SAVATAGE — Edge Of Thorns (review)

SAVATAGE — Edge Of Thorns album cover Album · 1993 · Heavy Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
Kingcrimsonprog
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.
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