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SAVATAGE

Progressive Metal • United States


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Savatage biography
Founded in Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA in 1978 (as Avatar) - Disbanded in 2002 - One-Off reunion in 2015

Great band from New York formed by brothers Jon/Chris Oliva that started in 1981 under the name of AVATAR, and late in 1983 change the name to SAVATAGE, date when they released his first work "Sirens". At the beginning of their career the musical style was oriented to classic 80īs Heavy Metal, but in 1989 they change a bit his music introducing more keyboards and giving a symphonic/metal sound to his works. "Sirens", "Dungeons Are Calling" and "Hall Of The Mountain King" are the most notable albums of the early period. In 1989, with the change of sound they released "Gutter Ballet" an album with very god reviews that was follow with a long tour, after this, the release two albums more, "Streets" in 1991 and "Edge of Thorns" in 1993, this year was also a tragic date, because this year a drunk driver killed Chris Oliva, one of the founded members, but after this the band returns with a new album "Handful Of Rain", maybe a bit harder than the previous, but with the same symphonic/metal sound follow with the release of a live album in Japan and a Chris Oliva tribute album with songs recorded live from they early period.

1995 was the real change of sound and the beginning of a great concept albums, with the release of "Dead Winter Dead", a concept album about Sarajevo War, with the collaboration of a orchestra on the album, this album was follow with two compilations and in 1997 "The Wake Of Magellan" saw the light, a great concept album about "Fernando De Magallanes" and one of the best or the best symphonic/orchestra/metal albums ever made, this album was also the last album with the Zak Stevens (lead singer since "Edge Of Thorns"), but the band returns in 2001 with another concept album called "Poets And Madmen" with a similar sound to the 1989īs "Gutter Ballet", and the return to vocals of Jon Oliva, original member and lead singer from "Sirens" to "Streets".

Besides SAVATAGE, most of his members play on a side-project called TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA, a orchestra-metal band with three albums, first two oriented to Christmas sound and the last one is a concept album about Beethoven music (this one especially recomended). Also exist another side-project by Jon Oliva and guitarrist Chris Cafery called DOCTOR BUTCHER with a more heavy metal sound, with a self-titled album. A great band with a long career, most of his albums are not r...
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SAVATAGE discography


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SAVATAGE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.08 | 94 ratings
Sirens
1983
3.23 | 88 ratings
Power of the Night
1985
2.30 | 78 ratings
Fight for the Rock
1986
3.85 | 182 ratings
Hall of the Mountain King
1987
4.02 | 215 ratings
Gutter Ballet
1989
4.08 | 263 ratings
Streets - A Rock Opera
1991
4.03 | 203 ratings
Edge of Thorns
1993
3.82 | 130 ratings
Handful of Rain
1994
3.82 | 175 ratings
Dead Winter Dead
1995
3.80 | 175 ratings
The Wake of Magellan
1998
3.90 | 130 ratings
Poets & Madmen
2001

SAVATAGE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.61 | 24 ratings
Japan Live '94
1995
4.27 | 36 ratings
Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell
1995

SAVATAGE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

3.89 | 16 ratings
Japan Live '94
1995

SAVATAGE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.85 | 11 ratings
From the Gutter to the Stage
1996
2.08 | 4 ratings
The Best and the Rest (Japanese Greatest Hits)
1997
2.00 | 3 ratings
Believe
1998
3.91 | 11 ratings
Still the Orchestra Plays - Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2
2010
2.69 | 4 ratings
Return to Wacken
2015

SAVATAGE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.21 | 42 ratings
The Dungeons Are Calling
1985
2.38 | 7 ratings
One Child (single)
1996
3.19 | 12 ratings
Commissar
2001

SAVATAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Dungeons Are Calling by SAVATAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 1985
3.21 | 42 ratings

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The Dungeons Are Calling
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This was recorded at the same sessions that yielded Savatage's debut album, Sirens, which in practice means it's much of a piece with it (especially given the fairly tight schedule they were on). It's pretty engaging, but as with Sirens we don't really get that much of what would make Savatage truly stand out coming through here; they're still rooted in NWOBHM- ish trad metal, and the power metal and progressive elements that would eventually be hallmarks of their sound are mere whispers on the wind at this stage. Not bad, but anyone with a decent range of early 1980s metal in their collection has already heard plenty of stuff like this.
 Sirens by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1983
3.08 | 94 ratings

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Sirens
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars It's probably fair to say that Savatage hadn't quite developed the sound they are known for - power metal with progressive sensibilities - at the time they recorded their debut album. This and the Dungeons Are Calling EP were recorded in the same sessions, the band having been given an opportunity to get a few precious days of studio time in and deciding to get as much material on tape as they could without half-assing things to an unacceptable extent.

What you get here is fairly straightforward trad metal, with some notes of the fantastical and perhaps a pinch of NWOBHM influence to add spice. It's... fine. Really, it's not bad. The problem is that it rarely if ever rises above that standard; if you've heard much traditional heavy metal, you've heard a lot of stuff that sounds like this, and can probably name a dozen albums which give you more pleasure than this one at that - some of those may even be by Savatage.

