British heavy metal legends SAXON will release their 22nd studio album, "Thunderbolt", on February 2 via Militia Guard (Silver Lining Music). The follow-up to 2015's "Battering Ram" was once again helmed by producer Andy Sneap, who has previously worked with JUDAS PRIEST, MEGADETH, ACCEPT and TESTAMENT, among others. The disc will feature original artwork by longtime SAXON collaborator Paul Raymond Gregory.
Frontman Biff Byford says: "['Thunderbolt' is] a storming, smashing, thundering collection of tracks we've been crafting with producer Andy Sneap and it's finished ready to be unleashed. Stand clear and fasten your seat belts!"
Three weeks later, the band will embark on the first leg of the "Thunderbolt" 2018 European tour. SAXON will be joined by fellow English rockers DIAMOND HEAD and metal trio ROCK GODDESS will perform on the scheduled U.K. dates, with very special guests MAGNUM on the U.K. Hull date only. However, SAXON doesn't stop there — dates for "Thunderbolt" tour part two will be announced in early 2018.
Byford adds: "This is part one of the colossal 'Thunderbolt' world tour. We're going to be touring the whole of 2018 so get your tickets and join the ride.
"It's gonna be fast and furious, dark and brooding. Monumental riffing and screaming vocals loud and proud. It's going to be a SAXON tour, unique in every way."
Presale for all shows is on November 8 at 10 a.m., with general sale on November 10 at 10 a.m.
"Thunderbolt" will feature the song "They Played Rock And Roll", written about and dedicated to MOTÖRHEAD. Byford previously said that he gave the track that title because "that's what Lemmy used to say every night [from the stage]." He added: "It's basically about early MOTÖRHEAD — '79/'80 MOTÖRHEAD, like around 'No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith', 'cause that's the tour we were on, that one. So, yeah, it's about the band, really, and their music."
According to Biff, "They Played Rock And Roll" will be musically similar to Lemmy and Co. He explained: "I asked Nibbs [Carter, SAXON bassist] to write me some music that was like MOTÖRHEAD, and he did. So it sounds very MOTÖRHEAD-ish, but not MOTÖRHEAD, if you know what I mean."
Regarding the "Thunderbolt" album title, Byford said: "'Thunderbolt' is about Greek gods, so I read up on Greek mythology. There's not really that much. Homer had some writings… I made most of it up, but it's based on Zeus and Poseidon and Hades, so it's got a bit of good and a bit of evil in it, so it's pretty cool. Obviously Zeus's sign was a thunderbolt and his sign was an eagle holding a lightning bolt."
Like "Battering Ram", SAXON's upcoming effort will feature Byford alongside Paul Quinn and Doug Scarratt on guitar, Nibbs Carter on bass and Nigel Glockler on drums.
"Thunderbolt" track listing:
01. Olympus Rising
03. The Secret Of Flight
04. Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz)
05. They Played Rock And Roll
07. Sons Of Odin
09. A Wizard's Tale
10. Speed Merchants
11. Roadie's Song
12. Nosferatu (Raw Version) (not available on vinyl)
Feb. 23 - UK, Cardiff - University
Feb. 24 - UK, Cambridge - Corn Exchange
Feb. 25 - UK, Hull - City Hall
Feb. 27 - The Netherlands, Tilburg - 013
Feb. 28 - Germany, Saarbruecken - Garage
Mar. 01 - Germany, Hannover - Capitol
Mar. 02 - Germany, Frankfurt - Batschkapp
Mar. 03 - Germany, Dresden - Schlachthof