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Savatage Hall of the Mountain King album cover
3.85 | 182 ratings | 16 reviews | 31% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1987

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 24 Hours Ago (4:54)
2. Beyond the Doors of the Dark (5:08)
3. Legions (4:50)
4. Strange Wings (3:45)
5. Prelude to Madness (3:13)
6. Hall of the Mountain King (5:32)
7. The Price You Pay (3:51)
8. White Witch (3:21)
9. Last Dawn (1:07)
10. Devastation (3:48)

Total Time 39:29

Bonus track on 1997 reissue:
11. Stay (acoustic version) (2:48)

Bonus track on 2002 reissue:
11. Hall of the Montain King (live *) (6:00)
12. Devastation (live *) (3:36)

* Recorded at the Cleveland Agora (October 15, 1987)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jon Oliva / vocals
- Criss Oliva / guitars, backing vocals
- Johnny Lee Middleton / bass, backing vocals
- Steve Wacholz / drums & percussion

- Ray Gillen / backing vocals (4)
- Robert Kinkel / keyboards
- Paul O'Neill / arrangements & production

Releases information

Artwork: Gary Smith

LP Atlantic ‎- 7 81775-1 (1987, US)

CD Atlantic ‎- 81775-2 (1987, US)
CD Concrete ‎- 0089482CTR (1997, Europe) With a bonus track
CD Steamhammer ‎- SPV 076-74022 CD (2002, Germany) With 2 Live bonus tracks

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy SAVATAGE Hall of the Mountain King Music

SAVATAGE Hall of the Mountain King ratings distribution

(182 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(31%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(43%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (5%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

SAVATAGE Hall of the Mountain King reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marc Baum
5 stars Yes! After the disappointing "Fight For The Rock" album, Savatage returned back to their power metal-style and how they did: Jon Oliva sings, shouts and screams better than ever before and the old fans who were not happy with FFTR turned back and HOTMK was the breakthrough for the band in the United States.

"Hall Of The Mountain King" is a classic, which has even outdone their superb debut album Sirens. Being a follower of a album, which was a slight downfall, Savatage needed a really strong, powerful and recognizable record. And they made it. HOTMK is the last truly heavy/power metal album from Savatage. It’s successor, Gutter Ballet was much more symphonic and piano/ballad oriented and Savatage never returned to such raw heavy metal, which they played on the first records. So, HOTMK is featuring quite fast, developed and guitar oriented heavy/power metal with a great atmosphere. Yes, heavy metal with atmosphere, you’ve read it right. It gives the record that nice dark and maybe a bit doomy vibe. Exactly like in a hall of the mountain king.

So, yes, this is really guitar oriented. No piano, except some keys in the intros. And as you know, kids, Mr. Criss Oliva is a guitar god. And doesn’t fail to deliver yet again. Great catchy riffs, excellent leads and that Maiden runs between the verses. Awesome. He really has some awesome ideas and you discover something new (some fills, little melodies…) every time you listen to the CD. Jon Oliva is great. I can’t imagine, how one could not like him. He has that great voice, emotional, aggressive and interesting at the same time. He also makes some great high pitched screams. And his songwriting skills are amazing. Songs have great structures and are really catchy. Lyrics are also cool, but they don’t achieve the greatness of, let’s say, the ones on Gutter Ballet or one of the later records. Doc handles the drums. He produces some good rhythms, but this is heavy metal, don’t expect anything really special. Johnny Lee Middleton doesn’t play much of a role on this one, he just supports the drums most of the time.


24 Hours Ago - It is pure tention, the guitar create elastic & cutting riffs and solos allucinating, the voice reach the highest level of desperation screaming.

Beyond the Doors of the Dark - The darkest track of this album; a placid & cristallic intro broken by heavy & dramatic riff, obscure choirs of key and the screching and the fury of the voice of Jon Oliva.

Legions - Midpaced, dark crowlin' song with a double filtered voice.

