Every song on Sacrifice screams, bleeds and oozes of traditional heavy metal.
Saxon has slowly changed their sound, little by little on each album. This makes for a great continuity. If you make a few leaps through their catalog, the change is obvious, but if go through album by album the changes are subtle and sometimes hard to spot. Sacrifice is in this view the next logical step for Saxon, after the mediocre Call to Arms and the brilliant Into the Labyrinth.
Sacirifce holds on to the faster pace and the big riffs of their later work, but also the darkness of their late 90’s /early 2000 sound (notably Metalhead and Killing Ground) and yet retains the playfulness of their 80’s material. But the most important benchmark of Saxon is also very much present on Sacrifice, Biffs unbelievable vocals and melodies make it seem like his voice is only getting better better with age. He’s got the power, gruffness, the reach and the screech, and an amazing sense of melody. I must admit that a lot of Saxons songs would be nothing with any other singer.
The record starts off with Procession, your typical instrumental opener, no worse or better than others of this particular breed of opening tracks. When the guitars start up with the riff for the title track, you know your in for some great heavy metal. Sacrifice is Saxon at their finest, great sing-a-long chorus, big epic riff, steady headbanging beat and soaring vocals.
Made in Belfast is the second song, with a nice mid-paced riff for the verse, and maybe the only weak chorus of the entire album. This song also features a fun melodic middle section. Saxon seem to a have the need to have at least one song on each album about playing in a band and / or going to a concert, and one song about riding motorcycles, and Sacrifice is no exception to this rule. Warriors of the Road is faster song about motorcycles, with a great sing-a-long chorus.
Guardians of the tomb is a song of epic proportions. The vocals are great, especially on the chorus. I would have wished for a little more from the gentlemen Quinn and Scarrot at the beginning of the song, but again the middle section more than makes up for it. Stand Up and Fight has that certain live-feel, I can easily picture myself rocking out to this song at Saxon shows in the years to come. This song takes care of the need to sing about the pleasures of being in a band
Walking the Steel is somewhat darker than the rest of the album. I wish that Andy Sneap would have changed up the sound a bit for this, and given it a bit more depth. Nibbs has a few amazing basslines and the vocals are amazing, guitars get a little repetative though.
Night of the Wolf is an instant foot-tapper. Great riffs, great chorus, great song, nothing more to say really.
Wheels of Terror is another mid-tempo song, and one of the weaker songs on the album, but again with the great middle section.
The weirdest song is the closing song, Standing in a Que. The lyrics deliver what the title promises and tells different stories about situations where one would stand in line. A friend of mine used to say that boring subjects makes for boring songs, this song proves him wrong. A great way to finish of the record.
The bonus track Luck of the Draw features some of the best guitar work on the entire album. This is a great song, with a good chorus and fist pumping rhythm throughout.
Sacrifice is great proof that this band knows how to rock! With a few miner letdowns, this album solid. Saxon wont win hordes of new fans with this particular brand of heavy metal, but neither will they disappoint fans of their earlier work. Sacrifice is a solid release from Saxon, and with Andy Sneap producing you know the sound is going to be great. My wish for the future is that they pace themselves and embrace the fact that time may have come to not release a new album every year and half, and give it a rest with the live records.
Rating: 4 / 5
Procession (instrumental /intro)
Made in Belfast
Warriors of the Road
Guardians of the tomb
Stand Up and Fight
Walking the Steel
Night of the Wolf
Wheels of Terror
Standing in a Que
Luck of the Draw (bonus track)