Savatage United States

A64 Prog-Adj54
[Spectacularly Awesome Musicianship14, Really Awesome Composition12, Awesome Songwriting13, Awesome Production13 and Excellent Lyrics12]
added by Mike
Review by Time_Signature published
A Prog-Adj Metal

The last album to feature Criss Oliva's amazing guitar work, "Edge of Thorns" is a bittersweet experience to many. The sweetness part, of course, consists in the music being awesome across the board, while the bitterness part consists in the reminder that Criss Oliva died the same year that this album was released.

He was killed by a drunk driver. Yet another reason to hate those fucking bastards who drive while drunk!

As mentioned, the guitar work is amazing. The riffs are solid, and the guitar solos blazing. While drawing more on traditional heavy metal and less progressive and powerful than other Savatage releases, the song structures are quite dynamic in terms of moods and use of distortion versus clean guitars and inserted piano passages. New vocalist Zachary Stevens' singing is not as mad and frenzied as that of Jon Oliva', who would take a backseat position for a couple of years, but his voice is more versatile and has a sort of AOR-quality to it (he even sounds like Jon Bon Jovi at times).

The album is quite varied in terms of musical expression and never gets uninteresting. It does have a more melodic AOR feel to it, I think, than the band's earlier releases, but it still is a very expressive release, which stresses that metal music is an art.

(review originally posted at

Review by Time_Signature published
S Melodic Classic Prog Power Metal

I think this is the album where Savatage's musical journey really starts in terms of their exploration of power metal, progressive metal and traditional metal (although their run-up did start on the previous releases, I would argue), and I think it is very fitting that this release should be their commercial breakthrough. Of course, it also marks a return to form after the fiasco that was "Fight for the Rock", where the band adopted a style which was primarily force upon them by their label - and the band was probably stoked by the thought of returning to writing music that they actually want to play, which must have proved an additional reason why this album is as awesome as it is.

Savatage have ventured into US power metal territory (or rather paved the way) on this release, which has a much bigger sound than on previous releases and at times border on being epic - especially in 'Prelude to Madness'/'Hall of the Mountain King'. There are also progressive tendencies on this album, reflected in elements such the the use of keyboards (which, however, was not new to the world of Savatage before this release), rhythmic ambiguities and odd time signatures, as well as dynamic song structures. Still, the influence from bands like Judas Priest remains, and that is more than fine by me.

Guitar fans will be happy to know that there are plenty of strong riffs on this album as well as top notch guitar solos from Criss Oliva. And Jon Oliva's singing is as tense and scream-filled as ever.

"Hall of the Mountain King" is a fine example of early US prog power metal, and, if you are a fan of Vicious Rumor's "Welcome to the Ball", you might like this release, too.

(review originally posted at


A Legions 4:50

For some reason, I always love metal versions of "I Dovregubbens Hall".

S Last Dawn 1:08
Review by Time_Signature published
A Non-Prog Metal

Savatage have always explored the three-way transition zone between traditional metal, progressive metal and power metal and helped define the latter two types of metal.

This particular release belongs mostly to the traditional metal category, although there are a couple if signs of things to come every now and then. I think it's a pretty good traditional metal album, which does seem a quite inspired by the likes of Judas Priest, but with a heavier twist due to Criss Oliva's somewhat aggressive and heavy riffs and Jon Oliva's raspy singing and, of course, his trademark screams.

While firmly placed in the realms of traditional heavy metal without really taking in elements from any of the other metal subgenres that were developing at the time, this album is still quite varied and contains both ballady tracks like 'In the Dream', aggressive uptempo tracks like 'Washed Out' and quasi-sleazy hardrock tracks like 'Hard for for Love' as well as heavier tracks like 'Unusual'.

If you love guitar riffage, this album is definitely worth checking out, as every track is teeming with solid Criss Olive riffs - just check out the opening riffs of 'Power of the Night' and 'Necrophilia', the verse and pre-chorus riffs of 'Unusual', and the intro and verse riffs of 'Skull Session', as well as the darkly groovy main riff of 'Stuck on You'.

There a no weak tracks as such on this release, but some are, of course, better than others, and any fan of traditional metal should certainly check this album out - it is a very enjoyable listen with a slightly dark take on good old heavy metal.

(review originally posted at