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Savatage Edge of Thorns album cover
4.04 | 195 ratings | 18 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1993

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Edge of Thorns (5:55)
2. He Carves His Stone (4:10)
3. Lights Out (3:10)
4. Skraggy's Tomb (4:23)
5. Labyrinths (1:30)
6. Follow Me (5:11)
7. Exit Music (3:09)
8. Degrees of Sanity (4:36)
9. Conversation Piece (4:10)
10. All That I Bleed (4:40)
11. Damien (3:54)
12. Miles Away (5:06)
13. Sleep (3:52)

Total Time 53:46

Bonus tracks on the Japanese release:
14. Forever After (4:20)
15. Shotgun Innocence (3:31)

Bonus track on 1997 reissue:
14. Believe (acoustic version) (3:52)

Bonus tracks on 2002 reissue:
14. Forever After (4:18)
15. Conversation Piece (live) (4:19)

Bonus tracks on 2014 LP edition:
14. All That I Bleed (acoustic version) (4:34)
15. If I Go Away (acoustic version) (3:49)

Line-up / Musicians

- Zachary Stevens / vocals
- Criss Oliva / guitars, backing vocals, co-producer
- Johnny Lee Middleton / bass, backing vocals
- Steve Wacholz / e-drums

- Jon Oliva / piano, keyboards, co-producer

Releases information

Artwork: Gary Smith

CD Atlantic ‎- 7 82488-2 (1993, US)
CD Concrete ‎- 0089492CTR (1997, Europe) With a bonus track
CD SPV GmbH ‎- SPV 076-74052 CD (2002, Europe) With 2 bonus tracks

2LP Ear Music ‎- 0209936EMU (2014, Europe)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy SAVATAGE Edge of Thorns Music

SAVATAGE Edge of Thorns ratings distribution

(195 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(44%)
Good, but non-essential (20%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SAVATAGE Edge of Thorns reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by The Crow
4 stars This Savatage's record was the Criss Oliva's last one, before he was killed by a drunk driver in a road... And the first with Zachary Stevens on vocals, who is one of the most original and personal singers I've heard in my whole life.

Maybe It's one of the most hard-rocking works of Savatage. In that time, Jon Oliva wasn't an official member of the band, although he played piano, keyboards and some drums here (and he took part of the composition too...). For that, we can hear a lot of the Criss Oliva's touch in the composition, and "Edge of Thorns" it's a work less symphonic and bombastic than the two previous "Gutter Ballet" and the great masterpiece "Streets". But it's still a masterpiece in my opinion and it still have great progressive and symphonic moments, but in a more guitar-oriented way.

Every Savatage's album is different from all the others, and this is any exception. When you hear this album, it's obviously Savatage, but with a very different feeling than the previous "Streets" and the upcoming "Handful of Rain". That's one of the things that make Savatage a very special band...

Best songs: it's difficult to say what are the best songs of this album, because it has no weak tracks. But if I had to choose, the best for me are: Edge of Thorns, Follow Me and All That I Bleed. But I also love Damien, He Carves His Stone, Sleep, Miles Away...

Conclusion: maybe if you are an obsessed progressive fanatic, you will not be able to apreciate this album and the Savatage's work, but I recommend it to everyone who loves really good music (being progressive or not) I will not give "Edge of Thorn" the perfect rating, because it's a little step under the Savatage's metal operas in quality, and it's also a bit less progressive and symphonic, being more hard rock and classic heavy metal oriented... Nevertheless, you'll hardly find a metal album with such a great sound, such great compositions, and with such a great guitar player... The very missed Criss Oliva, in his last (and marvellous) recording! Incredible music.

My rating: ****1/2

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars "Edge Of Thorns" is a huge turning point for Savatage in so many ways. What was initially meant to be a record of new beginnings later became the record of one big ending. The ending in the form of the last record of one of the best guitarists of our time, Mr. Criss Oliva, who passed away soon after Savatage finished the tour for this album. This record is Criss' swan song and a great epitaph to one of the greatest musicians who ever walked the earth.

Well, I mentioned before, that this record has a handful of new beginnings. The most significant one is that Mountain King handed his vocal duties to Zachary Stevens. I was a little bit sceptic about the thing at the start, since Jon is such a great singer, but hell, Zakk grew on me in no time. His voice isn't as powerful as Jon's and he sounds a bit softer than him, but he really puts all of his emotions in his singing and he has a great voice color.

And like as they would knew that ''Edge'' would be Criss' last record, Savatage decided to make a guitar based record, different from orchestra/piano based Gutter Ballet and especially Streets. You couldn't say that Edge Of Thorns is a ''back to the roots'' record, though. It's somewhere between their early works and their later works with Stevens.

