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Savatage is a heavy metal/progressive metal band founded by the brothers Jon and Criss Oliva in 1979. The band is known for recording many rock operas. Early on, Savatage was a traditional heavy metal band, who stood out from the pack due to guitarist Criss Oliva's uncommonly heavy riffing and vocalist Jon Oliva's unique vocal stylings.

Following the failure of Fight for the Rock, an attempt to commercialize their sound, Savatage began moving in a more operatic direction, releasing a number of rock opera albums in collaboration with producer Paul O'Neill.

After the tragic death of Criss Oliva, the band soldiered on to continued critical acclaim but diminishing commercial success. However, Oliva and O'Neill lucked out when a single from Dead Winter Dead, "Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)", managed to crack the singles chart. The song, a reworking of a classic Christmas hymn, acted as a launching pad for the immensely
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SAVATAGE Discography

SAVATAGE albums / top albums

SAVATAGE Sirens album cover 3.43 | 28 ratings
US Power Metal 1983
SAVATAGE Power Of The Night album cover 3.26 | 32 ratings
Power Of The Night
Heavy Metal 1985
SAVATAGE Fight For The Rock album cover 2.43 | 22 ratings
Fight For The Rock
Heavy Metal 1986
SAVATAGE Hall Of The Mountain King album cover 3.99 | 53 ratings
Hall Of The Mountain King
US Power Metal 1987
SAVATAGE Gutter Ballet album cover 3.82 | 50 ratings
Gutter Ballet
Heavy Metal 1989
SAVATAGE Streets: A Rock Opera album cover 3.90 | 41 ratings
Streets: A Rock Opera
Heavy Metal 1991
SAVATAGE Edge Of Thorns album cover 3.97 | 51 ratings
Edge Of Thorns
Heavy Metal 1993
SAVATAGE Handful Of Rain album cover 3.63 | 31 ratings
Handful Of Rain
Heavy Metal 1994
SAVATAGE Dead Winter Dead album cover 3.82 | 43 ratings
Dead Winter Dead
Heavy Metal 1995
SAVATAGE The Wake Of Magellan album cover 4.01 | 45 ratings
The Wake Of Magellan
Progressive Metal 1997
SAVATAGE Poets And Madmen album cover 4.18 | 23 ratings
Poets And Madmen
Progressive Metal 2001

SAVATAGE EPs & splits

SAVATAGE The Dungeons Are Calling album cover 3.18 | 17 ratings
The Dungeons Are Calling
US Power Metal 1984

SAVATAGE live albums

SAVATAGE Japan Live '94 album cover 2.68 | 7 ratings
Japan Live '94
Heavy Metal 1995
SAVATAGE Ghost In The Ruins: A Tribute To Criss Oliva album cover 3.78 | 8 ratings
Ghost In The Ruins: A Tribute To Criss Oliva
Heavy Metal 1995

SAVATAGE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

SAVATAGE re-issues & compilations

SAVATAGE From The Gutter To The Stage: The Best Of 1981 - 1995 album cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
From The Gutter To The Stage: The Best Of 1981 - 1995
Heavy Metal 1995
SAVATAGE The Best And The Rest album cover 3.50 | 2 ratings
The Best And The Rest
Heavy Metal 1997
SAVATAGE Believe album cover 2.57 | 3 ratings
Heavy Metal 1998
SAVATAGE Still The Orchestra Plays: Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2 album cover 4.50 | 1 ratings
Still The Orchestra Plays: Greatest Hits Volume 1 & 2
Heavy Metal 2010
SAVATAGE Return to Wacken album cover 3.00 | 1 ratings
Return to Wacken
Progressive Metal 2015

SAVATAGE singles (2)

.. Album Cover
2.00 | 1 ratings
One Child
Progressive Metal 1996
.. Album Cover
2.83 | 2 ratings
Progressive Metal 2001

SAVATAGE movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
3.83 | 3 ratings
Japan Live '94
Heavy Metal 1995


SAVATAGE Streets: A Rock Opera

Album · 1991 · Heavy Metal
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Savatage’s first attempt at a full on Rock Opera is mostly successful. The sound mostly picks up right from the more operatic parts of Gutter Ballet. They turn up the cheese, usually working well with it as they always have. The highs here are magical; Tonight He Grins Again is one of their finest songs ever, and Believe is a great ballad and closer.

