Sound: This is Saxon's first studio album, released in 1979. It sounds like Saxon hadn't found their style yet (that is understandable because they had members from ex-prog and ex-blues bands). The music style is NWOBHM but you can hear some prog influences. I don't like the sounds on this album as much as on their next two, it sounds like they were just looking for their own sound. And I think this album was a bit too "trying to be something". There are wanna be Queen choirs and wanna be John Bonham drumming that make the album sound too ambitious, I prefer their next albums soundwise and because of the fact that there's no background choirs, they just don't fit the music. But overall I like all the songs on this album. // 5
Lyrics: The lyrics fit the music very well. They are about motorbikes ("Stallions Of The Highway"), some fantasy stuff ("Rainbow Theme"), rock'n'roll ("Still Fit To Boogie"), freedom ("Militia Guard", "Backs To The Wall"), girls ("Big Teaser") and judgement day ("Judgement Day"). So the lyrics on this album aren't very profound. I'm not that much of a lyric listener but I know if the lyrics are terrible. So these lyrics are listenable and it's pretty easy to hear them all. Biff Byford's voice fits the music well. // 7
Overall Impression: My impression of this album is OK. It's pretty decent album and I like the songs. But it feels like they didn't know what they were doing when they recorded this album. They could have done it better and I think they should have recorded it later when they had found their style. So the next two albums ("Wheels Of Steel" and "Strong Arm Of The Law") are better IMO. I like the songs on the album but I hate the wanna be Queen choirs they have (and I think the drummer wants to be John Bonham or something) and the feeling that they didn't know what they were doing.
Here's my impression of all songs:
01. "Rainbow Theme": The album starts with simple 8th note bassline. Drums and guitar kick in and start playing a riff over the bass line. They start playing another riff in half tempo. After that the feeling changes and singing starts. The song has a bit of prog feel and it's pretty decent.
02. "Frozen Rainbow": This song is a "part 2" of "Rainbow Theme". It starts where "Rainbow Theme" ended. It has a guitar solo over the same slow riff as in "Rainbow Theme". After the solo they play the intro of "Rainbow Theme" and the song ends. This song is an instrumental so no singing here. The guitar solo is pretty simple but it's pretty good.
03. "Big Teaser": This song is pretty cool and one of my favorites on the album. It starts with a guitar riff but then the feeling changes. In this song the choirs don't matter, I think they are pretty cool. But this is the only song that has good choir parts. I like the chorus of this song and when I listen to the demo version of the song I am happy that they changed the old chord progression in chorus (D - Bm - C - G) to D - C - Bb - C (all majors). I think it's much cooler that way.
04. "Judgement Day": Very cool song, one of my favorites, but I prefer the live version (on the remastered version of the album). It has better sounds. The song has prog and blues influences. It has a clean bridge part that is cool (and it doesn't have drums in the background) but as I said the live version is better because there's drums in the background in the clean part too. The song ends with a bluesy part (it has shuffle rhythm) and guitar solo over the blues riff. They could have done the recorded version better (like if there hadn't been those damn choirs and there should have been drums in the background of the clean part) but the song is very cool, maybe the best song on this album.
05. "Stallions Of The Highway": Another cool song. This song is what Saxon is. It's fast and similar to their next album's songs like "Motorcycle Man". And of course it's about motorcycles! It has a cool bridge part that modulates three times (first with chords E - A - D then C# - F# - B and then A - D - G, all majors, of course). Great feeling, no stupid choirs or anything to complain.
06. "Backs To The Wall": This is an OK song but the best part of the song is in the end when Byford sings: "They can't take my love away". It's cool part and after that the song is very good. The beginning part is just a bit boring.
07. "Still Fit To Boogie": This is another "OK" song. It's pretty simple fast rock song but it has some random interlude riffs and those damn choirs that make me think that they could have done this better. Live versions of all the songs on this album (that I have heard) are better than the originals in my opinion.
08. "Militia Guard". If the two previous songs were "OK" songs, this song must be a "WTF" song. Because when I listened to this for the first time I was like WTF. It has so many riffs and parts and it only lasts 4 minutes. It has a cool guitar solo, though, and when I had listened to this song a couple of times it wasn't that bad any more. It has some cool riffs and stuff but just too much of it for only one four-minute song. They could have done this much better or made two songs of the riffs this song has. Oh, and the choirs in this song are annoying. What were they thinking when they recorded this?
So all in all the songs are very good but when I listen to this album, sometimes I'm thinking that what were they thinking when they made this? The sounds could be much better and some song structures could be better not to mention those damn choirs! They just ruin some songs. Feeling that describes this album the best would be "trying to be something". It's just a bit too ambitious but I still like it. // 7