Nevertheless, this record has a fair share of everything: slow piano intros and ballads, powerful choruses, great solos and riffs and even some occassional thrashy moments (just check the break in He Carves His Stone). The production is great, but then again, I've never heard a Savatage album with bad production. Criss' playing has again evolved a lot on this album. His riff ideas are still catchy as hell, and his solos and leads are better than ever on here. There is actually quite a lot of reverb used on here, but it suits awkwardly awesome into the music. The intros are usually Jon's piano parts, but he also plays along with Criss' chords most of the time, which gives the music some sort of depth and melody. Doc and Johnny make a good rhythm section, especially Wacholz puts on a great drum performance, with lots of fills and great beats.

The overall feel of the record is great. It is an expirience, not just a record! There are some beaufitul and touching moment and there are some total power monsters.

Highligts? Huh, all of them, except maybe the solid, but in songwriting terms by Sava- standards average "Skraggy's Tomb". But the most memorable stuff is: the powerful choruses of the title piece and "Follow Me", touching balladry of "All That I Bleed" (they usually play this one live for Criss) and "Sleep", also the uncomparable "Conversation Piece" with it's mind-blowing chorus or the pure punch of "Damien"!

This is definitely an extraordinary record from the (in my book honestly) greatest Metal band of all time and a great purchase in every way. But In respect of an proghead's ears I say listen to the album first, because it may be not proggy enough for you. I can't give this record any less than 5 stars though, since I rate/review an album in terms of quality, not how proggy an album is. It's all about the music, don't forget. And it really can't go much better than this excellent stuff here. Cheers!

R.I.P. Criss Oliva...your work will live on 'til all eternity, specially for those who are loyal to this uncomparable band.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 96 % 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

Review by b_olariu
5 stars Criss Oliva's last musical document

Everybody knows what happend with Criss Oliva in 1993, a drunk driver killed him, and another fabulous musician leaves his soul to the heaven. R.I.P. So this is second best after the masterpiece Streets, in fact this is also a masterpiece of prog metal, absolute flawless album. From the cover to the last tune Sleep (what a beutiful track) this album kick ass. A more straight-up heavy metal approach, but maintains a progressive edge, in a enough cantity to be a prog metal album not just a heavy metal album. The result is a damn good one from the fastest tunes Damien, Skraggy's Tomb to the mid tempo pieces Degrees Of Sanity and Conversation piece and the slow ones Sleep, Exit Music, Savatage delivers the best of his carere. Jon Oliva did a very great job making some keys passages that is hard to forget just listen to Exit music, not to mention his brother, one of the best guitar hero from metal, the rest of the musicians are also high skilled, the voice of Zachary Stevens, match perfect with this kind of music, great voice, and the piece where it showed the true talent of this yound man (then) is All that i bleed, super. In the end a masterpiece of prog metal history 5 stars, and if you don't have this record buy it now worth every second of it. Recommended, and one of my favourite albums ever.

Review by CCVP
2 stars You guys ARE kidding me, right? RIGHT?

So, here we are at the Edge of Thorns, the so called magnum opus of Savatage and Chris Oliva's last album. It was recorded before he was hit and killed by a drunken driver, another great loss to metal, much like the death Cliff Burton was also a great loss. However, this album is not as good as its grade may make you think and it is not the best work of Savatage with Chris Oliva (that being Streets) as it is not also the best work of Savatage ever (that being The Wake of Magellan or Dead Winter Dead). In fact, this is a pretty weak album and i am really surprised it could get so many good grades and reviews.

However, i must admit that Edge of Thorns is a big turning point for Savatage: Zak Stevens tackles the singing department, a significant improvement since Jon Oliva's vocals don't fit well with Savatage's new approach, this is Chris Oliva's last album ever and it is also the last album where Savatage had only progressive influences, since from Handful of Rain they where clearly on the progressive metal track (although i consider Streets to be their first truly progressive metal album).

Grade and Final Thoughts

Though being praised as a good album, most of Edge of Thorns go from mediocre to average, with only very few good moments and that is why i give this album a two star grade (well, actually 1,5 stars but anyway. . .). i'm just glad that they got back on tracks in Handful of Rain.

The highlights go to Edge of Thorns, Labyrinths, Follow Me, Exit Music (best song in the album in my opinion), All That I Bleed and Sleep.

The saddest moments are: He Carves His Stone, Skraggy's Tomb (worst song in the album, in my opinion) and Conversation Piece (cup of tea, yeah yeah??, seriously man, wtf is that???).

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is good, there's little question about it. But is it progressive?

