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Savatage Dead Winter Dead album cover
3.82 | 175 ratings | 17 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Overture (1:49)
2. Sarajevo (2:26)
3. This Is the Time (5:39)
4. I Am (4:32)
5. Starlight (5:38)
6. Doesn't Matter Anyway (3:47)
7. This Isn't What We Meant (4:12)
8. Mozart and Madness (5:01)
9. Memory (Dead Winter Dead intro) (1:18)
10. Dead Winter Dead (4:16)
11. One Child (5:13)
12. Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (3:12)
13. Not What You See (5:03)

Total Time 52:06

Bonus tracks on 2002 reissue:
14. All That I Bleed (acoustic piano version) (4:34)
15. Sleep (acoustic version) (3:46)

Line-up / Musicians

- Zachary Stevens / lead vocals
- Al Pitrelli / lead guitar, backing vocals
- Chris Caffery / rhythm guitar, backing vocals
- Jon Oliva / keyboards, lead (4,6) backing vocals
- Johnny Lee Middleton / bass, backing vocals
- Jeff Plate / drums

- Robert Kinkel / keyboards
- Mary Wooten / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Edgar Jerins

CD Atlantic ‎- 82850-2 (1995, US)
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 076-74522 CD (2002, Germany) With 2 bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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SAVATAGE Dead Winter Dead ratings distribution

(175 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(40%)
Good, but non-essential (25%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SAVATAGE Dead Winter Dead reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is my first album of Savatage. When I purchased this CD at the CD store I asked a young man who claimed that he once liked the music of Savatage and he recommended me this album out of four available in that store. His recommendation was based on my info that I like Royal Hunt, Kamelot, Angra, Dream Theater and could enjoy power metal bands like Helloween, Blind Guardian. So I purchased the CD. At time of I'm writing this review, I have spun the CD many times, more than four times in its entirety. What I can say about this album is : very heavy in concept, very light in delivery. What do I mean with this?

Concept wise it's probably a grandiose effort by the band: it's about the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo where there is a town square surrounded by buildings that were constructed during the middle ages. The square has a beautiful stone fountain at its center and at one there is a thousand year old church with a gargoyle carved into its belfry. Now this gargoyle, for the last thousand years, has spent all his time trying to comprehend the human emotions of laughter and sorrow [CD sleeve]. Reading this ancient story of course I expect the music will be packed with complex composition. What I get is a very light orchestra "Overture" (Instrumental) (1:49) that does not sound really colossal to my ears followed with "Sarajevo" (2:26) which has also light composition with melodic intro featuring lead vocalist. The music, overall, does not seem so strong in supporting the concept itself - it's like a rock music with light orchestra at background.

Don't get me wrong, the band produces good rock music but it's far being categorized as prog, I think. What I consider the album fail to deliver is basically in supporting the concept through messages that the band has tried to convey to the listeners. The structure also has little variation in style. Heavy in concept, light in delivery. Of course I enjoy the electric guitar solo. But the composition seems like being forced like the way it sounds and it does not seem to flow naturally or smoothly, I would say. The tempo is also too slow. The music starts to go faster in tempo when it reaches track 4 "I Am" (4:32). This is the worst track this album offers. Why? It has too long repeated riffs and the vocal that sounds like an angry person has no variations in melody. Yes, there is a nice orchestra inserted plus good guitar solo, but the vocal really destroys the composition. The title track "Dead Winter Dead" (4:16) is also not something really compelling - it's typical straight forward music.

Well, this is my first album of Savatage and if the other albums are the like, then I should not continue buying another album of the band. Even though there is nothing new here, but I still consider this album is good. Keep on rockin' .!!!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by The Crow
5 stars This is just one of the most heart-touching albums Iīve heard in my life...

...And one of the Savatageīs highlights! This album is their second Opera Rock, four years before the masterpiece "Streets"...And this is like a kind of Savatageīs reborn, because this is the first album with the guitar master Al Pitrelli, with the drummer Jeff Plate and "Dead Winter Dead" represents also the comeback of Chris Caffery, who worked with Savatage in "Gutter Ballet" and in some concerts at the end of the 80īs...

