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Savatage - Sirens CD (album) cover

SIRENS

Savatage

 

Progressive Metal

2.93 | 44 ratings

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Isa
Prog Reviewer
2 stars |D|

Sirens is the debut album of Savatage, one of the bands that would come to be known as one of the early pioneers of more creative or "progressive" metal (though since Savatage avoided a lot of the prog stereotypes, there's some argument about their progressiveness). It is actually very much what you might expect from one of the better heavy metal bands from 1983, only unlike the other proto-prog metal bands, Savatage is only somewhat influenced by NWBHM. The influence of heavier, "darker" and more mid-tempo first wave metal, Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, and some Scorpions, is just as present. There's a lot of stuff online about them having been an early influence for death metal, given Jon Oliva's aggressive style, but that seems like quite a stretch, in my opinion (I guess I'd have to give early death metal another listen to be sure...). Regardless, the debut has some great, somewhat creative straight up metal tracks, some moments of "hey, that sounds like something you'd hear in prog" here and there, and some tracks that are just very forgettable, lame, and dated tracks that stereotype that period. A pretty mixed bag indeed. It's impressive how the band would stick with the general sound of their debut for so many albums though.

Track Commentary: The album opens with sounds of chorused guitar arpeggios leading into church bells combined with chimes (hm, I wonder if Rush's A Farewell to Kings had some influence there...). I really like the echo effects on Jon Oliva's voice, and he'll often stop on a word and let the word echo during the riff, very effective. Very good riffs, standard sort of heavy metal for the early eighties, but well done. Holocaust starts with fast drumming on the high hat, leading into a riff, leading into the songs main riffs, a really great riff with palm muting, alternating a low line and higher power chords. This is probably my favorite song on the album, along with Scream Murder. The siren going off in this track is an album pun, referring to the danger in WWII and the album title at the same time. I like the low keyboard pads. Some of the guitar chords are reminiscent of Iron Maiden's. The end of the song is sound effects, which crescendo into the next track. The intro to I Believe is chorused guitar arpeggios with Oliva giving try at soft-singing, with less than pleasing results of nasality. More of the usual early 80s metal sound, power chord riffs with occasional single lined passages. Less than convincing low-voice distortion is used before the band breaks into a double-time solo. I like the sound of the toms in the drum fills at the end of the track. Rage is a much more accessible head-banging sort of track. The ending holds the echo of the ending in suspention, very strange and creative enough to seem out of place at the end of a not-so-creative track. On the Run is a more mid-tempo, with a riff that sounds oddly similar to one in their later Gutter Ballet album... I guess they kind of reused it. It's a really awesome riff nonetheless. Twisted Little Sister is once again on the accessible side, with kind of unnecessary effects on the singer's voice. I'm pretty certain that the title of this track is where a certain (in)famous hair-metal band got their name. "Baby I need you" is the kind of lyric that gives you a less than positive indication regarding the band's sense of artistic flare with the track. Living for the Night is another typical metal track. Scream Murder, however, is actually quite the opposite, a track with synth pads, more diversity in the composition. Out On the Streets is very acoustically driven, and the catchy chorus actually does sound like something from their Streets album, interestingly enough.

Savatage's album is a pretty good one in the scheme of early metal, but pretty mediocre in the context of rock music over. A good start, with mere hints at prog, but this is one of those albums you listen to if you adore the band's somewhat unique and aggressive sound, or for head-banging kicks after you've wracked your brain with avant-garde music. More recommended for fans of Savatage and prog metal collectors.

Isa | 2/5 |

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