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.