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POWER OF THE NIGHT

Savatage

 

Progressive Metal

3.19 | 43 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Isa
Prog Reviewer
3 stars |C| A solid album from 1985 and another relevant work of proto-prog metal.

Power of the Night, the sophomore effort of the (at this stage) 80s proto-prog metal band Savatage, is quite a solid step up from their debut, and shows much more of the band's creative potential in pioneering the use of new artistic devices of composition ("progressiveness") in their music. Whilst this may be primarily an 80s metal oriented album, it is by no means the musical equivalent of the popular hair-metal "one hit wonder" counterparts of the time, as there is far more substance, creativity, and passion and far less "hook" and other superfluous idioms of much corporate-created music, though there are attempts on a couple tracks in this direction. That being said, this is still far from overtly progressive sounding metal, though there are plenty of hints and even overt statements of the style, enough to deem this album as a fairly good model of "proto-prog metal" if we should choose to use such simultaneously specific yet in fact vague labels. Certainly, in the context of the 80s metal style, the music here is far less repetitive and much more creative than pretty much any of their popular 80s hair-metal counterparts.

Track Commentary: The album title track has an interesting introduction with electronic- music pads and sound effects, which I find an interesting way to start a metal album. This moves straight into the main riff. This song is definitely your typical (though high quality) early 80s metal, everything really pieces together quite nicely in this song, and I really like the heavy use of syncopation during the verse and solo. This song is very characteristic of the band's aggressive metal sound, with a really cool bass-guitar unison ending. Unusual, the second track, continues in much of the same vein, though a slower, sixteenth-note rhythm based feel. I like the use of string sounds during the verse, and the synthesizers during the chorus really add so much, as well as the throbbing base. I like the modulations in the section before the solo, very creative and not something you'd ever hear in heavy metal, particularly at the time. Warriors has an overtly prog-metal sound to it, which is cool hearing that considering this album came out right in the middle of the eighties, probably prog's darkest period in its existence. The chorus of the song seems a little forced, though Jon Oliva does a great job with it, especially when he does that downward chromatic movement on the repeat. The section before the ending chorus as another synth-pad-laden, which is really cool though a little out of place considering its context within the song. Necrophilia is a very driven song with a sort of bluesy sounding guitar work, quite superb riffs all around. The duel octave-sounding guitar work is really great. It sort of sounds like where they would go with their music with Hall of the Mountain King. Washed out is more NWBHM sounding, lots of chugging sixteenth note playing by the bass and guitar, and very eighties metal sounding solo (meaning awesome). Hard for Love, as the title suggests, sounds like another one of those typical "record-company-pressured-us-to-try-to-make-a- hit" song, which is really lame. It's exactly the sort of rubbish that gives 80s metal such a low "dated" reputation among even less musically educated metal-heads, though the band tries to incorporate some unique things in it, as if to say "you know we'd like to make better music than this but it is what it is." Fountain of Youth is pretty much the artistic opposite, starting off with less conventional and thicker distortion-guitar chords (similar to the ones often used by Fates Warning, if I'm not mistaken) and some synth effects. I sense that this is the sort of music that represents the band's true creative outlet. The guitar tabbing is played very clean and sounds great. There is a very progressive sounding section with voice effect synth-pads with really effective and creative guitar work. And talk about an unconventional ending! Skull Session is a much more straightforward track, another very driving, somewhat NWBHM sounding galloping-rhythm-based track. Stuck On You is actually much better than you'd expect considering the title (and even the lyrics), the guitar work is very good, especially during the chorus, and the overall song has a very metal head-banging feel to it (particularly during the solo), though the lyrics are still really annoying and uncharacteristic of the song. I love the micro-meter triplet hemiola they throw in toward the end of the solo, which they do several times at the end of the song. Really cool. In The Dream sounds a lot like where they would go much later in their discography with Streets and what-not, a sort of heavy ballad, and I suppose their potential for that sound was always there, they just didn't go full on with it until later, which I find interesting. The song provides a good ending for a good album.

Considering the "mixed-bag," inconsistent nature of their debut, this album has a generally higher level of quality all around; enough that, in my view, it should establish the album as a relevant work of proto-prog metal. The raised level of maturity and consistency in the band's sound is more than noticeable, and other than the dreadful record-company-forced follow- up album Fight for Rock, it could be considered the great foundation of their sound from which the band would soar to new heights in their creativity for the next few works of their discography.

A good album for progressive rock listeners, excellent for fans of prog-metal, and most recommended for people with an interest in the development of prog metal. (I apologize to the reader for the excessive use of hyphens in this review.)

Isa | 3/5 |

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