BIFF BYFORD – School Of Hard Knocks

BIFF BYFORD - School Of Hard Knocks
  • 8.1/10
    BIFF BYFORD - School of Hard Knocks - 8.1/10


Transistor Music
Release date: February 21, 2020

User Review
8/10 (1 vote)

Front man Biff Byford from legendary NWOBHM band Saxon has put together his first solo album, and it’s everything you’d expect from one of the greatest metal singers in the history of British Metal. School of Hard Knocks is a collection of 11 songs that can be described as Classic Heavy Metal, and Biff sings and plays guitars, joined by Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) on guitars, Christian Lundqvist on drums and Gus Macricostas on bass. The album also features guest appearances by Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons), Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody), Nick Barker (Voices), Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons) and Nibbs Carter (Saxon).

Biff Byford - Welcome to the Show

The Songs

The album kicks off with the anthem “Welcome to the Show”, which starts with a great riff in 5/4 time, and tells a cool Rock and Roll story. Biff has not lost a step as he still has an awesome voice, and does not fail to deliver. Next comes the title track “School of Hard Knocks”, with its solid guitar riffs and foot stomping Rock beat. One is not surprisingly reminded of 80s Metal at its peak. You might think you are listening to a lost Saxon album, as this hits on all of the marks, and makes you feel nostalgic for the days of denim and leather. The next track is a short piece of spoken word over acoustic guitars and soft synths called “Inquisitor” which would not be out of place on a King Diamond album, and sets you up for “The Pit and the Pendulum”. This track is a heavy 6/8 riff that has great harmonies, several timing changes and lots of dark emotions you would expect from the title. With a sweet acoustic interlude and smoking guitar solos, this song does not disappoint.

Worlds Collide

“Worlds Collide” is another excellent heavy 6/8 riff that tells us all about aliens, and the end of the world when you guessed it, worlds collide. The next track is a bit unexpected, but shows the vocal range that Biff has as he sings the medieval ballad “Scarborough Fair”. What a great song to showcase a piece of British musical history, and the song breaks up the album nicely. Following is another chunking song that could easily be off of any Saxon album “Pedal to the Metal”. The lyrics are exactly what the song calls for, and the riffs are super catchy. “Hearts of Steel” comes next with tight harmony guitars and more solid, well played, smartly produced Classic Metal.

The album wraps up with the 7-minute metal dirge “Throw Down the Sword” that showcases Biff’s great use of melody, followed by the upbeat acoustic ballad “Me and You”, and closing with “Black and White”; a slower paced rocker that works well as an album closer.

Final words

Overall, anyone who loves Saxon, and loves Classic Metal will find several real gems on this album, and should definitely add this one to their collection.



  1. Welcome to The Show
  2. School of Hard Knocks
  3. Inquisitor
  4. The Pit and The Pendulum
  5. Worlds Collide
  6. Scarborough Fair
  7. Pedal to The Metal
  8. Hearts of Steel
  9. Throw Down the Sword
  10. Me and You
  11. Black and White

CD: (00:51:00)


Biff Byford – Vocals & guitars
Fredrik Åkesson (Opeth) – guitars
Christian Lundqvist – drums
Gus Macricostas – bass.

Special guest appearances

Phil Campbell (Motörhead/Phil Campbell & The Bastard Sons)
Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire and Turilli / Lione Rhapsody)
Nick Barker (Voices)
Dave Kemp (Wayward Sons)
Nibbs Carter (Saxon).

Follow Biff Byford of Saxon on Facebook


  • Bryce Van Patten

    Bryce is an audio engineer and a graphic designer here at Metal Express Radio. From the day he purchased his first album (Machine Head by Deep Purple), he has had a passion for heavy music, which has influenced his whole life. Bryce is from the great Pacific Northwest in USA, and has played in metal bands like Babylon, Holy Terror, The Wild Dogs, Warhead and Egypt through the 80s. He had his first interview for the Portland, Oregon publication The Rock Rag with guitarist Paul Gilbert in his Racer X days. Then he was honored to get to have drinks, and talk for an hour with the legendary Dan McCafferty of Nazareth for his second interview. In 2013, he spent an amazing hour talking to Andi Deris of Helloween, which was the high point of his heavy metal journalism.   In the year 2001, he formed Man in Black Music Publishing. They released recordings by several local bands, and in the spirit of the old Metal Massacre compilations, he created a 2-album series called The Defenders of Metal. The albums featured classic styled Metal bands from all around the world, with bands from Australia to England, and from Argentina to Russia. Currently, he is the producer/creator/vocalist of the Metal band The Black Tuesdays.

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