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SAVATAGE

Progressive Metal • United States


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Savatage biography
Founded in Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA in 1978 (as Avatar) - Disbanded in 2002 - One-Off reunion in 2015

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 80s 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 1989s "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-project by Jon Oliva and guitarrist Chris Cafery called DOCTOR BUTCHER with a more heavy metal sound, with a self-titled album. A great band with a long career, most of his albums are not r...
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Hall of the Mountain KingHall of the Mountain King
Ais 2011
$5.04
$11.08 (used)
Streets: A Rock Opera (Narrated Version / Video Collection)Streets: A Rock Opera (Narrated Version / Video Collection)
CD+DVD
IMPORTS 2013
$8.75
$2.89 (used)
Sirens and the Dungeons Are CallingSirens and the Dungeons Are Calling
Ais 2011
$9.33
$14.98 (used)
Fight for the RockFight for the Rock
Edel Europe 2011
$5.96
$10.36 (used)
Power of the NightPower of the Night
Ais 2011
$8.00
$10.27 (used)
Still the Orchestra PlaysStill the Orchestra Plays
earMUSIC 2010
$7.30
$6.36 (used)
Ghost in the RuinsGhost in the Ruins
Absolute Uk 2011
$11.75
$11.49 (used)
Gutter BalletGutter Ballet
Ais 2011
$9.83
$10.86 (used)
Wake of MagellanWake of Magellan
Earmusic 2010
$8.33
$6.99 (used)
Poets & MadmenPoets & Madmen
Ais 2011
$5.83
$9.23 (used)
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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)

3.05 | 72 ratings
Sirens
1983
3.18 | 73 ratings
Power Of The Night
1985
2.25 | 62 ratings
Fight For The Rock
1986
3.87 | 148 ratings
Hall Of The Mountain King
1987
4.01 | 177 ratings
Gutter Ballet
1989
4.13 | 224 ratings
Streets - A Rock Opera
1991
4.02 | 166 ratings
Edge Of Thorns
1993
3.82 | 106 ratings
Handful Of Rain
1994
3.87 | 146 ratings
Dead Winter Dead
1995
3.83 | 149 ratings
The Wake Of Magellan
1998
3.90 | 110 ratings
Poets & Madmen
2001

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

3.59 | 22 ratings
Japan Live '94
1995
4.52 | 34 ratings
Ghost in the Ruins / Final Bell
1995

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

3.88 | 13 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 | 3 ratings
Believe (compilation)
1998
3.50 | 6 ratings
Still The Orchestra Plays - Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2
2010
2.82 | 2 ratings
Return to Wacken
2015

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

3.21 | 30 ratings
The Dungeons Are Calling
1985
2.33 | 6 ratings
One Child (single)
1996
3.05 | 10 ratings
Commissar
2001

SAVATAGE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Edge Of Thorns by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1993
4.02 | 166 ratings

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Edge Of Thorns
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars Highly revered by fans and often regarded as the bands finest work, 1993's 'Edge of Thorns' is a pivotal album in Savatage's discography. It's the first album to feature new vocalist Zak Stevens, with Jon Oliva stepping away from the mic to focus on keyboards and songwriting, and most notably, it's the final album to feature guitar hero and founder Criss Oliva, who was tragically killed by a drunk driver six months after the release of this album.

It couldn't have come at a worse time for the band either. Already fighting an uphill battle against changing musical trends, the band were managing to continually improve with each release, and while following 1989's 'Gutter Ballet' and '1991's 'Streets: A Rock Opera' itself would seem a daunting task, the band rise to the challenge with this, one of their most polished and well-rounded releases to date.

With its great production and overflowing with fantastic musicianship, 'Edge of Thorns' sees the band step away slightly from the more classical leanings of their previous few releases, and focus more on a metal-tinted hard rock edge. Which is fine, as it's still a solid album full of memorable tracks. The likes of 'Edge of Thorns', 'He Carves His Stones', 'Follow Me', 'Damien', 'Lights Out' and bonus track 'Forever After' makes this one of Savatage's strongest releases.