Every Savatageīs album itīs different of all the others of the band, but in this one they developed a very new sound. This is a very much orchestral work, least 80īs heavy metal oriented. In my opinion, "Dead Winter Dead" itīs the first really symphonic Savatageīs album. Here is the song Christmas Eve, a song that would become a great hit in the United States under the name of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, the parallel Savatageīs group. Trans- Siberian Orchestraīs sound was born with "Dead Winter Dead"...

This album has a story...And itīs a very beautiful one. But I donīt want to explain here, because I think itīs better to know this story while listening the incredible music that Savatage made here. Listening this album you can feel the war. You can sense the sound of bombs, the fear of dying, the evil thoughts of politicians, the roar of the battle, the pity of the Sarajevoīs people while their city and country itīs being destroyed... But you can feel also the hope and love of these people.

I donīt want to write more...But if you want to discover one of the best album in rock history (in my humble opinion), just listen "Dead Winter Dead", a true masterpiece.

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars After the trails of "Handful of Rain", Savatage progresses even farther along the operatic/classical path by creating a brilliant concept album that have be best described as a grand musical spectacle. Just as on "Streets", the music doesn't simply pamper to the ears. It creates a flurry of musical bliss that fits every mood perfectly, advancing a tale of hate, sorrow, but ultimately love in the midst of the horror of the Bosnian War.

Musically, this is still vintage Savatage, but there is a noticeably lighter approach than anything they have previously done. With the side project of the Trans Siberian Orchestra, it's no surprise that Paul O'Neill and Jon Oliva have transferred some of that classical touch to this album, injecting excerpts of Mozart and Beethoven. Even the Christmas anthem, Carol of the Bells makes an appearance in the song, "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" , that would also appear on TSO's debut album.

Despite the overall softer tinge, there are definite moments of heaviness intermingling throughout the album and hearing the manner which the heavy and soft parts interact in the disc is truly a pleasure. "Mozart and Madness" demonstrates that to perfection in a segment that is one of the many highlights of the album. The serenity of the orchestra and the harshness of the band duel and trade back and forth, creating a stark contrast of music that aurally characterizes the two sides of the war.

Other high points of the album include "This is the Time", which has not one but three absolutely spine shivering solos, "This Isn’t What We Meant" with it's beautiful piano passages and a stunning passionate vocal performance from Stevens that only further emphasizes the bleak lyrical content at that part of the story, and "One Child", which runs through various musical moods and includes the first of two incredible layered and round table-esque vocals. Of course, I could not mention the best songs without mentioning the best of them all, the finale, "Not What You See". This song is as emotional as you get, providing closure to the tenuous but heartwarming relationship that develops between characters of the story. The backing piano is unbelievably poignant and beautiful, and Stevens vocals, layered again in a round table effect, are incredibly uplifting. With two of the most moving solos interjecting as well, this song is simply heart wrenching and one of the best Savatage has ever done.

Also noteworthy about this album is the return of Jon Oliva in some cameo and backing vocal spots, including delightfully sinister parts in both "I Am" and "Doesn’t Matter Anyway", that perfectly exemplifies the type of anger and aggression that was looming in the area at the time.

This is just a magnificent album, and marks as one of the band’s most mature efforts yet. They took what they started with "Handful of Rain" and simply took it to the next level. Everything is extraordinary from the lyrics and story to the musicianship to the vocal performances to the production. Savatage have once again proven themselves to be trendsetters, crafting an exceptional piece of music that should not only appeal to metal fans, but people of all musical tastes. My highest recommendation.

album rating: 9/10 points = 90 % 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
4 stars Another super album by this great band. This is a conceptual album about Sarajevo the capital of Bosnia, an ex Yugolslavian country. The musical aproach is much lighter, is more symphonic than on previous albums with a lots of superb keys passages made by the main man of the band Jon Oliva. Dead winter dead is an emotional and soulful metal album, that pleses me every second.Specialy the instrumental pieces are the best here, truly amazing prestation from the band. What to add, just listen and convinced yourself that Savatage is among the best in prog metal music. So, with all that i don't consider to be their best, i remain to Streets and Edge of thorns to be their masterpieces, but this one is close. 4 stars

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Dead Winter Dead was the first and so far only post-Criss Oliva album that I have purchased. After hearing Edge Of Thorns I felt like pushing forward in my exploration of Savatage and since this album received the most praise both here on Prog Archives and many other websites it felt like the obvious choice for me.

