Ice Vajal :: Music Land :: Metal World
 
editorial :: feedback :: newsletter ::  
   Bands :: A-Z / S / Savatage /

On disc: Savatage



- Sirens - Claudia Ehrhardt - 6 stars
- The Dungeons Are Calling - Claudia Ehrhardt - 6 stars
- Power Of The Night - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars
- Fight For The Rock - Claudia Ehrhardt - 5 stars
- Hall Of The Mountain King - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
- Gutter Ballet - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
- Streets - A Rock Opera - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
- Edge Of Thorns - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
- Handful Of Rain - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
- Live In Japan '94 - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars
- Dead Winter Dead - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
- Dead Winter Dead - Volker Raabe - 9 stars
- Ghost In The Ruins - Claudia Ehrhardt -  
- From The Gutter To The Stage - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
- The Wake Of Magellan - Claudia Ehrhardt - 9 stars
- Commissar (single) - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars
- Poets And Madmen - Amir Djawadi - 6 stars
- Poets And Madmen - Claudia Ehrhardt - 8 stars


www.savatage.com







Poets And Madmen

Poets And Madmen
(Steamhammer - 2001)


For Savatage fans the last years were full of hope and worries. Would there be the long time announced album Poets And Madmen? Uncertainty and fear was what fans felt. Now it's clear, there will be another Savatage CD and the band is still alive and kicking. Fans can breathe again!
The cover artwork is great and I can say the same about the music. The Americans present 11 tracks between 3 minute tracks up to a 10 minute long opus. The album is telling a story about 3 teenagers who break into a deserted psychiatry and take a look into the old patient files. One of the patients was a formerly successful photographer who started taking drugs under the pressure of his work and ended in this psychiatry. Now after the sanitarium is closed he returns and meet the teenagers...
You see, it was worth waiting. Savatage came up with something unusual and again can meet the expectations with the high quality level we know them for.
During the years Savatage had to deal with line-up changes and these days it was a challenge, coz guitarist Al Pitrelli left to join Megadeth and singer Zak Stevens - for years the sympathetic American fronted the band - left to spend more time with his family. Touring took to much time and kept him away from his loved ones. So there was a lot of pressure upon the band and a burden on the shoulders of band leader Jon Oliva and his mates. My respect for their decision and the realization of this album. Now a tour is ahead of them. Who will be the new singer? We will see. Anyway, to see Savatage live is a must!


6 stars

Amir Djawadi
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)
 

up






Poets And Madmen

Poets And Madmen
(Steamhammer - 2001)


What to expect from Savatage these days? With their last releases (Dead Winter Dead & The Wake Of Magellan) they offered a less hard and more epic sound. Now singer Zak Stevens left and when the band announced that Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva will sing on the new album, the fans had high hopes! Will the band manage to fulfill the expectations? Musically the album didn't lack anything and like they announced it's heavier than the last ones. Thanks to guitarist Chris Caffery who's aggressive, but emotional guitar play brought back the heaviness. A good example therefor is There Is The Silence which could have been on one of their earlier releases which aren't that epic. Also Jon Oliva's voice and his way of singing the tracks make them sound heavier. But a track like the single Commissar is the connection between their epic releases and the heavier past of Savatage. Commissar has the huge chorus we know from DWD and TWOM and heavy guitars and lead vocals make you remember the days of Hall Of The Mountain King and Gutter Ballet. The longest track on this album is Morphine Child which is an outstanding one! Combining the best of Savatage!
This will be soon a classical Savatage song which will be named together with classics like Hall Of The Mountain King, Gutter Ballet, Sirens, Chance and Jesus Saves. The last track Back To A Reason is a slow, more mellow tune which shows the a different side of Jon Oliva and also document that he improved his vocal skills. But also is in my opinion the weakest track on Poets And Madmen....
Perhaps it needs a few more spins... Perhaps it might sound better in a live version with heavier guitars... Anyway, a good album, but not the masterpiece some might have expect with Jon Oliva being back on lead vocals. It's obvious that the Mountain King's vocals are better then ever. Listen to the album and imagine Zak Stevens singing this songs or with the new singer Damond Jiniya (Diet Of Worms - after I heard that he might be the new guy, I listened to some tracks of DOW).... Then it would be a masterpiece!
The next album is probably the masterpiece we all expected...


