Album: School of Hard Knocks
Label: Silver Lining Music
Genre: Heavy Metal
Release Date: February 21, 2020
Biff Byford has just released his solo album ‘School of Hard Knocks’. I talked with Byford while he was writing the album and how he felt the need to do something of his own. Seeing it finally coming to life and getting the chance to listen to it, I was excited experience what he created outside of Saxon.
What struck me was how this album had an almost faint blues feel to it. The album has does this balance of hard rock and heavy metal where it’s like the tracks stay in the middle of both and then weave back and forth in and out. Byford’s vocals have an almost deeper, richer tone to them this album. Maybe that comes from this being something more personal to him and being able to do it completely his own way. Whatever the reason, it’s energizing and on some tracks give them more emotion.
The album opens up with the fitting track “Welcome to the Show” that’s big almost in and arena rock feel, but as the second title track comes up, it’s heavy as if to make sure listeners take notice to what he’s doing on this album. The album has eleven tracks that go in different directions from hard rock, heavy metal, a slow down into a spoken word and even an emotional track written for his wife.
He’s got a couple long tracks, “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “Throw Down the Sword”, both tracks running close to eight minutes each but well worth long play time!
He caught me off guard with a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair”. I am not a fan of cover songs. I usually do whatever I can to avoid having to listen to a cover song, but with this cover I have to say I actually enjoyed what he did with the track. He’s taken a track I’ve always found drab and boring and made it modern and enjoyable. The guitar arrangements bring the track to life and give it a strong emotional feel that makes you want to listen.
In summary: This is a a great album. It’s authentic, full of creative writing and a strong performance. If an artist is going to do a solo album, this is how it should be done. There’s a lot to enjoy in ‘School of Hard Knocks’ and should he ever release another solo album, I’ll be there to grab it.