In short, this is comprehensively OK-to-good, but there's little sign of what Savatage would become given time.

 Edge of Thorns by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.03 | 203 ratings

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Edge of Thorns
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Lesanderd

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 melodies along with beautiful piano playing from John Oliva who chose to step back from the vocaling front in, so new era beginning with this album. Stevens was a wonderful choice as the nature of his voice was totally different from John's, which gave a fresh feel to the band. Tons of amazing solos, superior lyrics, and outstanding production, and just one look at the beautiful artwork tells a lot. One of my favorite progressive metal albums ever!
 Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell by SAVATAGE album cover Live, 1995
4.27 | 36 ratings

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Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Idaho

4 stars Live album of early Savatage, featuring songs up through their Gutter Ballet album. It's pretty much a live greatest hits of their '80s music. Both Jon Oliva and Chris Oliva are performing their hearts out--vocals and guitar work are both intensely emotional. I never had the opportunity to see Savatage live. The closest I ever got was TSO's Beethoven's Last Night tour in March 2010. Or perhaps listening to this album is the closest I'll ever get.

My version of this album has two bonus tracks, most notably an acoustic version of "Stare Into The Sun," sung by Jon Oliva. The original was released on "Handful of Rain" in 1994 and was sung by Zak Stevens. This live album was released as a tribute to guitarist Criss Oliva, who died in 1993. Of course Jon Oliva had his brother in mind when he wrote and performed "Handful of Rain" and no doubt he also had him in mind when he recorded this version of "Stare Into The Sun."

I can't say I love all the songs here. As far as studio albums go, I don't care for most their '80s albums (the lone exception being their 1989 album "Gutter Ballet"). But there are several songs here that I do love. Their live versions of "Strange Wings," "Gutter Ballet," "When The Crowds Are Gone," "Sirens," and "Hall of the Mountain King" are all fantastic. There's so much energy here, so much emotion, so much excellent musicianship. A rare live album, in that it's an essential album for fans of the band. 4 stars.

 Streets - A Rock Opera by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.08 | 263 ratings

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Streets - A Rock Opera
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

4 stars 26th January, 2022: Savatage - Streets (heavy metal, 1991)

One of those albums where my enjoyment of it comes with quite a few buts. I mean, it's a glam metal rock opera from 1991, if that doesn't start you off on bad note already. But there are just so many good melodies and riffs in this thing, both heavy and ballad, that you can look past the mediocre vocals, corny production, over-the-top solos and overall rubbish aesthetic. Oliva's voice has never been to my taste, but at least here he can find some bits of passion and intensity in the way he works melodic ideas, and honestly some of the hooks here get stuck in my head all the time. It also doesn't really have any filler - although some segments (read: the solos) meander a bit, every song has at least one or two great riffs or great musical moments. As far as glam metal operas go, this one is probably one of the best.

7.2 (6th listen)

Part of my listening diary from my facebook music blog - www.facebook.com/TheExoskeletalJunction

 The Wake of Magellan by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.80 | 175 ratings

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The Wake of Magellan
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Wake Of Magellan" is the 10th full-length studio album by US power/heavy/progressive metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in September 1997 (not released until April 1998 in the US). It's the successor to "Dead Winter Dead" from 1995 and features the exact same lineup who recorded the predecessor. Just as the case was with "Dead Winter Dead (1995)", "The Wake Of Magellan" is a concept release with all tracks making up a story. It's essentially the story of an old Spanish sailor who sails his ship into the Atlantic ocean to die, but ends up saving a stowaway who has been thrown overboard from another ship, and his realization that all life is precious and that he should cherish his life instead of trying to commit suicide. It's slightly deeper than that though as the main story is based on two real life events: The murder of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin (murdered while fighting the drug trade in her homeland) and the Maersk Dubai incident where a captain threw three Romanian stowaways overboard in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

"The Wake Of Magellan" is composed and structured much like you would imagine a heavy rock/metal Broadway musical would sound like. The two opening tracks "The Ocean" and "Welcome" are an almost arch typical Broadway musical show style opening, with the latter even featuring the lyric line: "Welcome to the Show". Ever since "Gutter Ballet (1989)" and especially "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)", Savatage have incorporated more and more theatrical/musical style moments to their albums (on some albums more than on others) and it was almost inevitable that they would one day end up releasing an album like "The Wake Of Magellan".

It's of course no surprise that Savatage are able to pull off doing something like this with what sounds like a natural ease. They have always been incredibly skilled and clever composers and equally brilliant musicians. The album concept works pretty well and "The Wake Of Magellan" is a dynamic and varied listen. From quiet piano/vocal moments to bombastic keyboard laden heavy rock/metal, Savatage can do it all. Zachary Stevens has a powerful voice and he is able to sing both mellow and melodic and more raw and hard rocking with the same amount of conviction. Original lead vocalist/keyboard player Jon Oliva has a few lead vocal songs on the album, which he also did on the last couple of releases, and we're instantly reminded of how great a singer he was/is. Not to take too much away from Stevens, who is very talented and gifted singer with a great powerful voice, but Oliva is just a world class vocalist with a unique voice and singing style, and his performances on the early Savatage are not easily matched.