I'll say from the get-go: NO. This is not really progressive music, by any means. This is very well- crafted, intelligent heavy metal with pianos and very good melodies, plus excellent musicianship of all parts involved. But other than that, neither the usual elements of the narrow definition of progressive- metal nor the more form-related ones that informed most progressive-rock are here to be found.

This is heavy metal crafted after QUEENSRYCHE. If you've ever heard that band's superb "Operation: Mindcrime", then you'll have a decent idea of what this record sounds like. Good riffs, thunderous, empty drums, pianos used not only as background but in some important part of songs, and loud, soaring vocals that overpower anything that dares to defy them.

The music has a certain majestic tone to it. It sounds full of grandeur, full of elegance. Probably, that's why many people called this and other albums "progressive metal". After all, the metal genre was not really a darling of the mainstream media, and any kind of metal that sounded elegant or highly- polished must have been "progressive" for some people.

But musically, the progressive-link is weak. Sure, melodies are great and there are some instrumental passages and new ideas, but they're so unimportant in comparison to the main musical body which is made of plain heavy metal, that this record barely fits the description (if we can find one).

Nevertheless, "Edge of Thorns" is a much more accomplished album than "Hail of the Mountain King" (the previous one I reviewed) and it should be an addition for any metal fan's collection. In the progressive scale, it gets a 2.5. As a metal album, it gets a 4.5. We'll average this as a 4, as the quality of the music overcomes its lack of progressiveness.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars Get ready for a gigantic portion of thick, stinking, faux-prog metal cheese of epic stature with this outstandingly campy, exciting, and wholly enjoyable album by SAVATAGE!

I have a soft-spot for iconic heavy-metal, and "Edge of Thorns" does everything it needs to to tug on my heartstrings. First, it's energetic, with genuinelly entertaining songwriting. The opening title track sets the majestic tone beautifully, giving way to the big, busy guitar work of Oliva and an ever surging momentum which carries through the entire album. As a whole, the band is very tight, not quite on par with currently popular prog-metal bands, but still quite good, and never burdened by the excessiveness of say... any of Dream Theatre's recent albums. Songs feature glimmers of symphonic nuance here and there (such as in piano interludes, and instrumentals) but largely feel stripped down, simplified, rockin', and very effective.

Oliva's guitar steps in and out of the spotlight tastefully, and his solo breaks are fantastic, with lightning dexterity and creative playing. They sometimes come with cool time signature changes as well, making them a real highlight of the album.

Of course, Zachary Steven's vocals are a big part of this album's success (or its abyssmal failure, depending on your viewpoint). He is every metal singer from the '80's condensed into a perfectly honed, screaming machine-- which makes "Edge of Thorns" feel very much like a relic of its days... but what fun! I was laughing out loud when I first listened because of the audaciousness of his vocals; they're so terribly excessive that they work, despite the triteness of the lyrical content. Just wait until the delightful "Scraggy's Tomb" comes up, and you'll probably agree with me.

Prog-metal snobs will probably not be impressed by the occasional concessions the band makes for accessibility and sing-along-ability... but the enthusiasm and talent demonstrated here more than makes up for its sometimes FM-oriented melodies. Realistically (or perhaps, "progressively") a 2 to 3 star release, but "Edge of Thorns" gets high marks from me because its simply so much fun to listen to! The awesome cover artwork is the icing on the cake.

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars After being literally blown away by the ambitious and highly enjoyable Streets I needed to hear more from Savatage! Edge Of Thorns felt like an obvious choice since it was the follow-up album and the last one with Criss Oliva who passed away due to a drunk driver accident later that year.

I noticed early on that the music on this album didn't feel like a linear follow-up to its predecessor. Gone were those lyrical themes, memorable rusty vocals and the piano driven ballads. This had a lot to do with Jon Oliva's semi-departure from the band. I guess the previous tour made him lose interest in Savatage and he started branching out to new possibilities. This didn't mean that he wasn't present during the recording sessions since many of his trademarked compositional hooks are still present and he does play piano/keyboards on some tracks. Still this time the music is definitely much more guitar driven and in a way there is a slight set-back to the style of Gutter Ballet.

Although this album wasn't as impressive and personal as their previous effort I still found it quite enjoyable. The opening title-track is a magnificent power-ballad which results in the most memorable composition that the album has to offer. I personally consider All That I Bleed slightly superior in the ballad department since it has a much stronger build-up, still both of them deserve the highest marks in my book. Many of the other compositions tend to be much more guitar-driven which does work most of the time, although the band goes slightly overboard with Skraggy's Tomb and Damien which sometimes make me cringe due to their over-the-top nature.

