SAXON “Carpe Diem”
By Dr. Abner Mality
This album comes like an answer to a prayer, a prayer that one of the forefathers of British metal reclaim their full glory in the twilight of their career. “Carpe Diem” is all that and more. This is a defining album for SAXON just as much as “Wheels of Steel” and “Denim and Leather”. It’s the sound of a band reborn and ready to kick down the walls.
Over their lengthy career, SAXON have rarely disappointed, but there is something fundamentally different about this one. The energy level is much higher, the songs are bursting with metallic passion and everything is dialled up several notches. It hits you with the urgency of the title track...this is headbanging music, with echoes of SAXON’s earliest days. And no, that track is not a fluke...the immediate follow up “Age of Steam” shows they are not playing around. This is the fastest, heaviest version of SAXON that we’ve ever heard. “Dambusters”, “Super Nova”, “All For One” and “Living On the Limit” are like race cars ready to burst out of the gate.
It’s more than just speed and grit that drives this album, but also good songwriting and heart. The slower, more epic side of the band comes out on “The Pilgrimage” (with echoes of “Crusader” in it), the ominous “Lady In Gray” and grinding “Black Is The Night”. Even these are heavier than what we’ve been hearing recently, and the guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrat are on fire. Best track of all might be the heartfelt “Remember the Fallen”, which is about the Covid pandemic. This one sinks in deep and hard, a great song. Biff’s historically tinged lyrics make each song an interesting story, whether it’s about the Three Musketeers (“All For One”), ghosts (“Lady In Gray”) or the Roman conquest of Britain (“Carpe Diem”). They’ve always been a strong part of SAXON’s appeal but never more than here
Front to back, this is one of the best SAXON albums ever. Biff’s time off to do HEAVY WATER and his solo album has done him and the band a world of good. Take it from me, if you want to get one pure heavy metal record this year, make it this one!