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Marc Baum
4 stars [Note: I will be reviewing the "Silver Edition" re-release which includes three bonus tracks]

This is a pretty great power metal mini album if you ask me. It's not nearly as important as "Sirens", or indeed any of their 80's output with the exception of oddity "Fight For the Rock". And it's pretty damn short, which is forgivable since it's an EP st00pid (he says to himself in a chiding tone).

It's not quite "All Killer, No Filler", but it's close. Opener "The Dungeons Are Calling" fades in with some charmingly cheesy effects before knocking the doors down with a chunky slice of riffage. Jon Oliva sounds positively demonic, and the band is as tight a unit as it ever got. Obviously one compares this to the other title tracks, often the best tracks on their respective albums, and unfortunately it can't top "Hall of the Mountain King", "Sirens", and horror of horrors, "Power of the Night" and "Gutter Ballet". But it does holds it's own.

Next up is one of my all time favourite Savatage songs, "By the Grace of the Witch". Blessed with some stellar axework, chugging bass, and walloping drums, you can tell it's a classic immediately. It's also a humourously confusing track for me. Although Jon is enunciating perfectly with no distortion, I always got the lyrics wrong, especially before I heard the title. I thought it was “Do you feel your passion/Embrace of the witch!” for the longest time. Curse the booklet for having no lyrics! Anyway, Jon Oliva is at his absolute finest here. Excellent high notes, some nice gruff growls, and also some good backing vocals by the rest of the group. Scarily catchy.

“Visions” is one of the most metal songs ever, with your standard ‘burn in hell’ imagery and crazed vocals. Also some brilliant solo’s. You don’t want this one to end. Interesting keyboard opening and big hot slab of m/metalm/ in “Midas Knight”. Song is a bit confusing (does the knight serve King Midas, is the Midas thing a metaphor? Maybe I should go read the lyrics eh?). One of my fav amongst many Criss Oliva solo runs. Next up, we get another keyboard lead in before another mid-tempo bruiser in “City Beneath the Surface”. This album is like a state of mind, and as such the track doesn’t stand out that much. Another powerful riff, another great performance. Great, great, great. What you expect from the Savs.

And then…uh, well, this is just junk. “The Whip” is just a cheesy S&M-themed number you might expect from Bitch or something. After the grimly serious castle rock of the rest of the stuff, this just feels limp. Because it is.

I believe there’s another track on the original release, but it’s absent here, so I’ll just hop over to the bonus tracks. These ones sound like they’re from earlier demo’s. The production is crap, but the songs are good. “Metalhead” is an interesting take on the usual anthem, lyrically and mostly because of the bands handling of it. Most bands would make this kind of thing a joyous or at least exuberant deal, but the Savs play it straight and make it a nice roiling anthem against conformity. “Before I Hang” retreads the ground of “Hallowed Be Thy Name”, and it’s very nearly as dramatic. An impassioned slow burner. Excellent stuff. “Stranger in the Dark” closes the album strong, being just as hard, just as powerful, and perhaps a bit more sensitive than the other stuff.

This re-release is a rare case of the bonus tracks equaling the original cut.

Oh, and as an extra we get a hilarious little bonus rap. Some funky bass work, but lets focus on the hilarious delivery. It’s about a bloke who always borrows without returning and does all the other dudes drugs (bastard!). Weird sound effects too. I just don’t get why they had to stick 90 tracks of silence in here. You won’t fool anyone, and most are smart enough to just hit ‘back’ on track one and skip the hassle.

The Dungeons Are Calling is for the most part on a level with Sirens and a must-have for Sava-maniacs and any power metal fan on this planet! It's not prog yet, but early Savatage is still one of my metal-faves, so I give for this classic a high recommendation to any one who is insterested in something special in early power metal. If you know more recent Savatage material like Dead Winter Dead or The Wake of Magellan, don't hesitate to take a trip back to the beginning days of this awesome band. Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling are both excellent start points.

rating: 8.5/10 points = 86 % on MPV scale = 4/5 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