Strange Wings - An heavy classic mid tempo semi ballad, with a strange weird and placid atmosphere, in which the vocals became majestic similar to hard rock and classic metal of the '80 (but never boring and effeminate).

Prelude to Madness - is a classical theme with keyboard & guitar of the classical opera from which derived the title of the album.

Hall of the Mountain King - Legendary epic, atmospheric & sabbathian, and the maximum level of the singer interpretation, that often storms with his dark laughters.

The Price you Pay - Sour, gloomy and melodic at the same time.

White Witch - Fastest song, my least favourite on the album but still catchy as hell (as usual in the first Savatage period).

The last Dawn - A classical passage of chorus guitar without distortion, very profound & atmospheric.

Devastation - In its riffs remember Sabbath's Children of the Grave & Hole in the Sky. A dark, powerful closer of a incredible power metal album.

This album transude the taste of the '80 Metal and it's atmosphere is a meeting between an american rock Horror film of those years and the darkness of a cave or a lake on a gelid mountain. Simply put, HOTMK is a Savatage classic. It’s a metal classic. It’s a great CD. You won’t be sorry if you buy this one. The next milestone "Gutter Ballet" put the band on map in progressive/symphonic direction.

album rating: 9.5/10 points = 94 % on MPV scale = 5/5 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

Review by The Crow
4 stars Warning, prog fans! That's a true heavy metal album, and you don't will find almost anything of prog here, except maybe some little passages of a few songs... But it's still a very good album!

This is the first Savatage's album with Paul O'Neill on production, who was looking in this time for a band with the capacity of make real their symphonic and operistic ideas (included one old idea called Streets...) And we can see a glimpse of this idea in that album, but it's nothing compared with later releases... For that, we can take that album like a first aproaching of Paul O'Neil to Savatage in a heavy metal way, but with a few points where we can see what Savatage was going to do in future releases, like in the beautiful Last Dawn, and the bombastic Hall of The Mountain King and its introduction, maybe the more symphonic and progresive parts of the album.

The Criss Oliva's guitar sound in that record is simply amazing! The powerful riffs, the crazy guitar solos, etc...He was without a doubt one of the best heavy metal guitarists of all times, forever underrated... And this is the album where we can hear his wildest offering!

The Jon Oliva's singing it's also great here, reaching the highest notes of his career... Another interesant fact in this disc, it the trash influence what we can see in tracks like The Price You Pay and Devastation.

The only weak song of the disc is White Witch in my opinion, but it's still a great a album very recommended to all later 80's heavy metal lovers!

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars I remember how taken aback I was when I first heard this record. I had listened to 3 of their records (later ones), and was not prepared for the sheer power and heaviness that "Hall Of The Mountain King " would provide. Even Jon Oliva's vocals are the best i've ever heard them. As noted in other reviews, the previous album really bombed due to some bad managerial advice.They lost a lot of fans (temporarily) over that record, and at the end of the tour for it they were ready to call it quits. Then in comes Paul O'Neill who flew down to Florida to see them live as they were just finishing up the tour. Paul was so impressed with not only the chemistry of Jon and Criss, but their amazing talent, he knew he had to work with them. He convinced them to carry on and let him produce their next record. Paul also wrote many lyrics for this record. So what we have here is a band who is angry and desperate to win back their fans. And who also have someone who really believes in them and is on their side, in Paul O'Neill. So it's no wonder this record absolutely smokes.

Highlights for me are the opener "24 hrs.ago". This showed the world SAVATAGE were back. "Beyond The Doors Of The Dark" is one of Jon Oliva's favourite Savatage songs. It starts slow but really kicks into gear with powerful riffs. The bass playing on "Legions" is killer. "Strange Wings" has a definite SCORPIONS feel to it. The title song is my fav. It's also a bonus live track on the disc I have. Another highlight is the short instumental "Last Dawn" and the final song "Devastation" which is the second and last bonus track, also done live.