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Commissar

Commissar (single)
(Steamhammer - 2001)


This single is a kind of appetizer for the long awaited new album Poets And Madmen. Zak Stevens left the band during the recordings and hasn't been replaced in time to record the vocal parts, so you can hear Jon Oliva again. The track Commissar is again a kind of introducing track for the album like Welcome was on The Wake Of Magellan. This time it starts heavy with a 'big' chorus, later speeds up and has screaming guitar which fit well to the mean vocals of Jon Oliva. But other parts he sings more the way he did on Dead Winter Dead. And the band said that this album is kind of a mixture of Hall Of The Mountain King and the last two releases. It seems that they kept their promise, at least from what this track is telling. Also Drive has heavy riffing guitars and a really nice solo. Both tracks are written by Jon Oliva, Paul O'Neill and Chris Caffery. I guess we have to thank Chris Caffery for getting back the old heavy Savatage sound and through elements of the new sound it sounds fresh. A perfect mixture.
At least there is an instrumental written by Al Pitrelli which is called Voyage. This tune won't be on the coming album! So, this is not just cut short the time until the album is in the stores, it's also something for collectors!


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






The Wake Of Magellan

The Wake Of Magellan
(edel - 1997)


Another conceptual album from the Americans. Starting with the sound of the ocean before the music fades in. The intro is called The Ocean. Then Welcome is kind introduce you to the coming story. Based on 2 real stories Jon Oliva (yes, he's back!) and his mates developed a fiction story on the facts. In the booklet you see the articles which kind was the kick off for this story, a short summary and the lyrics which are completed with parts of the story to make it easier to understand. Due to the story this album is little heavier then Dead Winter Dead. Or is it the influence of the new members? Perhaps... For example Blackjack Guillotine is a real heavy track and it's co-written by Chris Caffery. The album is well balanced, even some tracks e.g. Morning Sun has the different sides of the band, partly slow and soft, just to explode the next moment with screaming, heavy riffing guitars! Long time fans will welcome the heavy sounds of the band and the screaming guitars, it's like a trip to the past! The song Complaint In The System is different, it has new elements and sounds. Different, but good! On the title track the band used again the counter part vocals which became a trademark for Savatage during the last years. Another masterpiece from Jon Oliva and his mates!
Not necessary to mention that the production is done by Paul O'Neill and co-produced by Jon Oliva, only interesting for fans who just get into this band. Everybody else won't expect anything else!
The first, limited edition came with a poster which shows the cover artwork. For collectors it should be mentioned that the Japanese version had no bonus! The band denied to add a track, coz it wouldn't fit to the concept. Only the back cover and the back of the booklet is different.



The Wake Of Magellan (re-release)

The Wake Of Magellan (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased phots as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
With This Is Where You Should Be you find a track which was recorded during the recordings of Hall Of The Mountain King and an acoustic piano version of Desiree.


9 stars


Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






From The Gutter To The Stage

From The Gutter To The Stage
(The Best Of Savatage 1981 - 1995)
(edel - 1996)


