Originally written by Chris Chellis.
With an uncompromising hard rock aesthetic, Saxon released Dogs of War in 1995 and it has now been re-released with live editions of Dogs of War’s “The Great White Buffalo” and the classic “Denim & Leather.”
Eschewing the fairly straightforward NWOBHM sound of early albums like Wheels of Steel and Denim and Leather, Dogs of War will slightly disappoint both those who lived through the band’s earliest years and those who recently caught on to Saxon through 2004’s Lionheart, but hard rock fans should be fairly pleased. The opening riff in “The Great White Buffalo” is immediately resonant and powerful, “Don’t Worry” contains one of the group’s catchiest choruses, and one can actually hear the crowd in the bonus live tracks. There isn’t a lack of quality material here. If anyone will have a complaint it will undoubtedly be attributed to the obvious change in tone and the obvious hard rock tendencies permeating the entirety of Dogs of War. “Walking Through Tokyo” is especially guilty of sounding like a weak late 80s ballad, with light as heaven keys creeping up every time Saxon trudges through the chorus. Byford might be one of my favorite vocalists, but even he can’t pull Saxon out of that kind of muck.
Hard rock enthusiasts and Saxon completists looking for live tracks and the last album to feature guitarist Graham Oliver should buy Dogs of War with no hesitation. There’s no question that if analyzed as a hard rock recording this album would prove itself worthy of notice, but when compared to the rest of the group’s discography this is a slight bump in the road.