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This is Saxon with no power. Think commercial hard rock and you're way closer than any heavy metal. There is a ton of synth backing to draw up images of bands that had guitars but didn't have any real riffs (or power behind the riffs if they did exist). It's all atmosphere and vocal hooks with chirpy guitar leads to make and break songs. Saxon are not known for pulling off good albums using this kind of formula, let alone making any more than one good song for most heavy metal listeners. However, somewhere in this mess of a '80s romance-drama album is something that can be likeable.
The cover song at the beginning should sum this up perfectly: softly-distorted guitars, thumping drumming, and a drabby bass all trying to support the leading vocals. Byford's singing is high and expansive, but the music around him is some real sappy stuff. That production only helps to make everything more docile and inoffensive, although I shouldn't complain since it's a good, clear job. Still, this music is geared toward hard rock / AOR / glam realms than any heavy metal. Strangely, the song that's the furthest in this territory, the love-ballad "I Can't Wait Anymore," is my favorite off this mess of an album. It's so mushy, but I can't help but admire how well it sounds for what it wants to be. The loud punch of the drums and the jangly / clean guitars are adorable, and the atmosphere and gentle chorus are too easy on the ears to dismiss.
As much as the above is mostly out of my area, songs like "Red Alert" and "For Whom The Bell Tolls" hark back to some kind of riffing akin to Thin Lizzy. Sadly, it sounds grossly out of place. Saxon submerged themselves too far into a soft rock territory for mediocre, ineffectual songs like those to have any place or purpose. Saxon wanted to be poppy, fluffy, and without any depth, and damn it they did it here. They can't then attempt to write half-assed heavy metal and sprinkle it sparsely.
In all honesty, just skip this. There's nothing here to be missed, despite whatever positives I could possibly attribute to it. It might not be heavy metal, but it's not very good, either. There are better bands that play this type of music, and Saxon do little to add with their own style.
Wow, this sucks! I wish I could end this review there, but unfortunately, that doesn’t pass as legitimate criticism, and so I have to endure this musical raping of my ears for just a while longer. I mean, good grief, this…is terrible, in every sense of the word. It’s Saxon, for fuck’s sake! Goddammit, guys, you’re supposed to be writing heavy metal anthems for the ages! What am I supposed to gain from an album of bullshit that makes Europe’s “The Final Countdown” look manly?
Okay, alright, I know they were never exactly Manilla Road in terms of uncompromising metalness. There are plenty of times when they released acceptable material that was still really catchy and streamlined, but this…this is just bad. Geez, this is really lame. Even the song titles don’t sound good – they exude boredom even without hearing a note of the music. But I don’t suppose this really constitutes a whole review, either, so let’s just get to the bottom of this enervated, testosterone-starved mess that the band decided to call Destiny…be afraid.
This is pretty much what would happen if you took everything good about Saxon, removed it, and replaced the band with aliens playing bad 80s pop music. I just cannot find this charming at all, and I know that was the aim with this, as everything tries SO DAMN HARD to charm and dazzle the listener, and fails every time. Everything about this is painful, from the dreary haze of the cream-puff synthesizers to the plodding riffs to Biff Byford’s vocal performance, which is the most crystal clear I’ve ever heard him, but also with the worst, most glammed up, commercialized vocal lines I’ve ever heard him sing, too. The “atmosphere” on here ranges from the startlingly bland evocation of a bad 80s movie where a hapless, clumsy lead actor tries to win back an equally shallow, poorly written love interest (“Song for Emma”) to a neon-spandex workout video, as in the horrifying “SOS.”
This album is light on the ears, but it’s so light and so full of sugary non-substance that it will make you want to throw up. It is cringe-inducingly lazy – what, so you can’t write even one song without that poppy fuzz and bounce behind it? You can’t even try to conjure up a feeling with the vocals or the guitars without trying to let the synths do it for you? This is just so fucking enervated. It’s like every stereotype about pop music in the 80s realized in the form of a good metal band writing unbearable horse diarrhea.
…I’m sorry, I just have nothing else to say about this except obscenities of various kinds. This album just sucks so much in every way that this is really the only response it elicits and the only one it deserves. I can’t honestly fault opener “Ride Like the Wind” much, as it is a cover, and it would have been tolerable if the rest of the album had improved upon it rather than just regurgitating the bad ideas in it. The rhythm is passable and the riff is okay, and the vocals aren’t bad – but even at four minutes it feels too long, like the ideas in it were played out long before the band stopped playing. Fact is, these songs just aren’t well written enough to even sustain them for an average three to four minute time-frame. The lack of ideas is just astonishing, even when the band comes up with a chorus that isn’t transparent bullshit, or a nice riff. “Where the Lightning Strikes” is the same, with another average riff and another pretty okay vocal performance from Biff, but as soon as it hits that out-of-nowhere section at about 2:45 you know the song has run out of ideas. Lame. It’s only a four and a half minute song, guys, not some kind of titanic epic.
