Great Metal Albums of 1988: Saxon- Destiny

Writing the 80smetalman blog for nearly 12 years, (God, has it been that long?), I have come to this conclusion about British NWOBHM band Saxon. While they never achieved the commercial success of their contemporaries Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, (should I include Def Leppard here?), Saxon was a band who was well known throughout heavy metal circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Ask any metalhead around at the time and they would be able to tell you that Saxon was a great band. So, today’s question is: Does there 1988 album, “Destiny,” measure up to what I have just written?

My quick answer is, “Yes.” First, I will freely admit that listening to “Destiny” doesn’t want me to put more noted albums like “Denim and Leather” or “Wheels of Steel” on the shelf, it’s still a good album where Saxon does what they have always done. And no, this isn’t simply the case of an established band using the same old tired formula, they sound as fresh as they always have. The irony is that the album starts off with a cover of the Christopher Cross classic, “Ride Like the Wind.” Naturally, Saxon put their own spin on it and their version sounds really good. While I won’t waste typing fingers comparing the two versions here, I will say that it’s definitely worth an “Original vs. Cover” post, if 2Loud is willing to do so. If not, I could always do it.

“Ride Like the Wind” was released as a single and if you believe Wikipedia, it’s the only single from the album. This is not the case. What caught my attention in regards to the “Destiny” album was while watching “The Chart Show” on British television, during the show’s “Rock Week,” was the video for the song “I Can’t Wait Anymore.” For me, this track was better single material than the Christopher Cross cover anyway. It’s a mid tempo ballad and I love the lead guitar intro. Biff puts his soul into the vocals and the rest of the band provide the ground support. “Where the Lightning Strikes” makes a good bridge between the two singles.

The middle of the album is what distinguishes it as another great Saxon album. No nonsense power riffs launch “Calm Before the Storm” This is a pure cooker, guaranteed to get your head banging along to it. The keyboards at the chorus do nothing to change that fact as the power chords rule. I don’t know which guitarist cranks out the solo here but it’s damn cool. Next, they go a bit prog-metal, before it was a thing, on “S.O.S.” It begins with ocean sound effects before some heavy riffs kick in. I can’t be sure but I think it’s about a distressed ship but the backing vocals and bass line stands out particularly. It ends with a foghorn so I hope the ship was rescued.

Saxon change it up again on “Song for Emma.” The title and the mellow keyboard intro and soft first verse makes you think that this is going to be another ballad but the guitars kick in and the track takes off. Even though the second verse slows down, it can no longer be thought of as a ballad, it just kicks too much ass. It gets my vote for hidden gem, especially with that guitar solo. We can say that “Song for Emma” is definitely a climax but not a conclusion as the remaining tracks are quick to remind you. No, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is not a cover of the Metallica classic but it’s a good song in its own right. However, I am reluctant to have the two songs in a “Songs with the Same Title” competition because as much as I like this Saxon number, it doesn’t quite measure up to Metallica. Then again, I could let you all decide.

Things go more 1980s with “We Are Strong” with the keyboards in the song. Maybe they needed one song which sounded contemporary and it’s a good song, if unspectacular. Biff’s unmistakable voice and the guitar hooks let you know that it’s definitely a Saxon song. However, they return to more mainstream metal with “Jericho Siren.” A straightforward metal tune and a cool penultimate track to set up the closer. With that, “Red Alert,” I wonder if Saxon were in the CND movement. This isn’t the only nuclear war song they’ve made. “Fire in the Sky” off the “Denim and Leather” album is another one. Still, it’s a great way to end the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Ride Like the Wind
  2. Where the Lightning Strikes
  3. I Can’t Wait Anymore
  4. Calm Before the Storm
  5. S.O.S.
  6. Song for Emma
  7. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  8. We Are Strong
  9. Jericho Siren
  10. Red Alert
Saxon

Biff Byford- vocals

Graham Oliver- guitar

Paul Quinn- guitar

Paul Johnson- bass

Nigel Durham- drums

Additional Musicians:

Steven Laws Clifford- keyboards

Dave Taggart, George Lamb, Phil Caffery, Steve Mann- backing vocals

Throughout the 1980s, Saxon kept cranking out great albums, it’s just a shame they weren’t more commercially successful. They definitely are a great band as “Destiny” proves.

Next post: Anthrax- State of Euphoria

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

To sign the petition to have Bruce Dickinson knighted, click the link: https://www.change.org/p/special-honours-committees-for-knighthoods-a-knighthood-for-bruce-dickinson?redirect=false

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24 Responses to “Great Metal Albums of 1988: Saxon- Destiny”

  1. I have a good chunk of Saxon’s discography, a lot of it I bought around the same time several years ago. I’ll admit that this one didn’t do it for me, just not the same feel as the early classics. I haven’t spent a lot of time with it though, I got into Saxon much later in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard Ride Like The Wind and it’s not too bad and would you share my view that the sound on this album could be compared to Bon Jovi,Def Leppard,Poison,Kiss and even Vixen?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really only know the Denim era. But they did put out a lot of stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I prefer Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” to be honest! Also, I just noticed that Nigel Glockler didn’t play drums for this album. I’m guessing this was when he wasn’t in the band at the time?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My favorite Saxon album. It got me into the band and I dived in to hear the earlier stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

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