1. Battalions of Steel
2. Live to Rock
3. Demon Sweeney Todd
4. The Letter
5. Valley of the Kings
6. Slow Lane Blues
7. Crime of Passion
8. Premonition in D Minor
10. Protect Yourselves
12. Come Rock of Ages (the Circle Is Complete)
13. Coming Home (Bottleneck Version)
Release Date: 12 January 2009 – SPV
Since the 70’s a constant in traditional metal the brith honourables Saxon publish their 18th studio album Into the Labyrinth.
As we could name the 2004 album Lionheart a real band classic this album cannot keep the standard of that output.
The album starts unusual with strange Keyboard lines that part time remembers me on Nightwish before it leads to the normal Saxon direction with a brilliant hookline. Battalions of steel is a nice, old school heavy metal song with epic touch. Following is a stamping riff rock song called Live to Rock that remembers to old Solid ball or rock times. The keyboard samples have even a touch of Bon Jovi’s Bad Medicine. Instead of the opening tracks this song is losing weight. You could say this is songwriting in safe waters of old band classics. After this follows Demon Sweeney Todd, the first filler track of the album. Standard riffs, well known songwriting and a refrain that seem we heard that from Saxon a lot of times. Really uninspired. And the refrain looks like that it was stolen from the german band Rage (straight from hell). Next the acoustic The Letter that leads in Valley of the kings. A song with a brilliant refrain and a surprising stamping midpart. More songs like this one could have been make this album to a band classic. But the Slow Lane Blues stops that opportunity again. Not so bluesy like the title says but only a nice solo is not enough for a good song. Hooklines that carries a brilliant song are missing here. A little irony is that the riff in the following song Crime of passion sounds more blues orientated than Slow Lane Blues. But again the hooklines dont work. More another filler than an upcoming bandclassic. Premonition in D Minor is a short musical intermezzo – not more, not less. It leads direct into the light song
Voice. This song I think will not make it into the live shows for sure, but for me it is better than some songs the bands wrote for this album. Protect yourselves start with a heavy riff and brings the listener back to better moments in band history but in the end the song ran out unspectacular. Same to Hellcat, heard thousand times and the refrain cannot make it to be remembered.
With the last song Come rock of ages the band finally attacks and bring The Best song (together with Valley of the king) at the end of the album.
Sorry Saxon, but this album is not more than ranking in the lower fields of the band discography. Miles away from a classic. 2 or 3 songs that could be remembered in the next years are not enough to climb higher fields. Only another Saxon album.
Review by Kerb