The album starts with a live version of Sirens. Then chronologically is running through the history of the band, showing their developing and changes. Only tracks from Fight For The Rock you'll miss, but the band wasn't satisfied with the album and decided not to put a track on this best of album. No every classic Savatage tune made it onto this CD, but that was impossible with the limited time of a CD. The booklet has some introducing words, a time line, lyrics and pictures from all eras.
A good compilation which shows the talented song writing duo Criss and Jon Oliva as well as Criss Oliva's talent as a guitarist. But also shows the latest era of the band after the tragically death of Criss Oliva. For metal fans who just discovered the band a good chance to get a grip on the history and the musical development.
For long time fans this DCD is interesting as well, coz the bonus CD offers 4 tracks which partly been unreleased. Shotgun Innocent and Forever After which are from the Edge Of Thorns recordings and were bonus tracks on the Japanese version. Shotgun Innocent is obviously taken from that recordings, coz they have the same vibe and sound. But Forever After has a rougher sound and is sung by Jon Oliva, could have been on a previous release...
This Is Where You Should Be was recorded during the Hall Of The Mountain King recordings and a powerful ballad with piano. Why it didn't made it on the album? I don't know! Last, but not least a different version of Jesus Saves which was at that time called D.T. Jesus and beside the lyrics a completely different song! That shows that Savatage not just record one version of a song, they work with different versions and sometimes the result it totally different from the first versions. A really interesting track. A limited edition has a Savatage sticker, but that's only to mention for the ones who buy the album soon after the release!


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Ghost In The Ruins (A Tribute To Criss Oliva)

Ghost In The Ruins (A Tribute To Criss Oliva)
(Fresh Fruit - 1995r)


You might not know what to expect from Ghost In The Ruins, pretty easy, coz to honor Criss Oliva the band decided to release a collection of live recordings which been done through the years. So, there is not much to tell about the songs at all.
The album offers 13 tracks and is almost 63 minutes long. Opening with an early track... With City Beneath The Surface. Even if the CD has a lot of old classics the band decided not to put them in a chronological order. Also the recordings are from different show and not in a specific order. A list you'll find below. The only thing which should be mentioned it the last track called Post Script, coz it was recorded during a sound check in 1990. Criss is counting in and starts playing some acoustical tune. That's really something special for fans! No rating for this one, coz this is a tribute to Criss Oliva and so not comparable to anything! RIP!


City Beneath The Surface The Ritz, New York City, NY in 1990
24 Hrs. Ago Spectrum Coliseum, Philadelphia in 1988
Legions Spectrum Coliseum, Philadelphia in 1988
Strange Wings Spectrum Coliseum, Philadelphia in 1988
Gutter Ballet Los Angeles Palace in 1990
When The Crowds Are Gone Hollywood Palace in 1990
Of Rage And War L'Amour, Brooklyn, NY in 1990
The Dungeons Are Calling Nassau Coliseum, Long Island in 1988
Sirens Nassau Coliseum, Long Island in 1988
Hounds L'Amour, Brooklyn, NY in 1990
'Criss intro' Agora, Cleveland in 1987
Hall Of The Mountain King L'Amour, Brooklyn, NY in 1990
Post Scrip Hollywood Palace in 1990 (sound check)



Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Dead Winter Dead

Dead Winter Dead
(edel - 1995)


After Streets Savatage now release another conceptual album called Dead Winter Dead. The fictional story tells about some persons in Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. The story line you can find in the booklet. And also a quote of Josef Stalin which fits to the topic and will always be true! He said: "A single death is tragedy, a million deaths is statistic."
Jon Oliva is still a cooperating with Paul O'Neill for song writing and the production. Still not back in the band he is just named for additional vocals and keyboards. But the line-up changed! Original drummer Steve Wacholz left and also Alex Skolick is gone to concentrate on his own band. New in the band is drummer Jeff Plate, who played live with them and is so part of Live In Japan. On guitars a surprise, coz Chris Caffery is back in the band! He was the only one who ever played and shared the stage with Criss Oliva. The second guitarist isn't a nobody, but plays for the first time with Savatage, his name is Al Pitrelli (ex-Alice Cooper, Widowmaker, etc.).
The album starts with an instrumental called Overture and is a kind of intro. The album again shows the whole spectrum of nowadays Savatage sound. And on I Am the 'Mountain King' Jon Oliva is back on the microphone! Adding his rough vocals to this more epic, but heavy track. But that's not the only track with him on the mic! Another surprise is Mozart And Madness which includes excerpts from Mozart and on track Dead Winter Dead they incl. parts from Beethoven. I guess nobody expected classical parts taken from Mozart and Beethoven on a Savatage album. On This Isn't What We Meant Zak Stevens and Jon Oliva sharing vocal duties which works out very well. But what most fans will be interested in is the guitar part. On Dead Winter Dead the vibe of Criss Oliva is back, guess it was a good decision to bring Chris Caffery back into the band. Actually there were rumors that he'll return just at the time Criss Oliva died in a car crash.
Actually this album offers something for their old and their new fans. A balance between their past and their presents. Perhaps their future?
A limited edition has a bonus CD with 24 Hrs. Ago and City Beneath The Surface. Both songs were live recorded in the days where Jon and Criss Oliva were part of the band. Definitely interesting for fans!


