15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2009
The CD has some classic Saxon moments. Battalions of Steel is a great opener (even if I did think Id bought a Within Temptation CD when the choir kicked in!) and Slow Lane Blues could almost be a sequel to Strong Arm Of The Law. Live to Rock & Valley Of The Kings are other great tracks but there are a few dodgy moments especially Hellcat. Its listed as a 14 track CD but 2 tracks are 40 seconds long and are really introductions to the songs that follow. Its still a strong Saxon album and fans would not be disappointed.
The booklet with the CD shows each member of the band seemingly realising their acting ambitions. Biff is Indiana Jones, Nigel Glockler is Biggles, Paul Quinn is a hitchhiker (Hasn't quite got the hand signal right) , Nibbs Carter seems to be stewing over his shopping list and only Doug Scarrett knows who Doug Scarrett is supposed to be!!
For the DVD content I can hear the sound of a barrel being scraped. "Perceval starring Biff Byford" is a 20 minute Italian mini movie with English subtitles. Biff is unrecognisable looking more like Merlin than King Arthur and is on screen for about 2 minutes total. Its funny to hear Italian spoken with a Yorkshire accent but everyone looks and sounds incredibly bored. Its all very sombre so having Saxons Never Surrender over the end credits seems totally out of place
The next item is a 36 minute German documentary about a lighting Engineer and its as exciting as it sounds. There are a couple of token short clips of the band live and its interesting to see how big a show they put on in Germany. Someone has also been playing games with the subtitles ("When are you gonad to be finished with that"). Its directed by someone called Christian Rapp who seems to want to be known as "Crap." Probably sums up the documentary to be honest.
The third and final item is a 15 minute interview with Biff which is audio only so you end up staring at the menu screen while listening to Biff talk through the CD track by Track. He also states that the next Saxon release will be a CD of old tracks given the acoustic or classical treatment. Cant really see that being a big hit.
I cant imagine many people playing this DVD more than once.
All in all it's a 4.5 CD but as a digipack it's a 3. Go for the cheaper CD only optio
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2009
Like Motorhead? Like Maiden? You'll like this. Uncomplicated but solid metal that is easy to get into and enjoy time and time again.
Put it on in the car and forget the miserable weather and the traffic jams and enjoy some Saxon!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2011
I like Saxon since when I was lent 'Destiny' cassette by a friend to listen to. I liked the album so much that later I bought the CD for my best CD collections. It's one of my favourite albums of all time. They already did many albums. I bought another two - 'Rock The Nations' and 'A Collection Of Metal'. Typical British metal. Then in 2009, I got 'Into The Labyrinth' upon its release. At first I did not like it. Maybe music is mood. The latest 2011's 'Call To Arms', hit me heavy and I went back to looking in the shelf for Labyrinth. And I tell you these two are the albums that prove Saxon still rocks. Heavy riffs, good voice, good lyrics. Typical Saxon. Rock 'N' Roll \,,/,
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 January 2009
Hark; I hear the sound of distant Gregorian chants, the tolling of a bell, a call to ride valiantly into battle - swords held high...Rejoice...it must be a new Saxon album! And indeed it is. Yes, Saxon are back once more, with another incredibly strong album to add to their list of recent releases. It's not as full on heavy metal as Lionheart was, and it's not as Euro-power metal as Inner Sanctum, it's kind of somewhere in between. The tracks flit to an extent between the two camps. Where you'll have a full on track like Sweeney Todd, it'll be followed by the more anthemic Valley of the Kings. Crime of Passion is packed with thrashy riffs, and then comes the power metal of Voice. To my mind, the mix works really well. Then there's a track like Slow Lane Blues which must be a new classic in the making. Or the closing Coming Home which is miles better than I ever hoped to imagine. I'm not a fan of bands re-recording their own material, and Coming Home was only released in it's own right a few years ago. But the guitars on this track are amazing. In fact, the level of musicianship throughout this album is absolutely top drawer.
Will this album pull in any new fans? Maybe not. But if you've been a fan in the past, and let Saxon pass you by for the last decade or so, then this is a brilliant introduction to the sort of thing you've been missing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 31 January 2009
This is the best Saxon album since Rock the Nations. A real return to form from one of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's original gods.
