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A heavy metal classic - 90%

ViciousFriendlyFish, December 17th, 2013

Saxon pumped out plenty of great, raw heavy metal tunes during the early 80s. It's what they specialised in. They had songs about motorcycles, trains, women, and metal. The songs were consistently heavy and enjoyable to listen to, and this particular album captures Saxon at the height of their creativity. From start to finish, this album has plenty of great moments to be cherished by any heavy metal fan.

Saxon may not be the most popular NWOBHM band, and have certainly not maintained their success like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have, but their early albums are total gems, and this one is fantastic from start to finish. Saxon have influenced bands such as Metallica and Megadeth, and it's not hard to understand what Saxon did to possibly fuel that influence.

Songs such as "Princess of the Night", "Never Surrender" and the title track are total classics. Princess of the Night is a mid-tempo heavy song about trains (not quite what the title may imply) and carries a nicely sung chorus. There are certain riffs that may remind you of some early Metallica songs, and those guys, particularly Lars Ulrich, did indeed take a lot of influence from NWOBHM bands. "Never Surrender" is about soldiering on past the obstacles in your way, and serves as a fist pumping motivational song with its chants of "Never surrender!" In the chorus. The title track is possibly the best song on the album. It may slow down the tempo a bit, but the pounding drums are so powerful and is a great accompaniment to an anthem that is about the heavy metal subculture. It's the closest the band gets to arena rock on this album (think songs like "United" by Judas Priest). Anybody who is fond of heavy metal is bound to go crazy over this song. It's easy to fall in love with.

Another favourite of mine, "And the Bands Played On" is another classic, influenced by Saxon's performance at a music festival alongside other hard rock and heavy metal acts, and the reactions and the feelings amongst the audience members, sitting through varied weather conditions just to catch their favourite bands. It's something of an anthem for rock and metal music festivals worldwide, and the overwhelming passion of the fans going to these festivals. The music itself carries a sense of determination but also having a good time, which is very in line with the subject matter.

There are some very old school moments here, also. Songs like "Out of Control", "Rough and Ready" and "Play It Loud" have a hard rock influenced sound, reminiscent of acts such as AC/DC, yet they stand well with the more "metal" songs such as the ones listed above. "Play it Loud" is simply about fighting for your right to blast out hard rocking music despite the urges you get from others to turn it down. It may seem ridiculously clich├ęd now, but it is still a solid tune in my eyes.

Denim and Leather is a very heavy metal album which carries heavy riffs and some speedy tempos that would pave the way for thrash metal. It is also one of Saxon's best, and there is enough to be found here to keep any fan of rock satisfied for a long time. It may not have aged quite as well as albums such as The Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden) and British Steel (Judas Priest) but its status as a classic heavy metal album and its influence on later bands cannot be denied by listeners. So, what are you waiting for? Put on some denim and leather, give this great solid album a spin and just rock out!