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SAVATAGE

Progressive Metal • United States


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Savatage biography
See also:

- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- John Oliva's Pain

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-proje...
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Hall of the Mountain KingHall of the Mountain King
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$5.08
$6.12 (used)
Poets & MadmenPoets & Madmen
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$5.31
$5.34 (used)
Dead Winter DeadDead Winter Dead
Atlantic 1995
Audio CD$5.31
$3.02 (used)
Streets: A Rock OperaStreets: A Rock Opera
Atlantic 1991
Audio CD$4.84
$2.88 (used)
Still The Orchestra PlaysStill The Orchestra Plays
Import
earMUSIC 2010
Audio CD$5.00
$5.36 (used)
Gutter BalletGutter Ballet
Import
Ais 2011
Audio CD$5.08
$7.61 (used)
Collector's EditionCollector's Edition
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$12.65
$14.58 (used)
Streets: A Rock Opera (Narrated Version / Video Collection)Streets: A Rock Opera (Narrated Version / Video Collection)
CD+DVD
ABSOLUTE UK 2013
Audio CD$6.20
$29.99 (used)
Dungeons Are CallingDungeons Are Calling
Import
101 DISTRIBUTION 2010
Audio CD$4.92
$4.74 (used)
From the Gutter to the Stage: The Best of Savatage 1981-1995From the Gutter to the Stage: The Best of Savatage 1981-1995
Import
Import [Generic] 2000
Audio CD$54.90
$9.98 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
savatage fighting for the rock 1986 original atlantic nwobhm style USD $16.50 Buy It Now
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SAVATAGE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

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

3.04 | 58 ratings
Sirens
1983
3.21 | 56 ratings
Power Of The Night
1985
2.24 | 50 ratings
Fight For The Rock
1986
3.90 | 128 ratings
Hall Of The Mountain King
1987
4.01 | 152 ratings
Gutter Ballet
1989
4.16 | 195 ratings
Streets - A Rock Opera
1991
4.03 | 139 ratings
Edge of Thorns
1993
3.83 | 88 ratings
Handful of Rain
1994
3.85 | 126 ratings
Dead Winter Dead
1995
3.82 | 124 ratings
The Wake of Magellan
1998
3.83 | 93 ratings
Poets & Madmen
2001

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

3.93 | 17 ratings
Japan Live '94
1995
4.64 | 25 ratings
Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell
1995

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

3.86 | 9 ratings
Japan Live '94
1995

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

2.59 | 8 ratings
From the Gutter to the Stage
1996
1.92 | 3 ratings
The Best and the Rest (Japanese Greatest Hits)
1997
2.00 | 2 ratings
Believe (compilation)
1998
3.50 | 6 ratings
Still The Orchestra Plays - Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2
2010

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

3.33 | 26 ratings
The Dungeons Are Calling
1985
2.33 | 6 ratings
One Child (single)
1996
3.14 | 7 ratings
Commissar
2001

SAVATAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Gutter Ballet by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.01 | 152 ratings

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Gutter Ballet
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Deploying some orchestral and keyboard hits to their grandiose style of US power metal might make you think that Savatage were running a risk of descending into flat-out pretentious pomposity, but on Gutter Ballet they walk the tightrope magnificently. Not quite going into prog metal territory but certainly letting off warning shots at its borders, not so much going full symphonic metal with the orchestral elements but instead using the strings to add a certain much to their more traditional power metal style, Savatage juggle numerous musical ingredients with skill and produce an album which is simultaneously punchy and nuanced, accessible and intricate.
 Handful of Rain by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1994
3.83 | 88 ratings

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Handful of Rain
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Handful Of Rain" is the 8th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in August 1994. Thereīs been one lineup change since the release of "Edge Of Thorns (1993)" as guitarist/composer Criss Oliva died in a tragic car accident (involving a drunk driver behind the wheel of the other car) in October 1993. Older brother and lead vocalist Jon Oliva had already jumped ship before the recording sessions for "Edge Of Thorns (1993)" (he was replaced by Zachary Stevens), so "Handful Of Rain" is the first Savatage release not to feature at least one of the Oliva brothers in the lineup (although Jon remained the primary composer along with producer Paul OīNeill, and also performs session piano on the album). Criss Oliva is replaced here by former Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick.

So how does Savatage sound with none of the two Oliva brothers in the lineup? Well it sounds unmistakably like Savatage. While Skolnick could never replace Criss Oliva (no one could have...), he is a very capable guitarist and his contributions to the album suits the compositions perfectly. As far as the material goes, there hasnīt been much change since "Edge Of Thorns (1993)". The tracks maybe lean a bit more toward musical territory and they are maybe slightly less heavy tracks than on the predessecor, but itīs details, and overall "Handful Of Rain" is through and through the sound of Savatage.

