Saxon: Holy Fire

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And 24 albums for the British heavy metal group, whose career is approaching half a century. Always ideal for stocking up on epic riffs and sing-along choruses, “Hell, Fire and Damnation” shows that Saxon proudly keeps the flame. Vocalist and founding member Biff Byford and new guitarist Brian Tatler, also known as Diamond Head’s guitarist, don’t let their vast experience dull their enthusiasm and thirst for new things.

With a prolific career and a reputation as live performers in hardened steel, the British Saxon continue to be relentless after forty-five years of career. They thus mark the start of the year 2024 with Hell, Fire and Damnationtheir 24th studio album. “We still have this passion for composing songs” says Biff Byford, singer and founding member.

If the team is united, it is nevertheless strengthened by a new member: Brian Tatler. He thus replaces Paul Quinn, long-time guitarist, whose “the heart is no longer in heavy metal”. Known as the guitarist of Diamond Head, another British heavy metal band from the 80s, he was able to prove himself useful “It’s a new challenge that I’m happy to take on. I presented my ideas that I thought were relevant to Saxon in the form of demos. Since then I have been able to adapt to the sound of the group, whose repertoire includes a lot of fast and heavy songs.” These ideas came after the last tours he did with the group, allowing him to acclimatize to the atmosphere. If Brian Tatler wanted to adapt his ideas to SaxonBiff Byford does not want to place the group in too narrow a straitjacket: “We stay in the same musical genre, but don’t want to be predictable.”

History and metal

Among Brian Tatler’s ideas, we notably find “1066”, a heavy metal blast which deals with the Battle of Hastings. “It’s an excellent subject, well known to us, we approach it at school. The inspiration came to me following the title ‘Saxon & Vikings’, a collaboration with Amon Amarth. I decided to write a piece about what happens next. I love this piece.” This collaboration between the British and the Swedes is not the first, since the screamer Johan Hegg gives his hoarse voice to the track “Predator”, present on the album Thunderbolt (2018). “Our voices are different, but there are musical bridges. They are big fans of Saxon and nice guys.”

Historical subjects are far from foreign to Biff Byford: “It’s a treasure trove of inspiration. We can talk about angels and demons all the time, but I like to tackle different themes. We’re past the age for ‘sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll’ type songs he quips. We’ve written a few in the past, like ‘Sixth from Girls’ or ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Gypsies’. That said, we want to convey a certain class and a little seriousness in our records.”

In addition to History, the singer likes to bring a touch of mysticism with “There’s Something in Roswell”. “It’s an incredible story, fertile ground for all alien crazy people. This is where this passion for many people has its origins. I learned about it through books and documentaries, it’s a subject that interests me.” A subject so interesting that the group chose this title as one of its singles before the release of Hell, Fire and Damnation.

Find this interview with Biff Byford and Brian Tatler from Saxon in full in WECB l’Hebdo n°146, available via our online store.


Written by

Christopher Johnson

Christopher Johnson is a dedicated writer and key contributor to the WECB website, Emerson College's student-run radio station. Passionate about music, radio communication, and journalism, Christopher pursues his craft with a blend of meticulous research and creative flair. His writings on the site cover an array of subjects, from music reviews and artist interviews to event updates and industry news. As an active member of the Emerson College community, Christopher is not only a writer but also an advocate for student involvement, using his work to foster increased engagement and enthusiasm within the school's radio and broadcasting culture. Through his consistent and high-quality outputs, Christopher Johnson helps shape the voice and identity of WECB, truly embodying its motto of being an inclusive, diverse, and enthusiastic music community.