"The Wake Of Magellan" features a well sounding and detailed production, which suits the material well, and upon conclusion it's another high quality release by Savatage. While the album certainly has its heavy riffs and hard rocking rhythm sections, it's not Savatage most heavy release, and it's probably very much up to the ears that hear if the listener will be able to enjoy the theatrical/Broadway musical style direction the band have taken on the album. Personally I would have prefered a lot more raw and heavy moments to the mellow piano driven story telling sections/tracks, but that's a subjective view, and objectively seen "The Wake Of Magellan" is a high quality release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is more than deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

 Dead Winter Dead by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.82 | 175 ratings

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Dead Winter Dead
Savatage Progressive Metal

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)

 Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell by SAVATAGE album cover Live, 1995
4.27 | 36 ratings

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Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'Ghost in the Ruins' is the second official live album by American metal band Savatage. Released in 1995, it serves as a tribute to the late Criss Oliva who died in a car accident in 1993, however, it's release comes just months after the band had released 'Japan Live '94', and two live albums, both with similar set lists in such a short span tends to lessen the impact.

To be brutally honest though, while I absolutely love Savatage, and they are one of my all-time favourite bands, I've always felt that their material doesn't translate well into live albums. Sure, there's no doubt the energy of hearing these songs live is off the hook, but hearing it 'live', in album form at least, seems to lack what makes the studio versions so powerful to begin with.

I mean, the band play exceptionally, and there's a palpable chemistry between them all, and the set list is spot on, especially considering when this was recorded, but as I've touched upon, I just really can't get into this. With the likes of 'Gutter Ballet', 'When the Crowds Are Gone', 'Sirens', 'Hall of the Mountain King' and 'Of Rage and War', this album isn't a complete loss, but at the end of the day, I'd much rather listen to any of the studio albums and hear the music in all its fist-pumping studio glory.

 Edge of Thorns by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.03 | 203 ratings

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Edge of Thorns
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

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, it's the final album to feature guitar hero and founder Criss Oliva, who was tragically killed by a drunk driver six months after the release of this album.

It couldn't have come at a worse time for the band either. Already fighting an uphill battle against changing musical trends, the band were managing to continually improve with each release, and while following 1989's 'Gutter Ballet' and '1991's 'Streets: A Rock Opera' itself would seem a daunting task, the band rise to the challenge with this, one of their most polished and well-rounded releases to date.

With its great production and overflowing with fantastic musicianship, 'Edge of Thorns' sees the band step away slightly from the more classical leanings of their previous few releases, and focus more on a metal-tinted hard rock edge. Which is fine, as it's still a solid album full of memorable tracks. The likes of 'Edge of Thorns', 'He Carves His Stones', 'Follow Me', 'Damien', 'Lights Out' and bonus track 'Forever After' makes this one of Savatage's strongest releases.

While the band would go on to new creative heights, this was probably their commercial peak. With metal in the mainstream being completely dead by this point, any momentum the band had garnered up until now would slowly squander over the next few years, and while the 90's would see the band release some of their best and most ambitious works, at this point they would firmly enter the realm of being a cult band. 'Edge of Thorns', really is the end of one era and the start of another.

 Believe by SAVATAGE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
2.00 | 3 ratings

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Believe
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars 'Believe' is a 1998 compilation album by American metal band Savatage. It was only released in Japan, and focuses primarily on the bands 90's output, most notably with cuts from the studio albums 'Handful of Rain' and 'Dead Winter Dead', as well as the two live albums 'Japan Live '94' and 'Ghost in the Ruins: A Tribute to Criss Oliva'. With that in mind, while it serves its purpose well as some kind of 90's commemoration, it's a bit of pointless and uninspired release.

And what's up with that lame cover art?

Still, for what it's worth, Savatage are one of my all time favourite bands, and the material on offer here is still bloody brilliant! From hard rockers like 'Taunting Cobras' and 'Handful of Rain' to symphonic epics such as 'Chance', 'This is the Time' and 'Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)', while there are other songs from the studio albums that are missing, these are still great tracks. Plus, you get the song 'Believe' from the 'Streets' album, which is always a fan favourite.

And as for the live tracks... well, I've always been a sucker for studio albums, but still, you've got the likes of 'Edge of Thorns', 'Gutter Ballet', 'Hall of the Mountain King' and 'The Dungeons Are Calling', so there's some good stuff there too.

But as a whole, looking at this album in retrospect, it's pointless. There are other Savatage compilations that do a fantastic job of covering the bands entire career. Whereas this one is best left for the absolute, most die-hard and committed collectors, like me, and even then, I'm never going to listen to it.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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