At The Galaxy Theatre Sunday, October 2nd: SAXON, RUTHLESS, & ANGER AS ART
Saxon’s debut album, released in 1979, did not have a major impact on the music scene. Considering the Pop Charts were dominated by The Bee Gees, Split Enz (?), and The Village People, it pretty much appeared as if hard rock/metal was dead and buried. But, by 1980, this “thing” called the New Wave of British Heavy Metal popped up from “nowhere” and truly crushed the European airwaves and record stores like Godzilla stomping on Tokyo. Releases from Judas Priest, Motorhead, Def Leppard, and Iron Maiden, to name but a few, made a significant and undeniable dent in the music industry.
As this crushing musical tidal wave made its impact on the European charts (and created interest in the underground US metal fan base, mostly thru UK publications such as Kerrang), Saxon released their second LP, Wheels of Steel. While Judas Priest made the biggest impact with their amazing but slightly inconsistent British Steel, Saxon’s Wheels of Steel maintained the same aggressive in-your-face metal that Priest had demonstrated. Both releases were coated in such a thin layer of commerciality upon hard core rock and rock that it easily could have been Saxon that dominated the Kingdom of Metal rather than Priest. Personally, I felt Wheels Of Steel maintained a more consistent array of hard driving, anthemic tunes than British Steel did but that’s my personal opinion.
With their 19th album, Call To Arms, released last Thursday, Saxon has remained consistent in their music albeit a bit too concrete in their musical foundations. That may have faltered them in that they stood fast in their musical beliefs rather than doing the “pop it up,” style – ala Def Leppard. Instead, Saxon remained loyal to their beliefs, therefore becoming musical heroes to their die hard and loyal fan base the world over.
Rumor has it that the cast of Spinal Tap took some of Saxon’s cinematic cues, musically and visually, for their movie. No disrespect to Saxon but they do appear to be the stereotypical metal band – long hair, tough-guy looks, and leather clad. They also possess the obligatory hard driving double-bass drums and dual guitar attacks, made more famous by Priest and later Maiden. It is simply, however, hard core rock and roll.
In Saxon’s favor, though, there is loyalty. Having a smaller fan base does not afford one the luxury of living in castles with an entourage of Ferrari’s and Porsches. But, Saxon should be respected for the fact that if they didn’t love the music they were churning out, they would’ve called it a day long ago. It’s easier for Leppard or Maiden to keep it going when they see the financial perks. That’s no knock on either of these influential rock outfits. But, obviously it’s the music that keeps Saxon flowing.
Saxon could be considered “dated”, never veering away from their style of straight forward metal, but the music still holds up to today’s rock bands. Saxon, like I have previously mentioned regarding Y & T, are generally relegated to opening status or headlining smaller venues. But, Saxon is ferocious live despite their opening or headlining status; always maintaining a high level of fun in their sets to go with the macho heavy metal posturing of this genre. With so much material to choose from you can bank on hearing the shout-along chorus of songs such as “Denim and Leather” and the cranium-busting but-oh-so-catchy chorus of “Princess of the Night”. Considering Saxon does not come along these shores often this is a great opportunity to see one of the pioneers of rock metal as we know it today.
Opening are Anger As Art from Pasadena, California. Obviously, influenced by such bands as Saxon and old-school metal, i.e. Black Sabbath, Anger as Art will definitely set a tone for the evening with their aggressive hard-core metal.
Also on the bill are the “never-say-die” outfit of Ruthless. Formed in 1982 by lead guitarist Kenny Mcgee and vocalist Sammy D, Ruthless have re-banded back together, obviously in the intent of showing that metal will not die – especially amongst the endless waves of trends.