Sunday, September 14, 2008

Madness Reigns!

Where "Sirens" suffered with a few clunker tracks, the follow-up ep (apparently recorded during the "Sirens" sessions) "The Dungeons Are Calling" makes up for in spades. Even the throw away Motorhead inspired track "The Whip" is a solid pummeling slab of 80's heavy metal.

"The Dungeons Are Calling" is one of my favourite Savatage albums of their early sound and is super dark blurring the lines of heavy metal and speed metal with killer riffs and solos and solid song-writing whose quality won't be matched until 1987's "Hall Of The Mountain King".

The album opens with Sava's signature haunting intro as it eases us into the bleak onslaught that is the title track. "By The Grace Of The Witch" doesn't let up with it's dark melodies and catchy riffs. "Visions" picks up the pace with speed metal flourishes and "Midas Knight" slows us back down with a clean intro and heavy mid-paced riffs.

"City Beneath The Surface" is a stand out track with floydian keyboard intro and a heavy brooding Sabbath inspired doom style riff. The rest of the song is straight forward dark heavy metal. Though the title track is my favourite, this is a close second.

The 3 bonus tracks here are even pretty solid. "Metalhead" is a raw blistering rocker, "Before I Hang" is mid-paced cruncher with "Streets ..." style screeching riffs. "Stranger In The Dark" is a power ballad which has early usage of the pre-chorus riff and lyrics from "This Is Where You Should Be" from "From The Gutter To The Stage" and the solo and rhythm guitar part of "Follow Me" from "Edge Of Thorns". It was fun to hear an early recording which ended up being dissected and put to better use.

The hidden "rap" is amusing if not skip-able. "The Dungeons Are Calling" is a flat out fine example of traditional heavy metal. It's dark, heavy and melodic. Jon Oliva's vocals find their own here. His rasp tears through like gravel with a strong sense for melody and he hones his screeches that would eventually crown him the Mountain King.

Coming up next is Savatage's 2nd full-length and 3rd offering "Power Of The Night"

In case you haven't noticed, I've been way behind in posts, but I'm hoping to be caught up soon.
Thanks loyal readers for continually checking!


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