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Savatage - From the Gutter to the Stage CD (album) cover

FROM THE GUTTER TO THE STAGE

Savatage

Progressive Metal


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2 stars i'm not very fond of collections... due to the reason that most of them are the hits of the band, hence not very representative... talking about a band like Savatage with huge discogrpaphy and many varied styles, 15 tracks is a small sample of their material and not very useful to any fan who wishes to get into them..

let's take a good look at the songs divided to eras:

1.US Power Metal Era (1983-1987): Savatage first started as a US Power metal band, following the rest of the metal wave along with bands like Queensryche, Vicious Rumors etc... driven by Criss' (RIP) sharp riffs, Jon's high pitched vocals and Steve's bestial (!!!) drumming, Savatage managed to establish a solid status in 80's metal... the songs of that era that we find in here are a live version of the metal anthem "Sirens" very close performed to the studio version, taken from their first LP, also named "Sirens", "Power Of The Night" from also the same titled LP (how convenient, huh?) a very mediocre album, anyway, and "Prelude To Madness/Hall Of The Mountain King" taken from oh, what a surprise , the same titled LP, a true masterpiece, regardless if you are a metal fan or not...wisely enough, nothing from the lame "Fight For The Rock" LP is in here...it was the first and last attempt of the band to go commercial after their record company's insist...the first remark is the above obvious easy solution of the same titled songs which clearly indicates that whoever chose these didn't sweat to find them, maybe he's never even listened to these albums at all... the second one is the absense of even a single song from the astonishing "The Dungeons Are Calling" EP... any of the 6 songs of that EP could fit in here perfectly... the third one is that probably their best release "Hall Of The Mountain King" is being represented by only one track... not only was a great album but also a transition to the next Savatage era:

2.Classical influenced metal Era (1989-1991): this is where their producer and nearly a regular member of the band, Paul O Neil, given that he managed to persuade Jon to express his influencies and studies of classical music and his passionate love for Queen, and later he would write lyrics and music for the band, takes action... also, this is where guitarist Chriss Caffery shows up, an excellent player, a die-hard metal fan who would firstly help the band while on tour and later substitute (Criss could never be fully replaced..) the lead guitar position... "Gutter Ballet", for most of the 'Tage' fans, their best album, managed to establish a brand new genre, if you ask me, where classical, mostly piano themes, are in perfect balance with power metal.. "Gutter Ballet" and "When The Crowds Are Gone" are fine choices but instead of the "Silk And Steel" instrumental from Criss, there could be any other song from this album... "Streets" was an attempt of Jon to reproduce a new "Tommy" concept, which, IMHO, has some great moments and some weak ones.. unfortunately, "New York City..." and "Agony And Ecstacy", that we find here are the weak ones and the beautiful ballad, "Believe" is not the most suitable song for a collection...

3.Broadway Metal Era (1993-1995): or (1993 - to date, if you wish...) apart from "Edge Of Thorns", sadly, the last Savatage release before Criss' loss, and "Handful Of Rain", all 'Tage albums are fine concept albums, all capable of being reproduced on stage.. Paul O Neil/Jon Oliva have taken full charge of everything and the results were excellent.. given that this compilation was released in 1996, only "Edge Of Thorns" and "Dead Winter Dead" tracks are present.. well, here we go again with the same titled songs.. luckily, Edge Of Thorns is great song with fine guitar work...by the way,that was their only album where Jon had temporarily left the band and was an outside helper...he came back right after Criss' loss but only as second singer (since Zac Stevens took the microphone) and composer..."Chance" is indeed the best song from a mediocre album like "Handful Of Rain" and the first song where we find sth that would be considered as a trademark in the future: polyphonic parts, sth that Jon took from, who else?, Queen... finally, from "Dead Winter Dead" there are two tracks, "Mozart And Madness" instrumental, where we find uncut Mozart themes and "One Child", a magnificent piece of art, which encloses all Savatage elements: power metal, classical themes and polyphonic parts...excellent!!!

in conclusion, it's impossible to encapsulate what Savatage's music is about, in 15 tracks, and the people who put this compilation together didn't even try to do so.. i would strongly recommend to start exploring the band album by album...

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Posted Monday, October 02, 2006 | Review Permalink

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