Dead Winter Dead (re-release)

Dead Winter Dead (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
The tracks All That I Bleed (acoustic piano version) and Sleep (acoustic version).


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Dead Winter Dead

Dead Winter Dead
(edel - 1995)


There is nothing to complain about the new album of Savatage. The Americans are on a musical level most other bands will never ever reach. But personally I miss the certain something which would make a masterpiece out of this compositions. Like in a metal musical they create atmospheres on the conceptual album Dead Winter Dead.
Musically one of the highlights of the year, but Savatage forgot about metal it seems.... At least on their latest opus.


9 stars

Volker Raabe
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Live In Japan '94

Live In Japan '94
(HIQ / Intercord - 1995)


It's the first live album in the history of Savatage, but unfortunately recorded after the tragically death of guitar wiz Criss Oliva. They just released the first album without Criss Oliva and recorded on the following Japanese tour this live album. A good idea to do a live album (and video), the set list features their latest output, but has a few old ones. I don't want to talk about the songs, coz they are known by the fans, just a commend about one track! Chance! It's amazing who the guys did this one live. I thought it would be almost impossible due to the counter part vocals, but they made it!
The sound is pretty good, nothing to complain. The band did a good job live, especially Alex Skolnick gave his best to replace Criss Oliva.
The songs: Taunting Cobras, Edge Of Thorns, Chance, Nothin' Going On, (He) Carves His Stone, Jesus Saves, Watching You Fall, Castles Burning, All That I Bleed, Handful Of Rain, Sirens and Gutter Ballet.



Live In Japan '94 (re-release)

Live In Japan '94 (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 1998)


Actually I don't see the reason for this re-release, coz in Germany the original release is still available and the re-release has no specials! The only difference is the back cover and there's the track list presented in a different way. Just to mention...
It just makes a difference to the label which one you buy and perhaps to the band...


7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Handful Of Rain

Handful Of Rain
(Atlantic Records - 1994)


Many fans will be glad that Savatage is still existing after the tragically death of Criss Oliva last year. The songs are written by his brother Jon who co-produced (produced by Paul O'Neill who also co-wrote the songs) this album and played keyboards on it. On guitars ex-Testament guitarist Alex Skolinck. Opening with Taunting Cobras which is a heavy one. But next the title track which has all elements of the Savatage, slow, more balladesque parts and heavy rocking ones. The almost 8 minute long track Chance shows something new, this time the band worked on one part with counter part vocals! Just amazing! Epic, heavy, grooving... This one has everything! A masterpiece! The last track Alone You Breathe it dedicated to Criss Oliva who will live on in the hearts of the fans and friends.
The album offers 10 tracks which have a large variety, but well balanced. More like their last album then the old ones with Jon Oliva singing, but this is their new sound and I think that they will make new friends with this one. Even if Alex Skolick is a great guitarist, he can't replace Criss Oliva! Criss Oliva was a brilliant guitarist and it was the way he was playing, not the technique which gave him the special sound.
Usually this album should get rated with 8/10 points, but Chance made me decide to give them 9! I know that many fans won't agree, but this is my personal rating. Perhaps coz this album is special to me for some reason... The more dispassionate rating would be 8!
Interesting for fans is that the cover artwork of the American edition and the European release slightly differ. On the American edition the back cover shows Steve Wacholz while on the European he's still named as drummer, but shows the new guy Jeff Plate!