While the band would go on to new creative heights, this was probably their commercial peak. With metal in the mainstream being completely dead by this point, any momentum the band had garnered up until now would slowly squander over the next few years, and while the 90's would see the band release some of their best and most ambitious works, at this point they would firmly enter the realm of being a cult band. 'Edge of Thorns', really is the end of one era and the start of another.

 Believe (compilation) by SAVATAGE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 1998
2.00 | 3 ratings

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Believe (compilation)
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars 'Believe' is a 1998 compilation album by American metal band Savatage. It was only released in Japan, and focuses primarily on the bands 90's output, most notably with cuts from the studio albums 'Handful of Rain' and 'Dead Winter Dead', as well as the two live albums 'Japan Live '94' and 'Ghost in the Ruins: A Tribute to Criss Oliva'. With that in mind, while it serves its purpose well as some kind of 90's commemoration, it's a bit of pointless and uninspired release.

And what's up with that lame cover art?

Still, for what it's worth, Savatage are one of my all time favourite bands, and the material on offer here is still bloody brilliant! From hard rockers like 'Taunting Cobras' and 'Handful of Rain' to symphonic epics such as 'Chance', 'This is the Time' and 'Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)', while there are other songs from the studio albums that are missing, these are still great tracks. Plus, you get the song 'Believe' from the 'Streets' album, which is always a fan favourite.

And as for the live tracks... well, I've always been a sucker for studio albums, but still, you've got the likes of 'Edge of Thorns', 'Gutter Ballet', 'Hall of the Mountain King' and 'The Dungeons Are Calling', so there's some good stuff there too.

But as a whole, looking at this album in retrospect, it's pointless. There are other Savatage compilations that do a fantastic job of covering the bands entire career. Whereas this one is best left for the absolute, most die-hard and committed collectors, like me, and even then, I'm never going to listen to it.

 Streets - A Rock Opera by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1991
4.13 | 224 ratings

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Streets - A Rock Opera
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars 'Streets: A Rock Opera', released in 1991, is the sixth studio album by American metal band Savatage. It sees the band further develop their unique style which incorporates huge influences from musicals and classical music, and features a concept based on the rise and fall of fictional musician D.T. Jesus. Coming at a time when metal was becoming stale to mainstream fans, it was no doubt a risky move by the band to continue this route, but the end result is one of their most highly revered and well-received albums.

Riding a wave of momentum from their previous albums, 'Hall of the Mountain King' and its successor, 'Gutter Ballet', and once again continuing their working relationship with producer Paul O'Neill (who wrote the original story for the album), the band have hit their stride here, finding their niche and sounding more confident than ever before.

Wonderfully produced, the sound of the album evokes many moods throughout its diverse track list. From heavy rockers, to melodic tearjerkers, the production perfectly captures the essence and mood of each song. At times haunting and eerie, melancholic and depressing, or uplifting, head banging metal anthems, O'Neill has done a tremendous job of capturing the right vibe which suits the style of the band, and gives each member ample space to shine.

With songs such as 'Jesus Saves', 'Somewhere in Time/Believe', 'Tonight He Grins Again/Strange Reality', 'Ghost in the Ruins', 'You're Alive/Sammy and Tex' and 'Agony and Ecstasy/Heal My Soul', there's no shortage of Savatage highlights here. Along with Jon Oliva's hauntingly passionate vocals and Criss Olivas classically-inspired guitar acrobatics, this is a pivotal album for the band, which would see them continue to ignore musical trends in favour of their own musical and artistic integrity, making 'Streets: A Rock Opera', a worthwhile addition to the collection of all rock and metal fans.

 Japan Live '94 by SAVATAGE album cover Live, 1995
3.59 | 22 ratings

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Japan Live '94
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars This album is a perfect example of why I've always preferred studio albums to live ones. Savatage are without a doubt one of my all-time favourite bands, but 'Japan Live '94' just doesn't do their music justice.