As the case has been on the last couple of albums, the material on "Handful Of Rain" is relatively diverse, and there are both really heavy tracks like "Taunting Cobras" and "Nothing's Going On" and more epic (though still heavy tracks) like the title track and "Castles Burning", featured on the album. There are also more progressive oriented tracks on the album like "Chance", which is definitely one of the most progressive tracks in the bandīs discography, heavily influenced by musicals and featuring a multi harmony counterpoint vocal section (not completely unlike what you hear on some Queen songs). The closing "Alone You Breathe" deserves a mention too. Itīs a slow building power ballad type track, which in itīs long coda uses lyric lines from "When The Crowds Are Gone" (off "Gutter Ballet (1989)") and "Believe" (off "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)"). As Frank Zappa would have put it: "Conceptual Continuity".

Overall the quality of the material is high throughout, and all tracks are instantly catchy and memorable. I would have prefered a few more rockers instead of the many epic tracks, but on the other hand itīs hard not to be impressed by how skillfully executed and well written the material is, and then it matters less that the really hard rocking and faster paced tracks are relatively few. "Handful Of Rain" features a powerful and well sounding production too, and upon conclusion itīs yet another high quality release by the band. A 4 star (80%) rating is deserved.

 Edge of Thorns by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.03 | 139 ratings

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Edge of Thorns
Savatage Progressive Metal

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.

 Dead Winter Dead by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1995
3.85 | 126 ratings

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Dead Winter Dead
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Prog Leviathan
Prog Reviewer

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

 Streets - A Rock Opera by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.16 | 195 ratings

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Streets - A Rock Opera
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars "Streets: A Rock Opera" is the 6th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in October 1991. There's been one lineup change since the release of "Gutter Ballet (1989)" as second guitarist Chris Caffery has left, making Savatage a four-piece again. "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a concept album telling the story of troubled rock star DT Jesus. The story is based on a play (titled "Gutter Ballet") that producer Paul O'Neill had written in 1979 and which he had originally intended for a Broadway musical. It remained in a drawer in his house until Criss Oliva found it, and the band picked it up and turned it into "Streets: A Rock Opera".

"Streets: A Rock Opera" sees Savatage developing their style once again. "Gutter Ballet (1989)" saw them incorporating elements from musicals, orchestration, and just a generally more sophisticated and detailed songwriting approach than before. That musical direction is continued and further developed on "Streets: A Rock Opera". The basis in the music is still heavy/power metal with the rare nod towards progressive metal. The progressive tendencies are more due to the overall concept of the release, than due to the compositions themselves, which are predominantly vers/chorus structured. Savatage challenge conventional songwriting here more than ever though and at times the tracks are relatively adventurous, although you won't be exposed to long instrumental parts or other progressive metal traits. Keyboards/piano play a more dominant role on this album than on any Savatage release before it, but they rarely function as a lead instrument. They are rather used for atmosphere, orchestration, and harmonization.

Musically "Streets: A Rock Opera" was the most diverse Savatage release up until then. It's a highly dynamic release featuring both heavy/power metal tunes like "Jesus Saves" and "Agony And Ecstasy", heavy mid-paced epic tracks like "Streets" and "Ghost In The Ruins", up-tempo energetic rockers like "Sammy And Tex" (that swing rhythm is infectiously catchy) and "Strange Reality", epic power ballads like "Tonight He Grins Again" and "If I Go Away", and shorter ballad type tracks like "You're Alive" and "Heal My Soul". All musical styles and songs are placed strategically on the tracklist to make most impact along with the concept story.

"Streets: A Rock Opera" is a well produced album, featuring a powerful, detailed, and clear sound production, which suits the music perfectly. The musicianship is as always on a high level. The rhythm section of drummer Steve Wacholz and bassist Johnny Lee Middleton are a hard pounding machine, who drives the music forward with great energy and passion, while guitarist Criss Oliva plays one great catchy riff after another and also delivers blistering solo work. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva sings with both his commanding rusty voice and in a more sensitive fashion, but always with a great melodic sensibility. His performance here is both varied and very well executed.

So upon conclusion it's safe to say that "Streets: A Rock Opera" is a very impressive high quality release. The concept isn't the most original as artists like The Who and Pink Floyd (just to mention a few) have done similar things in the past, but it still works reasonably well, as Savatage skillfully combine music and lyrics into a great whole. Even with 16 tracks and a full playing time of 68:33 minutes, the album never feels long and there's nothing on the album which feels unnecessary or doesn't live up to the high quality of the rest of the material. This is through and through a well thought out, well executed, and well produced album. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is fully deserved.

