SAVATAGE — The Wake Of Magellan (review)

SAVATAGE — The Wake Of Magellan album cover Album · 1997 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
UMUR
"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.
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