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Savatage - Dead Winter Dead CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.82 | 154 ratings

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Marc Baum
Prog Reviewer
5 stars After the trails of "Handful of Rain", Savatage progresses even farther along the operatic/classical path by creating a brilliant concept album that have be best described as a grand musical spectacle. Just as on "Streets", the music doesn't simply pamper to the ears. It creates a flurry of musical bliss that fits every mood perfectly, advancing a tale of hate, sorrow, but ultimately love in the midst of the horror of the Bosnian War.

Musically, this is still vintage Savatage, but there is a noticeably lighter approach than anything they have previously done. With the side project of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, it's no surprise that Paul O'Neill and Jon Oliva have transferred some of that classical touch to this album, injecting excerpts of Mozart and Beethoven. Even the Christmas anthem, Carol of the Bells makes an appearance in the song, "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" , that would also appear on TSO's debut album.

Despite the overall softer tinge, there are definite moments of heaviness intermingling throughout the album and hearing the manner which the heavy and soft parts interact in the disc is truly a pleasure. "Mozart and Madness" demonstrates that to perfection in a segment that is one of the many highlights of the album. The serenity of the orchestra and the harshness of the band duel and trade back and forth, creating a stark contrast of music that aurally characterizes the two sides of the war.

Other high points of the album include "This is the Time", which has not one but three absolutely spine shivering solos, "This Isn’t What We Meant" with it's beautiful piano passages and a stunning passionate vocal performance from Stevens that only further emphasizes the bleak lyrical content at that part of the story, and "One Child", which runs through various musical moods and includes the first of two incredible layered and round table-esque vocals. Of course, I could not mention the best songs without mentioning the best of them all, the finale, "Not What You See". This song is as emotional as you get, providing closure to the tenuous but heartwarming relationship that develops between characters of the story. The backing piano is unbelievably poignant and beautiful, and Stevens vocals, layered again in a round table effect, are incredibly uplifting. With two of the most moving solos interjecting as well, this song is simply heart wrenching and one of the best Savatage has ever done.

Also noteworthy about this album is the return of Jon Oliva in some cameo and backing vocal spots, including delightfully sinister parts in both "I Am" and "Doesn’t Matter Anyway", that perfectly exemplifies the type of anger and aggression that was looming in the area at the time.

This is just a magnificent album, and marks as one of the band’s most mature efforts yet. They took what they started with "Handful of Rain" and simply took it to the next level. Everything is extraordinary from the lyrics and story to the musicianship to the vocal performances to the production. Savatage have once again proven themselves to be trendsetters, crafting an exceptional piece of music that should not only appeal to metal fans, but people of all musical tastes. My highest recommendation.

album rating: 9/10 points = 90 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Marc Baum | 5/5 |


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