Recorded while touring for their 1994 album, 'Handful of Rain', this was a short-lived line-up of the band which was reeling from the tragic death of original guitarist Criss Oliva. With Zak Stevens totally owning it on vocals, and guitar master Alex Skolnick of Testament fame stepping in on guitars, the band members are on top form, and the performances from everyone are solid throughout.

The production is pretty good, and everyone can be heard clearly, however, there're two things about this album that bug me. Firstly, I just feel that the album versions sound a lot bigger, grandiose and epic, especially as the studio can allow for multiple layers and dubs, whereas live, they all sound a bit flat. Secondly... ah... the audience... Like so many similar live releases, the audience at times just sound piped in. It's when Stevens is talking and the crowd are constantly screaming and yelling, I know metal fans can be a rabid bunch, but at times it just sounds a bit fake (and if it isn't, well... there's always reason one to fall back on).

Coming at a time just as the band were starting to become more progressive, theatrical and bombastic with their music, 'Japan Live '94', (sometimes also known as 'Live in Japan') does have a pretty decent set list. With the likes of 'Chance', 'Edge of Thorns', 'Gutter Ballet', 'Taunting Cobras', 'Jesus Saves', 'Watching You Fall' and 'Sirens', there's plenty of good material here, making this is a decent enough album, but as a whole, I think I'll probably ignore it and just listen to the bands studio output instead.

 The Wake Of Magellan by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.83 | 149 ratings

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The Wake Of Magellan
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

3 stars 'The Wake of Magellan' is the 10th full length album from Savatage. It was released in 1998 and was one of the band's last albums under that name, as they were seeing success as the 'Trans Siberian Orchestra' specializing in dramatic Christmas and other similar albums. Savatage, at this time, was doing a style of progressive metal, many of their albums following specific concepts. The style of their progressive metal was somewhat over the top and dramatic.

This is also the case with this album, following a story based on two true incidents. The main character is a ship's captain that wants to ride out into a storm and let the sea take his life. But while in the process of this, he sees a person stranded in the water. To make a long story short, he rescues the person and realized the value of every solitary life. Nice story. And the music is a nice mix of drama, heaviness and predictability.

So, this band has always been a tough one for me, because, there is no doubt that the musicians are very talented. The guitar solos in this album, like their others, are amazing, and the addition of keyboards gives the music some texture and separates them from other heavy metal bands. The vocalists are very good too, but they put out a lot of over-the-top drama that rubs me the wrong way, and gives a bit of cheesiness to the overall sound.

The music, including with this album, has a lot of what I like in music, but it can be a little on the commercial side, albeit, it is more innovative that most run-of-the-mill metal bands. There are a lot of dynamics in the music also. But the problem is, there is not a lot of stretching of the boundaries or experimentation in the sound, so you get a feeling of sameness as you listen to a full album. I always find myself wishing they would break away from the heavy guitar passages and the typical slow piano sections and just do something new.

Yes the music is enjoyable and yes you have some great guitar as in 'Turns to Me', some instrumentals to help break up the vocals a bit, as in 'Underture' and these are the stronger tracks on this album. There is a bit of symphonic feel to the album too, which also helps. Like I said, there is a lot to love here, but it tends to go over the top in cheesiness and the sound tends to wear on me after a while and I lose interest before it's all over. The later problem is due to not enough variety and too much predictability.

The sound is somewhat similar to 'Dream Theatre' but only at it's core as the innovativeness of DT is lacking in this album. It's a good album, it's not necessarily a great album and it's also not their best. They just take the best of their sound but they don't do anything groundbreaking at all. I can't really do a track by track analysis here because there isn't anything that changes much on that basis. The story is interesting, the talent is amazing, but everything is just too predictable. At least it's a good 3 star album.