The main question here was whether Jon Oliva could once again recreate the magic of Streets by pushing things even further? It was safe to say that Dead Winter Dead had the symphonic elements that I missed so much on Edge Of Thorns but the songwriting on this album just isn't on par with any of the previous Savatage releases that I've heard so far.

This is once again a concept album but the story isn't as apparent as it was on Streets and I needed to actually read the lyrics in order to even understand the basic elements of the concept. Still, if there is anything that Jon Oliva knows how to do it's writing those gorgeous ballads. His ability to convey the right feelings to the listener is flawless and he does so on a few occasions like This Is The Time (1990) and the concluding track Not What You See. These compositions do make me want to love Dead Winter Dead more but I just can't get past some of the lesser parts like Starlight and the title-track. Come to think of it, the whole middle section of the album feels sloppy which is the first time I experience this on a Savatage release.

I guess that Dead Winter Dead will remain a mixed bag of a concept album where some sections are almost as great as anything on Streets while the others just completely miss the mark. This is why I award it the good but non-essential rating.

***** star songs: This Is The Time (5:40) Not What You See (5:04)

**** star songs: Overture (Instrumental) (1:50) Sarajevo (2:31) Doesn't Matter Anyway (3:47) This Isn't What We Meant (4:12) Mozart And Madness (Instrumental) (5:01) One Child (5:14) Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24) (Instrumental) (3:24)

*** star songs: I Am (4:32) Starlight (5:38) Memory (Instrumental) (1:19) Dead Winter Dead (4:18)

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars 3.5 stars. SAVATAGE return with a Rock Opera of sorts with this story set in 1990's Sarajevo during the Balkan War. Some changes on this one as we get a new drummer and guitarist and Chris Caffery is back as well. I do think this is a better album than the previous one "Handful Of Rain" because of the new energy. I like the album cover here as well.

"Overture" opens with some bombast thern the tempo picks up late. Good start. "Sarajevo" opens with atmosphere then the piano and reserved vocals come in.Synths follow and it becomes more powerful. "This Is The Time (1990)" opens with a guitar solo then the vocals arrive. It settles before 1 1/2 minutes then builds as contrasts continue. I like the guitar solo 4 minutes in as well. "I Am" is cool just because Jon Oliva takes the vocal lead for a change. A nice heavy sound here until it calms down after 1 1/2 minutes. "Starlight" is a great tune. It's heavy with vocals coming in after a minute. An atmospheric calm after 3 minutes then the guitar lights it up.The guitar leads 4 1/2 minutes in as the tempo picks up.

"Doesn't Matter Anyway" is the other song that Jon sings on. It opens with riffs as fast paced vocals join in.This is a rocker. Some nice bass after 2 minutes. "This Isn't What We Mean't" opens with piano then fragile vocals join in as it gets fuller.This is like a Power-ballad really. "Mozart And Madness" picks up before a minute with soaring guitar. Just a fantastic instrumental. "Memory" is a short piece with guitar. "Dead Winter Dead" is heavy as vocals join in. A guitar solo after 2 1/2 minutes then the keys come in.The guitar proceeds to rip it up until the end. Nice. "One Child" opens with keys and reserved vocals. It picks up then settles as contrasts continue. Not a fan of the last half. "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo)" is a song this band used when they became TRANS SIBERRIAN ORCHESTRA. "Not What You See" is ballad-like even though it does get fuller. Not a fan.The last three tracks don't exactly give this record a strong finish.

Overall a pretty strong album, I would probably rate this as my fourth favourite from the band.

Review by TheGazzardian
3 stars For a long time, I have been a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, but wished that they would focus their efforts more on concepts like Beethoven's Last Night - you know, the concepts that aren't Christmas. I've known for some time that they were the next step for a metal band called Savatage, and I finally took the time to listen to a Savatage album with Dead Winter Dead. It seemed like a logical step, as this is the album that eventually lead to Trans- Siberian Orchestra, when the track "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)" became a minor hit and the band realised they could fuse metal and holiday music to succeed.

