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4.00 | 47 ratings | 6 reviews
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Album · 1993

Filed under Heavy Metal


1. Edge Of Thorns (5:56)
2. He Carves His Stone (4:10)
3. Lights Out (3:11)
4. Skraggy's Tomb (4:23)
5. Labyrinths (1:30)
6. Follow Me (5:12)
7. Exit Music (3:09)
8. Degrees Of Sanity (4:36)
9. Conversation Piece (4:11)
10. All That I Bleed (4:40)
11. Damien (3:55)
12. Miles Away (5:07)
13. Sleep (3:52)

Total Time 53:57


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

About this release

Release date: April 2nd, 1993
Label: Atlantic Records

Japanese Edition has the following bonus tracks:

14. Forever After (4:20)
15. Shotgun Innocence (3:31)

Reissued in 1997 by Edel with the following bonus track:

14. Believe (acoustic version) (3:52)

Reissued in 2002 by SPV with the following bonus tracks:

14. Forever After (4:18)
15. Conversation Piece (live) (4:19)

Reissued and remastered in 2010 by Ear Music with the following bonus tracks:

14. All That I Bleed (acoustic version) (4:34)
15. If I Go Away (acoustic version) (3:49)

Thanks to J-Man, progshine, Time Signature, stephen, Lynx33, UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
On a certain level, Edge of Thorns is doomed to be forever known as the final Savatage album to feature Criss Oliva before his tragic death, so it's just as well that it sees Criss Oliva take a good share of the spotlight - partly as a by-product of Jon Oliva stepping back from being an official member of the lineup. New lead vocalist Zachary Stevens takes up the baton adeptly - the track Conversation Piece, in particular, gives him a moment to really show what he can do on that front - whilst Criss' prominent lead guitar performance makes this album a fitting memorial to his talents.
"Edge Of Thorns" is the 7th full-length studio album by by US, Florida based heavy/power metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in April 1993. A major lineup change has taken place since the release of "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)" as lead vocalist, composer, and founding member Jon Oliva left Savatage after the tour supporting "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)". His substance abuse and the strain of touring had taken it´s toll on him, and he decided it would be best for him to quit the band and try and solve his personal issues. Oliva is replaced here by Zachary Stevens. He stayed on as composer though, and like the case have been on the last couple of albums, all songwriting is credited to Jon Oliva, Criss Oliva, and producer Paul O´Neill. The remaining part of the lineup are Criss Oliva (guitars, backing vocals), Johnny Lee Middleton (bass, backing vocals), and Steve Wacholz (drums, percussion).

"Edge Of Thorns" succeeds what is often considered the band´s peak period (1987-1991), and adding to that the change on the lead vocalist spot, the album wasn´t exactly created under the easiest conditions. While Zachary Stevens can´t fully live up to the incredible vocal qualities of Jon Oliva, he is still a greatly skilled singer in his own right, and a suitable replacement with a strong voice and commanding delivery, who most fans of the band quickly accepted.

Stylistically the music on the 13 track, 53:57 minutes long album is unmistakably the sound of Savatage. Hard rocking heavy riffs, blistering solos and lead themes, a pounding organic rhythm section (there are actually electric drums on this one, which take away a bit of the usually more organic sounding tone), and raw yet melodic vocals in front. Piano and keyboards are also part of the sound, but they are not as dominant as they were on the predecessor. In that respect "Edge Of Thorns" is a more guitar driven and immediate album than "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)", which required more spins to sink in and which had more sophisticated song arrangements. There are still quite a few sophisticated tracks featured on this album too though, so it´s not a through and through raw and unpolished heavy/power metal album like some of the band´s early releases. But why would it be this long into the band´s career? Taking into consideration their development of sound over the years, it´s only natural that the raw power is a bit more restrained and that the overall sound is relatively polished.

Savatage vary their sound from epic mid-paced tracks, to heavy US power metal, to hard rocking energetic rockers, and a couple of more quit/mellow tracks. Highlights include "He Carves His Stone" (which is among the band´s most hard edged tracks), the title track, "Follow Me", "Damien", and the two energetic rockers "Lights Out" and "Miles Away". The latter reminds me a bit of a hard edged Van Halen track. The material is generally well written and catchy though. The whole thing is packed in a professional, clear, and powerful sounding production, which helps bring out the details in the music. Upon conclusion "Edge Of Thorns" is another fairly strong Savatage release, but compared to the preceding three studio albums, it can´t quite live up to the extremely high quality of those. Still a 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is well deserved.
1993’s Edge Of Thorns is the seventh full-length studio album by the American Progressive Metal band Savatage. The album, which followed up the Streets: A Rock Opera album, sees a sort of re-imagining of the band, with former front-man Jon Olivia taking a back seat as arranger/producer/keyboardist and the introduction of new singer Zak Stevens on lead vocals. It would also end up being the final album to feature original guitarist and co-founder Criss Oliva before his untimely passing.

