Released in November of ’99 Metalhead was the first SAXON album I actually got – and really liked! I vaguely remember a track from the Rock The Nations album received some radio play over here at the time (“Northern Lady” or “Waiting For The Night”), and I picked up that album in a cut-out bin not too long after. It didn’t make a huge impression on me and through a few moves the album was lost or given up (I hated packing things up, so on a few occasions parted with some records). Anyway, Saxon was not on a major label here, nor did I hear much else from them, aside from that cover of Christopher Cross’s “Ride Like The Wind”. In late ’99 I received the Metalhead CD (and bio) and put it on. The title and cover was certainly appealing to me, as a metal fan, and one looking for a great ‘new’ (old) band to discover and pick up on. Metalhead featured the founding members – Biff Byford and Paul Quinn, along with guitarist Doug Scarratt, bassist Nibbs Carter, and German drummer Fritz Randow (ex of German prog bands ELOY and EPITAPH).
From the opening build-up leading in to the title track I was expecting something big, and by the time I got to the end of the 4th song – I had to go back and re-listen! “Metalhead”, “Travelers In Time”, and especially “Conquistador” (love the acoustic intro before the band kicks in and the song takes off). These had my hooked and I listened to the first 3 songs repeatedly before I even got to the rest of the disc. And after that there’s really no duds here, this is a full-on classic metal album, with further great tracks like “All Guns Blazing” (killer intro) , “Watching You”, and epic finale “Sea Of Life”. Love the production, the big guitar sound, Biff’s distinctive voice; it all worked so well. A great album, and the follow up (w/ the same line up) made for a fine pair. Killing Ground featured another outstanding title track, as well a cool cover of King Crimson’s “In The Court Of The Crimson King”.