Well, other than that track name this album has nothing to do with Christmas. The plot follows the lives of two characters on the opposite side of a civil war that arose after the fall of the Berlin wall. One is a man and the other is a woman, so there is a bit of a hint that it's sort of a romance but it's not quite so romantic. In fact, the two are strangers until the very end of the album. Each end up involved in the civil war, believing their side to be right. After setting up the context, the two camps reach Sarajevo, where an old man, horrified at what has happened, sets it upon himself to be a reminder of peace by going to an old building every night and playing his cello, despite the danger to himself. This continues for some time, until one night (Christmas Eve) his music stops. Both the man (who had been considering deserting after seeing children slaughtered by his side) and the woman go in search of the old man, finding his corpse at the same time. Disgusted by the war, they run away together.

Simple story, really not the best I have heard but at least it's about something other than Christmas. The ending isn't very satisfying because the characters didn't really know each other and because we never really got to know either character particularly well throughout the album (especially the female character), but it is entertaining enough.

If you are a fan of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, let me sum up this bands sound in 4 words: less Christmas, more metal.

If you are not, then this can roughly be described as a heavy metal rock opera. The guitar is nice and melodic (the focus is not chugging), the synths create a symphonic texture, and the vocals are theatrical. Every song is entertaining, with highlights including Starlight, Dead Winter Dead, and the instrumental tracks (Mozart and Madness, Christmas Eve). There aren't really any dud tracks, which is good. The vocals aren't quite as varied as Trans-Siberian Orchestra, with only two vocalists existing on this album, both of whom are male, but they work well enough to tell the story and separate characters.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars With a high sense of dramatic flair, instrumental proficiency, and song variety, Savatage's Dead Winter Dead is a great prog-metal experience from the '90's. It shows it's age with some ham-fisted keyboard sounds, abundance of hard rock guitar soloing, and gruff machismo vocals, but the overall experience is solid and pulled off very well, especially given its ambition.

Dead Winter Dead is a tale of the human experience during civil unrest and war; the plot is basically Oscar-bait, but the music will appeal strongly to prog metal fans who love the raw sound of the genre's infancy. Oliva and company create a thick, heavy, melodic, and dynamic sound. Part blues, part refined metal, and part faux-symphony, this album has a little bit of everything, and while I can't say that it does any one thing exceptionally well, the total package comes together for a unique and rewarding experience.

The highlights have got to be the song writing and and instrumental work. The writing is unapologetically conceptual, so don't expect many big hooks or choruses to get stuck in your head. This is an album driven by narrative, but not weighted down by it. This creates the impressions of a story without the explicitness heard on many other concept albums - a big plus for me. The songs are short, punchy, and highly varied. The playing gets the job done, especially the guitar work, which is voluminous, heavy, and filled with solo moments.

The music is dated, but it doesn't matter because when it works, it works big time. The opening and suite ("Overture" through "Starlight"), as well as the third-act suite ("Memory" through "One Child") strike me as the strongest moments. The keyboard heavy treatments of classical works, and especially the Christmas song are gimmicky, and stick-out obnoxiously in an otherwise solid song lineup. An unfortunate crossover with Oliva's Transiberian Railroad project that hams up an otherwise prog experience! The overall tone is somewhat dark, brooding, threatening, but also optimistic. There's a sensitive streak of hope that shimmers beneath the metal riffing and melodies of Dead Winter Dead that is compelling.

This album is a strong 3.5, and highly recommended for rock fans who enjoy some sensitivity in their metal, and especially for prog metal fans who want to hear an early success story that shows us that a flurry of guitar shredding alone doesn't necessarily make a great album - it takes a touch of class, too.

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

Review by Warthur
4 stars With Criss Oliva suitably memorialised on the previous album and Jon Oliva having grown into the lead songwriter role and able to once again become an official full member of the band, Savatage's Dead Winter Dead finds them offering a sober, more mature take on the rock opera style they'd tried out on Streets. Taking as inspiration the bitter civil war raging at the time in Bosnia, the album tells a Romeo and Juliet-esque story of love crossing community boundaries. It isn't fun and games and frolics by any stretch of the imagination, but instead offers exactly the sort of serious consideration the subject matter at hand calls for.
Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Dead Winter Dead" is the 9th full-length studio album by US power/heavy/progressive metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in October 1995. Itīs the successor to "Handful Of Rain" from 1994 and features a couple of lineup changes since the predecessor as guitarist Alex Skolnick has jumped ship, and has been replaced by a returning Chris Caffery (who performed with Savatage in the late 80s and also collaborated with Jon Oliva on the Doctor Butcher project) and former Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. Drummer Steve Wacholz had in reality already left Savatage before the recording of "Handful Of Rain (1994)" although he is credited for playing on the album. On the tour supporting "Handful Of Rain (1994)", Jeff Plate was hired as the bandīs drummer, and he makes his first studio album appearance on "Dead Winter Dead".

