Review by Mike Korn
The lineage of British heavy metal bands is a long and noble one, replete with legendary names like Led Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Black Sabbath and many more. Surely Saxon has distinguished itself well enough over the last 25 years or so to join this metallic Round Table. Though they have never sold gazillions of records, their fan base has remained solid and steady through all the varying trends of hard rock.
The reason that fan base remains so steadfast is because Saxon keeps turning out albums like "Lionheart" that remain true to all the best qualities of British heavy metal. In fact, "Lionheart" is the best Saxon album since the classic "Denim and Leather" of almost 20 years ago. The years have not lain very heavily on singer Biff Byford, who seems invigorated by the strong material here. He hits some high notes I never would have thought him capable of before. As for the songs themselves, they seem to be faster and more on the epic side than most past Saxon material. It's reminiscent of the "Crusader" album, but with more speed, power and flashy soloing from Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt.
It's no mistake that the lyrics here focus so heavily on English history; with subjects like King Richard, the Battle of Trafalgar and Witchfinder Matthew Hopkins all getting a look in. It's because Saxon see themselves as troubadours of the modern age, strumming electric guitar instead of lute and carrying on tradition through heavy metal instead of folk music. It's a perfect analogy for this doughty band of metal knights.