Lastly the song "Prelude To Madness" is kind of cool because here we really have the first example of what later would become TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA . Awesome record !

Review by b_olariu
4 stars Now we are talking

After the disappointing "Fight For The Rock" album, Savatage returned back to their power metal-style Jon Oliva sings, shouts and screams better than ever before and the old fans of Power of the night and Sirens were in heaven. This one sound better then the previous ones in every way, liracally and musically.

"Hall Of The Mountain King" is a classic, and you can put this album in the same shelf with Crimson Glory debut, Fates Warning - Awakening, Queensryche - Rage for order( yet quite different). From this one Savatage includes more symphonic elements and the arangements are amazing, composed by no one then the master Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva his brother is without a doubt one of the best heavy metal guitarists of all times, forever underrated (R.I.P.), here you can see what is capable to do on guitar, powerfull riffs and crazy solos. Forte tracks all, and fans of the prog metal a la Queensryche, '80 Fates Warning, Crimson Glory will enjoy to the max this album, as i did.

4 stars and from this one Savatage were always on top of prog metal bands delivering a clever music just fine to listen to something special.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Before Savatage started releasing albums that are regarded as Prog Metal they were pretty much a straight Heavy Metal band and their 1987 release Hall of the Mountain King is just that. Having said that, Savatage's Metal does have a rather grandiose feel and hints that they were heading in a more Prog orientated direction are present, particularly on instrumental Prelude to Madness (hats off to Grieg) and title track Hall of the Mountain King.

Although I'm unfamiliar with the bands more recent work this is my favourite album by them and personally would have preferred them to have followed in this vein for their next album, the disappointing, at least after this release Gutter Ballet.

The first thing that hits you here is Criss Oliva's lush and rich guitar sound, an excellent player and he really shines all over this album. Sadly he is no longer with us having been killed in a road traffic accident. Brother, Jon Oliva also shows what a great voice he has.

It's surprising that this album didn't raise Savatage to the big league in Metal such is the quality of the material here. On the original vinyl release side 1 doesn't let up with top quality Heavy Metal, making it difficult to choose a favourite track though perhaps Beyond the Doors of the Dark deserves special mention for best riff on the album. Side 2 whilst overall not quite of the same standard is still very good, particularly the aforementioned opener Prelude to Madness and Hall of the Mountain King.

This is mostly a mid paced album, which at the time was a breath of fresh air as most metal bands were trying to play as fast as possible due to the Thrash Metal movement. Only White Witch turns on the speed but is possibly the weakest track on a classic Heavy Metal album.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars SAVATAGE's first album in my collection was this one, "Hall of the Mountain King". As such, it would be fair to review it first.

A word of attention should be given to anybody wanting to explore this band's progressive-metal output: this album is hardly progressive at all. What we have here is good power-metal with some interesting passages that, more in a conceptual way than a musical one, show some hints at progressiveness. By the last tracks of the record the music goes even further backwards when it covers NWOBHM territory, sounding very similar to IRON MAIDEN but without the flashy double-guitar work or the mighty riffs and bass lines. A good band to compare SAVATAGE with, at this point of their career, would be QUEENSRYCHE, another group that was hardly progressive musically, but which released a masterpiece of heavy-metal conceptual music ("Operation Mindcrime") and became a legend in the prog-metal subgenre.

Most of the songs are rather typical power-metal ones with some excellent riffs (like the one in the first track, "24 hours ago") and very few quieter sections. In fact, the music is very constant in its features: hardly do we have changes in tempo or time signature in here, with the probable exception of "Legions". SAVATAGE chose to play a metal-version of GRIEG's "In the Hall of The Mountain King" from the "Peer Gynt" suite in the track previous to the title one, "Prelude to Madness." The results are not that brilliant, and I feel the band should've stick to their original music.

