Bring on the battering ram

British metalheads Saxon smashes into Oddbody’s

By Allyson B. Crawford

Photo: Saxon will perform on Sept. 19 at Oddbody’s Music Room

“We are a live band… no click tracks running with Saxon so I suppose [the stage] is where we like to be!” says Biff Byford, Saxon frontman, of his band’s current North American tour. The British rockers will perform at Oddbody’s on Saturday, Sept. 19. Fellow metal legends Armored Saint are also on the tour and will provide direct support.

Saxon is on the road behind its upcoming effort Battering Ram. A battering ram is a giant contraption from ancient times that is designed to bust through fortified walls. Basically, it’s a tool to break big things.

The band matched its metal sounding album title with the tracks on their new release. For Battering Ram, Saxon is back to basics, with “less rock and more heavy” as Byford is quoted saying of the upcoming record.

“The new album is still quite melodic, but I think the guitar parts are more focused not so much moving around from rock to metal,” Byford tells Dayton City Paper.

The album features 10 songs, including the title track “Battering Ram.” Keeping with the heavier metal theme, other tracks on the album are “Destroyer,” “The Devil’s Footprint” and “Stand Your Ground.” The effort will be the band’s 21st studio album.

Writing credits for most songs are simply attributed to “Saxon” so you never really know which band member wrote a particular track. Still, Byford admits he does write a lot of Saxon material and he says he teamed up a lot with bassist Timothy Carter to create songs for Battering Ram.

Think of the material on Battering Ram as metal, just laser focused. The band members wanted to concentrate mainly on writing straight-ahead metal songs instead of changing into other music styles as they have with past efforts.

Choosing to hit the road with Armored Saint for a fall run is a slam-dunk for heavy music fans. Known as stalwarts of American thrash, Armored Saint have been staples on the metal scene for nearly four decades. Opening for Saxon, one of the band’s influences, is like coming full circle. The two bands will crisscross the Midwest together for a handful of club shows. Still, Byford wants everyone to know this is Saxon’s tour. He loves the road and he’s not ashamed to admit it.

If anyone understands what a laser focus on metal is, it is Byford. After all, he is the man who campaigned to make heavy metal a recognized religion in the UK. In partnership with Metal Hammer magazine in 2012, Byford helped gather votes to classify “heavy metal” as a religion during the most recent census.

“The music’s not about love,” Byford explained to The Independent back in 2010. “Our songs are more about Richard the Lionheart, steel trains and thunder. But when you do click with a big audience, it can be quite an experience, a massive connection… I suppose you could say it is a religious experience in a way.”

By forever staying on the road, playing big festivals and small clubs, the guys in Saxon are continuing to proselytize.

“I remember playing [at McGuffy’s House of Rock, now Oddbody’s] there a couple of times,” Byford says. “The Midwest fans are great. We are spending more time in the states this tour.”

Spending more time in the states means wider publicity for their new album and all the benefits of continuous gigs like increased merchandise sales. No rest for the weary, come November, the guys in Saxon will board a jet and head home to Europe where they will team up with icons Motörhead for a month-long tour.

Even with a career that spans decades, memorable songs and legions of fans, Byford and the rest of Saxon remain thirsty for more creativity, more shows, more metal. That is good news for fans of the genre.

“I think the metal scene is getting a lot better,” Byford admits. “Bands like us have an arsenal of big songs. When new bands have some pedigree, they will be able to make the choice to go on or to retire.”

The Guardian recently did a feature on aging musicians. When a reporter asked Byford why he and his band continue to perform live night after night, he quips, “The rock retirement age is 106. What else are we supposed to do? Sit in wicker chairs?”

For Saxon, there are no signs of retirement or even slowing down. After all, a battering ram requires speed and force to bust through walls—not wicker.

Battering Ram will be released in North America on October 16 via UDR Music.

Saxon will perform on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Oddbody’s Music Room, 5418 Burkhardt Rd. in Dayton. Tickets are $25-$30 and some VIP packages are available. The show is 18 and over. Doors open at 7 p.m. American metal and progressive rockers Mindmaze and Bridges to Burn will also provide support. For more information, please visit

Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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