The album also sees Saxon spreading their wings. 'Battalions of Steel' could be a cross between Hammerfall and Nightwish, while 'Coming Home' sees Biff and co. discovering their blues roots for a Southern-tinged ballad.
My only complaint is that there are a few too many fillers. I removed 'Live to Rock', 'Crime of Passion', 'Protect Yourselves' and 'Hellcat' from my playlist and am now left with an almost perfect metal album.
No metalhead should be without this one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
interesting disc,i approached with trepidation as i have to be honest after the class of lion heart i wasnt that impressed with inner sanctum,so it with great relief that i thoroughly enjoyed this album. As per usual biff wraps his lungs round some meaty subjects Battalions of steel/valley of the kings continuing the tradition of mythical and historical subjects to sing about,we also get the standard rockers live to rock/'rock of ages and slow lane blues all guaranteed to make you smile,fillers like sweeny todd and hellcat are still better than average and should be enjoyed not over analysed as some reviewers tend to do,Voice is another attempt at the power ballad and is done well but biff should realise he peaked with suzie hold on and nightmare and the radio wont play it any way,many reviewers online and in print have compared individual tracks to other bands and sure if you listen hard enough you can reference nightwish/manowar/priest/maiden/ac-dc and metallica but that missing the point,saxon music is to be enjoyed with asmile on your face,your feet tapping and yer head shaking,just enjoy this great band and go and see them in april on the uk tour,you wont be disapointed.All in all this is a fine album which sees saxon continue as the uk 's most underrated metal band.
First thing that has struck me by this album is the really excellent production. No, really. Saxon have suffered somewhat over they years by either dodgey records - step forward Innocence' - and often by less than fantastic transfer to CD (or vinyl if you go back that far). The early records sounded rubbish, but you overlooked that because the songs had the raw edge of a coming band. Later on one needs to add a little panache and at last we seem to have it. Okay I'll admit that the last couple of records have put Saxon where they belong in the metal fraternity - back up as a top billing act. But, Into The Labyrinth is much, much better. Stronger songs, a more cohesive sound and oddly enough for me the best bit being a fantastic sounding CD. It really does sound epic. It has the sound of a band who have spent a few bob getting the right sound engineers on board. The transfer to CD is brilliant and when listened over a really good set of headphones it's a head clearing feeling. The best way I can think of putting it is to think to when you have a bad cold - y'know, blocked nose from hell. Then suddenly it clears and the whole world seems clear and open. Well from the start of this CD my head was de-fuzzed with the sound. Opener is the best - Battalions of Steel should become a classic live record. Mind you we may have to get used to some keyboards in there which would be a novelty live. I agree with one previous reviewer as well. This really beats Maiden's last effort easily. Well done Saxon - like a good wine you have matured well.
on 21 April 2009
A step up from the patchy 'Inner Sanctum', but not quite reaching the heights of 'Lionheart' (which doesn't have a weak track on it), this is a fine addition to the vast Saxon catalogue. The dynamite riffs of 'Battalions of Steel' and 'Valley of the Kings' are perfect for Biff's vocal melodrama, and make this a worthwhile purchase alone. Delivering the dependable metal feel without sounding tired - the guitars are crunchy and full, and the production generally is top notch. Elsewhere on the album, 'Demon Sweeney Todd' has a suitable razor sharp edge to it's rant, whilst 'Slow Lane Blues' offers a change of pace that still retains the heaviness you paid your money for. As for the slide version of 'Coming Home', well, why not? It's maybe not a style you'd associate with Saxon, but they've never been afraid to diversify now and then, and it's not too bad. Don't do a whole unplugged album though, chaps. Blimey.
