Saxon – Unleash The Beast (Review)

Saxon – Unleash The Beast (1997)

Unleash The Beast, Saxon’s thirteenth studio album and the first to feature the band’s current line-up, finds the band dialling up the kind of heaviness previously hinted at on older tracks like Altar Of The Gods, Battle Cry and Dogs Of War.

As usual for Saxon, this 1997 album’s big classic is the title-track: a brilliant thrasher with a chorus hewn from pure gold. But the harder edge comes at the expense of the band’s usual chemistry and charisma. The serious mood fits songs like the dark, grooving Cut Out The Disease and the moody, slow-burner The Preacher. But songs like Ministry Of Fools and The Thin Red Line fall strangely flat when they should be uplifting. The driving Terminal Velocity, uncannily catchy Circle Of Light and vigorously rowdy All Hell’s Breaking Loose inject much-needed sparks of excitement but can’t quite lift the album into the classic zone.

Its po-faced proficiency makes it one to appreciate rather than love but Saxon’s consistency and focus impresses and this was a crucial album for them. As well as unleashing the beast, they ushered in a new era, finding a style and purpose that would restore their credibility and serve them well for years to come. The story of modern Saxon starts here.

22 thoughts on “Saxon – Unleash The Beast (Review)”

  1. At least Saxon can add a couple of bonus live tracks to entice the purchaser as well. Saxon is getting some decent coverage here in Blogsville from opposite ends of the pond in the last few days!
    Props to them on having this lineup since 97…thats saying something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, this is the current lineup on this one but there is a spot of rotating drummer syndrome for the next few albums before they settle back down!

      And the bonus tracks are on Eagle II so not that enticing I’m afraid.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve only ever listened to this once and can’t say it struck me enough to revisit. I guess the issue is that it’s stuck in the place where they hadn’t quite hit their stride again… ? But yeah, the run they’ve been on since this is fairly impressive.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s a good point… when this was released I wasn’t aware of Saxon at all. I was too busy listening to alternative rock and shaking my head at ZZ Top and Van Halen like a dafty.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. No outright misses but I’ve given a few albums quite low scores… and I’m kinder to them than most! Destiny, Rock The Nations and Forever Free rank pretty low.

      I tend to find even their worst albums have brilliant songs but, in the wider metal culture their attempts to make it in the US made them terminally uncool for many years. Decent albums could’t shift the wider perception of them as being clueless and behind the times, but that started to shift at this point.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just rediscovered my T-shirt from the Killing Ground tour, my Johnny-come-lately introduction to Saxon. By my count only one more Saxon offering stands between me and the HMO album review for which I have so long pined. How many years have I waited? No matter, I see the light at the end of the tunnel now and it appears to have a crimson tinge…

    Liked by 1 person

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