on 6 November 2002
While it is true that this album is a bit inconsistent (heard that statement from other people too), i.e. I rarely play it front to back, it nevertheless contains some of my most favorite tracks ever. It is the first album with the then new lead singer Zach Stevens and the last one with guitarist Criss Oliva, who died shortly after completion of the album in an accident.
If you know the earlier work of Savatage, then this one is a bit different, their sound changed significantly. There is more piano and some quiet moments, which is what I particularly like about this piece of work: The changing moods, even within some of the songs, prevent any boredom. Also, I particularly like that it sounds less bombastic (and hence more refreshing) than the earlier work, but I am sure there are plenty of people out there who would like to contradict...
Also, Savatage is undoubtedly a master in starting slow, e.g. soft guitar only, at times even sounding like I imagine medieval music must have sounded like (Follow Me), and then building up tension throughout the song climaxing in some of the best hard rock I ever heard.
Well, and since it is apparently customary to state favorite songs in a review, here it goes: I guess I am a bit on my own here, but my favorite song, not only from this album but my most favorite song ever since I first heard it, is actually "Degrees of Sanity"... there you go...
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.
on 14 January 2013
This is just one of all 14 releases being re-issued as a special digipak, which when stacked or lined up on the bookshelf with all the others as a complete set, the spines display the Savatage logo. Some albums contain bonus tracks (half of which were relased on previous re-issues in 1997 and 2002), and others contain brand new acoustic renditions of Savatage songs, by Jon Oliva.
However, there are a number of grievances I have about this set, which really hurt the integrity and overall quality of this latest incarnate of the Savatage library, things that cost this collection a full 5-stars (for EACH album) in my reviews...
First of all, these were released completely random and all out of chornological order (pretty stupid move, if you ask me), so anyone with mild OCD dispositions (like myself) may be tortured by having to make the choice between sorting them in their proper order, or in the mixed-up, re-released sequence, JUST to display the spines' logo "puzzle" correctly.
Secondly (and speaking of the spine-logo "puzzle"), while there are indeed only 14 studio albums from Savatage (including the mini-album/EP, THE DUNGEONS ARE CALLING), the first two albums (SIRENS, and the mini-album/EP THE DUNGEONS ARE CALLING) have been compiled together onto one CD, and entitled as "SIRENS & THE DUNGEONS ARE CALLING : The Complete Sessions".
So what is the 14th disc? Well, I didn't think there even WAS one, thinking the SIRENS and TDAC in a "twofer" format was still counted as "two spearate" albums. But,I discovered that there most certainly had to be a 14th disc, by how the logo created by the digipak spines appeared to be missing one last "piece" (the end of the last half of the "e" in "Savatage")
So, not only are the spines mixed up (according to the original album sequence), but now there is a missing piece for this "spine-logo puzzle" concept - and that "piece", that 14th disc/album, turned out to be the band's "greatest hits / best of" compilation release, called FROM THE GUTTER TO THE STAGE, which I have discovered to be a very very elusive component to this set. Either that, or, it is not being represented properly on the many many marketplace websites, with the correct images?
Thirdly, on top of all that, while MOST of these re-releases have all-new liner notes from Jon Oliva (of which, even these are inconsistent with their content ; some have song-by-song descriptions/explanations/anecdotes, other just have Jon's reminiscing commentaries), a couple of them DO NOT have any new content, and instead, have either recycled the previous liner notes from the 2002 re-issue (as with EDGE OF THORNS, the second album to be re-released in this set), or, retained their original release layout (as with WAKE OF MAGELLAN, the first album to be re-released in this set).
Either way, what could have been a BRILLIANT re-issue of an amazing heavy/progressive metal band's discography from 1982-2002, has been blemished by these pitiful and preventable oversights. If you are a "stickler" of a collector as I am, then these kinds of details may bother you as they bother me.
HOWEVER, if you don't care about the liner notes inconsitencies, the booklets' content, etc, and care ONLY ABOUTTHE MUSIC, then you probably won't be too terribly disappointed.
When it comes to all these remastered re-issues that have come out out in the past decade or so, many tend to sound anywhere from poor to downright awful, but this batch of Savatage albums did alright on that front this time around, with the ONE exception of THE DUNGEONS ARE CALLING -- I found it to be of poorer quality than the 1994 Metal Blade re-issue (which, along with SIRENS, contained some of the "lost Sava-tracks demos), but just marginally better than the "Silver Anniversary" edition (which, again, along with SIRENS, had a few "hidden" bonus tracks at the end of the disc, which followed like 80-90 blank tracks with durations of just 2-3 seconds each, placed in between the bonus tracks and the album tracks). All the other albums, however, sound anywhere from good to better, if not just simply sound almost the same as the originals.
The only reason I bothered with (yet another!) Savatage library re-issue set, is cos this time, all the albums are here (including the greatest hits/ best of FTGTTS, if you can find it), and more importantly 9for me), I wanted the new Jon Oliva acoustic versions of the Savatage songs. Rather than just buy those albums with the new track, the collector in me just said "get them ALL and be be done with it".
I hope this review made snese and was useful for you.