Handful Of Rain (re-release)

Handful Of Rain (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 1998)


In 1998 the German record label Steamhammer re-released this Savatage album. To make it more interesting they add a bonus track, an acoustic version of Alone You Breath. A different version, starting with a slow part which is not on the original version, beside that this version is a piano version sung by Jon Oliva which make this song more emotional. This song is dedicated to his brother and so it's a more personal version. For fans this is essential, I think, coz this one has a special touch. A certain magic.
And if you take a look into the booklet and cross-check it with the original, you will see that there is Jon Oliva listed not just for keyboards, also for guitars and drums! Whatever that means....


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Edge Of Thorns

Edge Of Thorns
(Atlantic Records - 1993)


First obvious change is that mainman and singer Jon Oliva left the band! Luckily they found Zak Stevens who is a great singer, but totally different from Jon Oliva. Even if Jon Oliva is still writing the songs together with his brother Criss and Paul O'Neill. And he played piano and keyboard on this one as well.
Due to the change they got more melodic which you can hear on the opening / title track. Musically not that much changed, a little more melodic and epic, but a new singer is always adding a new sound. Actually I think that it was a good decision to look for someone who's totally different, coz there is just one 'Mountain King'!
The track Carves His Stone shows that the quartet can still he heavy and rock the house. Zak Stevens on this one sounds more aggressive. His voice fits very well to the nowadays sound of Savatage. And they still have Criss Oliva's filigree but powerful guitar play as a trademark! Beside that Mr. Stevens can scream and will - in my opinion - be able to sing the old stuff live as well. Listen to Carves His Stone and you'll know what I mean! Or check out Skraggy's Tomb. That they have an instrumental on the albums is nothing new, so Labyrinths continues this tradition. Follow Me starts like a ballad, but is a heavy rocking tune which has slower parts, just to explode the next second. A great song and for me one of the highlights. But there should also be named Degrees Of Sanity and Damien. But they also recorded some balladesque tunes! Songs like All That I Bleed and Sleep present the softer, more sensitive side of Savatage.
Again produced by Paul O'Neill, this time joined by Criss and Jon Oliva. So, the 'Mountain King' is still involved!


Edge Of Thorns (re-release)

Edge Of Thorns (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. Another track from the 1991 release Streets made it on the re-release edition. An acoustic version of Believe! This one again sung by Zak Stevens.
Again the booklet offers nothing special. The only difference to the original release is the acoustic bonus track.


Edge Of Thorns (re-release)

Edge Of Thorns (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
The tracks Forever After and Conversation Piece were recorded during rehearsals in 1994.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Streets

Streets
(Atlantic - 1991)


A very ambitious project of the quartet! You might wonder, but rhythm guitarist Chris Caffery left the band and on this album Criss Oliva played all guitars again. I don't want to tell you the story, coz you can read about it in the booklet where you also find the lyrics. Kicking off the album with the title track which also offers the first surprises like a children choir and some unusual sounds. But that is based on the story, so the track Jesus Saves starts with traffic noise and spoken words of one character. When the music starts it really rocks, but is more symphonic then on previous releases. But hey, this is called a rock opera! And so this is like a rollercoaster, fast tracks, slower ones... Different emotions, atmospheres, the whole spectrum of the Savatage sound!
I don't want to go in details, coz this has to be seen as an entire piece. Really interesting, even if You're Alive / Sammy And Tex reminds me of The Who, perhaps it's because they did a rock opera years ago and had on some of their songs the same vibe...
Recorded in New York at 321 Studios under the command of Paul O'Neill. So, you know what to expect sound-wise when you know the last two albums of the Americans.