 Commissar by SAVATAGE album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.05 | 10 ratings

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Commissar
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'Commissar' is a single by metal band Savatage, released in 2001 to promote their 'Poets and Madmen' album, it features three tracks that total at just over eleven minutes in duration.

'Poets and Madmen' is an absolute masterpiece in my opinion, and easily one of the bands best releases, so no doubt it'd be tricky to choose which songs to use as promotional singles. However, 'Commissar', with its bombastic intro, its intense guitar playing and Jon Oliva's rapid-fire vocals, is a fine choice, and easily stands out as one of the more memorable tracks on the album.

Second track, 'Drive', is mostly a straight-up metal song, but highlights the bands ferocity. With lightning fast riffs and wailing vocals, this is also a noteworthy track that makes 'Poets and Madmen' an essential purchase, and gives guitarist Chris Caffery a chance to truly shine. And finally, there's 'Voyage', a short, two-minute acoustic guitar track. It's a nice little instrumental that fills out the disc well, but isn't overly essential.

Overall, 'Commissar' is an all-round decent enough CD single for Savatage fans.

 Gutter Ballet by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1989
4.01 | 177 ratings

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Gutter Ballet
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

4 stars While there's always been subtle classical and theatrical elements to Savatage's music, it wasn't until 1989's 'Gutter Ballet' that the band really started to take their sound in a more ambitious direction. Inspired by musicals such as 'Phantom of the Opera', there's a much more grandiose feel to this album than anything they'd done before, and would only lead to the band transitioning from power metal to more progressive territory.

One notable change in the band's sound is the more prominent use of pianos and keyboards. While there were always some keys lingering in the background, 'Gutter Ballet' sees them become a more integral part of the music. It works amazingly well, and really distinguishes Savatage's unique identity.

Of course, the musicianship itself is fantastic. With each member, building upon the momentum they'd garnered with previous album, 'Hall of the Mountain King', being on top form. Jon Oliva's vocals really suit the more theatrical approach well, and his guitarist brother Criss Oliva's blistering guitars are as incredible as ever. Working with producer/songwriter Paul O'Neill, this was a time of growth for the band, and each member really plays their part to help the band mature.

With highlights that include 'Gutter Ballet', 'When the Crowds Are Gone', 'Of Rage and War', 'She's in Love', 'Hounds', 'Thorazine Shuffle' and 'Mentally Yours', there's an abundance of killer material here that constantly shifts from heavy to melodic, but never lets up in quality.

1987's 'Hall of the Mountain King' may have been the album where Savatage hit their stride and started a run of successful (critically, if not commercially) albums, but for me, 'Gutter Ballet' is where they truly defined their sound and began a creative run that would see them continually release albums of high standards.

 Return to Wacken by SAVATAGE album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2015
2.82 | 2 ratings

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Return to Wacken
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'Return to Wacken' is a very confusing and misleading compilation album that was released to coincide with Savatage's joint appearance with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the 2015 Wacken Festival in Germany.

The problem is that everything about this release made it seem like a live album, perhaps of one of the bands earlier Wacken appearances, which would have made the most sense. It even has "celebrating a return to the stage..." on the bloody cover! But instead, we get a compilation which is supposedly based upon and inspired by the set lists of Savatage's two previous performances at the prestigious event.

With that said, Savatage are one of my favourite bands, and the music here is still damn good. But as a compilation release, it's very underwhelming. With a wealth of material to choose from, reducing the bands best material down to a meagre eleven songs is near-impossible. Sure, we get 'Edge of Thorns', 'Chance', 'Hall of the Mountain King', 'Gutter Ballet' and 'The Wake of Magellan', not too shabby really, but there's still just so much missing, that it's pretty impossible to really care about this release at all.

Overall, 'Return to Wacken' is just a shameless cash-in on Savatage's return to the stage after a 14-year hiatus. It could make a good starting point for newcomers, but realistically there's better compilations or studio albums to choose from. The truly sad thing is that I knew all of this yet I bought it anyway because I'm such a huge fan and needed it in my collection.