The issue here is the same as many other overlong concept albums. At 16 tracks and almost 70 minutes, there is a lot of filler. The first half particularly struggles to deliver as many of the songs are kind of just fun rockers, which is not Savatage’s niche (The only ballad on this half, A Little Too Far, is their worst ever). The second half leans more into the melodic balladry they’re so good at, picking up a nice melancholic tone that brings it home nicely. The lyrics are good, but the story itself really isn’t all that compelling, as it’s just a rock star who got fame, hit rock bottom, got back to rocking… We’ve heard it a million times.

Overrated, especially compared to their other albums, but still holds many gems.

SAVATAGE The Wake Of Magellan

Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal
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"The Wake Of Magellan" is the 10th full-length studio album by US power/heavy/progressive metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in September 1997 (not released until April 1998 in the US). It´s the successor to "Dead Winter Dead" from 1995 and features the exact same lineup who recorded the predecessor. Just as the case was with "Dead Winter Dead (1995)", "The Wake Of Magellan" is a concept release with all tracks making up a story. It´s essentially the story of an old Spanish sailor who sails his ship into the Atlantic ocean to die, but ends up saving a stowaway who has been thrown overboard from another ship, and his realization that all life is precious and that he should cherish his life instead of trying to commit suicide. It´s slightly deeper than that though as the main story is based on two real life events: The murder of Irish reporter Veronica Guerin (murdered while fighting the drug trade in her homeland) and the Maersk Dubai incident where a captain threw three Romanian stowaways overboard in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.

"The Wake Of Magellan" is composed and structured much like you would imagine a heavy rock/metal Broadway musical would sound like. The two opening tracks "The Ocean" and "Welcome" are an almost arch typical Broadway musical show style opening, with the latter even featuring the lyric line: "Welcome to the Show". Ever since "Gutter Ballet (1989)" and especially "Streets: A Rock Opera (1991)", Savatage have incorporated more and more theatrical/musical style moments to their albums (on some albums more than on others) and it was almost inevitable that they would one day end up releasing an album like "The Wake Of Magellan".

It´s of course no surprise that Savatage are able to pull off doing something like this with what sounds like a natural ease. They have always been incredibly skilled and clever composers and equally brilliant musicians. The album concept works pretty well and "The Wake Of Magellan" is a dynamic and varied listen. From quiet piano/vocal moments to bombastic keyboard laden heavy rock/metal, Savatage can do it all. Zachary Stevens has a powerful voice and he is able to sing both mellow and melodic and more raw and hard rocking with the same amount of conviction. Original lead vocalist/keyboard player Jon Oliva has a few lead vocal songs on the album, which he also did on the last couple of releases, and we´re instantly reminded of how great a singer he was/is. Not to take too much away from Stevens, who is very talented and gifted singer with a great powerful voice, but Oliva is just a world class vocalist with a unique voice and singing style, and his performances on the early Savatage are not easily matched.

"The Wake Of Magellan" features a well sounding and detailed production, which suits the material well, and upon conclusion it´s another high quality release by Savatage. While the album certainly has its heavy riffs and hard rocking rhythm sections, it´s not Savatage most heavy release, and it´s probably very much up to the ears that hear if the listener will be able to enjoy the theatrical/Broadway musical style direction the band have taken on the album. Personally I would have prefered a lot more raw and heavy moments to the mellow piano driven story telling sections/tracks, but that´s a subjective view, and objectively seen "The Wake Of Magellan" is a high quality release and a 3.5 star (70%) rating is more than deserved.

