The Eagle Has Landed Part II

Saxon

CMC International Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/09/1998

I'd like to start this review out with a message to all the critics who say that heavy metal is dead, and that all of the bands who experienced some level of success in the '80s should pack it in now: Shut up.

Fact of the matter is, heavy metal is very much alive, and is a scene that is growing in power again. While many of the bands that were around in metal's glory days are indeed gone, others have continued to slag it out on the road for the faithful - including those bands that didn't become major acts in America.

This brings us to Saxon (who delivered a solid album, Unleash The Beast, just last year).Biff Byford and crew were serious players in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, though they never really became a big name in America like Iron Maiden or Def Leppard. Still, they have carried on - and their latest release, The Eagle Has Landed Part IInbtc__dv_250 , shows they still have a lot of fire in them.

Recorded in 1995 (and previously available in Europe), Byford and the band plow through 17 numbers that are musical ambrosia for their long-time fans, but serve as curious introductions to any potential newcomers. Songs like "Requiem," "Crusader" and "Great White Buffalo" should be reason enough to send new listeners scurrying to the online music stores to search out other titles from Saxon (though I honestly prefer the studio version of "Requiem" better, for the more fluid guitar part on it).

Guitarists Paul Quinn and Doug Scarrat, as well as drummer Nigel Glockler, do something that is almost unheard of in the world of heavy metal: they perform solos that focus more on the songs at hand rather than using them as fifteen-minute whack-off periods. The control each uses in their instrumental performances is surprisingly refreshing, and is a welcome change of pace. (Bassist Nibbs Carter also gets a chance to show his skills, though not so much as a spotlight piece as through his solid performance throughout the album.)

There are only two real negatives to The Eagle Has Landed Part II. First, Byford's vocals are buried in the mix at the start of the album; fortunately, this seems to correct itself as the concert proceeds. Second, while the price of this set should be appealing (the two-disc set, last I checked on Music Boulevard, was just under $15), newcomers to Saxon might find a two-disc live set to be a little much for their first taste of the band. This is possible, but the set does present itself as a wonderful springboard which new fans can use to guide themselves to other albums like Solid Ball Of Rock and Crusader (which I just picked up at one of my used record store hangouts yesterday).

Heavy metal fans should also note the appearance of one Yngwie Malmsteen on the track "Denim & Leather". At first, I thought Byford was joking when he announced Malmsteen on stage; I thought he was having fun with either Quinn or Scarrat. However, that is Malmsteen's signature playing on the song. (If you need any more proof, the credit for his performance is buried in the liner notes.)

The Eagle Has Landed Part II might not be the perfect live album in the metal genre (for that matter, I have yet to hear the perfect live metal album), but as long as it's this much fun to listen to, that's really all that matters.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of CMC International Records, and is used for informational purposes only.