In fact, a lot of the stuff on here is pretty much exactly like that. You get some half-cocked arena fluff with “SOS,” which is one of the gayest things I’ve ever heard out of a respectable band like this, and some half-assed “rockers” like “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” And “Song for Emma”…when the Scorpions do this kind of song, it’s cool. Somehow, by some freak accident of nature, this song just kind of sucks. It does cook up some heaviness eventually, but still…it just never really clicks. “We Are Strong” is more shitty, fruity spandex-rock, and have you noticed that all of these choruses sound the same? Good grief, it’s like the album is just one long song; it’s just painful. I am dead serious; pretty much all of these choruses are sung with the same timbre, the same layers on them, the same everything.
But wait! We haven’t touched on the album’s crown jewel of terribleness, “I Can’t Wait Anymore.” Yes, the album’s most shameless pop sell-out yet, with all the balls of a eunuch in spring and all the energy of a corpse on the side of the road in the gutter – and just about as much integrity, at that. When I see the video for this song, watching Biff Byford on a stage of neon pink and silver, crooning like a pop star he never was and was never meant to be…I die on the inside. A part of my soul just withers and dies.
Ugh, fuck it, I’m done. This is just horrible. Fuck, I’d rather listen to Savage Amusement - that’s how low we’ve gotten, people. No thought, no power, no nothing except for syrupy cliché and smarmy annoyance. Every band has one bad album or so, and it turns out that Saxon’s was one of the worst. There are a few moments here that aren’t terrible, and I’ve heard worse music overall, but Destiny is still about as big of a waste of time as they come. The music is played well enough, but this is just so…lame! To add insult to injury, the band finally puts a real song that isn’t a pile of sleazy crap at the end with “Live Fast Die Young,” which has good, driving riffs, a strong vocal performance and a lack of synths altogether, making for an enjoyable listen all around. The differences are minute, but it’s the details that matter.
Just listen to that song ten times, and you’ll have a more rewarding experience.
Despite the video for their cover of "Ride Like the Wind" having a reasonable rotation on MTV (usually on Headbanger's Ball), Saxon seemed to miss the mark with what could have been their breakthrough album. Destiny is often loathed by fans for its relative accessibility, but the truth is it's no more commercial than any of their previous albums, a slice of catchy NWOBHM which I still consider one of their career highlights, with ballads and rockers aplomb, all written in a bluesy, consistent aesthetic.
The presence of the typical 80s radio rock synthesizers is complementary and never forced, even as "Ride Like the Wind" opens. The Christopher Cross cover sounds quite nice in Saxon's able hands, Biff Byford's vocals blend seamlessly with the backups for the chorus. "Where the Lightning Strikes" is a slower paced rocker, anchored in a simple and perfect riff, the kind that has appeared on every Saxon record before and since. Again, the chorus is exactly what you are waiting for, powerful and understated. "I Can't Wait Anymore" is a love ballad with some nice leads and catchy clean guitars jangling beneath the verse. This is probably the type of song the album took some slack for, but its a good song and superior to many of the shitty glam rock ballads which polluted the airwaves during that era. "Calm Before the Storm" returns to the rock and Byford giving it his all, dripping with blue collar lyrics.
"S.O.S." starts with some blowing winds and ambiance, then a great teaser riff before the metal begins to rage, a mid-paced flow beneath yet another set of catchy vocal lines. "Song for Emma" is another power ballad, reminds me a lot of something Def Leppard would have done back then but with Byford's vocals (the bands have always had similar music). "For Whom the Bell Tolls" rocks out like classic Saxon, killer riffs and an unforgettable chorus. "We Are Strong" is pretty typical synth driven rock fare, it's the weakest song on the album but still works for me. The album closes with two of its best tracks: "Jericho Siren" with its brilliant riffing and the hard rocking "Red Alert".
The album may sound dated to some, but quite adequate for the time. Lyrically the songs contain the same mix of everyman romance, history and world events that most of their albums do. Byford was younger here of course, but it remains one of his best vocal performances to date, he expressed a greater range than most of their earlier records. Although I am one of a dwindling few who personally loves this album, it's a difficult album to recommend, as I do not think it would appeal to fans of the more crunchy, power-metal fueled modern Saxon sound. However, if you loved the big budget hard rock of the 80s without too much of the glam crap (they did the hairspray thing briefly before realizing it didn't fit), and you love Biff's voice, you should give this a listen.