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Saxon - 1988 Destiny

ALBUM: Destiny
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2001, Axekiller (France), 3063662 * 2010, EMI, 50999 6 84337 2 7


LINEUP: Biff Byford - vocals * Graham Oliver - guitars * Paul Quinn - guitars * Paul Johnson - bass * Nigel Durham - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Ride Like The Wind * 02 Where The Lightning Strikes * 03 I Can't Wait Anymore * 04 Calm Before The Storm * 05 SOS * 06 Song For Emma * 07 For Whom The Bell Tolls * 08 We Are Strong * 09 Jericho Siren * 10 Red Alert


So what was going on in the Saxon camp circa 1988? For NWOBHM fans, there may not have been a lot of interest, however AORsters would say otherwise, with 'Destiny' proving to be a melodic surprise, more akin to the radio airwaves rather than the anthem belters that would get headbangers all worked up. Saxon had signed to EMI Records in 1985, after fairly strong performances during 1983 and 1984 with 'Power And The Glory' and 'Crusader', plus the resulting tours of both Europe and America which saw the band on the fringe of major success. With the EMI move, Saxon become even more polished and commercial, an obvious drawcard to American audiences used to glossy production. 'Innocence Is No Excuse' and 'Rock Of Nations' didn't quite claim the kings ransom that Biff and the boys were hoping for. By appealing to one particular audience they moved away from what made them popular in the first place.. British and European fans thinking the band had lost the plot.. and in a sense they were probably right.

The Songs
Which leads us to 1988's 'Destiny'. One of a select few albums which polarised Saxon's fan base during the hair-metal era. By this stage, the band had recruited Paul Johnson and Nigel Durham as the new rhythm section, but it is the material on the album that makes one wonder just where Byford was in the songwriting department. Though most of the songs were written by Byford and Quinn, with Johnson adding some touches to three of the songs, it's the opening track 'Ride Like The Wind' which raises a few eyebrows. A huge 1981 hit for Christopher Cross, the connotation and connection back to radio friendly West Coast provided by Cross versus an HM band in Saxon was perhaps one road too far for long time Saxon fans. Looking back on this album some twenty years later, we can see with some amusement how things must've have been for both band and fans. Let's just leave it be and focus on what is a pretty melodic affair all round. The production from Stephan Galfas is full and rich, the songs sounding right at home in the melodic rock sub-genre. Believe it or not, keyboards act as a complimentary instrument on parts of the album. Check out the symphonic leanings on 'S.O.S', the subtle balladry of 'Song For Emma' and the brilliant AOR of 'We Are Strong', with keyboards parping away in true 80's fashion. Olde Saxon fans must be wondering what the hell is going on.. Bloody hell! The rapid fire riffing of previous albums is not lost, with 'For Whom The Bell Tolls' and 'Red Alert' flailing away like the good old times.

In Summary
EMI would drop the band after this album claiming disappointing sales and dwindling interest in the band. The former may have been true, but Saxon have continued on to the present day and still remain a viable proposition with their many releases courtesy of SPV/Steamhammer. Their lineup has seen many frequent changes, but from this Mark IV version of Saxon, melodic rockers may look back on 'Destiny' with renewed interest, seeing as this album sort of flew past everyone's radar back in the day. Well worthy of a re-look..

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#1 | george_the_jack on June 21 2009 14:42:42
AWESOME! One of my favorite albums ever. English metallers criticized that AOR-ish touch as a radio-friendly look over the Atlantic. Whatever it is, this is a GREAT melodic hard rock record.'I can't wait anymore' always lives in my heart.One of the best ballads ever produced in rock music!
#2 | Eric on June 23 2009 00:20:47
Hmm- not to keen on this one-much prefer the early albums.....
#3 | Jez on June 23 2009 11:07:50
After the 'Rock The Nations' debacle, I was worried that it was the end, but thankfully,they pulled out all the stops on this one and whilst producing the most commercial Saxon album ever,it is one I regard very highly in their catologue. Back is the standard of songwriting you expect, although in come the keyboards and production gloss you don't. The most commercial tracks on here, namely 'Ride Like The Wind',the full on AOR Of 'I Can't Wait' and 'Song For Emma' work surprisingly well, but they are balanced out with some slightly tougher material of which 'Jericho Siren' and 'S.O.S' are both fine tracks. 'Destiny' didn't crack them in the US, which is strange, as this is a great melodic rock disc, and one that is much better than people say and some of the dross that was being peddled around at the time. Saying that,as a life long fan of the band, I am really glad that, with the turn of the decade, it saw the band rethink and return to more metal of old on the excellent 'Solid Ball Of Rock ' album.
#4 | dangerzone on June 23 2009 12:19:49
Far from their best but more acceptable than their recent dull fare.

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