The recording is clear but with that cardboard-ish sound of 80's-metal productions. The musicianship is good, especially the guitars which steal the show. The vocalist really tries to emulate Bruce Dickinson at times, but sometimes his voice is uniquely his own. When he reaches the highest registers he's capable of (and in falsetto), his voice sounds a little like LED ZEPPELIN's Robert Plant's.

This album is good and it deserves a chance in a metal-fan's collection. But in a progressive-metal fan's one, there are discs that have to come first, even some by this very same band. Without the great melodies and concept of "Operation Mindcrime", this pseudo-progressive-metal record fails to achieve classic status as that former album did. SAVATAGE would find their place in the subgenre later on, but in 1987, their recording was just a good, 3-star heavy- metal album.

Review by CCVP
4 stars Pretty good 80's metal!

In '87, Savatage returns better then ever and release the best album they have done so far, entitled Hall of the Mountain King. The album symbolizes the first major turn in Savatage's career for some reasons:

1st) Starting with Hall of the Mountain King, Savatage's music became increasingly complex with each album they made and This album is the proof of that evolution by itself, being a gigantic step forward for Savatage from their previous output Fight for the Rock;

2nd) Also starting in Hall of the Mountain King, Paul O'Neil becomes their producer and one of their main composer (possibly the reason why their music changed so much for the better is that they got another composer from here on);

3rd) This album is the first album that Savatage actually have some mainstream success, having their video clips constantly aired by MTV;

4th) In their '87 release, Savatage also start to have some kind of progressive influence (and influence alone), since they were really progressive from Streets on;

and 5th) Hall of the Mountain King is usually regarded as the turning point for old and new Savatage.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are somethings i would like to state:

Despite not being a progressive album, Hall of the Mountain King is a very good album. The straightforward heavy metal Savatage present us in this output have a pretty decent quality and all songs are quite interesting (at least for those who like metal). The riffs are very nice, as the solos and the drum work. The most important thing, however, isn't the instrumental, but John's singing. His aggressive, raw and throaty vocals fit perfectly in the approach taken by Savatage in this album and is quite possibly the highlight of the album.

Also, this album have some all-time classics of Savatage, like 24 Hours Ago, Legions, Strange Wings and the album title song. Besides the classics, the album also have some pretty good instrumental only songs, like the Savatage arrangement of Grieg's Prelude to Madness, from the Peer Gynt suite, and clear guitar song Last Dawn. The highlights go to: 24 Hours Ago, Legions, Strange Wings, Prelude to Madness, Hall of the Mountain King, Last Dawn and Devastation.

Grade and Final Thoughts

Though not being a progressive album, Hall of the Mountain King is an excellent heavy metal release and deserve to be rated accordingly, specially because of its importance to the band's history.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Hall of the Mountain King" is the 4th full-length studio album by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in September 1987. It features the same lineup who recorded "Fight for the Rock (1986)". Both "Sirens (1983)" and "Power of the Night (1985)" were well received by fans and critics alike, but failed to give Savatage a commercial breakthrough, and Atlantic Records therefore put pressure on the band to write and release a more mainstream oriented album, which they did with "Fight for the Rock (1986)". "Fight for the Rock (1986)" didn´t provide the band with the expected commercial success though, and in addition to that failure, the fans and the critics turned on the band. Lead vocalist Jon Oliva has since pointed at those issues as the beginning of his problems with depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.

It´s therefore no surprise that the music on "Hall Of The Mountain King" is harder edged heavy/power metal more in the vein of the first two albums than in the vein of the more mainstream oriented heavy rock/metal style of "Fight for the Rock (1986)". But while they´ve "gone back to the roots" on "Hall Of The Mountain King", they´ve also developed their sound and the sophistication of the track arrangements is quite high compared to the early releases.

