When internationally-renowned actor Brian Blessed OBE delivers a proclamation for the opening track, “The Prophecy”, expectations are automatically high for Saxon’s latest album. Have no fear and make no mistake, Saxon meets and exceeds them on their 24th studio album, Hell, Fire, And Damnation, set for release on January 19th, 2024 via Silver Lining Music.
Biff Byford, lead singer, and founder-member reminisces when asked about the title of the band’s brand new release, Hell, Fire, And Damnation.
“I’ve had that saying in my head since I was a small boy because my dad used to say it when he was upset,” Biff smiles. “He used to say, ‘Hell, fire, and damnation, what’s tha’ been doing now?!’ when I was ‘messing up his cabbage patch’ or carving things into the kitchen table. It was a very ‘Yorkshire’ saying back in the day.”
The title track unleashed today is a superlative British Heavy Metal classic exploring the juxtaposition between good and evil.
“There’s so much music out there about hell and the devil and the occult that I just thought it’s about time somebody wrote one about the battle just between good and evil!” explains Biff. “You can’t sing about the devil without singing about the good guy either, and the song basically says ‘make your choice’. We all have to make the choice, are we evil or are we good? The song’s about that fight.”
Hell, Fire And Damnation is an album which sees Saxon investigate all areas of history and mystery amidst ten of their most confident and thunderously powerful songs yet. Biff delivers his richest vocals in years, Nigel Glockler and Nibbs Carter on drums and bass respectively lay down the rhythmic law with bombastic power, and the guitars of Doug Scarratt and Brian Tatler are fresh and fiery, a perfect complement to each other, carrying an overall energy and fury which will have fans salivating. Musically, Saxon bring it all to the table. There’s a furious tribute to actual heavy metal in the denim & leather coated super-sprint “Fire And Steel”, a wonderful nod to the NWOBHM’s birth in the electric mid-pace “Pirates Of The Airwaves”, but maybe the true treasure amidst the jewels is “There’s Something In Roswell”, with the sort of expansive groove and embrace which deserves arenas.
Produced by Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Exodus, Accept and Priest guitarist) and Biff Byford, with Sneap mixing and mastering, Hell, Fire And Damnation strides the perfect line between confident, current power, and gloriously irreverent flexing of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal muscle which Saxon co-created.
“I think this album’s one of the best he’s done sound-wise, and he’s done a lot of albums” Biff declares. “It has a really raw, vibrant sound… if you compress the total time making this album, it was four weeks tops… you can hear everything brilliantly, nothing’s overcomplicated, nothing’s over compressed. The guitar sounds are fucking immense, they’re just great, raw guitar sounds. And we haven’t done a lot of overdubbing on there, it’s just playing. I really, really like it.”
2024 promises to be a great year for Saxon, with the European tour alongside Judas Priest and Uriah Heep kicking-off in the UK in March, plus the arrival of the heavy metal masterpiece Hell, Fire And Damnation.
“Getting these shows in March 2024 with Judas Priest and Uriah Heep meant it made sense to push and get the album made faster,” says Biff, “so, we got on with it in haste and pulled it out of the bag. It was tricky, but I think it’s safe to say we managed it well.”
Oh, it’s safe to say alright!