Streets

Streets - A Rock Opera (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. The song Desirée was originally planned for the musical version of Streets, but didn't made it on the album because they had no one to sing the female character. Also this time not sung by a female. Btw, it's stated that this track was originally called Gutter Ballet, but was renamed coz the previous album was titled that way and had a same named track on it. So this one really fits to the re-release, but it's a pity that there are no information where it was actually placed in the planned version. Actually I'm wandering why they didn't decide to release a version where the left-overs been included, to give a more complete view, even if the album works really good that way.


Streets

Streets - A Rock Opera (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
For Streets they chose Ghost In The Ruins which was recorded in the Netherlands in October 1990. Beside that there is a version of Jesus Saves.


8 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Gutter Ballet

Gutter Ballet
(Atlantic - 1989)


With Hall Of The Mountain King they released a great album, now Gutter Ballet has to proof that they continue their way. And they do! Now as a quintet the sound is more powerful, Criss Oliva can concentrate on lead guitar while Chris Caffery is responsible for the rhythm guitar. This give Criss Oliva the space to show more of his God-given talent. And they start right off with Of Rage And War. A heavy mid-tempo rock song with Jon Oliva's vocals who become a trademark of the Savatage sound beside the guitars of his brother. The title track starts with a keyboard part, an unusual track for the band from the song writing. More complex, but catchy. Live this one will rock!
It seems that the guys learnt who to write / arrange slow tunes. With Temptation Revelation they again recorded an instrumental which features Criss Oliva. Then a power ballad / slow song called When The Crowds Are Gone. Starting with a piano and Jon's voice, then the band joins in. A powerful tune which is not really a ballad, too heavy for it, but... Anyway, this gave me goose-bumps when I heard it first and it still has the magic for me! Followed by Silk And Steel, another instrumental, but totally different to Temptation Revelation, coz this one is done with acoustic guitars. Then they speed up again with She's In Love. Hounds starts slowly, but is a real heavy tune. Followed by more heavy stuff!
Actually I have to say that it seems to me a good decision to get another guitarist in the band to do the rhythm guitar, coz so their sound got more powerful and they have a larger variety guitar-wise.
The album is again produced by Paul O'Neill. A good decision and it looks like their co-operation will last for longer... The album is recorded at Record Plant Studios in New York. With Bob Kinkel a new name is involved, but not in the production. Bob Kinkel played keyboards on some songs.


Gutter Ballet (re-release)

Gutter Ballet (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. Another song taken from Edge Of Thorns which is this time sung by Jon Oliva. Like on all re-released it's an acoustic version and presents All That I Bleed in a piano version sung by Jon Oliva. I guess nobody expected to hear something like this from the 'Mountain King' when Gutter Ballet was released in 1989.
The booklet this time has the lyrics and some photos, but it's the same which been on the original CD and vinyl release.


Gutter Ballet (re-release)

Gutter Ballet (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
On Gutter Ballet are Hounds and When The Crowds Are Gone which were recorded at Hollywood Palace in 1990.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Hall Of The Mountain King

Hall Of The Mountain King
(Atlantic - 1987)


They are back! With a heavy, mean tune they open the album. It's called 24 Hrs. Ago and proofs that the band want to make their last album forget which was criticized by fans and media. The opening track is a faster one with screaming guitars, an interesting bass line and pounding drums. Next Beyond The Doors Of The Dark which starts slowly, but then rocks! Great guitar riffing. And Jon Oliva is screaming again! Still mean! With Strange Wings they have recorded a slower song, but it rocks. It's heavy and has beside Criss Oliva's guitars the softer vocals of his brother and a sing along chorus. Then the title track... Wow! This one will be a classic soon! This is essential Savatage! With Last Dawn they have a little instrumental piece recorded which features Criss Oliva and shows a different side of the guitarist. Actually this album is the best they have done so far! Killer tracks, only The Price You Pay is a little weaker, but still better than anything of the Fight For The Rock album. Seems that the band want to forget about that one and is trying to release all the anger... Thanks! This is what the fans want from them! US metal at it's best!
This time to production was in the hands of Paul O'Neill and Savatage. Guess it was the best the quartet could do, to get involved in the production to get back their sound.


