Review by Felix on March 14, 2023.
Saxon have released two albums which told us something about their inspirations. And about more inspirations, wow! This was a good idea, otherwise we are at risk to jump to false conclusions, because Carpe Diem does not give us a lot of chances to find the inspiration that led to the here reviewed result. That’s a pity, because it took many years, but since Unleash The Beast the band has a small but firm place in my metal heart (oh my God, this sounds kitschy). Moreover, Biff Byford is a really likeable guy and a kind of heavy metal gentleman who fills the gap Lemmy (R.I.P.) left. Of course, he plays this role in another way than Lemmy did – and that’s good due to his different nature.
Carpe Diem is no bad album, do not get me wrong. It is logical that Saxon do not reinvent themselves and I did not expect something completely different than the material they offer here. Sometimes it is even great to see that they stick to their roots and their tradition. The highlight 'Age Of Steam' scores with a dense and catchy chorus, the necessary amount of vehemence and especially with the history-related lyrics about the industrial revolution. “Stoke the fires to superheat / Work the mine, thе coal is deep / Feed the beast, the slavе of industry“ – I don’t think one can express the feeling of this time much better than Biff, and no, even he is not a contemporary witness. Little joke... 'Age Of Steam' reminds me in the best possible way of 'Made In Belfast'. Biff delivers a more than solid performance and I really enjoy this piece. On the other hand, we have the opener and title track. Its more or less only positive aspect is that it evidently gave – now listen – the inspiration (!) for the fantastic artwork. Its chorus sucks, the riffing is heavy, but somehow it does not convince me. The guitars rule, okay, but the “they came, they saw, they conquered” part and the solo fail.
As a matter of course, Saxon also have Crusader-like songs up their sleeve. 'The Pilgrimage' has an almost meditative guitar work and wants to be an earworm. This mission is not fully successful. But the song is still better than the comparable, also dragging 'Lady In Grey'. Don’t be fooled by its heavy, rasping guitars at the beginning. The slow-moving prototype of grandpa rock is a boring filler with weird keyboard notes that fail to give it a bigger sound dimension. Well, in order to stay fair, Carpe Diem does not suffer from a lack of heaviness and it goes without saying that it benefits from a flawless mix. Just realize the excellent guitar power. Nevertheless, tracks like 'Dambuster' do not give me much, because the melodies are just mediocre and once again: the chorus fails to crown the song. Thus, I prefer an up-tempo number like 'Super Nova', although its riff and lines seem to be recycled from a lot of previous Saxon songs.
Naturally the conventionally constructed songs stand or fall with the quality of their guitar work and their choruses and I am surprised that Saxon miss the target comparatively often. The pretty swift, generic and riff-driven 'Living On The Limit' sounds like "All Guns Blazing Part II”, but without reaching the class of its role model. And so Carpe Diem goes by, being nothing but just another Saxon album in their endless catalogue. Maybe their next album which does not have the word “inspirations” in its title will show more inspirations.
Rating: 6 out of 10633
Review by Michael on February 18, 2022.
Carpe Diem – Seize the Day. I guess this is quite a good motto that Saxon have chosen for their newest (their 23rd!!!) studio album. I would say that they sound powerful and heavy like they didn't sound for many years on this output and so they have done the best out of the situation. Most of the tracks are pretty fast or in some upper mid-tempo area and full of awesome guitar solos that let you be astonished that these guys still have such energy for this after all those years. I mean, they are not getting younger, if you know what I mean. If I didn't know that it was Saxon I would guess that some guys in their 30s/40s are performing a pretty great classic heavy metal album.
The album starts with a very catchy banger which is also the title track. I would state that this is a perfect opener for an album because it puts you in a right mood for this. Very casual riffs come along with a well-timed drumming and Biffs vocals do the rest to create a future Saxon classic. 'The Age Of Steam' is another very appealing track that reminds me quite a bit of Rammstein's “Deutschland” right at the beginning. It's another very melodic track with a furious chorus and again you can get quite easy into it. By the way the story that is told here (about the industrialization) is pretty nice to follow. There are quite a couple of tracks that keep up this mid-tempo style and are really great bangers like 'Super Nova'. I would say that this is one of the heaviest tracks that Saxon have ever written. The guitar riffs are razor sharp and quite brutal and I have to admit that the track reminds me from its riffing and the chorus of my Judas Priest all-time fave, that one with the ugly motorbike on it, you know for sure! Another track that I would like to mention is 'Dambusters', maybe not because of the music (though it is a really good one with a lot of Rock n´Roll flair- Lemmy would love that one for sure) but because of the lyrics. It is quite an interesting topic from WW2, when British bombers were sent to Germany to bombard the dams of the water reservoirs in the Sauerland and Hesse to harm the Ruhr Area and other parts of Germany because there was one of the hotspots for the war industry. This is quite an interesting story that the one or the other may like to read about in more detail.
On the other hand there are some slow tracks on Carpe Diem, too – namely 'The Pilgrimage' and 'Lady In Gray'. While 'The Pilgrimage' is a quite outstanding track that sounds a little bit like 'Crusader' and appears to be very catchy and groovy (combined with some “Hells Bells” vibes). But 'Lady In Gray' is the only track that I can't get used to. It sounds quite lame and boring in my ears and really doesn't grip me. May it be because of the half-hearted synths or the somewhat generic chorus, this track just splashes along without too much excitement in it, sorry. I would like to state that just one weaker track on this album isn't so much worth to criticize even because all of the other tracks are very rousing and make the album a very entertaining event.
Hopefully Saxon will keep this power they preserved on Carpe Diem for some more years and present us more of this stuff!!
Rating: 9.3 out of 10 Super Novae633