"It won’t change the face of music or knock the world off its axis, but Hell, Fire And Damnation is yet another damned fine addition." Saxon's new album emphatically ticks all the heavy metal boxes you're looking for

Saxon's twenty-fourth studio album brings the kind of heavy metal thunder you'd expect. And we wouldn't have it any other way

Saxon in 2024
(Image: © Ned Wakeman)

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2022's Carpe Diem saw Saxon breach the UK album chart Top 20 for the first time since 1984’s Crusader, but it didn’t mark a huge resurgence. They’ve had the odd dip, of course, but Saxon never went away and, over the course of an impressive 23-album back catalogue, they’ve retained a remarkable consistency. They have their own place in metal history, an established fanbase and an instantly recognisable sound. On album 24 they’re not likely to be presenting anything jaw-droppingly different, so the main question Hell, Fire And Damnation has to answer is whether it succeeds on the band’s own terms.

The answer is a resounding yes. Over the years, Saxon have dabbled in grandiose power metal and close-to- speed-metal bangers. The core remains the same mid-paced fists-in-the-air anthems they’ve been forging since their NWOBHM glory days, however, and it’s a format they’ve now honed to perfection. The album starts with a spoken-word intro that strays perilously close to Spinal Tap’s Stonehenge, but does get automatic awesome points by dint of being delivered by Brian Blessed. The opening title track begins with surprising shades of Metallica’s Creeping Death before Biff Byford issues a scream and it settles into the sort of riff-driven metallic rocker that influenced Lars Ulrich and co in the first place.

Elsewhere, they deliver musical and lyrical history lessons with the likes of Madame Guillotine, 1066 and Kubla Khan And The Merchant Of Venice. Get Saxon, Iron Maiden and Sabaton together and you could put together a full curriculum. Fire And Steel appears to celebrate Sheffield in the spark-showering vein of Princess Of The Night, while There’s Something In Roswell rides a chugging groove and singalong hooks that grip like an Alien Facehugger. It won’t change the face of music or knock the world off its axis, but Hell, Fire And Damnation is yet another damned fine addition to Saxon’s ever- expanding catalogue.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer