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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!
Report this review (#27478)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
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.
Report this review (#35734)
Posted Wednesday, June 8, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
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!

Report this review (#74059)
Posted Tuesday, April 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
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.

Report this review (#97034)
Posted Friday, November 3, 2006 | 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.

Report this review (#199605)
Posted Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#883923)
Posted Saturday, December 29, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars I remember this one so well. It was the Summer of 2003, and I was 16 years-old. I randomly picked up 'Handful of Rain', with no prior knowledge of the band Savatage. It was alright. Nothing amazing, but one or two catchy songs that stuck with me. Fast forward a few months and I was Christmas shopping with my sister. Having stumbled across a secondhand music shop, I had to have a quick look, and it was there that I picked up 'Poets and Madmen'.

And from here, Savatage would go on to become one of my all-time favourite bands.

'Poets and Madmen' sees Jon Oliva return to lead vocals, and Chris Caffery picks up the bulk of the guitar work after Al Pitrelli had left to join Megadeth. Though not strictly a rock opera like those the band were famous for doing, there is a loose concept behind the music, based upon real-life photographer Kevin Carter. It's not exactly an easy narrative to follow, though it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album either.

With Savatage slowly taking more and more of a backseat to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (a Savatage-related band that was having multiplatinum success), it's evident that a lot of the music here was influenced by the aforementioned group. Bigger and more grandiose than ever before, each of the songs here is a true gem in their own right, with each instrument working in complete synergy to produce some of the bands tightest and most cohesive compositions.

Highlights include 'Stay With Me Awhile', 'Commissar', 'There in the Silence', 'Surrender', 'Back to a Reason', and the centerpiece of the album, the ten-minute 'Morphine Child'. Each song really shows a band at the peak of their creativity, with plenty of crushing riffs, beautiful melodies, classical-inspired passages and the vocal counterpoint harmonies that the band had made their own.

A remarkable smorgasbord of every perfected nuance that had ever given this band their own unique sound, it's a shame that Savatage spent the majority of their career in the "underrated" category, because this album is an absolute masterpiece.

Report this review (#1784141)
Posted Tuesday, September 19, 2017 | Review Permalink

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