Hall of the Mountain King – Savatage

Hall of the Mountain King

Savatage

1987

Atlantic Records

Following a trip to Vintage Vinyl in East Brunswick, I picked up a handful of CDs that, while not quite as numerous as the amount Ryan or Nick pulled in, was still generous compared to my usual take during a trip to a record shop. Among the pick was an album by a band called Savatage. This band was what some consider to be the precursor to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, due to the fact that Savatage was the main contributor for the songs belonging to the Christmas Eve Sarajevo collection, as well as the songs on Christmas Eve and other Stories. The band would go on to work mainly with TSO following the death of the guitarist Criss Oliva, among other reformations of band members and albums released. The music done in the middle of Savatage’s career was pretty intricate, with elements of the fantastical present in the lyrics, plenty of distortion, and heavy drums. The music on Hall of the Mountain King, the first record featuring these tendencies, turned the band commercially successful.

The album leads off with the song “24 Hours Ago,” which was the biggest hit of the album, complete with a music video. There is a slight crescendo leading into the distorted guitars. After a few seconds, Jon Oliva’s vocals rumble in and provide a triumphant-sounding ’80s Metal song. The album continues on to my favorite track, “Beyond the Doors of the Dark,” which opens with ominous sounds generated from the various instruments. The vocals are a little toned down to start with, but after about a twenty-second intro, the song transitions into the usual heavy style and raw vocals present throughout the album.

I will so buy a van so I can paint this on the side of it.

The rest of the album continues being the general Hard Rock/Metal fare, with fantastical lyrics (such as the “White Witch” lyrics “Wicked white demon/Is staring at you/Controlling all that you say and you do”) and very outstanding guitar licks. Jon and Criss Oliva make a very good team throughout, complimenting each other and ultimately delivering a very musically superior sound. While the drums are not overly spectacular, they still deliver some jazzy undertones at times and create the feel for each song. The next song that jumps out at me is the song “Prelude to Madness.” It starts off pretty normal, but once the music starts up, the song begins to sound very, very familiar and the keyboards play the melody while the rest of the band follows along in harmony. Once the symphonic parts kick in, then the song really begins to shine. This song only seems to be an intro, however, since the next song is titled “Hall of the Mountain King.” The tune which the album is named after delivers a very rich sound and is musically more technical than the previous songs from the album. The vocals vary from heavy to more Rock-ish, and definitely delivers one of the better songs from the record. Marking only the middle of the album, though, there is more to hear with this album. The sound follows what has been heard before, with the last two songs being somewhat connected. “Last Dawn” leads into the last song with a lone, ominous-sounding guitar melody, after which the finale, “Devastation,” continues. Following the heavy sounds and technical musicianship from the songs before, this one is no different.

Hall of the Mountain King is definitely worth a listen if you’re into the ’80s-era Metal sound, like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Jon and Criss Oliva deliver a very rich-sounding album with technical musicianship and very well-organized transitions. So get on down to the Hall of the Mountain King, and hear what he has to say. Or else.

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2 Responses to “Hall of the Mountain King – Savatage”

  1. You’re welcome.

  2. Hey Paulov, nice review. Have you ever heard the album “Tubular Bells?” It was the first album released by Virgin records, and although it’s not very popular today it was a hit back in its day. The style is similar to the instrumental rock feel of TSO. I think you might like it.

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