I’m not a big fan of covers albums, but I eventually picked up Saxon’s Inspirations from 2021, and thought it was a fine addition to the band’s catalogue, and they’re following it up with a ‘part 2’, simply titled More Inspirations (hmm, will part 3 be called ‘Even More…’ ?) Anyway, the first single sounds great, a cover of the Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “The Faith Healer”, and I’m looking forward to hearing many of the titles included on it, such as Heep’s “Gypsy”, Alice Cooper’s “From The Inside”, ZZ Top’s “Chevrolet”, and Rainbow’s “Man On The Silver Mountain.” *Check out a full track listing below, the first video, and all the links and order info below! As well, read the press info for more details.
British Heavy Metal legends Saxon unveil the first single “The Faith Healer”, from the upcoming More Inspirations – set for release on March 24th via Silver Lining Music. Following the release of Inspirations in 2021, More Inspirations is the second ‘deep dish’ serving of the influences which have fed the mighty Saxon’s immensely successful 40+ year career. The first single is an astonishing take on The Sensational Alex Harvey Band’s “The Faith Healer”.
Frontman Biff Byford comments “We used to see The Sensational Alex Harvey band play this back in the day, they started the set with it, such a fantastic song and fantastic band… big influence!” Listen To/Watch “The Faith Healer”, the “making of” video directed by Jay Shredder.
Whether getting feral with The Animal’s “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, letting loose a high-octane take on Alice Cooper’s “From The Inside”, or laying down a ferocious tribute to KISS’ “Detroit Rock City”, More Inspirations is a joyous trip into the sounds which galvanized the Barnsley boys and continue to get spun on home stereos and tour buses.
Produced by vocalist/co-founder Biff Byford, with Seb Byford helping record the music alongside mixing engineer Jacky Lehmann. More Inspirations also includes enthusiastic takes on Alice Cooper, Rainbow, ZZ Top and Cream, as well as a thunderous “Razamanaz” by Nazareth, a tasty take on The Who’s “Substitute”, and a thick groove take on Uriah Heep’s “Gypsy”. Whether this is your first dance with such classic songs, or you’ve come to see where Saxon were born, More Inspirations delivers the goods and then some. Following the success of the Seize the World Tour 2022, Saxon will be back on the road in March 2023 for a string of European dates, with special guest’s German metal titans RAGE. For a full list of confirmed dates, tickets, and additional information visit this this location.
More Inspirations will be available on 12” Black Vinyl, CD Digipak, digital formats and special D2C bundles; to pre-order go tothis location.
SIX BY SIX is the new trio consisting of Canadian guitarist Ian Crichton (Saga), British drummer Nigel Glockler (Saxon), and American multi-instrumentalist & vocalist Robert Berry (Hush / 3 ) . An interesting combo, with progressive and metal backgrounds. As a fan of early Saga and in later years Saxon (and years ago I interviewed Robert Berry for something), so I am keen to hear this. As with Saga, what is first noticeable is the distinctive guitar sound of Crichton from song to song. But where Crichton’s guitar usually shares the songs or is overshadowed by keyboards in Saga – that is not the case here. This is a ‘heavy’ guitar album, not ‘metal’, just a big sound, heavy rock, and progressive, with some fine vocal arrangements. Fave picks are melodic rockers “The Upside Of Down” and “Save The Night”. Plenty of solid tracks here like “The Last Words On Earth” (awesome big organ intro), and more progressive cuts like “Casino” and “Battle Of A Lifetime”, and the short ballad “Live Forever”. A cool sounding album, well worth checking out. The album is due out August19 (CD & LP!), and there will also be a graphic novel – The Journey Internal to be published on September 30th 2022, as a companion. *check out the bio/press release below …
The term six by six can conjure various images. It could be something of large and impressive stature or perhaps the dimensions of a newly discovered space on the planet. For some, it may be the exponential potential of those numbers. For others, it might bring to mind the rhythmic pulse of sound waves.
Now, for the initiated, for those in the know, SiX by SiX is perhaps all of those things. It’s also the name for an exciting new band. It’s a sizable collaboration filling a massive sonic space and driven by three renowned and diverse musicians of international origin. The anticipation is palpable as the group is about to release its eponymous debut album on the InsideOutMusic label, part of Sony.
SiX by SiX is composed of three hugely accomplished and highly acclaimed, musicians hailing from disparate corners of the globe and each with the pedigree to back up the claim. They are guitarist Ian Crichton from the acclaimed Canadian prog rockers Saga, recognized as one of the top rock players in North America, powerhouse drummer Nigel Glockler of English heavy metal masters Saxon, and U.S. based Robert Berry, perhaps best known for his association with Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer in their group ‘3’ on bass, keyboards and vocals.