Overall Edge Of Thorns still manages to keep the Savatage spirit going strong and it would have been interesting to see how this sound would have evolved on later releases. Unfortunately this was not to be and once Jon Oliva came back he brought the conceptual lyrics and symphonic music elements back with him. At the end of the day Edge Of Thorns is an interesting follow-up album to the landmark that is Streets and therefore it's bound to be overshadowed by its predecessor. Somehow this release still manages to bring something new to the style which makes it quite memorable.

***** star songs: Edge Of Thorns (5:55) He Carves His Stone (4:10) All That I Bleed (4:40)

**** star songs: Lights Out (3:10) Labyrinths (Instrumental) (1:30) Follow Me (5:11) Exit Music (Instrumental) (3:09) Degrees Of Sanity (4:36) Conversation Piece (4:10) Miles Away (5:06) Sleep (3:52)

*** star songs: Skraggy's Tomb (4:23) Damien (3:54)

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. This album along with "Hall Of The Mountain King" are my two favourite SAVATAGE albums by a long shot. "Streets" would be a distant third. "Edge Of Thorns" is interesting because it was the first album with new vocalist Zachery Stevens as Jon Oliva decided to quit singing and focus on the keyboards and lyrics. Also this is the only album with Zach singing where I really like his vocals. Sadly this would be Jon's brother Criss Oliva's last album for the band as we would be tragically killed by a drunk driver.

"Edge Of Thorns" opens with piano then the heaviness takes over before a minute and the vocals join in.This is laid back but heavy at the same time. It picks up before 3 minutes. Hell yeah ! And check out the guitar. It settles back and ends with piano. "He Carves His Stone" opens with gentle guitar as reserved vocals join in. It kicks in before a minute with crunchy guitars. Check out the instrumental section starting just before 3 minutes. Incredible ! The vocals come in screaming. Not worthy. "Light's Out" opens with some killer guitar as the vocals join in and impress. Love the guitar throughout this rocker. "Skraggy's Tomb" opens with relaxed guitar and a dark atmosphere. It kicks in heavily before a minute. Vocals too. Great sound before 4 minutes. "Labyrinth" is a short piece that features piano and tasteful guitar. "Follow Me" is mellow with guitar and reserved vocals to start. It turns fuller and we get some emotion half way though.Then we get this powerful but laid back instrumental section before the vocals return and it picks back up. So good.

"Exit Music" is a beautiful track filled with piano melodies. "Degrees Of Sanity" is dominated by riffs quickly as the vocals join in. A killer instrumental section starts before 3 minutes then the vocals return. "Conversation Piece" has this heavy soundscape of drums and riffs as the reserved vocals join in but they don't stay that way for long. The guitar is ripping it up 3 minutes in. "All That I Bleed" opens with piano and fragile vocals.Some heaviness 2 1/2 minutes in. "Damien" is better as we get some energy and I love the guitar. "Miles Away" has to be my favourite track. Beautiful guitar to open as these uplifting vocals join in. Gorgeous. It kicks in before 1 1/2 minutes. We get a tasteful guitar solo 3 1/2 minutes in. "Sleep" is mainly strummed guitar and reserved vocals.

Love the cover art too (wink). Amazing album that is guitar driven and really the perfect record to remember Criss by. I may bump this to 5 stars one day as it's almost flawless.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Edge Of Thorns" is the 7th full-length studio album by by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in April 1993. A major lineup change has taken place since the release of "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)" as lead vocalist, composer, and founding member Jon Oliva left Savatage after the tour supporting "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)". His substance abuse and the strain of touring had taken itīs toll on him, and he decided it would be best for him to quit the band and try and solve his personal issues. Oliva is replaced here by Zachary Stevens. He stayed on as composer though, and like the case have been on the last couple of albums, all songwriting is credited to Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva, and producer Paul OīNeill. The remaining part of the lineup are Criss Oliva (guitars, backing vocals), Johnny Lee Middleton (bass, backing vocals), and Steve Wacholz (drums, percussion).

"Edge Of Thorns" succeeds what is often considered the bandīs peak period (1987-1991), and adding to that the change on the lead vocalist spot, the album wasnīt exactly created under the easiest conditions. While Zachary Stevens canīt fully live up to the incredible vocal qualities of Jon Oliva, he is still a greatly skilled singer in his own right, and a suitable replacement with a strong voice and commanding delivery, who most fans of the band quickly accepted.

