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This honestly has to be the most ironic album in all of Saxon’s career. Why? Well just look at the title of it: CRUSADER! Anyone with even a little knowledge of history generally knows about the crusades, right? You know, the whole deal with the Church of England and the conversion of Heathens into Christianity? Anyway, it would only be appropriate for an English band like Saxon to create a song and an album like this. They have that badass British sound to them, which is something that only Iron Maiden came close to sounding like in the 80s. In a way, this album was probably meant to express their patriotic, English pride, which is something Saxon is often known to do (This is also the year that Manowar had an album out called Hail To England. Funny thing is, they‘re not even an English band).
However, the ironic twist to this album is that with the exception of the intro and its title track, the rest of the songs miserably fall into the hands of American commercialism. That’s right! The one album who’s name, artwork, and title track completely scream out “WE’RE AN ENGLISH METAL BAND!”, marks a sudden crash and burn in the band’s career! Now the title track is probably one of the best god damn songs ever written in Metal! There’s really no doubt about that. But the rest of the album is just mainstream, corporate rock crap. How can Saxon do this to their fans? This is weak, embarrassing, and completely unoriginal! If I wanted to listen to Bon Jovi or latter day Motley Crue, I’d fucking put on one of their CDs! This is fucking Saxon we’re talking about here!! Not some mainstream 80s rock band!
When it comes down to it, the album isn’t terrible, it really is not. But considering this is Saxon, it’s really a huge shame to see such a band bow down to the American mainstream standards. Here’s some advice for Metalheads and Metal bands everywhere: If you’re a band who sang about war, motorcycle gangs, battles, speeding recklessly down freeways, kicking people’s asses, and also named an album title after the traditional Metalhead fashion (Denim And Leather), you CAN NOT be the British Bon Jovi!! Simple as that!!
1. The Crusader Prelude - As I’ve stated in past reviews, I typically don’t care much for album intros, although every intro that Saxon has come up with has pretty much slew. This one is no exception. You’re able to hear galloping horses, horns of war, battle cries, swords clashing, and all of that good stuff. Then in the background you can har Biff shouting “Crusader!”. Yes, perfect intro to set the atmosphere of the next song!
2. Crusader - Give me an E! Give me a P! Give me an I! Give me a C! What do you have? EPIC!! Yes! This is an EPIC number in all fucking caps! The medieval atmosphere that this song gives off is just simply incredible. Biff Byford demonstrates his best vocal work yet, and shows what an amazing vocalist he is. Sure, he may not be able to hit extreme high notes, but he really does help to give off that medieval atmosphere as well. The overall track is very mid-paced, and generally has that ‘war march’ feel to it. Despite the constant pace of the song, it does go through various tempo changes to add more to its Epic feel as well. Oh yeah, and did I mention how well written these lyrics are? Everything is historically correct, and just reading these lyrics alone may take you back to the days of the Holy Crusades. Incredible and amazing! That’s all I have to say about this one.
3. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy - What a poor excuse for a speed metal song. Yes, this is fast, but the overall song is poorly written and the lyrics suck ass. Here’s a sample: “I’ve got my Ford, she’s long and black. Who needs a fucking Cadillac?”…uhh, seriously, is this the same band who wrote the lyrics to the previous song? The chorus is probably the worst part about the song and…yeah…let’s just move onto the next track.
4. Sailing To America - I think the title of this song should be “Selling Out To America”, since that’s really what this album was doing at the time. Actually, this song isn’t that bad. It’s really about the Pilgrim’s journey to this new found land. Okay, so I hate the lyrical content. Not because it’s poorly written, the lyrical structure is actually very good. But…I don’t want to be reminded of these fucking Puritans coming to America. It’s because of them that we have all of these morality laws now! But music wise, this song is rather good. It makes you feel like heading out to sea with a bottle of booze in your hand, sailing with the wind in your hair. Then again, I doubt that those stupid Puritans even drank booze.
5. Set Me Free - Yes, this is a Sweet cover, which is also the exact same song that Heathen covered on their 1987 Breaking The Silence album. Of course, Heathen’s version is done much better. Still, this track is a bit more enjoyable than the tracks that follow it. Is it fast? Yes. But I also have some trouble calling this a speed Metal tune. Saxon isn’t very good at doing song covers, with the exception of that King Crimson cover on their 2001 album. But…that’s another review to come!
6. Just Let Me Rock - Sounds more like a shitty glam band than Saxon to me. Generic riffs, boring, generic chorus, mediocre vocals…boring song! Sad to think that a band who had song titles like ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ and ‘Play It Loud’ has now reduced themselves into making cheap, generic song titles like ‘Just Let Me Rock’. Yeah, this sure rocks alright…
7. Bad Boys (Like To Rock N Roll) - Bad boys, eh? Yeah…selling out to the mainstream sure is bad alright! Aside from the shitty song title, this song is nothing short of lame. The chorus has got to be one of the most pathetic ones that Saxon has ever come up with. If you’ve ever heard those popular glam bands, then you’ll know that during the choruses, the rest of the band always repeats the last few words after the singer, like some kind of cheerleading group. Well, that’s what this song does. Bad boys? Yeah right!
8. Do It All For You - You know, this ballad really isn’t that bad. Sure as hell beats the faster songs on here, that’s for certain! Yes, it’s a good song, but it’s no Suzi Hold On and it sure as hell is no Nightmare! Actually, for a ballad, this track has some pretty heavy riffs on it, though there are some cool acoustic parts as well. Also, Biff Byford delivers the vocals very well.
9. Rock City - Okay, this here is such crap!! Honestly, this really wouldn’t sound out of place on a god damn Poison CD. That’s how bad it is. Everything about it sucks. The riffs are all recycled, generic, glam inspired and boring. As for the drumming, well...I honestly think that a kindergardner could pull this type of drumming off. The vocals are uninspired as well, and the lyrics…don’t even get me started on the lyrics, because this is without a doubt the worst shit that Saxon has come up with. Would you like me to quote some of the lyrics for you? Okay then: “DJ, VJ, radio, video, crank it up mamma, the time is right”…see what I’m talking about? There’s some other bad shit in here too that I really don’t care about getting into right now. Onto the last track…
10. Run For Your Lives - Well, this is MUCH better! Not the greatest song, but it ain’t that bad. For Saxon, I know that they’re capable of so much more, but after the rest of the bad shit I had to hear on this CD, I am glad that they can finally end the album off with a half decent song. This song would actually be great if it had more of a “crunch” to the guitar riffs, because everything else sounds good to me. The vocals are superb and the drumming is steady, but good. I love the chorus, it’s really catchy, and…hell, this whole damn song is catchy! And finally…the lyrics don’t suck! Not the best written lyrics, but they’re satisfactory.
If you're new to Saxon and want to check out some of their stuff, then stay away from this album! As other reviewers have stated, this album will be worth getting just for its title track, but generally, this would serve as an awful introdution to the band. Try any of the albums prior to this one and/or any of the much later releases instead.
By the way, 30 of the 35 points that I gave the album, go to the title track itself.