The roots of SiX by SiX can be traced back decades to a time when Glockler and Berry were together as part of Yes guitarist Steve Howe’s continuation of the band GTR. Then there’s the Asia connection, where Crichton and Glockler contributed to sessions and recordings, while Berry was the link for his guitarist friend Pat Thrall joining that band. Time marches on, paths cross and fate brings these three musicians together, born from a conversation with an industry insider in the UK who connected Ian Crichton in the Toronto area with Robert Berry outside San Francisco, who in turn reached Glockler at his home on the south coast of England.
While the chemistry of the band transcends audio speakers and their sound is distinctly their own, comparisons to other power trios past and present will likely be inevitable. SiX by SiX boldly say, “Bring it on!” Certainly, discerning listeners will hear an expansive guitar-driven pallet, paired sonically with the unique flavor of the Crichton/Berry songwriting collaboration. If you don’t already know Ian, Nigel, or Robert individually or collectively as SiX by SiX, you’ll likely know them soon. Management is in place; the record company has assembled an enthusiastic support team and a tour is in the works. All in all, the SiX by SiX equation adds up to winning numbers. And that’s good news for everybody.
SiX By SiX “SiX By SiX” Playing time: 46 min 48 sec 1. Yearning to Fly 2. China 3. Reason to Feel Calm Again 4. The Upside of Down 5. Casino 6. Live Forever 7. The Last Words on Earth 8. Skyfall 9. Battle of a Lifetime 10. Save the Night
About The Journey Internal :
THE JOURNEY INTERNAL, A Graphic Novel is based on the songs of SiX By SiX, and is the result of a collaboration between the band and renowned Chicago-based artist J.C. Baez. It will be available for purchase through www.StNicksPicks.com for customers in North America and through Burning Shed www.burningshed.com worldwide.
Though not conceived as a concept album, the band and the artist have woven the songs into a compelling tale of one man’s adventures and struggles. THE JOURNEY INTERNAL is a poignant and captivating story of his quest to find beauty and peace. Drawn in dramatic graphic detail, it chronicles the journey of Reign searching for sunlight in a very dark world. Following him from the highest highs to the lowest lows. The pages turn from battles of fire to demons in dungeons, from the confines of Reign’s inner mind to the realities encountered on the streets. From his solitude in battle to finding inspiration from a dream not yet realized.
Ian Crichton comments: “This graphic novel is amazing. The way that J.C Baez has blended the lyrics and captured the emotion of each song into a visually stunning graphic interpretation is simply amazing.
Nigel Glockler comments: “One word sums up this incredible visual feast: stunning!!!
Robert Berry comments: “When J.C. approached us we were intrigued to see what he would come up with based on our songs. The results are masterful.”
J.C. Baez, a Chicago-based artist has collaborated with Jon Anderson of Yes, Steve Hackett of Genesis, and Walter Koenig, of Star Trek fame, and now Six By Six.
J.C. Baez comments: “I am fortunate to be working with Ian, Nigel, and Robert, bringing their amazing musical ideas into the visual realm. The process has been very much a collaboration and I’ve been made to feel like part of the Six By Six family. This story is dynamic and exciting and I’m thrilled to work on this graphic novel which is in the vein of Genesis’s ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and other classic albums.”
SiX By SiX, featuring Ian Crichton, Nigel Glockler & Robert Berry, launch third single ‘China’
With the release of the record only two weeks away, the band are releasing one final track prior to fans getting to hear the album in full. Watch the video for ‘China’ now here: https://youtu.be/stTEYLiTYWQ
Robert Berry comments: “The song China came about differently than most of our songs. Ian had sent me a very cool finger picking type riff, which was playing repeatedly in my head as I tried to go to sleep one night. Earlier that evening the television news ran a story about China, including the appalling oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. I couldn’t get that out of my head either. I have many Chinese friends who do not agree with what the government of China is doing. Suddenly, inspired by Ian’s finger picking, this heavy riff came to mind. Then, as I paired it with the news story, the lyric just poured out. Born from anger and disbelief but also with respect for my Chinese friends, this song came to me in one big flash. When Ian heard the basic writing demo he immediately headed into new territory with the guitar solo. It’s angry, edgy, and totally psychotic in nature – a perfect fit! And of course we all must say ‘goodnight’ and good riddance to any government that treats its people so harshly.”
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”.
