Sunday, November 16, 2008

At Night When The Waves Are Near, The Dead Whisper And I Hear

Savatage continues their grandiose style of progressive metal on their 10th studio album "The Wake Of Magellan", a concept album based around an old sailor looking to die. Loose references to Maersk Dubai Incident and murdered journalist Veronica Guerin fill out the story of the old Spanish sailor who sets out to sea to die (In a Vikingesque way) and ends up saving the life of a thrown overboard stowaway drifting in the waves. Returning to shore, the old sailor rediscovers a new lease on life, cherishing every single moment from then on.

Musically, "The Wake Of Magellan" doesn't stray to far from Savatage's new style. However, this is by no means a copy of "Dead Winter Dead" and "Handful Of Rain". The music carries a largely theatrical feel and more grandeur then their previous efforts all while retaining strong sense for melody and memorable hooks. And some killer riffs to boot.

The album opens with "The Ocean" an atmospheric piano heavy instrumental that sets a sobering mood leading into the grand and theatrical "Welcome" which is literally an introduction song IE; ~ Welcome To The Show ~

"Turns To Me" takes the music to a faster and heavier area that builds into a moving and passionate bridge/outro. A killer solo as well. "Morning Sun" opens with a somber acoustic riff that turns into a heavier dark mid-paced piece with some nice riffs.

"Blackjack Guillotine" is another heavy a dark with a great solo and huge sound. "Paragons Of Innocence" takes the dark heavy riffs with a more symphonic sound and a bit more groove. "Complaint In The System" has a mechanical, almost industrial feel to its narrative progression. Loads of groove here as well.

"Another Way" is a heavy melodic number with Jon Oliva on vocals and a grand theatrical feel. "Anymore" is a power ballad of sorts with Elton John-ish flourishes and a bridge reminiscent of the opening instrumental and a powerful outro lead by Zak's solid vocals. One of the best songs here.

The title track is probably my favourite song as it seems to have the most staying power for me. It's an urgent piece with passionate poetic lyrics and moving melodies as well as fine use of their newly signature counterpoint vocals. That's a lot of Zak! The album closer "The Hourglass" is a haunting epic that wraps up the album with flourishes of previous melodies and a symphonic grandness the Sava boys do so well.

There are 2 other instrumentals that are quite nice. "Underture" is an instrumental medley of various musical themes not unlike "Erotomania" off of Dream Theaters "Awake" album. "The Storm" is a huge and heavy symphonic number that crashes through riffs and solos like breaking waves. I can almost feel the raging winds in my face with this tune.

"The Wake Of Magellan" is one of Savatage's more under-rated albums. Probably due to the overtly theatrical feel. This, however, is a solid album with great songs and huge sound.

Up next, Jon Oliva takes the reins from the exited Zak Stevens on "Poets And Madmen". Their darkest and heaviest album in years.


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