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Savatage - Hall of the Mountain King CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.85 | 182 ratings

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4 stars 3.75, an exceptional album indeed, and when progressive metal was just an infant.

Here we have a great example of progressive eighties metal, a contradiction if ever there was one. This does go quite beyond the metal of the time, even the lyrics suggest from the first track that Savatage had a sense of artistic integrity, as he shouts we're tired of hearin' the same old song! Indeed, the music of the time, especially in the heavy metal department, could be considered such, and after their flop of an album Fight for Rock, the band was determined to show what they were made of, and showed it quite well in this album. For today's standards, especially after how far progressive metal has come, this album isn't one the greatest of progressive albums ever out there, but it was relatively uncharted territory at the time for certain. When you compare it to some of the the hair bands that could possibly be grouped with it, hell, this is complex music!

Probably the best elements of this album are the truly amazing riffs and solos, some of the best I've heard from metal, and the vocalist's raw energy (though it can get a little over the top at times), meaning our main driving members of the band, the Oliva brothers. I honesty never found much of the drumming particularly interesting, but neither is it painfully brain-dead like many metal bands (even today's). The vocal lines themselves never impressed me much either, but they get the job done well, but the energy makes up for it and then some. I would complain more about repetition (among other things) if I wasn't aware of the time period in which this album was forged. But, overall, there is definitely quality musicianship here, especially when you take it for what it is. The use of keyboards is becoming more prominent in the band's music as well, which is almost always a good thing. They especially help convey the haunting atmosphere most of the album has, along with the brilliant sound effects.

Song wise, all stand just fine by themselves. Quality is good and steady for the first four tracks, very much something you'd expect coming from the band's early days. Then we have the apex of the album for certain, the amazing Prelude to Madness, a metal version of the classical Hall of the Mountain King song (which is interesting considering the same group would go on to establish TSO) leading into our album title track, possibly one of the best tracks to come out of the eighties. This song would be loads of fun to play live, I can imagine! Criss really shows off his soloing abilities, and overall the song has a great, almost delightfully evil atmosphere, the lighting, the screaming, the madness, the evil laughter! The following songs continue the trend from the first four, though perhaps a little more compositionally interesting, White Witch being the most mediocre song on the album. We even have a one minute long clean guitar interlude. Now how many metal bands of the time had anything like that?

Overall, a great album, especially if you're interested in progressive metal's more infantile stage of development during the late eighties. Some of Savages' best work, and followers of the band will miss Criss' genius playing. Fans of Queensryche or early Fate's Warning would probably find MUCH delight in this album, and I would mainly recommend it for people into the the progressive metal scene, and you're looking for a great example of quality progressive eighties metal, this is the album to buy.

Draith | 4/5 |


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