NWOBHM ambassadors SAXON recently blew through Toronto in support of their new Sacrifice album. Support acts were Atlanta’s HALCYON WAY and FOZZY, with Fozzy blowing the doors off the place with one of the most energetic and electrifying performances this BraveWords hack has seen in years.
Muses Saxon drummer Nigel Glockler, on the sharp, hard-hitting new Sacrifice album, “I think what happened with the last album, Call To Arms, we stripped it right back again. I mean, personally, I thought we were starting to sound a little Euro-metal, and that’s because we were using a German engineer and producer. Charlie’s great, but I think we sort of figured that we were losing our English identity. So we sort of went back to basics on the last album. And really, this is an extension of that, to my mind. We experimented cutting back to basics on that one, and on this one we sort of came of age.”
Asked about the band’s usually historical and notable lyrical themes, Nigel says the album includes…”the thing about the terra-cotta warriors, the Holland Wharf shipyard, where they built all the great Atlantic liners. So those are sort of my favourite subjects there, really. And you know, there’s the ‘Warriors Of The Road’, because a couple of us are sort of into F1, so that’s how that came about. And generally, that’s how it occurs. Sacrifice uses, you know, sort of the Mayan imagery. I’m not sure really how that came about (laughs), but all that side of it, where they used to do the human sacrifices and all that stuff. We thought that was an interesting thing to write about.”
“When we are home, everyone has sort of little writing studios at home,” continues Glockler, on the writing modus operandi the band uses. “When we got time off and people have sort of recovered from the rigors of touring or whatever, we’ve had a bit of a break, then we start getting ideas together. Basically what happens is, eventually we all get togetherand decide, well, when are we going to go in to start writing the album per se? Which is when we all get together, and then everyone brings all the parts in and then we listen to everything and decide which parts we like and what parts we don’t, what goes with what—that’s how it works. We do a lot of jamming as well. I mean, ‘Guardians Of The Tomb’ came from a jam, total jam, as did ‘Belfast’. They were actually written without any pre-spark, shall we say. They came totally together in a rehearsal space.”
“The riffs provide the backbone and the spark of every song, really,” says Nigel, “unless you’ve got a melody chord sequence. But basically with us, you know, we need riffs. And then you can take it from there. It’s either riffs or a chord sequence that is great for Biff to sing to. And when we get in the studio now, I might just be jamming around on the keyboards, and Quinny will pick up the bass, and Nibbs will get on the drums, and Biff’ll picks up the guitar and off we go. We all swap around. Whoever’s got a spark in their head gets on that instrument; however good they are at it, we try to hear what everyone’s doing, and we take a listen—that’s how it works.”
Final word goes to soft-spoken guitarist Paul Quinn, who shares with Biff Byford honours of having been with the band since the beginning in the late ‘70s.
“Charlie is very much a perfectionist,” begins Quinn, contrasting the Andy Sneap-produced record with the with those of the Charlie Bauerfeind years. “I mean, you can see it on one of our DVDs; I think it’s Chronicles, where he’s getting me to play the same lick over and over and there’s no difference between any of them. And that’s Charlie (laughs). He can hear something, but I don’t know what it is. But this one, it was mixed by Brit, it was played by a British band. But I think we had to cut corners in some ways. We did it not in a real studio. We did it in a studio with the control room built especially for us. And the lighting company’s warehouse brought in Jackie Lehmann’s mobile recording, his set up, and so obviously we had more time, and more chance to get it right, but we got it right really quickly, so it wasn’t that necessary to cut corners. So it still sounded great (laughs).”