SAXON – The Inner Sanctum

SAXON - The Inner Sanctum
  • 8.5/10
    SAXON - The Inner Sanctum - 8.5/10


SPV Records
Release Date: March 5, 2007

Total Tracks: 10
Run Time: 44+ minutes

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Saxon has been cranking out great music for over 25 years, and in the current millennium, Saxon has “quietly” put out a small handful of high quality albums that have largely been well-kept secrets amongst the Metal community. Such has been the story of Saxon, though, over the years … as a band, they clearly were engulfed in the NWOBHM, but never truly cracked “the big time” on a global basis, although certainly an argument could be made that their output justified such stature. Like many bands, Saxon has gone through their fair share of line-up changes, particularly in the bass guitarist and drummer spots, but 2 things have remained as the backbone of the band since inception in the late 70s: the recognizable voice of Biff Byford and axeman Paul Quinn, accountable now for nearly 20 studio albums to date.

The Inner Sanctum shows the band, remarkably, still having a considerable amount of energy, vigor, and creativity. The first track, “State Of Grace,” comes through a bit melancholic and reflective (yet very good), but by the second track, “Need For Speed,” with it’s up-tempo pace and superb solo, it’s pretty evident Saxon is here to ROCK and to rock hard. “Let Me Feel Your Power” picks up right where “Need For Speed” leaves off, showing by this time that Saxon’s style has morphed more into a blend of Power and Traditional Metal than settling back into their retro NWOBHM roots. Byford sounds a bit thicker in his voice than he did in the 80s, but he still isn’t afraid to stretch it a bit, and he indeed sounds inspired throughout this record.

Next up, “Red Star Falling” is quite the emotional tune in tribute to the fall of communism. Perhaps a few years delinquent in coming out topically, this song still hits home lyrically, and features a significant tempo reduction compared to the prior two tracks. However, with an impressive solo and a few timing changes intermixed throughout the song, you really couldn’t label this track a “ballad.” This effervescence of emotion, unfortunately, may have been better conveyed via something less than a 6+-minute track.

“I Have To Rock (To Stay Alive)” seems like a bit of a cheesy title, but this actually may be the best song on the album. It flows well and has a very anthemic, sing-along chorus paired with a few great guitar hooks. “If I Was You” follows next, and features some pretty cool drum patterns by Nigel Glockler, a nice musical passage, and some brewing aggression just below the overriding mid-tempo pace. “Going Nowhere Fast” has an interesting bass line by Nibbs Carter driving the song, and some pretty basic (but enjoyable) drum, lyrical, and guitar patterns … until the solo, that is … and quite the impressive solo it is! Overall, the style of this song is about as close to “old” Saxon as it gets on this album, and for that, the track earns high marks.

Eighth up is a “Denim and Leather”-type song called “Ashes To Ashes.” Some of Saxon’s best work has been when they make the effort to let their fans know that they all need to stick together as one in Metal, and this song is no exception. With a chorus that states: Ashes To Ashes, Back To The Wall / Brother To Brother, Together We Fall / Ashes To Ashes, Never Give In / Brother To Brother, United We Win, Saxon certainly is flying the flag that proclaims “We’re all in the Metal Brotherhood as one, let’s stay that way for better or for worse.” Overall, it works just fine.

A short instrumental intro entitled “Empire Rising” leads into the album’s closer, “Atila The Hun,” which makes for (in total) a 9-minute epic-ish finale to The Inner Sanctum. Why a song topic dealing with Atila The Hun was developed is a good question, but the song has plenty of time to experiment a little, and Saxon does just that. There’s a bit of Doom Metal here, a bit of Power and Traditional Metal, and a bit of Iron Maiden-ish pace changes and musical wadding. It’s not an unsuccessful track, although the simple chorus of “Atila The Hun” is repeated more times than is necessary or welcome.

Overall, The Inner Sanctum is both an enjoyable and interesting listen. It’s great to see Saxon, a band not as young as they used to be (but who is?), still cranking out a very energetic and powerful album after so many years in the business. It may not be their best album of all time, but it certainly can stand toe-to-toe with virtually anything the band has ever put out. And, because of that, it’s a highly recommended buy for 2007!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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