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POETS & MADMEN

Savatage

Progressive Metal


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ulver@op.pl
5 stars Masterpiece of progressive heavy metal! Although there are some influences of Iron Maiden or Megadeth on this album, I hear that Savatage is completely different to those bands. Their music is very epic, often with fantastic synthesizers (listen to "Commisar" or beautiful "Morphine Child"), the vocalist is amazing, he is the narrator of this story... This album takes me to the era of Edgar Allan Poe, some lirycs and generally the concept seem to be inspired by this classical horror author... Within very good tracks, my favourites are "Morphine Child" (the longest and most beautiful track on this album, it reminds me Deep Purple's "Child In Time", I love the choirs at the ending) and "Man In The Mirror" (I love the lyrics and the instrumental passage). Brilliant album!

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#27478)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
timandeb@cox.
5 stars Savatage are masters of survival and transition, Poets & Madmen is the result of that. Incorporated are elements of early Savatage with a Trans Siberian Orchestra twist. Key songs are "Commisar"," I Seek Power", and "Man In The Mirror", but don't let the others fool you, this disc flows from start to finish. Vocals are very powerful ands adds a narative feel to most songs. In picking 2-3 albums to define Savatage's (underated) career, Poets & Madmen would make the cut.

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Send comments to (BETA) | Report this review (#35734)
Posted Wednesday, June 08, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The last Savatage's album to date... And their last masterpiece too.

When "Poets and Madmen" appeared in 2001, a lot of people called it a transition's album. Singer Zachary Stevens quitted the band a year before, and guitarist Al Pitrelli did the same to join Megadeth (later he would return, but Savatage is not working today, so he is plenty dedicated to Trans-Siberian Orchestra...) So although here are some Al Pitrelli's solos, most of the work was make by Chris Caffery. And his agressive style of playing is very evident in the album, making "Poets and Madmen" the most powerful release since "Hall of the Mountain King". Jon Oliva had to assume the vocals duties on this record... And he did great! This was a big surprise to the Savatage's fans, because the last Savatage's album in wich Jon sung, was in "Streets", ten years before... His eerie and broken voices fits perfectly with the darker and heavier sound of this album!

After the release of "Poets and Madmen", Savatage went to a great tour. They recruited the outstanding singer Damon Jiniya and the Metallium's guitarist Jack Frost (he quitted the band when Al Pitrelli returned...) And maybe this is the reason why the people called it a transition's album. But I don't think so... It's just a different album with an evident line-up change since the previous album. But it's still Savatage as its best!

This album is more agressive, but the symphonic elements are still very present. Songs like Morphine Child, Stay with Me Awhile and Surrender have very symphonic arrangements... Maybe is not as orchestral as the two previous releases, but I think it's more progressive. The songs are more variated than any other Savatage's album, with abrupt rythm changes, and very different moods inside every song (except Drive). You only have to hear the killer track Commissar to realize... A very operistic beginning is broken with a killer riff and the agressive voice of Oliva. After the last chorus, comes a sections really really variated, with splendid solos... Sureley, this album is prog.

Best songs: I really like every song of the album, is a very complete offering, and it deserves been heard in its integrity, because this album tells a story (pretty nice one) But it's a more "song oriented album" than the other Savatage's rock operas. So you can really enjoy every track separately... And if I had to choice, the best tracks for me are: Stay With Me Awhile (perfect beginning, a summary of what you will find in the whole record), Commissar (killer track, really catchy and with an outstanding guitar sound), Drive (short track, not really progressive, but very catchy and exciting), Morphine Child (the best song of the album, a mini-opera, with the typical Savatage's choirss at the end...), Man in the Mirror (my favourite of the album, outstanding chorus and final section...), Surrender (another progressive track, with great piano playin and riffing... The ending is epic too) and Back to a Reason (the ballad of the album, but a bit different of the rest of Savatage's ballads, really stronger...) I almost mentioned every track! Ok, the rest are pretty cool too... The Rumour has great acoustics and good rythm changes, Awaken a very catchy bass lines, I seek Power is the heaviest song of the album, even with some gutural shouting by Mr. Oliva, There in the Silent has very good riffing too and original synthethisers sound... Sorry, but this album has not fillers!

Conclusion: the return of Jon Oliva to the voices could had not been better... The Chris Caffery guitar playing gives and extra power to the Savatage' s sound. Really, this album has some of the better riffs I've ever heard! The story about the photographer Kevin Carter is pretty nice too, like the lyrics (Paul O'Neill is definitely a great writer and even better producer) A flawless album, very indicated for all the people who missed a heavier and progger sound in the Savatage's album from the 90's!

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Send comments to The Crow (BETA) | Report this review (#74059)
Posted Tuesday, April 04, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. I'm not sure if "Poets And Madmen" refer to the title of this record or are a description of the band. Good to see Jon Oliva back for this one, but his vocals seem to be rougher than ever unfortunately (not my favourite style).