Saxon may not have caught on in North America the way fellow NWOBH leaders Iron Maiden did in the ’80s, but for the past few decades the band has consistently released solid albums, toured regularly, and also released live gems from their archives. Battering Ram [from 2015] got me back on track with the band, and then I saw Saxon in 2017 [w/ UFO] and it was a real eye opener. So, following the excellent Thunderbolt, a few side projects, such as Biff Byford’s solo album, the band’s covers’ album – Inspirations (released earlier this year), a slew of reissues and live releases, we get a brand new album Carpe Diem. By now most Saxon fans would be familiar with the title track issued a while back, a classic heavy riff & anthem based around the song “Carpe Diem (Seize The Day)” and a fine opener to an even better album, Saxon may be a heavy metal band who should’ve peaked decades ago, but here they are still coming up with an album full of songs amongst their best, offering not only their own thundering approach, but enough changes to keep things fresh from their previous records. On Carpe Diem, there is no shortage of tunes that will appeal to the Saxon faithful, from those big dark sounding riff rockers like “Super Nova”, “Black Is The Night”, “Dambusters”, and speedier “Living On The Limit (do I hear a twist on Sabbath’s “NIB” in there?). And Saxon never shy about timely topics and anthems deliver “Remember The Fallen” and “All For One”. Favorites here are the slightly slower “The Pilgrimage” which sits in that same class as “Lionheart”, (for me) and “Age Of Steam”, the best of the heavies here, killer intro and solo, with one of Biff’s historical content tales. Fantastic album from a band who’s still delivering their best. *Available on CD, vinyl (+colored0, cassette, and in Box set form!
*See the press release below for track-listing and more info…
Life hath no fury like a legend in full roar… and on February 4th, 2022, Saxon will show just that to the world when they release their 23rd studio album, Carpe Diem, through Silver Lining Music, serving notice to anyone who ever felt otherwise that they remain both vanguards and masters of British Metal. Comprised of 10 titanic tracks bristling with steel-clad riffery and proud intent, the Barnsely (UK) born band draw on a variety of ingredients from their career to forge what is their most dynamic release in many a year.
“It all starts with the riff,” says front man and co-founder Biff Byford, “if the riff speaks to me, then we’re on our way. It’s a very intense album, and that’s all down to the fact that the essence of a great metal song is the riff that starts it, and this album has loads of them.”
Unleashing today the title track’s roll-back attack, this is Saxon at their purest and most definitive; aggressively parading the pure metal flag and imploring fans old and new to gather and celebrate the very best of both Saxon and the genre itself.
“In Latin it means ‘seize the day’ and I think it’s a great thing to say;” continues Biff “it’s what the Romans used to say to each other on a regular basis, apparently, never having met one, I wouldn’t know! But we’re gonna do the Seize the Day world tour, the album’s Carpe Diem, this song’s called “Carpe Diem (Seize the Day)” and it’s such a powerful thing to say.”
Produced by Andy Sneap (Judas Priest, Exodus, Accept and Priest guitarist) at Backstage Recording Studios in Derbyshire with Byford and Sneap mixing and mastering, Carpe Diem strikes the ear as one of the most essential British metal statements of the last few years and not lacking in pace or bite, an album which will ignite the joy in stalwart supporters and attract a whole new legion to the Saxon fold.
“We want every album we make to go platinum,” says Biff defiantly. “We never make an album that we don’t expect to be fantastic because there are no laurels around here, and as a band, we’re always trying to do something a little bit new, a little bit daring. I love fast metal like “Princess of the Night” and “20,000 Feet”, and I try and bring that style of Saxon into the music now, but in a more modern style. We don’t sound like an old band on records because we’re not sitting back on our past success, we’re always trying to make a great album.”
The genesis of Carpe Diem’s fierce intensity lies in two extremely significant life events – “It’s been a difficult two years,” offers Biff with considerable understatement, “because I had the heart attack back in September 2019, so things went a bit pear-shaped for the band. And then Covid hit two or three months later, but luckily, we started writing and recording this album before Covid. We did the drums in Germany and we did the guitars in various places. I was doing a lot of writing while I was in the hospital bed, and we spent quite a long time writing and arranging the ideas that we all had. I do think it’s a very intense album, and maybe some of that intensity comes from the frustration of not being able to do anything in the Covid period.”
Carpe Diem Track Listing: Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) Age of Steam The Pilgrimage Dambusters Remember the Fallen Super Nova Lady In Gray All for One Black is the Night Living On the Limit
Produced by Andy Sneap and Biff ByfordAlbum mixed and mastered by Andy Sneap
Guitars recorded by Andy Sneap at Backstage Recording Studios, Derbyshire (UK); Vocals recorded by Seb Byford at Big Silver Barn, York (UK); Drums recorded by Jacky Lehmann (Audiosound) at Velbyproductions, Grünenplan (Germany).
All lyrics by Biff Byford. Backing vocals by Seb Byford