Hall Of The Mountain King (re-release)

Hall Of The Mountain King (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. On this re-release they put on another track which was originally planned to be released on Streets. Stay is sung by Jon Oliva! An acoustic one which presented by the character of Duke. Interesting to hear what didn't make it onto the album. It would be interesting to hear one day the Streets album with all the songs which were planned for that rock opera. Perhaps one day....
Again they took the same booklet, just replaced the Atlantic logo with their logo.


Hall Of The Mountain King (re-release)

Hall Of The Mountain King (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
On Hall Of The Mountain King you'll find the title track and Devastation - both recorded in 1987 in Cleveland.


9 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Fight For The Rock

Fight For The Rock
(Atlantic - 1986)


The album Fight For The Rock starts with the title track and it seems that the Floridian quartet is not going full speed... But first I shall mention that bassist Keith Collins is no longer in the band and that he got replaced by Johnny Lee Middleton. But I don't think that this line-up change did change them.
The tracks are slower, lack the rough charm of the last album. Also it has more balladesque elements, even if it's rocking. Crying For Love is one of the better tracks, but it seems that something (someone?) restrained them.... The track Day After Day would fit to some pop band! The song is well done, but didn't fit to the band. That's not Savatage! On The Edge Of Midnight the a keyboard, which partly sounds like this electro-pop ones we know from the early 80's pop acts, then sound like a spinet, starts the song, when the band joins in it gets heavier and rocking. With Hyde they have a track on the album which could have been on the last release as well. This sounds like Savatage! Also She's Only Rock'n'Roll and Wishing Well sound more like the Oliva brothers... Even if the last one is a cover version, but their they could add some elements of their sound, thanks to Criss Oliva who's guitar is brilliant and revive the track.
The production was controlled by Stephan Galfas. Nothing to complain about sound-wise. But this album is more experimental and I guess that's influenced by the producer...


Fight For The Rock (re-release)

Fight For The Rock (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. Bootlegs of the acoustic versions which were recorded during sound checks are easy to find and so they decided to officially release some of the stuff which been recorded. This time they chose If I Go Away from the album Streets. This time the song is sung by Zak Stevens who joined in 1991, but after the recordings of Streets. A nice tune and this acoustic version which is very intense and has a lot of atmosphere.
The booklet is the same like on the original CD release and has beside the lyrics the usual information. Nothing more. Why didn't they use their chance? Label politics, I think... Again, if you don't have this one on CD, then get the re-release. If you already have it, think over, if this one song is worth buying this one! Even if the bonus track is great!


Fight For The Rock (re-release)

Fight For The Rock (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
On Fight For The Rock you get The Dungeons Are Calling and City Beneath The Surface recorded live in Dallas in 1990.


5 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Power Of The Night

Power Of The Night
(Atlantic - 1985)


After the mini album The Dungeons Are Calling now it's time for the second full-length album of the Tampa boys. Opening with the title track which is a powerful heavy rocker with the screaming guitars of Criss Oliva and the mean vocals of his brother Jon. This is US metal which seems to become more and more popular these days. Will the US metal replace the NWoBHM? Who knows? Anyway, this quartet rocks! But what makes them special? The bass of Keith Collins and the drums on 'Dr. Killdrums' Wacholz build the basis for the excellent young guitarist Criss Oliva. Special? Different to what we know from the big names and Jon Oliva's vocals and screams are unique. The track Warriors starts with an mellow words of Jon Oliva and keyboards, then the guitar riffing kicks off the song supported by pounding bass and hammering drums. This one is one of the highlights on the album. The Necrophilia, another heavy rocking tune which shows the talent of Criss Oliva very well. Just listen to the guitar lines!
That they can play fast tracks with melody they show on Washed Out. Great guitar riffing, but the song lacks the certain something. Perhaps it needs a few more spins... Hard For Love is another song and the chorus reminds me of some Kiss tune, but the rest of the song is heavier than the stuff of the million sellers! The album offers a variety of mid-tempo and faster songs, well balanced and at least a slower tune, a kind of ballad called In The Dream. But Jon Oliva had to add a scream even to a ballad and it seems that ballads are not what they are into... A request of the label to have a ballad on the album? I don't know, but it actually is the weakest track on the album.
The album was recorded at the Bearsville Recording Studios in New York with producer Max Norman. So the sound is more polished, but that doesn't mean that they don't sound raw! Due to the better production they sound more powerful and with a major label they should make their way to the top... Sooner or later!


