter dedicated to Lemmy and Motorhead) will please Saxon fans who prefer their metal a little faster while fans of latter day Saxon will gravitate towards the title track and “Predator”.  Even fans from the old days will appreciate “Roadie’s Song” which would have fit nicely on any of their records form 1980 through 1983.  Even though I only mention a handful of tunes, let it be clear, the whole disk is top notch from start to finish. 

"Thunderbolt" has everything you want from a Saxon record.  The riffing is heavy, melodic, and catchy all rolled up in each song.  Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt have become “the guitar duo” for 2 decades. The vocal performance by Biff is as good as it has ever been.  Often times, age wreaks havoc on the voice but Biff sounds great and really hasn’t lost any of his vocal prowess.  Nigel Glockler, who suffered a brain aneurysm in 2014, continues to prove that he is tougher than most and bashes away at his poor drum kit like he is auditioning for the band.  The line-up is completed with Nibs Carter who while putting in a solid performance here, is much more important when they hit the stage.  I really enjoy his on stage antics and a Saxon show wouldn’t be the same without him (here that UFO/Pete Way).  I know that this is a gushing review but the only negative thing I can say about "Thunderbolt" is that as time passes, some of the tracks will not be “set list” worthy.  That being said, for the time being, I can’t wait to catch them on this tour so I can hear these tunes in a live setting where they belong.