If you had asked me in 2001 if I could imagine reviewing a new Saxon album in 2011 I would have laughed in your face.
It's not something I could have wrapped my head around, yet here I am with 'Call To Arms' in front of me.
Now that's a curve ball that I didn't see coming.
For nostalgic reasons I'll admit that I wanted to slip the disc in and hear the Saxon of old.
An exact continuation of the sound that I remember from my youth.
Just pure 100% head banging Saxon.
It would be like finding them encased in amber and then I would smash it to the floor and they would burst forth from the shards as if they were still riding the new wave of British heavy metal.
Instead what I've got is a band who have partially lost their own identity.
They're good at what they are doing - in fact they are very good at what they are doing - but problem is that what they're doing isn't Saxon.
It's a strange mishmash of all the bands that were about when they were enjoying the halcyon days of metal.
It's as if by dint of being one of the few survivors from that era that they feel the responsibility to carry the torch for all their fallen comrades.
So it's not just the Saxon banner they are rallying around, but more so one that represents the whole metal scene of yesteryear.
It's not that here's no relevance to what they are doing. It's just that by trying to be the sound of an era they have diluted their own, and by doing so have actually missed the point because the sound of Saxon as they were was the sound of that era to an extent.
However I wouldn't want to give the impression that 'Call To Arms' isn't without its charms.
It's even got a couple of stand out tracks that have impressed my jaded old rockers heart.
First is 'The ballad of a working man' is a song that many of us could relate to as the world spins ever faster into an unknown future, while then album closer, and title track 'Call To Arms' is a bombastic classic of the genre.
The sweeping strings perfectly compliment the impassioned vocals that Biff provides and I'm not embarrassed at all to admit that I just fuckin' love the song.
Without a doubt there's life in the old dog yet and that's not a rose tinted assessment, but unless you buy this then I suppose you will just have to take my word for it.