Saxon - Lionheart
Heavy (Anthemic) Metal
12 songs (45:03)
Release year: 2004
Saxon, SPV
Reviewed by Mike
Album of the month

After a three year hiatus, Saxon comes roaring back with their latest offering, Lionheart. 2001's Killing Ground was a mixed bag for me; some good songs, but it also contained too much filler for my liking. The three year break allowed the band the recharge and put together a fantastic album. Stylistically, Lionheart fits very nicely someplace between Unleash the Beast and Metalhead. Unlike most metal bands that fade or go soft with age, Saxon seems to get better, and have certainly gone a bit heavier in recent years. After being one of the main players in the NWOBHM force of the late 70's and early 80's, Saxon is still kicking ass into the new century. That's pretty impressive if you ask me, yet somehow Saxon is still overlooked by far too many folks out there.

Right from the start, I knew this album would not disappoint. Witchfinder General gets the album going on a heavy note. Driven by heavy riffing and double bass drumming, this track ranks among the heaviest the band has done to date. Biff adds some ear piercing wails to this song, showing that his voice is still in prime condition. Man and Machine follows up this track, and it is more of a melodic metal anthem that Saxon does so well. The guitar tone is heavy, much like what we heard on Metalhead. A brief instrumental segues into the title track, Lionheart. This is a mid paced anthem, including some tempo changes to almost give the song an epic feeling. The guitar tone isn't quite as heavy on this track, leading the final result to sound like something from Unleash the Beast or even Dogs of War. Also featuring strong riffing and some climatic shrieks from Biff, the title track is one of the album's highlights.

The first few tracks are a great sample of what the entire album has to offer. We have a couple of tracks that lean more toward pure power metal, something the band explored in depth on Metalhead. The aforementioned Witchfinder General and To Live By The Sword (placed very effectively as the seventh track to give the album a kick) will appeal to your desire for speed. Biff really pulls off these high pitched shrieks very well on this album to give the songs a big exclamation point where needed. As for the remainder of the album, it features top notch metal anthems that we have come to expect from this band over its long history. As I said before, I did lose interest with a handful of songs on Killing Ground. I can honestly say that Lionheart pleases me from start to finish. Consistency is one quality that this album is not lacking. I got quite a chuckle out of the humorously titled English Man O War. As you might guess, this song is all about the winds of war, the roar of firing cannons, and fighting until the battle is won. However, Biff sings with emotion and guts, while the guitar work backing him up is just as solid and catchy. You really can't go wrong with any of the material on this album. Biff sounds great as usual, and the guitars have the heavy tone that has become part of the band's sound ever since the release of Metalhead. The overall package sounds great, with a tight rhythm section and crystal clear production guiding the way.

If you've ever owned and enjoyed a Saxon album, you'll enjoy this one as well. Simply put, if you like well done metal anthems with the occasional nod to power metal sprinkled in, this album will be a great investment. Consistency and quality are the two important qualities of a great album that stands the test of time. One of the master bands of heavy metal have added another gem to their catalogue.

Killing Songs :
Take your pick, they all rule....
Mike quoted 90 / 100
Jeff quoted 88 / 100
Marty quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Saxon that we have reviewed:
Saxon - Call To Arms reviewed by Erik and quoted 88 / 100
Saxon - Into The Labyrinth reviewed by Marty and quoted 87 / 100
Saxon - The Inner Sanctum reviewed by Jeff and quoted 90 / 100
Saxon - The Eagle Has Landed III (LIVE) reviewed by Jeff and quoted no quote
Saxon - Heavy Metal Thunder reviewed by Danny and quoted no quote
To see all 9 reviews click here
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