SAVATAGE Dead Winter Dead

Album · 1995 · Heavy Metal
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"Dead Winter Dead" is the 9th full-length studio album by US power/heavy/progressive metal act Savatage. The album was released through Atlantic Records in October 1995. It´s the successor to "Handful Of Rain" from 1994 and features a couple of lineup changes since the predecessor as guitarist Alex Skolnick has jumped ship, and has been replaced by a returning Chris Caffery (who performed with Savatage in the late 80s and also collaborated with Jon Oliva on the Doctor Butcher project) and former Alice Cooper guitarist Al Pitrelli. Drummer Steve Wacholz had in reality already left Savatage before the recording of "Handful Of Rain (1994)" although he is credited for playing on the album. On the tour supporting "Handful Of Rain (1994)", Jeff Plate was hired as the band´s drummer, and he makes his first studio album appearance on "Dead Winter Dead".

"Dead Winter Dead" is a concept release (their second concept release after "Streets" from 1991), taking place in the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo during the Bosnian war in the period 1990 to 1994. The main characters of the story are a young Serbian man and a young muslim Bosnian girl, who during the story realise the terrors of war and that fighting each other won´t help them have the future they both dream of. The story also features other twists like the old man playing Mozart and Beethoven compositions on his cello in the town square while mortar shells rain down from the sky around him (ultimately killing him). A symbol of beauty destroyed by the ugliness of war.

Stylistically "Dead Winter Dead" is a dynamic and varied release. Everything from mellow ballad type passages, to power ballads, orchestral arrangements and musical style melodies and build-ups, choirs and counterpoint vocal parts, to the occasional harder edged US power/heavy metal track, are featured on the album. All arranged on the tracklist to accompany the storyline. The band are as always professional and well playing, and the two new guitarists do a great job throughout the album. Zachary Stevens sings most lead vocal parts, but Jon Oliva makes a return singing lead vocals on "I Am" and "Doesn´t Matter Anyway" as well as singing backing vocals on "Starlight". While Stevens is a powerful and skilled vocalist, it´s hard not to notice how much stronger the vocal part of the music becomes when Oliva sings. Stevens is a class act, but Oliva is in the world elite of metal singers, and that´s just hard to compete with.

"Dead Winter Dead" is a well produced album and features a mix where all details are clearly audible. So upon conclusion "Dead Winter Dead" is another high quality release by Savatage. It´s one of their most progressive releases in terms of diversity and compositional sophistication, but it´s also one of their least "metal" releases in terms of sheer heavy metal power, and the listener should brace themselves for a more musical style listening experience. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

SAVATAGE Ghost In The Ruins: A Tribute To Criss Oliva

Live album · 1995 · Heavy Metal
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‘Ghost in the Ruins’ is the second official live album by American metal band Savatage. Released in 1995, it serves as a tribute to the late Criss Oliva who died in a car accident in 1993, however, it’s release comes just months after the band had released ‘Japan Live ‘94’, and two live albums, both with similar set lists in such a short span tends to lessen the impact.

To be brutally honest though, while I absolutely love Savatage, and they are one of my all-time favourite bands, I’ve always felt that their material doesn’t translate well into live albums. Sure, there’s no doubt the energy of hearing these songs live is off the hook, but hearing it “live”, in album form at least, seems to lack what makes the studio versions so powerful to begin with.

I mean, the band play exceptionally, and there’s a palpable chemistry between them all, and the set list is spot on, especially considering when this was recorded, but as I’ve touched upon, I just really can’t get into this. With the likes of ‘Gutter Ballet’, ‘When the Crowds Are Gone’, ‘Sirens’, ‘Hall of the Mountain King’ and ‘Of Rage and War’, this album isn’t a complete loss, but at the end of the day, I’d much rather listen to any of the studio albums and hear the music in all its fist-pumping studio glory.

SAVATAGE Edge Of Thorns

Album · 1993 · Heavy Metal
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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.

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