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SIRENS

Savatage

Progressive Metal


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Marc Baum
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "Sirens" is undoubtably one of the 80's most acclaimed underground metal classics ever. Jon Oliva and co unleash their powerhouse force of flashy guitar licks + solos, sturdy consistent bass playing, and slamming drumming. Jon's voice is a bit immature but i think that just adds to the whole atmosphere of the album, and is nowhere near as squieky as Hetfield era Kill Em All. Jon's contains one of the most unique voices ever, and i must give the man credit for being an innovator. His voice on this album can range from a banshee like yelper to a lower pitched singer, and at times very mellodic (see "Out on the Streets"). Brother Criss Oliva is simply put a mammoth on the 6th string guitar and I cannot disagree with anyone who would put such a label on him. The sheer brilliance and professionalism he puts into his playing puts others to shame. When this first came out it was beloved by alot of metal fans and i can totally see why, because there was nothing quite like it at the time of it's release (1983).

Sirens has alot of ballsy, brute powerful songs that have a lot of diversity and catch your attention quite easily. Savatage really started accomplishing a cult status right away with their debut and can you wonder why? Take a listen and just dare to tell me this isn't some inventive stuff for the early 80's. This took Heavy Metal to the next level in my opinion, and adds that more extreme touch of aggression to it. The thing I like most about the album is the attitude of the tracks. They all display a life like meaning that all of us can relate to in some way or another. Read the lyrics, and you should get something out of each track. "Twisted Little Sister", is almost sadistic, "Holocaust" is horrifing, my fave "Scream Murder" is hauntingly powerful with it's incredible drive and "Out on the Streets" is the first real Savatage ballad, with depressing lyrics. Check that awesome guitar solo out on this track - that is touching, pure brilliance. This is definatly a darker album than most would expect. The themes are about murder, war, lust, and sorrow etc. Basically everyone is bound to get something out of Sirens weather it be for the better or worse. But in the end I am sure no one can say this album is all bad.

If you were wondering the line for this album was Jon Oliva : Shrieks of Terror, Criss Oliva - Metalaxe, Steve "Dr Killdrums" Wacholz, Keith Collins - The Bottom End. For a debut album this is mighty good and who knew that Savatage would grow to be even more godly (progressive) in the future? For a band to last this long surely is a feat in and of itself. In conclution if you are a fan of classic metal albums and are lacking in a early Savatage record this is the one for you. There is nothing lacking about this album, and I suggest to get the Silver Anniversary Edition, for the Remasters are much cleaner. Cheers Savatage He's gonna take it out on YOU!!!!

album rating: 9/10 points = 89 % 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

Report this review (#27430)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
diddy
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars First of all, I have to say that I really like this album. Savatage is one of the best METAL bands out there and I really like some of their stuff. But by saying this I'm talking about a metal band and not about prog. I have some of their albums because I also listen to some metal but not very much...I never thought about prog when I listened to their albums. If you want to hear really good and well played metal this is definitely a band to check out but if you're searching for prog metal, don't touch this one. Personally I would give more stars but rating the progressive content of this album I have to say that it is only something for fans or collectors. Savatage is a good band with good metal albums and their debut "Sirens" is one of their best ones...but remember, no real prog on this one.

Report this review (#27432)
Posted Tuesday, July 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Savatage is one of the best American heavy metal bands in the 80's, they gradually improved their songwriting and lyrics and became a fantastic progressive metal band in the 90's.

Savatage were formed by brothers Jon (vocals) and Criss Oliva (guitar), they initially were a trio and called themselves "Avatar" with Jon singing and playing bass, Criss on guitar and Steve Wacholz on drums. Soon later Jon Oliva decided to concentrate on singing and they recluted bass player Keith Collins. Just the day before the release date of their debut album ("Sirens") they were pushed to change the name of the group as "Avatar" already was the name of another recording band. They inmediately came up with the name SAVATAGE.

"Sirens" was recorded in only two days. Jon Oliva (a multi-instrumentalist himself) wrote almost all the material assisted by his brother Criss on some tracks. Jon Oliva's vocals are that kind of "love-it-or-hate-it", his voice being raspy and gritty not unlike Quiet Riot's singer or Alice Cooper, however he does a good job and his voice fits the music very well. Savatage's music at this point was straight-forward heavy metal yet with quality on the songwriting as can be noticed on the great track "Sirens". Criss Oliva proved to be a very talented musician with style and technique close to Randy Rhoads and Eddie Van Halen. Most of the songs from this album became live favorites during the 80's.

I can't give this record more than 2 stars because it's not progressive at all, not even close to prog-metal, in turn it's full of very good and aggresive heavy metal therefore it's a must for metal-heads; in a heavy metal context I give 3 or 4 stars to this record. As Savatage developed a more symphonic and progressive approach on later years, "Sirens" is an interesting listening for the adventurous prog-metal lover.

Report this review (#44889)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
slipperman
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Excellent addition to any METAL music collection.

It's too bad Savatage's earlier albums are included on this site, as they don't stand a fair chance from most prog-metal or prog-rock reviewers. For a very long while, Savatage was purely and simply a heavy metal band. And when they were good, they were amazing. Albums like 'Hall Of The Mountain King' and 'Power Of The Night', as well as EP 'The Dungeons Are Calling', are all masterpieces of dark, energetic, expertly played metal.

