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Savatage - Sirens CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.06 | 87 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Excellent addition to any METAL music collection.

It's too bad Savatage's earlier albums are included on this site, as they don't stand a fair chance from most prog-metal or prog-rock reviewers. For a very long while, Savatage was purely and simply a heavy metal band. And when they were good, they were amazing. Albums like 'Hall Of The Mountain King' and 'Power Of The Night', as well as EP 'The Dungeons Are Calling', are all masterpieces of dark, energetic, expertly played metal.

I don't consider Savatage much of a prog-metal band, though. There are a couple hundred more adventurous prog-metal bands worthy of the classification, I'm just not sure Savatage is one of them. And I thought they started to lose it after 'Hall Of The Mountain King' anyway. I look to other bands for great progressive metal. But I can't sit here and see this album given low ratings, because 'Sirens', their very first album, is a high point in early '80s metal, with only a couple rough spots that make it less than perfect. This side of Metallica's 'Ride The Lightning' and Metal Church's self-titled debut, there isn't a metal album that offers such a strong first half as 'Sirens'. The pounding title-track opens things up, taking listeners on a journey of danger, the eerieness heightened by Criss Oliva's formidable guitar tones, brother Jon's manic tale-telling, and the heavy-handed rhythms of Steve Wacholz (drums) and Keith Collins (bass). The mid-section break is an example of the band's songwriting expertise, comparable to the more epic facets of Iron Maiden, Accept and Judas Priest. "Holocaust" grinds its warning with a fierce and deathly riff leading the way (make that "RIFF!!!"), and then into "I Believe" and its more textured, melancholy tones. "Rage" simply kills, a real bastard grinder, proto-speed metal at its rawest. From here, things maintain a high level of excitement, but some of the songs don't stand as strongly as those first several. "On The Run" is a mid-paced plodder, pedestrian but still maintaining darkness and heaviness. "Twisted Little Sister" is a little tacky. "Out On The Streets" is a good ballad, but it was improved upon later in their career. "Scream Murder" rears its head as a deep-album highlight, full of Criss Oliva acrobatics and subtleties. Paired with the eventful "Living For The Night", it helps beef up the album's second half.

The recording is a bit clunky, but the rawness is more a product of its time than any real flaw. 'Sirens' is a consistently good and often great album...I don't like that it's included on this site, but here it is, so I'll stand proud defending it for what it is. But for prog-metal, go for a much proggier band: Voivod, Opeth, Arcturus, In The Woods, Watchtower. Take your pick.

slipperman | 4/5 |


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