The mighty Saxon will unleash their 23rd album titled Carpe Diem on February 4th via Silver Lining Music. The title is apt given experiences of the band dealing with Biff Byford’s heart attack in late 2019 and the world enduring this pandemic. We can’t waste a second of this life and Saxon’s new album is a vivid reminder to seize the day.
The Latin phrase “carpe diem” originates from the Roman poet, Horace, in his book of poems, Odes. For the curious, the line from his poem translated to English reads: “You, do not seek (it is a crime to know) the end which the gods have given to me and to you, Leuconoe, nor attempt the Babylonian numbers. How it is better to endure whatever will be! Whether Jupiter allotted many winters or a final one, which now weakens the Tyrrhenian sea with placed against stones: be wise, may you strain the wine, and may you restrain long hope for a brief while. While we speak, envious time will have fled: seize the day, to the least extent possible trusting in the next one.”
Clearly Saxon are seizing the day. This prolific and legendary band are creating fantastic music brimming with the classic metal sound of Saxon while still being vibrant, vital, and refreshing. If anything, Saxon continue to excel as time goes on. Carpe Diem rivals their masterworks Wheels of Steel and Denim and Leather. The music on this album is all fire, no filler. Break out your air guitar and prepare to bang your head.
The opening title track begins with a cinematic overture and beckoning drums. At the climax, Saxon dashes into a tale of Hadrian’s Wall. The wall, like Saxon, is a long-standing British cultural icon and national treasure. This song is heavy and heroic with the guitars of Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt stealing the show.
The hooks are deep and gleaming on “Age of Steam”. Nigel Glocker (drums) and Nibbs Carter (bass) play with tight and controlled power allowing the guitars to rip it up. Biff is on point throughout this album and shines on this song. This tune is a headbanger with infectious riffs.
The tempo slows for “The Pilgrimage”. The pacing of the drums, the droning keys, and resonating guitar lends to the sensation of an epic journey. The somber reflection held in the lyrics adds to the feeling of being part of a journey of discovery.
One of the two best songs on Carpe Diem is “Dambusters”. The galloping riffs and spitfire licks underscore the story of Operation Chastise where RAF bombers set off to destroy German dams. There is a reason they call Nigel Glockler “The Engine”. His driving double bass hammers this rocker home. Cheers to Andy Sneap on another superb mix and master. This song is a great example of setting up a mix that lets you clearly hear every instrument in perfect balance.
“Remember the Fallen” is the other contender for best song on Saxon’s latest release. The music has the epic anthemic quality of “Dallas 1 pm”. Chronicling the pandemic as a war, the chord progression and overall song structure resonate with the heroic theme. What makes this song stand out is the powerful and emotive guitar solos. Paul and Doug’s solo brim with passion and a hint of the terrible cost endured by so many during this pandemic.
The rest of Carpe Diem is a total listening pleasure. Songs such as “Super Nova”, “All For One”, and “Living On the Limit” are sure to be concert favorites given the energy they possess. Plenty of gritty riffs are sure to incite that skanky riff grimace. You can see the fists in the air with each blasting chorus. While “Lady In Gray” is a bit of a twist for Saxon, it is a compelling and memorable song.
‘Carpe Diem’ by Saxon makes every minute count on this masterpiece of blazing metal music. This legendary British heavy metal band continues to create music that stays true to form, yet is vibrant and extremely satisfying. Headbanging riffs, powerful rhythms, and dynamic guitar solos make this a must-have album for all fans of traditional metal.