Sunday, November 23, 2008

Poets And Madmen, All Defy Reason ...

On Savatage's 11th and final(?) album "Poets And Madmen" sees the band bring back the metal to their signature grandly epic sound. This is, in part, due to the return of the Mountain King himself Jon Oliva on vocals and Chris Caffery's guitar work and co-writing credits. It's nice to see Mr.Caffery get some Savy love after so many years. It is with these elements that "Poets & Madmen" has a Doctor Butcher feel, only more theatrical.

Paul O'Neill has also stated that the heavier sound was sought to help distinguish Savatage from Trans-Siberian Orchestra (which to this point Savatage was sans the R&B elements). The bare-bones line-up and shift in musicians led to a fresh start and a rejuvenated band. "Poets And Madmen" could easily have been released between "Gutter Ballet" and "Streets" or before or after "Handful Of Rain". Elements from both era's are front and center, yet blended nicely like a warm cup of cocoa... heavy metal cocoa.

"Poets & Madmen" forgoes the orchestral intro and kicks in with the dark, heavy and symphonic "Stay With Me Awhile". "There In The Silence" takes grandiose darkness and adds an ominous undertone thanks to Jon's sinister vocals. The song has some cool riffs without losing melody. "Commissar" has some wicked riffs and a dark grand sound and variant tempos.

"I Seek Power" is a slower, brooding piece that has a delicious evilness to it (again, thanks to Jon). That's 4 songs in and the musical theme has been disturbing, dark and heavy. Classic Savatage with flourishes of new Savatage's progressive prowess. "Drive" shifts the mood a little as a melodic mid-paced metaller and "Morphine Child" adds the theatrical epicness of "The Wake Of Magellan" only darker. Jon gets the counterpoint vocal treatment on this song.

"The Rumor" and "Surrender" are mid paced metallers, the later being eerily bleak with touches of hopefulness. "Man In The Mirror" is a power ballad with a heavy chorus whose pace picks up midway through. "Awaken" is a catchy, heavy mother that leads into the epic ballad "Back To A Reason". This is a passionate somber piece that's quite moving. There is also a narrative bridge with news headlines running in the background.

"Poets & Madmen" is a strong, solid effort from a band that has a tenuous hold on its fans. This album is like a throw back to the early years of Savatage while retaining the growth the band obtained as song-writers over the years. "Poets ..." is a refreshing album and gives hope to wary fans who may have been disappointed in "The Wake Of Magellan".

For me, I can't wait till their next album .... (cough, cough) ...

... Maybe 2009 ... Check out their new MySpace page here and revamped Website here.

Up next I'll be taking a look at Savatage's "From The Gutter To The Stage" compilation as well as the "Return Of The Mountain King" tribute album. Not sure which will be first.


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