 Poets & Madmen by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 2001
3.90 | 110 ratings

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Poets & Madmen
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

5 stars I remember this one so well. It was the Summer of 2003, and I was 16 years-old. I randomly picked up 'Handful of Rain', with no prior knowledge of the band Savatage. It was alright. Nothing amazing, but one or two catchy songs that stuck with me. Fast forward a few months and I was Christmas shopping with my sister. Having stumbled across a secondhand music shop, I had to have a quick look, and it was there that I picked up 'Poets and Madmen'.

And from here, Savatage would go on to become one of my all-time favourite bands.

'Poets and Madmen' sees Jon Oliva return to lead vocals, and Chris Caffery picks up the bulk of the guitar work after Al Pitrelli had left to join Megadeth. Though not strictly a rock opera like those the band were famous for doing, there is a loose concept behind the music, based upon real-life photographer Kevin Carter. It's not exactly an easy narrative to follow, though it doesn't disrupt the flow of the album either.

With Savatage slowly taking more and more of a backseat to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra (a Savatage-related band that was having multiplatinum success), it's evident that a lot of the music here was influenced by the aforementioned group. Bigger and more grandiose than ever before, each of the songs here is a true gem in their own right, with each instrument working in complete synergy to produce some of the bands tightest and most cohesive compositions.

Highlights include 'Stay With Me Awhile', 'Commissar', 'There in the Silence', 'Surrender', 'Back to a Reason', and the centerpiece of the album, the ten-minute 'Morphine Child'. Each song really shows a band at the peak of their creativity, with plenty of crushing riffs, beautiful melodies, classical-inspired passages and the vocal counterpoint harmonies that the band had made their own.

A remarkable smorgasbord of every perfected nuance that had ever given this band their own unique sound, it's a shame that Savatage spent the majority of their career in the "underrated" category, because this album is an absolute masterpiece.

 The Wake Of Magellan by SAVATAGE album cover Studio Album, 1998
3.83 | 149 ratings

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The Wake Of Magellan
Savatage Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

5 stars After their 1995 concept album 'Dead Winter Dead', which spawned a small radio hit for the band, and the recently- formed Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which also garnered mainstream success, Savatage continue down the route of epic rock operas which would see the band reach new heights of creativity and critical acclaim during the late 90's.

Featuring all the pomp and circumstance that the band had incorporated into their sound since 1994's 'Handful of Rain', and even way before that if I'm being realistic, 'The Wake of Magellan' sees everything come together for Savatage. The story itself doesn't really make much sense to me, but it ties around the fictional story of a sailor who goes out to sea to end his life, only to find new meaning to carry on, and two real-life events involving a journalist who was murdered whilst trying to battle the growing drug trade in 90's Ireland, and of a sea captain who had Romanian stowaways thrown overboard.

How does any of this fit together? I have no idea (and I doubt many people do), but the music itself is compelling and the performances are sincere. That's good enough for me!

Using the same lineup from the previous album, the band have really gelled by this point, and the chemistry is evident. Zak Stevens delivers powerful vocals as always, and founding member Jon Oliva returns to sing for a number of songs, having never sounded better or more confident. His keyboards add a warm depth to the record as well, giving it that orchestral feeling but without all the pomposity of a full orchestra.

'Turns to Me', 'Morning Sun', 'Another Way', 'Paragons of Innocence' and 'The Hourglass' are all highlights that this fantastic album has to offer, with the true gem being the title track, 'The Wake of Magellan'. It's a big, epic piece, with an absolutely mind-blowing finale which sees the band utilize the vocal harmony counterpoint which they had used more and more over the last few releases, but perfected here.

A truly underrated gem when it comes to concept albums, capturing the very essence and atmosphere of a journey out to sea, 'The Wake of Magellan' is an absolute epic from start to finish.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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