Review: Thunderbolt

After near forty years in the music industry and twenty two albums, there appears to be nothing slowing down the band Saxon. The band members are the same age as my grand parents but rock harder than any band out there and their new album, Thunderbolt is no exception. At this point, I honestly cannot remember a time when the band did not have a kick ass album out.

Saxon seems to be a great band for unleashing the energy and passion required to make a great heavy metal album. The sound found on Thunderbolt is the same heavy metallic sound found through albums like Lionheart, Metalhead and Sacrifice. Much like those albums, Thunderbolt is full of really great hooks, vocal melodies and a lot of great lead guitar licks. This is topped with some really great sounding production that gives the album a really nice warm sound and compliments the impact of the instruments perfectly. It also isn’t mastered too high unlike it’s predecessor. I didn’t hear any noticeable audible artefacts that is normally found on modern metal albums, this will please audiophiles without a doubt.

The track list is pretty killer with one hit after the other. It is a nice forty eight minutes in length and is a very easy listen due to some great pacing. Whoever chose the layout of the songs did it wisely. The slow, mid tempo and fast songs have all been separated in an approach to avoid repetition and it does just that. Tracks like the opening Thunderbolt, the ultra heavy Nosferatu (The Vampire’s Waltz) is suitably epic and A Wizard’s Tale is a metal heads dream. There is a very touching tribute to the three amigos (R.I.P. Motörhead) in They Played Rock and Roll. I dare any serious rock or metal fan not to get a bit misty eyes listening to that one. In an interesting turn of events, Predator features a vocal duet with Amon Amarth screamer Johan Hegg. The addition of death metal vocals on a Saxon album is an interesting twist, one that I would genuinely be interested in hearing more of in a minor role, like we hear here.

The big box-set that features the album on vinyl and cassette as well as on CD is a collection well worth owning. The added bonus of a nice pin on badge and a live album is very cool. The sound of all three sound excellent. The vinyl LP was flat, very quiet and sounded very crisp when cranked up. I was impressed at how well the sound of the cassette has aged. It is my first new cassette in around twenty years and it holds its own against both formats, which is impressive considering to most people it is nothing more than a novelty item.

When an album like Thunderbolt is concerned, I think fans are going to be very happy. Despite being the ageing veterans of the genre, Saxon still have the energy and power in their music that will make musicians half their age blush. Their songs are very well crafted, very well recorded and the final product sounds fantastic. No doubt some older fans will not like the modern heavy guitar sounds or the death metal vocals, but anyone who has liked their albums of the last twenty years will be in love within the first minute.

Rating : 9 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Olympus Rising
  2. Thunderbolt
  3. The Secret of Flight
  4. Nosferatu (The Vampire's Waltz)
  5. They Played Rock and Roll
  6. Predator
  7. Sons of Odin
  8. Sniper
  9. A Wizard's Tale
  10. Speed Merchants
  11. Roadie's Song
  12. Nosferatu (raw version)