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#32 In My NWOBHM Rarities Review Series
Fuck me what a brilliant single! ‘Heavy Metal Thunder’ is pure Saxon; if you ever wanted to introduce someone to the band, just stick this in the stereo, and crank the knobs to 11 – headbanging with come automatically, as will fist pumping, air guitar, and words sung or shouted along in imitation of one of heavy metal’s most badass and legendary frontmen. This song blew me away in the early 2000’s when I first heard it, in a live rendition on ‘Greatest Hits Live’ and you could tell right off the bat it was an essential part of every damn set they’ve ever played since churning it out on the stunning full-length ‘Strong Arm of the Law’. ‘Taking your Changes’ is a decent enough track, though slower and a bit more melodic and sung, it’s also been a part of the live set and sits nicely alongside the more thundering speed metal numbers like the a-side. Two strong cuts here which would serve as a dominating first experience of the band.
‘Strong Arm of the Law’ is usually considered among the best 3-4 full-lengths made by Saxon to date (and they have about 20 or so) and the a-side here really has a lot to do with that. Classic spine shattering dirty riffage in this song, as well as breakneck speed, and fists in the air catchiness in the chorus. Infectious, ruckus, raw, fast, nasty and yet melodic, this song is killer and is among Saxon’s finest moments. Saxon was incredibly busy in 1980 too, churning out two full-lengths, playing a shitload of dates, and pressing promotional singles in between the usual drinking and rehearsing that goes along with heavy metal. And during this whirlwind of activity, somehow managed to write an anthem that would wind up a blueprint for speed metal, and spawn a thousand bands. The rebellious attitude of the song is carried through with Class by Biff’s forceful hollering voice, which just screams British heavy metal, and Quinn and Oliver’s classic guitar phrasing is excellent.
‘Taking Your Changes’ doesn’t relent on raw ‘tude, and continues the brilliant mating of killer proto speed metal guitars with Biffs melodic, yet forceful tone. The melodic chorus in this one will just urge singalong, and is utter party music, to be blasted knobs to the right, while good times roll. The clean guitars peppered throughout are a solid touch, I feel, and the main riff – though simplistic, just rocks along relentlessly throught the whole damn thing, while Biff hollers with conviction at the listener, to get the point of the track across aggressively. Guitar solos are outright stunning, with Quinn and Oliver just shredding to each other back and forth, into a fade-out. So much chemistry between the axemen here, not unlike Tipton/Downing, as they churn out excellent leads. Two brilliant stunners that nuked any competition in sight – Samson included; essential heavy metal.