The album serves as a sort of musical blue-print for all the Savatage albums which would follow and is quite different sounding to the earlier work from the band. Energetic ‘80s USPM sounds are almost all gone, in favour of 90s Groove Metal riffs (although not as much as Handful Of Rain), heavy handed piano and some occasional Queen-esque moments.

It isn’t a complete abandoning of everything Savatage had done before altogether, as there are lovely piano moments like “Exit Music” which feel a little bit like Streets and the brief “Labyrinths” which towards the end is slightly reminiscent of Gutter Ballet, but it certainly has its own identity and is clearly the beginning of a new era of Savatage. There are bright up-beat rockers that start off as power ballads like “Follow Me” and “Miles Away,” and there are groovy 90s-Metal tunes like “He Carves His Stone” and “Damien.” These two styles and the mixture therof really form the essence of Edge Of Thorns, and its all good stuff… If you are in the right mood for it, and not going in expecting it to sound like Power Of The Night, this is an absolutely superb album. My personal favourite song on here is the excellent Title Track, which is one of Savatage’s all time best songs, as well as the bouncy Load-esque “Lights Out” which is a little out-of-place on this album, but fun nonetheless.

Zak Steven’s vocal performances on this record are inspired, and you can’t help but smile at some of his deliveries in tracks like “Conversation Piece” and the fantastic album-closer “Sleep.” The guitar solos on Criss’ swansong album are melodic and enjoyable and the solid weighty drumming from Steve Wacholz and Jon Olivia (despite not being recorded on a real acoustic drumkit) perfectly suit the band’s new direction here. Overall; this is a superb record and fans of Savatage, or similar bands, should check it out. Its not their heaviest album, its not their most progressive album and its not their darkest album, but it is an absolutely rock-solid collection of well-written and fundamentally enjoyable music, and it grows on you really well with repeat listens.
Time Signature
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Genre: heavy metal

The last album to feature Criss Oliva's amazing guitar work, "Edge of Thorns" is a bittersweet experience to many. The sweetness part, of course, consists in the music being awesome across the board, while the bitterness part consists in the reminder that Criss Oliva died the same year that this album was released.

He was killed by a drunk driver. Yet another reason to hate those fucking bastards who drive while drunk!

As mentioned, the guitar work is amazing. The riffs are solid, and the guitar solos blazing. While drawing more on traditional heavy metal and less progressive and powerful than other Savatage releases, the song structures are quite dynamic in terms of moods and use of distortion versus clean guitars and inserted piano passages. New vocalist Zachary Stevens' singing is not as mad and frenzied as that of Jon Oliva', who would take a backseat position for a couple of years, but his voice is more versatile and has a sort of AOR-quality to it (he even sounds like Jon Bon Jovi at times).

The album is quite varied in terms of musical expression and never gets uninteresting. It does have a more melodic AOR feel to it, I think, than the band's earlier releases, but it still is a very expressive release, which stresses that metal music is an art.
I just had a spectacular evening after revisiting Savatage's finest moment. With only the intention of some nostalgic spin to listen to the title track and "Sleep", I uncovered a lot of sensational tracks inside which I already forgot since the disc was inside the player probably five or six years ago.

Concentrating to listen to all the guitar works, I also just realized that the death of Criss Oliva is a big loss to the metal community, what an astonishing player and a very diverse and prominent guitarist he was, and he's only 30. The whole album is basically a brilliant crafting of progressive edge, classic heavy metal, and some commercial hard rock touch. With Jon stepping off the lead vocal duty to stay at the background and replaced by Zachary Stevens, it's interesting to see how the new guy perform, which in my opinion, he nailed it well.

Some of my fave tracks inside are the title track which resembles Dream Theater's "Wait For Sleep" piano intro at first before evolving to a chugging rhythm and dense chorus. This is where Criss Oliva came out shining with his remarkable tense solos; "Lights Out", an uptempo heavy metal with Skid Row-esque attitude; "Follow Me", a superb hard rock based track with another monstrous guitar delivery; "Conversation Piece" is heavy yet slightly commercial, a balance track; "All That I Bleed" and "Sleep" are simply genius, huge ballad that helped boosting their name to the sky. Some other good tracks are "He Carves His Stone" and "Damien", and perhaps only "Skraggy's Tomb" and "Miles Away" are decent.

"Edge of Thorns" is Savatage's top hill, their ultimate achievement, and if anyone ever want to start listening to their catalogue, this one is definitely should be their number one pick before wandering to the prior releases. So long Criss, thanks for the great music, and yes, after that spectacular evening, I'll make a promise to my own that this disc undoubtedly deserved a more frequent spin later on.

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