Heavily influenced by Judas Priest, Saxon helped found the new wave of British metal that triggered Metallica and countless other headbangers. Undoubtedly, the group's knee-slapping song titles ("Dragon's Lair," "Princess of the Night") and lineup shifts also inspired the comic minds behind This Is Spinal Tap. Debuting with a strong self-titled effort in 1979, the group alienated hardcore fans when it later attempted to join Hollywood's hair club for men. Though it quickly retreated to its former sound and denim-and-leather image, the group never fully recovered from this disastrous misstep. Having released a slew of indigestible meat-and-potatoes metal during the '90s (along with a host of ho-hum live efforts), the retooled lineup has now rerecorded a disc's worth of Saxon "classics." A band remaking its own material is a surefire indicator that someone got screwed out of publishing royalties the first time around. It's a ploy that never works -- and certainly not here. Vocalist Biff Byford's operatic voice is still a poor-man's variation of Rob Halford's inimitable wail, and the outfit's twin-guitar attack remains staunchly harmonic-lead-solo-y old school. But these fumes are not enough to sustain Saxon's blatant bid to cash in on the footnote as a weekend party-band legacy.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.