Saxon – Forever Free

Saxon - Forever Free (1992)
Saxon – Forever Free (1992)

Saxon had enjoyed a return-to-form with 1991’s Solid Ball of Rock and moved fast to keep the momentum going, releasing the follow-up Forever Free just over one year later. As well as hurrying, the band also skimped on costs, recording in Vienna with unknown, cut-price producer Urwin Hersig. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that Forever Free sounded rushed and cheap.

For the most part, Forever Free comes across like a collection of leftovers from Solid Ball of Rock. It continues that album’s mix of Euro-metal and AC/DC raunch but many of the tracks stray too far into forgettable territory. Songs like Cloud Nine, Get Down and Dirty, Grind and the cyber-metal cover of I Just Want to Make Love to You sound like the band are jamming out ideas: working versions rather than the finished product. This isn’t helped by the sound: much of Forever Free sounds like a demo, a decent demo but a demo all the same.

The alternative UK Games Workshop cover... released on Warhammer Records!
The alternative UK Games Workshop cover… released on Warhammer Records!

On the positive side, these weaknesses give the album a sense of charm. The under-cooked tracks have a playfulness about them and the loose, jamming approach throws up some truly inspired playing from the Quinn/Oliver guitar duo (check out the hot solo on Night Hunter). And, while the bungled production wasn’t going to cut it for casual listeners and airplay, it results in the rawest, most metallic album the band had put out in years.

There are only a couple of real keepers though. The title track is the album’s enduring classic, a “wind in your hair” biker anthem that turns the clock right back to the band’s classic NWOBHM days. Iron Wheels is an enchanting folky strum and, if the lyrics sound familiar, it’s because you already heard them on Destiny’s Calm Before the Storm. The blue-collar imagery works much better here in this rustic setting and makes for one of the albums more affecting and creative tracks. The albums best, and most overlooked, deep cut is the stunning Hole in the Sky, with its spellbinding chorus and Ozzy-ish riffing.

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Back cover of 2013 reissue

Forever Free is a mixed bag that only committed Saxon fans will enjoy. It’s not a disaster and, unlike previous Saxon missteps, at least it sticks to the band’s core style. But it is still a misstep and did real damage to the band’s regeneration. Coming off the back of its well-received predecessor, Forever Free sold well but this rough and patchy effort ensured that many of those customers wouldn’t be back for more. Saxon had lost a crucial battle in the war to re-establish themselves but, as their next album would prove, these old dogs weren’t about to surrender any time soon.

[Saxon – Forever Free]

HMO Rating: 2 out of 5

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27 thoughts on “Saxon – Forever Free”

  1. I love that Warhammer cover – they should commssion GW to redo other LP covers – Sgt Peppers, or Carole King ‘Tapestry’ maybe?

    The track you included … meh, it sounds like a 6th generation taped copy to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think Space Marines are automatically an improvement on pretty much anything… except maybe bewbs.

      Yeah, meh to that! I like my metal at least 9th or 10th generation. Anything better than that and I might as well be listening to bloody Meat Loaf or something.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I remember Metal Dave on my schoolbus (a pleasant, yet psychotic chap) gave me a 30th generation (I’m guessing) copy of Dio’s Dream Evil – It was this distorted, gnarly beast of an album – imagine my disappointment when I actually bought my own copy of the cassette!

        PS. Can you imagine busty space marines?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Saxon had flatlined in out Neighbourhood by this time…Tbone was the last one to buy a Saxon album which was the Innocence album….
    Still love Eagle Has Landed (1982) man that one is my go to Saxon album!
    I will say that by HMO reviewing these Saxon albums you have to hand it to Biff and Bunch for keeping to going….I still have to dig in there latest live album though….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well Scott as you know, yesterday I just received my first Saxon album (the first Saxon album) thanks to this series. So I’m a bit on overload right now! This doesn’t sound bad but I’ve a long long way to go! And I have to say I prefer the alternate cover by a fair margin!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And you’ve got a long way to go with Saxon before you’ll want to hear this one. There’s good stuff on this but it’s definitely one of their least good albums. Don’t think they’ve ever done a proper stinker though… they’re a bit like KISS. Even the worst albums have enough good songs to make them worth hearing/having.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a great Saxon track… even better live too. And the team Hole in the Sky is incredible! If you’re in pretty deep with Saxon this is worth having. Not much on it that’s really special but it’s still Saxon doing what they do. They were really transitioning between their old style and their current one at this point so it’s an interesting listen.

      Like

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