SAVATAGE — The Wake Of Magellan (review)

SAVATAGE — The Wake Of Magellan album cover Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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.
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