Review

SAVATAGE Poets And Madmen

Album · 2001 · Progressive Metal
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5/5 ·
martindavey87
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.
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