So with 'Live to Rock' delivering the catchy, crowd pleasing sentiment, 'Crime of Passion' giving an air of menace to the proceedings and the solid ballad of 'Voice' there's a nicely balanced feel. The power chords churn out of 'Protect Yourselves', 'Hellcat' feels like a bit of a filler and could easily have been left off, 'Come Rock of Ages' gets back to the quality riffing though and, all in all, this is Saxon doing a superb job. I was there in the '80's, and this album is as good as any they produced then, and delivered with just as much conviction. So if you're hesitating, don't.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
It's now over thirty years since Saxon launched themselves on the heavy metal scene, although they'd already been around for a few years under the name Son Of A Bitch. Despite their vintage, they were adopted wholesale by the burgeoning New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene, having some incredible success in the very early eighties with hit albums like Wheels Of Steel and Strong Arm Of The Law and hit singles such as "And The Bands Played On". They rushed out a series of albums including the legendary live release The Eagle Has Landed, but it all went sour on their home turf, when they broadened their sound in attempt to crack America, and things rapidly went downhill after 1983's Power & The Glory release.
They tried an increasingly commercial approach which hit a nadir with their cover of the Christopher Cross tune "Ride Like The Wind", and a series off lineup changes ended up with two versions of Saxon doing the rounds before the version led by vocalist Peter "Biff" Byford won the legal battle. However, they always maintained a strong presence in the metal heartland of Germany, and remained beloved by many for inspiring the writers of "This Is Spinal Tap". Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer have confirmed that Saxon was a major inspiration for the 1984 mockumentary and they copied many of Saxon's mannerisms on stage. This came about after Harry Shearer toured with the band in 1981, hearing anecdotes from lead guitarist Graham Oliver and bassist Steve "Dobby" Dawson. Shearer also copied many of Dawson's mannerisms, such as playing his bass with one hand plucking the strings while the other one points to the crowd and he even sported a moustache just like Dawson's.
The nineties and the new millennium saw them releasing a series of strong but unheard albums as they toiled away in the farther reaches of Europe until 2007 saw them the subjects of an episode of legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith's Get Your Act Together TV series. Despite (or because) of the clashes with Goldsmith their popularity in the UK soared and the resulting single "If I Was You" (a song about gun culture), went to number one on the Rock charts in over 10 countries. Saxon then sold out the City Hall in their hometown of Sheffield, resulting in their biggest UK date in over 15 years. They also became the most talked about band at the 2008 Download Festival, despite being on the third stage. They cemented this stunning comeback by releasing their strongest album in over a decade, The Inner Sanctum, and setting out on headline treks across the UK. The end of the year saw them touring with fellow veterans Motorhead, leading to this, their 18th studio album.
Into the Labyrinth sees them continuing to mine the power metal template that has sustained them during the lean years and is another strong album. The opening number "Battalions of Steel" is a somewhat laboured and generic number, but is rapidly followed by their last single "Live to Rock", the latest in a long line of metal anthems that gets the album back onto solid ground, something that continues on "Demon Sweeney Todd" and "Valley of the Kings".
They then throw a curve ball by throwing in a seriously rocking blues number called "Slow Lane Blues", which not only surprises, but ends up as one of the strongest tracks on the album. Then it's back to the metal for the remainder of the album with "Protect Yourselves" and "Come Rock of Ages (The Circle is Complete)" probably the strongest of the songs on offer. They end the album by revisiting a number from their Killing Ground album in the shape of "Coming Home", but done in a bottleneck slide guitar version, in a similar vein to Motorheads "Whorehouse Blues" of a few years back. Apparently they have plans for an acoustic album, and if this is a taster, then bring it on. There will also be an additional 14th track available only on download on the day of release (12th January).
It's another strong album as Saxon continue on one of the more unlikely metal comebacks, although not as instant as The Inner Sanctum. However, there is more than enough metal to keep the legions of denim and leather happy.
on 8 March 2009
This is a resounding return to form from Saxon. Live I think a number of these tracks will set the place alight. There is a little over-production in some of the intros but the core sound is very tight and hard. The drumming from Nigel is just amazing and the production lets it rip. The riffing is powerful and incisive and some way from the earlier sound. The lyrics are martial and q curt adding to the speed and power of the majority of tracks. The slower ones giving Biff more scope for words and emotion. I bought this with some other new albums and it was more resonant than they were days after. Highlights for me were the titanic opener Battalions of steel, Hellcat (with it's intriguing nods to Motorhead and Def Leppard) and the zinging Sweeney Todd which gets better each time apart from the fey intro. This is a good addition.