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Savatage - Poets And Madmen (CD)

Savatage
Poets And Madmen
by Yiannis Mitsakos at 01 February 2001, 1:45 AM

Several times I wrote a few lines for this review. Several times I deleted everything. Savatage are back after four years. What can I write? That we all missed them very much? For those who love Savatage, this album is like two friends who meet each other again after a long time. Like someone who can see his/her girlfriend/boyfriend again after four years. I know that Savatage have many dedicated fans. I know that some of you felt a little bit let down. Some said Jon Oliva and the other guys care more about Trans-Siberian Orchestra. We needed a new Savatage album! So, here it is…
Savatage has faced so many problems. Al Pitrelli left them for Megadeth. Zak left for personal reasons. Who saved the day, again? Yes, you guessed right. Mr. Jon Oliva was there to save the day once again. Jon (who did all the vocal parts), Chris Caffery (who played all the guitars except for two solos which were recorder by Al before his departure), Jeff Plate and Johnny Lee Middleton invite you to discover what is hidden inside the spooky place you can see on the cover artwork. This mental institution, as the story lets us know. Will you follow?
The first thing you notice about the new album is that it's a lot heavier than Wake of Magellan and Dead Winter Dead. As you can read in the interview we did with Jon Oliva, that happened because this time they didn't have to put music on a story. They just went into the studio to record a Savatage album. Almost all the tracks, except for two or three, were written on the guitar. The other ones were written on piano. The music direction of the album can be described as a mix of the old Savatage records and Dr. Butcher with the recent albums of the band along with very few touches from Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I have to say that the Trans-Siberian Orchestra elements are very, very few and that's because Jon wanted to show to the fans that Savatage is a whole different story. Savatage is not Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Trans-Siberian Orchestra is not Savatage.
Since Queen is one of my favorite bands, I have to say that I spotted some Queenish influences especially on the songs Back To A Reason and Drive. I guess Savatage never denied that they are inspired by the British Hard Rock gods. I also have to warn everyone that Poets And Madmen is a very difficult album to get into. Don't try to judge it from the beginning 'cause you might lose the opportunity to enjoy it later! It's a very progressive album and maybe one of their most hard to get into works. Give it some time and it will grow on you.
I have to congratulate Jon Oliva and Chris Caffery. Jon Oliva because as some may not know, he was supposed to sing half of the songs of this record and Zak was going to do the other half. After the decision of Zak to leave the band, Jon took over all the vocals and I have to say that he did a great job! Of course I can't deny that the Streets performances will never return but the Mountain King sounds more Wicker than ever. I also noticed that he can still sing in a sweet way like he did back in the old days. Now a few words about Chris Caffery. Chris played all the guitars as I said before. The only thing I can say about his performance is WOW. Sometimes you'll think that Criss Oliva was around when Chris played the guitars for Poets And Madmen and somehow he helped Chris Caffery play so great. Don't misunderstand me, I don't mean that Chris Caffery is not a great guitar player. I just want to say that along with his excellent abilities as a guitar player, the Immortal spirit of Criss Oliva and all those things Chris learned while they played together helped him a lot to reach these results. He fulfilled all my expectations. Well done, Chris.
My favorite tracks from the album are Morphine Child, Surrender, the Queenish Back To Reason and Commissar. Morphine Child is a ten-minute anthem and it's probably one of the best songs Savatage have ever written. In the beginning Poets And Madmen was not meant to be a concept album. Somehow Paul linked the songs but I need to spend many lines in order to explain the story to you. You better read the interview 'cause there you'll learn everything you need to know about the story and not only.
I'll put a very high rate on this album. I feel that I have to explain why…
  1. Savatage are back with a great album after four years of absence.
  2. Savatage is one of the VERY few bands of the 80's that still puts out great albums.
  3. Morphine Child is one of their best tunes ever.
  4. Jon Oliva is back with a vengeance.
''Come and see the show'' (Surrender)

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Stay With Me A While
There In The Silence
Commissar
I Seek Power
Drive
Morphine Child
The Rumor (Jesus)
Man In The Mirror
Surrender
Awaken
Back To A Reason
Lineup:
Chris Caffery - Guitar & Vocals
Johnny Lee Middleton - Bass & Vocals
Jeff Plate - Drums
Jon Oliva - Keyboards & Vocals
Al Pitrelli - Guitar & Vocals
Record Label: SPV/Steamhammer
     


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