 Hall Of The Mountain King by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.90 | 128 ratings

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Hall Of The Mountain King
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Adding progressive metal accents to their power metal style, Hall of the Mountain King finds Savatage in a mood which is equal parts experimental and playful. Knocking off a metallised Grieg cover in the form of Prelude to Madness come across more like a bit of fun than a track to be taken more seriously, and I think it slightly suffers from its placement on the CD - remember, on the original album it was the opening track to side 2, so it's slightly less disruptive there as a quick goof-off than as the momentum-sapper in the middle of the running order it is on the CD. Still, aside from that one track the group are in good form and in general the album is highly enjoyable if you're after progressive power metal that doesn't take itself too seriously.
 Streets - A Rock Opera by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.16 | 195 ratings

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Streets - A Rock Opera
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars With vocalist Jon Oliva's Alice Cooper-inspired delivery honed to perfection and the band in good form, Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera is an enjoyable listen which may get a little cheesy here and there (especially on concluding track Believe) but is entertaining enough to let me just about accept the cheese. From the opening skit, which manages to pitch itself perfectly between theatrical flair and realistic grit, the band manage an impressive tightrope act which ensures that no aspect of their sound from the progressive to the cheesy to the balls-out heavy goes wanting for attention, making this a well-rounded album which should have wide appeal to a broad range of listeners.
 Fight For The Rock by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1986
2.24 | 50 ratings

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Fight For The Rock
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by Monsterbass74

2 stars The short: The 'Tage make a foray into pop as per instructions from Atlantic or else...

I love the 'Tage, but this album is the "so-so" pop effort made by the band at the request of the record company, complete with PMRC type warning stickers... yet there were no curse words in any of the songs to be found. It has 3 strong songs and one good one revamped from the earlier days while the rest is not the best if you would wish to dig and rock out to typical 80's hard rock.

Jon's voice and piano/key playing (though my cassette notes say someone else, *Russian type name forgotten-lost cassette*, played synths, which I doubt) and Chris' guitar work are always top notch. The production is pure 80's metal with lots of "verb". Too much on the snare. It starts to sound like Kweensryche (sic).

The songs that are worth it:

The synth intro of "The Edge Of Midnight" is an obvious yet more complex homage to "Mr. Crowley." It's a good rocker with some more synths thrown in the right spots. It's my fav song here. It's worth the album alone.

"Hyde", which to some is the highlight of this album, is a prog-ish metal horror flick in a song. Kind of like what Alice Cooper would have presented... but Savatage does it much better.

"Lady In Disguise" is an upbeat (reworked song in 'Tage's old song Rolodex) ballad that has some piano and synth work. It's got a killer middle 8 and a nice bit out of the solo.

"Red Light Paradise" is another solid rocker sans the prog. Might be about a bordello.

It's not THAT bad. It's not terrible at all. It's not the Savatage we're used to.

All I know is that Atlantic wanted 'Tage to record the songs Jon Oliva wrote for other artists. These proposed songs weren't bonafide 'Tage songs save for "Midnight", "Hyde" and "Red Light". I'm sure Tina Turner or John Waite could rock some of these. I wasn't heart broken when I listened to it as a kid. I liked some of these alot. The others: a Badfinger and a Free cover, and a re-recorded work ("Out On The Streets") didn't work for me. "She's Only Rock And Roll" is kinda like a rockin'-funky vibe like. "Crying For Love" and the title song isn't very good, though.

This album? It's for the fans to gripe about. It is not like "Power Of The Night" ... not like the Savatage we know and love. They come back, however, with the killer "Hall Of The Mountain King" which is highly recommended.

(RIP Chris Oliva)

 Poets & Madmen by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.83 | 93 ratings

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Poets & Madmen
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by b_olariu
Prog Reviewer

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.

 Hall Of The Mountain King by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.90 | 128 ratings

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Hall Of The Mountain King
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by 1967/ 1976

4 stars I can not understand why listening to Savatage I can think of a band that is not simply a Heavy Metal band. Contrary to what I hear I can not accurately categorize the music they propose. Classify it simply as Classic Metal would be the minimum. Yet... Yet it has a bit more. A much-does not lead me to call it Power Metal or Epic Metal. But even Prog Metal. In a certain sense the music of Savatage is ascribed to Proto Prog Metal (like Queensryche, Atomic Rooster, Uriah Heep, Magnum, Deep Purple or Led Zeppelin, for example).

In this respect the music that we propose Savatage in "Hall Of The Mountain King" is a sort of mix between Hard Rock, Power Metal and bombastic arrangements. The melody is predominant in a context where the guitars so much pumping, pulsating rhythm section and Jon Oliva seems a lot of new Robert Plant / Ian Gillan! The vision that "Hall Of The Mountain King" offers us is typical of much of the 80's Metal: Power, melody, excellent technique. Yet there is not an explosive album. Fatigue, in fact, to open minds: start hard with a metal evergreen as "24 Hrs. Ago" and continues on the same coordinates. Thus it becomes difficult to describe the album song by song.

These are my reflections ended by finding that "Hall Of The Mountan King" is an evergreen of Metal. And as such must be judged.

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