Report this review (#27435)
Posted Saturday, May 1, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars This is one of the albums that defined the us power metal genre, at least the part that is entirely different to europe's power metal wave. Savatage's history is really long and with a lot o worthy albums on their carriers, several changes and a great tragedy, but I have always considered this one as their best album. Sharp guitars, amazing agreesive but melodic vocals, great guitar work and solos, and generally all the things that gave birth to a lot of bands that followed them. I'm not the greatest Savatage fan though, so I'll have to rate this one as a three star, but do not hold back because of this fact. If you are interested in a great power metal album, you should definitely check it out.
Report this review (#27437)
Posted Wednesday, January 19, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars i was very suprised to see savatage listed here , but what the hell who cares, savatage rank as one of the best metal bands ever.This recording , is a cross between power metal and black metal.When you play this album all you want to do ,is turn it up louder and louder,and piss the neighbours and wimps off who cannot handle this stuff.Midas knight is a headbanger classic,as is By the Grace of the Witch ,Jon Oliva has a voice made for metal,this is not prog metal ,who cares its great.
Report this review (#27438)
Posted Monday, April 25, 2005 | Review Permalink
The Crow
3 stars This EP was recorded at the same time than the debut of the band, Sirens, but it's considerated like the second album of the band. The truth is that as a disc does not work anything badly, although we will not find nor sign of progressive rock here, but the purest NWOBHM.

Here we can found great heavy songs like By The Grace of The Witch, The Dungeons are Calling or City Beneath the Surface (this last one was played live when I saw them four years ago here in Spain!). In this record you can feel the energy of a young band, but the sound isn't t the best... But at least both Sirens and The Dungeons Are Calling are better than both later albums.

Good album for heavy fans!

Report this review (#40643)
Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Savatage in the recording sessions of their debut album "Sirens" recorded 15 songs, 9 of which appeared on that album, the other 6 tracks appeared the next year (late 1984) on this EP entitled "The Dungeons are calling".

As you can expect the style and approach is exactly the same on this EP as on the previous album, although it seems they managed to put the best tracks of those sessions here. As was the case on "Sirens", most of these songs became live favourites for a good while, most notably "City beneath the Surface" which was the show-opener for years.

My conclusion is similar to that of my review of "Sirens". This is damn good ol' heavy metal, but not prog at all. 2 stars for a prog record, 4 stars for a metal record.

Report this review (#44894)
Posted Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "The Dungeons Are Calling" is an EP release by US, Florida based power/heavy metal act Savatage. The EP was released through Par Records in March 1984. It bridges the gap between the band´s debut- and second full-length studio albums "Sirens (1983)" and "Power of the Night (1985)". The 6 tracks on the 32:02 minutes long EP were recorded during the sessions for "Sirens (1983)" but ultimately left off that album because of the limited space on vinyls. The material is from the same time period though (1979-1983) and several had appeared in the band´s live set since 1979. So the additional text on the album sleeve which reads: "Features lost Savatage tracks", isn´t completely true, but you don´t really want to write the word "leftover/outtake" material on an album sleeve.

There´s not much "leftover/outtake" quality about the material on "The Dungeons Are Calling" though, as the tracks are of an equal quality to the material featured on "Sirens (1983)". Stylistically it´s traditional heavy metal played and sung by very competent musicians. Even this early on Savatage displayed great playing skills and sophisticated songwriting ideas. The rhythm section is tight, Criss Oliva has a rare tone and feel to his guitar playing, which provides the music with an extra bite and conviction, and Jon Oliva has a powerful rusty voice and a commanding delivery (and also adds some occasional piano and keyboards to the mix).

The sound production is raw and pretty well sounding for the time, and upon conclusion "The Dungeons Are Calling" is a good quality release by Savatage and for fans of "Sirens (1983)" it´s a mandatory listen. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

Report this review (#176462)
Posted Thursday, July 10, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars After the release of their 1983 debut, Savatage were quick to follow up with this EP, 'The Dungeons Are Calling', that consists of songs that were originally recorded for 'Sirens', but left off due to time restraints.

Overall the selection of tracks is good, but these are pretty much leftovers from the bands previous release, and that's exactly what they sound like. 'City Beneath the Surface' and the title track are standout songs that prevents this EP from being a complete waste, but the rest of the songs are pretty average, especially when compared with Savatage's later material.

As with their first record, the production could be better, but it's raw, grittiness suits the music perfectly, giving it a distinctive 80's metal sound.

'Dungeons' has since been released with 'Sirens' on one CD, "how it was meant to be", according to Savatage mastermind Jon Oliva, which is probably just as well, because as a stand-alone release, I don't think there's much worth picking up here unless you're a dedicated member of the Savatage Legion.

Report this review (#1744552)
Posted Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | Review Permalink

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