Sunday, October 05, 2008

Return Of The Mountain King!

Aaahhhhh Savatage's "Hall Of The Mountain King". The pinnacle Sav(y) album and critical turning point early in the bands career. Coming off the convoluted fiasco that was "Fight For The Rock" Savatage blasts nay-sayers with a classic heavy metal album. This is the album that should have come after "Power Of The Night", but better late then never.

"Hall Of The Mountain King" takes the dark aggression of "The Dungeons Are Calling" EP and adds accessibility. Jon's vocals have never been weak, but it's as if he were born for this particular moment and as such garnering him the nickname "Mountain King". Chriss' guitar work shines here with some of his most memorable work both heavy and melodic. Chriss Oliva is truly one of the most unique and talented guitar players ever.

The album kicks off with "24 Hours Ago" which sets the tone with darker melodic riffs and wailing guitar solos that never quite reach show off level. Jon's mountainous voice is powerful, aggressive and reeks of conviction. "Beyond The Doors Of The Dark" is next and its haunting intro sends chills before blasting in with aggressive riffs and sickening vocals. This is a dark/bleak tune and is my favourite song on this album.

"Legions" and "The Price You Pay" are solid metal anthems worthy of the raising of the metal fists children. "White Witch" is a pummeling assault of speedy riffs and aggressive vocals. After a short guitar instrumental, the soothing and sombre "Last Dawn" in whose reflective optimism leads to the deliciously bleak "Devastation". It's a melodic mid-paced piece with a biting edge especially as Jon spits out lyrics like ~What can you do when you're a fool? It all goes this way. You should have listened to what Christ had to say~. A wonderfully downer way to close the album.

"Strange Wings" is a power ballad-like song without really feeling ballady. It's a powerful song with a simple yet moving melody and a majestic feel. "Prelude To Madness" is a metal take on Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King". It is dark and haunting, brilliantly executed and a fitting intro to the albums title track.

"Hall Of The Mountain King" is a mountain of a song with a solid foundation by Johnny Lee Middleton and Steve Wacholz and bludgeoning riffs and monstrous solos by Chriss Oliva. Jon Oliva's vocals are at their best here ranging from guttural mid range to insane screeches and eerie chuckles. A song truly worthy to be a title track.

"Hall Of The Mountain King" is a true heavy metal classic and is Savatage at peak form. From here the band moves in a progressive direction more grandiose then epic. This is also the first album with long time producer Paul O'Neill whose influence becomes a strong part of the Savatage sound.

Up next is "Gutter Ballet".


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