Power Of The Night (re-release)

Power Of The Night (re-release)
(edel - 1997)


In 1997 the German record label Edel Company re-released the Savatage albums and to make it more interesting add a bonus track. On Power Of The Night they add an acoustic version of Sleep which was originally released in 1993 on the Edge Of Thorns album. Usually fans just know the Zak Stevens version, but this one is sung by Jon Oliva. When the album POTN was originally released nobody would have expected something like this from Jon Oliva. It shows that through the years the 'Mountain King' learnt how to sing this kind of song. It's stated that this song was recorded during a sound check to give the fans an 'official' version. There are several bootlegs from sound checks were Jon and Zak swapped songs, but this one has a more than decent sound.
Unfortunately the label didn't overdo the booklet which has only a folded piece of paper with the track list, details about where it's been recorded and the line-up. Why no additional information? Or liner notes? And so, if you have the original version and you're not a die-hard fan and collector, you don't have to have this one. If you don't have the album at all, then the re-release is more interesting, even if I think that a song from the same era would have fit better to the album.


Power Of The Night (re-release)

Power Of The Night (re-release)
(Steamhammer - 2002)


Now that Savatage are signed to Steamhammer the German record label is re-releasing the Atlantic Records back catalogue. All releases have liner notes and unreleased photos as well as some bonus tracks. The used the original artwork, but it has a black frame and the colors are darker.
On Power Of The Night you find live versions of the title track - recorded in 1987 in Cleveland - and Sirens recorded in 1990 in Dallas.


7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






The Dungeons Are Calling

The Dungeons Are Calling
(Spybat Records / Metal Blade - 1984)


The 1985 release The Dungeons Are Calling of the Florida boys is now finally released on CD in 1994. With this album the quartet released their second strike and if you take a look at the booklet (what's called a booklet!) you find a familiar name - Jim Morris. Now a famous producer / engineer who recorded the album at the Morrisound Studio in Tampa with Dan Johnson.
The years proofed that they recorded another classic tune, the title track is now known by every fan. With City Beneath The Surface they put a song from the Avatar single on the album, remember Avatar was the predecessor of Savatage!
And again this one is featuring lost tracks, this time the track Fighting For Your Love and a live version of Sirens made it onto the disc.

Later Metal Blade kinda released this mini album The Dungeons Are Calling on one disc with Sirens. Actually they just took the former single releases and made one disc out if it. The booklet is still a joke. Not worth to say more about this re-release.


6 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up






Sirens

Sirens
(Spybat Records / Metal Blade - 1985)


Originally released back in 1983 the debut of Savatage is now released on CD 11 years later. These days already a classic, the American quartet made their first step into the limelight with Sirens. At that days something new, remember that were the days of the NWoBHM, of bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead.
Founded by Jon Oliva (voc) and his brother Criss (g) the band was completed by Keith Collins (bs) and Steve Wacholz (dr) and recorded with producer Dan 'The Kid' Johnson this album. Tracks like Sirens and Holocaust soon caught the interest of the metal scene, but to make it big it took a few more years. Now released on CD (remastered) two tracks were added. The cover says "Features lost Savatage tracks" and so you find at the end of the disc the songs Lady In Disguise and The Message.
Interesting for their long time fans and for new fans as well, coz this documents the early days of Savatage.


6 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt
 

up

           2008-2010 by Claudia Ehrhardt • E-Mail: contact@ice-vajal.com


Bands S