I don't consider Savatage much of a prog-metal band, though. There are a couple hundred more adventurous prog-metal bands worthy of the classification, I'm just not sure Savatage is one of them. And I thought they started to lose it after 'Hall Of The Mountain King' anyway. I look to other bands for great progressive metal. But I can't sit here and see this album given low ratings, because 'Sirens', their very first album, is a high point in early '80s metal, with only a couple rough spots that make it less than perfect. This side of Metallica's 'Ride The Lightning' and Metal Church's self-titled debut, there isn't a metal album that offers such a strong first half as 'Sirens'. The pounding title-track opens things up, taking listeners on a journey of danger, the eerieness heightened by Criss Oliva's formidable guitar tones, brother Jon's manic tale-telling, and the heavy-handed rhythms of Steve Wacholz (drums) and Keith Collins (bass). The mid-section break is an example of the band's songwriting expertise, comparable to the more epic facets of Iron Maiden, Accept and Judas Priest. "Holocaust" grinds its warning with a fierce and deathly riff leading the way (make that "RIFF!!!"), and then into "I Believe" and its more textured, melancholy tones. "Rage" simply kills, a real bastard grinder, proto-speed metal at its rawest. From here, things maintain a high level of excitement, but some of the songs don't stand as strongly as those first several. "On The Run" is a mid-paced plodder, pedestrian but still maintaining darkness and heaviness. "Twisted Little Sister" is a little tacky. "Out On The Streets" is a good ballad, but it was improved upon later in their career. "Scream Murder" rears its head as a deep-album highlight, full of Criss Oliva acrobatics and subtleties. Paired with the eventful "Living For The Night", it helps beef up the album's second half.

The recording is a bit clunky, but the rawness is more a product of its time than any real flaw. 'Sirens' is a consistently good and often great album...I don't like that it's included on this site, but here it is, so I'll stand proud defending it for what it is. But for prog-metal, go for a much proggier band: Voivod, Opeth, Arcturus, In The Woods, Watchtower. Take your pick.

Report this review (#44934)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Sirens" is the debut full-length studio album by US, Florida based power/heavy metal act Savatage. The album was released through Par Records Inc. in April 1983. "Sirens" has seen several reissues through the years and from 1985 onwards also featured a different cover artwork to the original one with the blue ship on the front. Savatage was formed in 1979 under the Avatar monicker (they also occasionally went by the Metropolis monicker). After releasing a demo and an EP under the Avatar name they changed their name to Savatage in 1983 and recorded a demo before being signed for the release of "Sirens".

Stylistically the music on "Sirens" is traditional heavy metal with early signs of US power metal. The 9 tracks on the 35:57 minutes long album are all powerful heavy rockers (except closer "Out On The Streets" which is a power ballad type track) with pounding drums and bass, raw guitar riffing and blistering solos, and Jon Oliva´s rusty powerful voice in front. Savatage are a very well playing band. The rhythm section of drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Keith Collins deliver a tight and hard rocking performance, while the Oliva brothers provide the icing for the cake. Jon Oliva has a powerful and distinct sounding voice and his delivery is commanding. It´s little brother Criss Oliva who is the true star here though. Sometimes you come across music where it´s clear that you´re dealing with a musician that´s more than normally gifted, and that´s certainly the case here. There´s something about his touch and the way his tones have bite that tell the story of someone who was born with a guitar in his hand.

The material on the album is generally well written, powerful, and catchy. It doesn´t take many listens before you´re able to remember every track on the album. Although there are no weak links on the album and everything is of a good quality I´d mention "Holocaust" as a highlight. The main riff is simply killer (I´m reminded of a harder edged early Van Halen) and with the touch of Criss Oliva it reaches an even higher level of perfection. Considering the time of release "Sirens" features a well sounding production, which is both raw and powerful sounding, but also detailed and clear enough for all instruments and vocals to stand out in the mix.

So upon conclusion "Sirens" is a very promising debut album by Savatage. The songwriting may still be slightly immature (especially compared to what would follow), but there is a raw charm to the proceedings that´s greatly enjoyable and overall it´s a high quality release. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#175803)
Posted Monday, June 30, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This first Savatage album is almost lost in the mist of times. I remember it on a tape I had in my collection. The music is quite good, but in the terms of heavy rock or heavy metal, not progressive rock. The album features enough riffs, enough speed and (Jon Oliva's) rough voice and screaming vocals. The band is at this point at the beginning of its life and the music features heavy guitar sounds and dark lyrics (very specific to a lot of heavy metal bands at that time). However, I enjoyed this album during "my old rock period of life" and even now I feel sometimes the need to listen to the famous track "Sirens" , the mystical song "I believe" and the nice ballad " Out on the streets". I don't feel the need to describe the songs of this album, because it isn't progressive music here. Conclusion: "Sirens" is an album only for "the old period of heavy metal" lovers and if you like heavy metal, go for it!

2 stars only!

Report this review (#266835)
Posted Thursday, February 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#562338)
Posted Friday, November 4, 2011 | Review Permalink

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