Stylistically the music on the 13 track, 53:57 minutes long album is unmistakably the sound of Savatage. Hard rocking heavy riffs, blistering solos and lead themes, a pounding organic rhythm section (there are actually electric drums on this one, which take away a bit of the usually more organic sounding tone), and raw yet melodic vocals in front. Piano and keyboards are also part of the sound, but they are not as dominant as they were on the predecessor. In that respect "Edge Of Thorns" is a more guitar driven and immediate album than "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)", which required more spins to sink in and which had more sophisticated song arrangements. There are still quite a few sophisticated tracks featured on this album too though, so itīs not a through and through raw and unpolished heavy/power metal album like some of the bandīs early releases. But why would it be this long into the bandīs career? Taking into consideration their development of sound over the years, itīs only natural that the raw power is a bit more restrained and that the overall sound is relatively polished.

Savatage vary their sound from epic mid-paced tracks, to heavy US power metal, to hard rocking energetic rockers, and a couple of more quit/mellow tracks. Highlights include "He Carves His Stone" (which is among the bandīs most hard edged tracks), the title track, "Follow Me", "Damien", and the two energetic rockers "Lights Out" and "Miles Away". The latter reminds me a bit of a hard edged Van Halen track. The material is generally well written and catchy though. The whole thing is packed in a professional, clear, and powerful sounding production, which helps bring out the details in the music. Upon conclusion "Edge Of Thorns" is another fairly strong Savatage release, but compared to the preceding three studio albums, it canīt quite live up to the extremely high quality of those. Still a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is well deserved.

Review by Warthur
4 stars On a certain level, Edge of Thorns is doomed to be forever known as the final Savatage album to feature Criss Oliva before his tragic death, so it's just as well that it sees Criss Oliva take a good share of the spotlight - partly as a by- product of Jon Oliva stepping back from being an official member of the lineup. New lead vocalist Zachary Stevens takes up the baton adeptly - the track Conversation Piece, in particular, gives him a moment to really show what he can do on that front - whilst Criss' prominent lead guitar performance makes this album a fitting memorial to his talents.

Latest members reviews

5 stars I remember when "Edge of Thorns" came out, instantly became my favorite Savatage record. It's not just a beautiful album but it is a unique chance to listen to both Zak Stevens's wonderful voice and the late Criss Oliva on guitars. Never happened again due to Criss' death..There are very eerie melod ... (read more)

Report this review (#2953179) | Posted by Lesanderd | Thursday, September 21, 2023 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Highly revered by fans and often regarded as the bands finest work, 1993's 'Edge of Thorns' is a pivotal album in Savatage's discography. It's the first album to feature new vocalist Zak Stevens, with Jon Oliva stepping away from the mic to focus on keyboards and songwriting, and most notably, i ... (read more)

Report this review (#2242135) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, August 6, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Savatage goes progressive. In the past, Savatage have been well known for their exceptional brand of piano metal. Hall of the Mountain King was their full realization of classic metal, Gutter Ballet was their marriage of the piano, and Streets was their dip into the dramatic rock opera genre. Eac ... (read more)

Report this review (#194971) | Posted by Alitare | Thursday, December 25, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Band: Savatage Album: Edge of Thorns (1993) Genre: Power-Progressive Metal Line-up: Jon Oliva (Keyboards); Criss Oliva (Guitars); Steve Wacholz (Drums); Johnny Lee Middleton (Bass); Zak Stevens (Vocals) Grading Scale: 0 - F; 1-5 - D(+/-); 6-10 - C(+/-); 11-15 - B(+/-); 16-20 - A(+/-) ... (read more)

Report this review (#63814) | Posted by | Sunday, January 8, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have owned the Edge of thorns CD for years now along with the Handful of rain, streets, gutter ballet, and Wake of Magellan CDs. This one always stood out to me for the guitar and piano mix of music which gives it a sound of its own. I love this CD as with all other Savatage CDs. ... (read more)

Report this review (#60498) | Posted by | Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is actually a bridge which follows to a place where there's no turning back, and if you fall from that bridge you 're dead,if you cross it ,you are alive for once again..Think about it.How many bands did change their singer and kept going on?Savatage biggest risk in their career.The ... (read more)

Report this review (#44350) | Posted by | Friday, August 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Edge Of Thorns was the first album where production budgets finally caught up with the vision of the Oliva brothers, and for that reason it's probably their best record. They weren't to record anything as majestic as 'Gutter Ballet' on 'EOT', or indeed anything as visceral as 'The Dungeons Are ... (read more)

Report this review (#27469) | Posted by | Tuesday, April 26, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Edge of Thorns surely was a big turning point in Savatage career, and also a chance for the guitar-genius Criss Oliva to make all the fireworks he wanted. This is an album I define "hard rock - metal progressive", 'cause most of the songs are very hard-rock oriented, in a delightful prog ... (read more)

Report this review (#27468) | Posted by | Friday, August 20, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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