While the" NWOBHM had a massive impact on much of the developed world, it is a foregone conclusion that its most immediate influence was felt among key parts of the British Empire. Often bands would be content to simply mirror their elders, but occasionally a band would come along and bring about a very new and interesting take on things, and that is where Canada’s Sabre (a necessary distinction given how common that band name was) stood by the middle of the 1980s. There was definitely a uniquely Canadian mode of thought within their creation process, as one can’t help that similar power trio format that this band shares with the likes of Rush and more mainline hard rock purveyors Triumph, resulting in a wildly ambitious and unique sonic excursion that is On The Prowl.
The principal figure in this small cast of characters proves to be a vocalist, guitarist and keyboardist Stephen Malcolm Fife, who’s highly charismatic vocal persona and busy riff work provides all of the detailing ones would expect from a larger arrangement. His lead style is particularly impressive and invokes a lot of familiar techniques heard from the likes of Alex Lifeson, Brian Tatler, Eddie Van Halen and several other prominent figures of the 70s and 80s, and ultimately comes off as expressive and distinctive as can be in this format. But perhaps even more interesting than even his fancy guitar playing and versatile vocal abilities is that the songwriting on here perfectly meshes the progressive elements of the 70s into a format that is more impact-based and heavy ended.
The basic meat and potatoes of this album isn’t all that dissimilar from the mid-paced to quick but not blisteringly fast approach typical to bands in the earlier 80s, baring a somewhat looser arrangement where the drums tend to be a bit more fill happy and the bass work travels about as its own independent voice, lending itself heavily to Geezer Butler’s free-flowing and fancy style. In essence, when approaching hard-hitting anthems like “Cruisin’”, “Let’s Ride” and “Somethin’ (Under The Bed)”, one is treated to an assorted dose of jazzy twists, quirky keyboard additives and fleeting yet dense acoustic balladry alongside the prototypical metallic assault. Even on more rock based and downtempo grooves like “(Feel My) Rage” and easier going rockers like “If It Feels Good”, there is an air of business and intrigue that keeps coming back.
That this band didn’t end up putting out successive material following this highly unique and engaging collection of songs is a tragedy of near Shakespearean proportions. Perhaps it is just another day wherein the scarce access of the 1980s was concerned, but this is one of those bands that offered such a different take on heavy metal in a time where everything NWOBHM was starting to be swallowed up by the more commercially oriented New York glam and L.A. sleaze sounds that it may have provided some additional longevity to the original metal scene. For a band that is not quite as weird as Rush but definitely a good bit more out there than Anvil, Canada’s Sabre would’ve provided a sort of missing link in the evolution of metal towards progressive territory that would explain bands like Sacred Blade had this album come out 3 years earlier."
Leighton Dame: bass, synthesizers, vocals
Steve Fife: lead vocals, guitars
Steve Sims: drums, percussion, vocals