"Dead Winter Dead" is a concept release (their second concept release after "Streets" from 1991), taking place in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war in the period 1990 to 1994. The main characters of the story are a young Serbian man and a young muslim Bosnian girl, who during the story realise the terrors of war and that fighting each other wonīt help them have the future they both dream of. The story also features other twists like the old man playing Mozart and Beethoven compositions on his cello in the town square while mortar shells rain down from the sky around him (ultimately killing him). A symbol of beauty destroyed by the ugliness of war.

Stylistically "Dead Winter Dead" is a dynamic and varied release. Everything from mellow ballad type passages, to power ballads, orchestral arrangements and musical style melodies and build-ups, choirs and counterpoint vocal parts, to the occasional harder edged US power/heavy metal track, are featured on the album. All arranged on the tracklist to accompany the storyline. The band are as always professional and well playing, and the two new guitarists do a great job throughout the album. Zachary Stevens sings most lead vocal parts, but Jon Oliva makes a return singing lead vocals on "I Am" and "Doesnīt Matter Anyway" as well as singing backing vocals on "Starlight". While Stevens is a powerful and skilled vocalist, itīs hard not to notice how much stronger the vocal part of the music becomes when Oliva sings. Stevens is a class act, but Oliva is in the world elite of metal singers, and thatīs just hard to compete with.

"Dead Winter Dead" is a well produced album and features a mix where all details are clearly audible. So upon conclusion "Dead Winter Dead" is another high quality release by Savatage. Itīs one of their most progressive releases in terms of diversity and compositional sophistication, but itīs also one of their least "metal" releases in terms of sheer heavy metal power, and the listener should brace themselves for a more musical style listening experience. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Latest members reviews

5 stars Dead Winter Dead Dead Winter Dead is possibly the best effort from the later years of Savatage. And is definitely one of their career highlights. It is bombastic and powerful, operatic and emotional. It is...just damn great music. And the concept is quite original. The solos go from passionate ... (read more)

Report this review (#199415) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, January 17, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars i remember in high school when 'we, the few' tried to support our beliefs about our favourite music (that would be rock & metal) and how it's not just noise and attitude against our trendy colleagues, Savatage was one of our strongest arguments.. "Dead Winter Dead" stands proudly next to "O ... (read more)

Report this review (#85721) | Posted by toolis | Friday, August 4, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Easily one of the most powerful pieces of music to date. When last were you able to take a buch of metalheads and get a masterpiece from them? Biggest pity is that with the tracks being a little too long to be radio friendly these guys will never get the credit they deserve! I would recomen ... (read more)

Report this review (#85458) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 2, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is one incredible album! Savatage at it's prime (next to the Wake of Magellan). It may not be very progressive, but I would never give a good album a bad rating just because it's not very progressive. This is a concept album about the war in bosnia. Though the concept is not very strong, ... (read more)

Report this review (#83590) | Posted by MajesterX | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

1 stars I paid 3.50 for this album on Amazon. I thought I was getting a great deal on it at first...but....I would like my money back now. This 'concept' album is horrible- I read the lyrics 1st before listening to it- and was unmoved- then the 'music' started. UUuggghhh Yes, yes, the guitar player ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#83581) | Posted by Drew | Wednesday, July 12, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been A huge Rock/metal fan for roughly 4-5 years now and I am fascinated with all the sub genres that exist in the genre that I never knew existed before. One thing that was lacking in my collection was magnificently emotional and soulful metal music that tells truly life changing stori ... (read more)

Report this review (#27491) | Posted by | Thursday, June 2, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars One of my favourite concept albums is this one. I think it's a great record, definitely worth a listen to anybody who has some connection with rock music. I would describe it as progressive/heavy metal/hard rock ('cause power metal means Helloween & Co. to me). Anyway I like it for it's atmosp ... (read more)

Report this review (#27489) | Posted by | Saturday, December 11, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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