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Savatage - The Wake of Magellan CD (album) cover

THE WAKE OF MAGELLAN

Savatage

 

Progressive Metal

3.87 | 107 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

MrMan2000
5 stars Perhaps the most overlooked prog-concept masterpiece. A diverse, musical tour-de-force that incorporates multi-tracked operatic vocals, virtuosic twin-guitar attacks, and orchestral keyboards and arrangements, all wrapped in a compelling, inviting tale. TWOM combines all of the best elements of late-stage Savatage and deserves mention among such great prog masterpieces as 2112, O:Mindcrime and The Wall.

Every song on Wake is a great song, not a single throwaway in the bunch. However, the true strength of the disc is found in the opening 15 minutes (first four songs) and then again in the final 25 minutes (last five songs). The middle portion is still good, but not quite as good as the beginning and end. The opener "The Ocean" serves as a standard prog-concept musical intro and serves its purpose well. "Welcome" does just that, with the theatrical opening inviting listeners in with a provocative combination of keyboards, heavy power chords and Queen-like multi-tracked vocals. "Turns to Me", along with "Morning Sun" are probably the best straight-forward "songs" to be found here. Both combine classic prog-metal elements and contain blistering guitar work. Together give the disc an energetic opening section.

The next section contains somewhat more of the same, with just slightly less quality. "Blackjack Guillotine" has proven a crowd-favorite but for me, its not as diverse or compelling as the previous songs, though I do love the old-school power-ending. "Paragons of Innocence" and "Complaint in the System" both contain some creative call-and-response type lyrics, hinting at some of the more sophisticated vocal arrangements that show up in the last third of the disc.

"Underture" kicks off the last third of Wake with an imaginative, energetic instrumental. It is here that the true influence of Paul O'Neill on the band's direction is most evident. This piece, like most of the last 20 minutes, could easily be played by a full-sized orchestra and features many elements of an orchestral piece. It works amazingly well and that momentum is carried through the rest of Wake. The final 20 minutes or so feature a blurring combination of sophisticated prog-rock that, in my opinion, is almost unique. I can think of no band that so successfully tells a story with true heavy metal guitars and drums, orchestral keyboards and arrangement, operatic, multi-tracked vocals, etc. The concluding highlight is the 8-minute "The Hourglass", which features a mesmerizing vocal workup that slowly, and appropriately fades to a solemn, gentle closing. It all works perfectly, and is a key component of making "Wake" a prog masterpiece.

Finally, on the US version three bonus songs are included. All of three are acoustic workups of Savatage songs and feature the two lead vocalists singing songs usually performed by the other. All are individually excellent. I especially like "Alone You Breathe", which takes on a poignancy lost in the full-band version captured on "Handful of Rain". If you're familiar with the the tragic death of Chris Oliwa the song will surely touch you. One of the few instances where the "bonus" songs really add value.

MrMan2000 | 5/5 |

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