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THE METAL OBSERVER - Review - SAXON - Crusader

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33 tablatures for Saxon

Saxon - Crusader (7/10) - Great Britain - 1984

Genre: Heavy Metal / Hard Rock
Label: Caroline Records
Playing time: 39:11
Band homepage: Saxon


  1. The Crusader Prelude
  2. Crusader
  3. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy
  4. Sailing To America
  5. Set Me Free
  6. Just Let Me Rock
  7. Bad Boys (Like To Rock ‘N’ Roll)
  8. Do It All For You
  9. Rock City
  10. Run For Your Lives


Saxon - Crusader

I love SAXON, but I have to make this review objectively so I should comment about its biggest flaw.

One of the main features that I consider important in an album is its balance. For me, good balance means that you can hear the complete album and consider that there is something bonding every song of the disc during its performance. It might be the style of the production, the lyrics that tell you a story or maybe the pace of the songs.

"Crusader," unfortunately, is an example of an album that lacks of this important point. SAXON have done this along its career. Some of their productions don’t attach to a style or a defined structure during the presentation. While some of them are greatly managed to become versatile and easy going, I can’t say the same about "Crusader."

The album is good in the terms of what SAXON represents; it has catchy songs that you might hear on the radio, good rhythm guitars, the great voice of Biff, and the 80’s Heavy Metal atmosphere around the songs. But at one point, the songs jump from being great and enthusiastic, to being perceived as poorly developed.


When you start listening to the album, "The Crusader Prelude" implies that something really great is about to happen, and after it, starts the title track. "Crusader" is one of the best songs ever made by SAXON. It starts with great acoustic guitars that create the atmosphere of a long journey (I felt something similar the first time I listened The Clansman by IRON MAIDEN). Along with the slow pace of the tunem the chorus brings power to the lyrics and certainly sticks to your head and makes you wonder how would those times could’ve been.


After you listen to such great track, you will certainly wake up abruptly when you listen to the next song: “A Little Bit Of What You Fancy." It is so fast of a song that it completely ruins the mood set by the previous one. I don’t know if this was made on purpose but it certainly makes me think that the whole album was not worked around the potential theme that a song like "Crusader" had.


Many people may say that it has diversity and such changes are part of the feeling of this album. I really think that being versatile is okay, but you can’t use album art cover that shows an epic theme for the album and then add songs that seem out of place. When you see the cover, you imagine a concept album and it does start as one, but one that's coming from a great journey, like battling the Saracens, and then suddenly arriving at a Spring Break Party is not something that got me caught to the album.


This situation doesn’t show up on these two songs exclusively. Some of them are cheesy and run through a line that a band with this experience should’ve avoided. In some cases like in “Sailing To America,” I feel I am listening to a Glam song, or “Just Let Me Rock,” that sounds like a poorly made copy of JUDAS PRIEST's "United."


Even the cover from the SWEET song “Set Me Free” is not exactly solid. I personally think that the album could’ve avoided this song. “Do It All For You” is a ballad that promises a lot during the introduction but it loses intensity and ends up being a little lame in my opinion. Even if the guitar sounds amazing, the singing is extremely “sweet." Not a bad song.


But not everything is lost. There are good songs that put you in mood when the album is reaching the end; long after you have dealt with the disappointing balance of the album, “Bad Boys” brings back the interesting and the energy.  “Run For Your Lives” is intense from start to end with a great drumming intro that follows up with a riff that makes you say, “That’s the SAXON I expected.” 


So, you have an album that puts the best from the band at the beginning and the end of the album, and that is somewhat disappointing.


At the end, the album is enjoyable if you pick songs one by one, but if someone during production thought that this was something that went “all-around" and could've worked out, it was poorly planned and the execution was even poorer. One of the songs brings an atmosphere that is not kept during the album but if you listen to the songs as separate compositions, they are good works.


Overall, it is SAXON and certainly the elements that made them great are here, maybe not arranged properly, but they are here.

(Online October 27, 2010)

Stan Higareda

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