Some of the highlights for me are "I Seek Power" a heavy duty tune that is dark and haunting.There are some powerful riffs and some screaming guitar lines. "Morphine Child" is the longest and best song for my tastes, I really like Jon's vocals when he holds back, harnesses in his singing. This tune has such a catchy sound and there is a real contrast between the light and heavy.

"The Rumour (Jesus)" has some killer instrumental music in it, I just don't agree with all the words. "Man In The Mirror" is a great, great song, the instrumental passages and especially the guitar playing is wondrous. Finally "Awaken" fearures a splendid riff that works so well in combination with the chorus.

There several SAVATAGE records I like better than this one, but who knows if this will be their last ? It's been 5 years since this was releasd. Anyway, great band, and this is a good album with lots of highlights.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#97034)
Posted Friday, November 03, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars My first Savatage album was 'Handful of Rain', which at the time I didn't think too much of. Willing to give them another chance, I found this album pre-owned for Ł3 in a music shop. Absolutely amazing that it turned out to be one of my favourite albums of all time, yet cost so little. Sadly though, my favourite Savatage album turned out to be their last (at the time of this review anyway).

The album kicks off with 'Stay with Me Awhile' which has an intro so heavy and powerful it's hard not to let it grab you by the throat, and the rest of the album goes by flawlessly, delivering what you'd expect from Savatage. 'Morphine Child' is possibly on of the most epic songs you'll ever here, and there's plenty more like 'There in the Silence', 'Commissar' and 'Back to A Reason' to make sure that if Savatage were bowing out, they were certainly bowing out in a blaze of glory.

Chris Caffery's guitar work is amazing as always, and Jon Oliva back on Vocals is a nice treat (though Zac Stevens will be missed). The album has an interesting story behind it and comes with a random photograph of a girl with the words 'the only reason I have left is you on the back of it'. Though it may seem kinda random, once you've read the story and heard the album, you'll realize it's small touches like this that help bring the music to life.

This is an album that I think fans of any Savatage era can get into, and obviously fans of TSO and Jon Oliva's Pain should enjoy. But more importantly Prog fans and Heavy Metal fans of all varieties should find something in here that they like. Fingers crossed that one day we'll get another album under the Savatage name, but until we do, buy this album and enjoy it.

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Send comments to Valarius (BETA) | Report this review (#182148)
Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Savatage loses their main vocalist, and there is much weeping.

This IS a good album, but if they had still had two vocalists, it would've been on par with The last few releases. Instead, you get a more classic Savatage feel, without the same energy or inspired writing, and without an intriguing rock opera vibe.

No, these songs are not as musically detailed, and some are plain mediocre. Open Stay With Me A While punches pretty hard, and can knock you well but it is followed by several songs that are hit or miss. There in the silence is dramatic, but equally ceases to amaze. Commissar picks things up a bit, and I Seek Power is rather fierce, just to have them drop back down with the worst song on the album, Drive.

This is truly the death knell of a masterful band in ruins. But, it still has several saving graces. First off, the middle album epic Morphine Child is real, real good. Secondly, the writing and performance picks up quite a bit after this point. Things are more in flow and tune with classic Savatage, and it seems as though Jon has regained his vocal footing, and brings back that excellent swagger. The last song is indeed a ballad of sorts, and Savatage never slouch in this department. Still, these don't add up to enough to save the album.

Save it from undeniably weaker composition and writing, a bit more flaccid playing, and the sparse amount of truly brilliant ideas presented. Oh, it is still a good listen, and fans will love it. When it hits, it hits pretty ferociously, but this is an old beast, and one whose growl is not what it used to be.

I am depressed, now.

*** sad stars.

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Send comments to Alitare (BETA) | Report this review (#199605)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 really

I'm a big fan of this band for almost 20 years, each album they released was unique with intelligent song writting and top notch musicianship. The last album to date of this excellent band named Poets and madmen dates from 2001 and is as I expected a good one but not really among their top 5 albums. With Oliva back behind the mic like in the glory days, he also is the main composer and the keybordist of the band since the beggining. I liked a lot the voice of Zachary Stevens he was fiting perfectly in Savatage music, Edge of thorns beinng his true mastrpice where his voice was heavenly, now he quitted in 2000 aswell Al Pitrelli gone being part of Megadeth machine in that period. Well over all sound is little darker because of the lyrics and aswell more powerful then previous works who were with progressive elemenets all over, nice pianos , solos and all, this time with Oliva back on voice the compositions sound like in their early years not far from Hall of the mountain king era but little less intresting then that album. Anyway not a single piece is weak, but the magic is not so present as on Streets or Edge of thorns for example. Even the voice of Oliva is more angry then usual. Pieces like Stay With Me A While, There In The Silence or The Rumour (Jesus) shows that Savatage has still big potential with great ideas and adventurous playing. Very solid instrumental passages as always, they don't disappoint at all with not a single labum, since the beggining they were a consistent band with imaginative instrumental sections. As I said I'm a big fan of the band and because of thet 3 stars to this one rouned up with half a star because worth it. Among the best bands ever to me.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#883923)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2012 | Review Permalink

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