The musicianship is on a high level on all posts. A pounding organic rhythm section, Jon Oliva´s distinct sounding raw vocal delivery, and a lead guitarist extraordinaire in Criss Oliva. Especially the latter´s playing is brilliant on this album. Hard edged riffs and blistering solos and melody work. The band also use piano/keyboards as atmosphere enhancement. Savatage obviously felt they had something to prove to the fans and the critics, and prove it they did. There´s a burning passion and great conviction to the performances on "Hall Of The Mountain King" that are probably born out of the hunger to prove yourself. Judging by the bite and conviction behind the delivery on the album it would seem that past failure is a strong motivation factor for future success.

The material on the 10 track, 39:26 minutes long album is hard edged and at times quite sophisticated heavy/US power metal. When most adventurous it would even be valid to call some parts of the music progressive. The best example is the instrumental "Prelude To Madness", which serves as an intro to the title track. "Prelude To Madness" includes parts of pieces by the classical composers Edward Grieg and Gustav Holst. The progressive element is only secondary on the album though. "Hall Of The Mountain King" has a dark atmosphere which runs through it and even a track like "Strange Wings", which features some mainstream leanings, is quite gloomy. It´s not a depressive or melancholic album though and you´ll still be exposed to hard rocking riffs, intense screaming vocals, and overall just great energetic power. It´s hard to pick out highligts, because the album doesn´t feature any low points or sub par material, but some of the standout tracks are "24 Hrs. Ago", "Beyond the Doors of the Dark", "Legions", and the title track. The strongly Iron Maiden influenced "Devastation" is also worth a mention.

The band brought in Paul O´Neill to produce "Hall Of The Mountain King" and it turned out to be the beginning of a long marriage, as O´Neill has often since been called the "secret" member of Savatage. The sound production is powerful, raw, and detailed, and fits perfectly with the material. So this is one of those releases where everything come together to make an almost perfect whole. High level musicianship and passionate performances, intriguing songwriting, and a well sounding production. A 4.5 star (90%) rating is deserved.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Hummm, this isn't fast, but isn't slow as well. That kind of 'indecision' bothers me a little bit.

Jon Oliva's vocals also bothers me a little, sometimes over the edge with some 'screaming' stuff, sometimes with no 'feeling' in his voice, something like 'Stay'.

Some nice guitar work from Criss Oliva, but nothing really outstanding. A good intro bass line on 'Legions'.

But I have to say 'White Witch' is a really good track, nice tempo and good chorus! The 'Iron Maiden like' 'Devastation' is a good track too! Also we have the fine version to 'In The Hall Of The Mountain King' wich became the name of the album as well.

In the end a good album, but nothing really incredible.

Review by Warthur
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.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Welcome back boys! After the disaster that was 'Fight for the Rock', Savatage's brief foray into adult-oriented rock (forced upon them by their label), the band rebound with an album that puts them back on track, and has gone on to be regarded as one of their most beloved releases, and certainly ... (read more)

Report this review (#1781310) | Posted by martindavey87 | Tuesday, September 12, 2017 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#788793) | Posted by 1967/ 1976 | Monday, July 16, 2012 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is one of the best ever power metal albums. As simple as that. The music is big, complex and heavy at the same time. It is the Iron Maiden formula. But Savatage has a different sound. A more heavy sound. They also have a lot of influences from the German metal scene. Accept pops up in ... (read more)

Report this review (#231313) | Posted by toroddfuglesteg | Thursday, August 13, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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 ... (read more)

Report this review (#172818) | Posted by Draith | Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Hall of the Mountain King was the breakthrough album for Savatage, it's somewhat the true follow up to Power of the Night. After the very disappointing "Fight for the Rock" album the band at last is properly established. At this point Savatage has become one of the best melodic heavy metal ba ... (read more)

Report this review (#44949) | Posted by Prosciutto | Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Savatage started its career very well but the album "Fight For The Rock" was there to [%*!#] up.The band had lost its fans and it had lots of bills to pay.So they were like this band is finished.But a man carrying the name of Paul O' Neil suddenly appeared and offered himself to help the band ... (read more)

Report this review (#44932) | Posted by | Tuesday, August 30, 2005 | Review Permanlink

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