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 metalmusicarchives.com)
24 Hrs. Ago 4:56
Strange Wings 3:45
Prelude to Madness 3:13
For some reason, I always love metal versions of "I Dovregubbens Hall".
The Price You Pay 3:51
White Witch 3:21
Last Dawn 1:08